Athlone’s ranking has improved in the latest litter report from Irish Businesses Against Litter (IBAL ), maintaining its ‘clean to European norms’ status.
Athlone climbed eight places in this latest round of results, now standing 27th in the list of 42 towns and cities surveyed. It has consistently improved over the past five reports, having been identified as a ‘litter blackspot’ in the June 2009 survey.
The adjudicators reserved particular praise for one of the bypass exits - exit 8 - as it had previously been heavily littered and was clear from litter this time around.
Athlone’s bus and train station was also praised as an “excellent site”, which was very clean and clear of litter, both inside and out. Likewise Lidl car park was a top ranking site; “Not only was the car park clear of litter but the shrubbery within was well maintained,” according to the report.
Grovelands Childcare was described as excellent, with attractive brickwork, colourful planting, and a litter-free, well maintained exterior. Other areas of the town were praised for the prominence of litter bins and cigarette disposal units.
There was mixed reaction to Athlone’s approach roads, with the Tuam approach road overall “very fresh with road surface, markings, and signage in very good order”; however a scattering of food-related litter on the freshly cut verges prevented it from achieving the highest grade.
The Ferbane/Birr approach road created a very positive first impression of the town, according to the report, while food-related litter was reported along the Ballymahon exit onto the M6.
Athlone Business Park came out worst from the report, primarily due to a neglected area within the business park which the adjudicators said had “suffered some long-term neglect” with industrial plastic and wrapping as well as casual litter.
“The neglected areas appeared to be verging on wasteland. This took away from the main artery and individual premises which were well maintained,” the survey found.
Cllr Alan Shaw welcomed the results of the latest IBAL survey.
“We were identified by IBAL in its June 2009 report as a litter blackspot, coming 60th in that particular report out of 60 towns surveyed. Six reports later we are now ‘clean to European norm’ for the second time. Since that time, Athlone Town Council has increased its investment in litter management and Tidy Towns activities with a coordinated partnership approach to the management of litter.
“The Tidy Towns Committee has continued to work throughout 2012 to enhance our town and highlight the need for the public to take greater individual responsibility in controlling litter.”
Elsewhere in Westmeath, Mullingar also maintained its ‘clean to European norm’ status.