Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Hogan has slammed the elected representatives of Athlone Town Council claiming it was a “bad day for local democracy” and that the concerns of the people regarding the complete privatisation and abandonment of the bin service were not represented by members of Athlone Town Council.
Cllr Hogan said: “I have met dozens of people since last week’s decision to completely privatise our domestic bin service. The outright consensus was that seven members of Athlone Town Council with the exception of myself and the Labour representative had not represented the concerns of the people.
“Those concerns varied from the imminent increase in the price of bin tags to the withdrawal of the waiver scheme, which assists low income families and our senior citizens.
“I provided solutions as to how we could increase revenue by introducing a levy on all derelict properties ranging from 3 per cent of the market value of the property in the first year to a maximum of 10 per cent for subsequent years in accordance with Article 23 of the Derelict Sites Act 1990 thus catering for the shortfall in the bin service. The implementation of this levy would resolve two things, it would allow the continuation of the domestic bin service and it would improve our derelict sites rendering them non-derelict.
“Businesses are already feeling the pinch of the current economic climate and a further increase in the commercial rates would increase the number of businesses that would fold in the New Year. I provided a solid and viable alternative to raising funds for the local authority but this was dismissed by those seven members. Their decision was shameful and ill-conceived.
“This was a bad day for democracy. It is less than five months since this council was elected and already they have decided to withdraw from an essential service and increase the hardship already experienced by so many people in this town. There is a political saying that states: ‘Some people do things to get into power, other people get into power to do things’. Unfortunately for the people of Athlone we have a shortage of representatives applicable to the latter,” concluded Cllr Hogan.