Athlone has been deemed “Clean to European Norms” in the latest Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL ) Survey, undertaken by An Taisce.
The result is a tribute to the work undertaken by various community groups and the council during the last 12 months, after last year’s survey saw Athlone slip from “clean” to “littered” status and end up towards the foot of the ranking of 40 towns and cities nationwide. The latest survey shows Athlone ranked in 20th position in the table.
The An Taisce report stated: “A welcome improvement for Athlone, with over half the sites surveyed getting the top litter grade. Some of the very good ones included Kilmartin N6 Retail Park and the Riverwalk/Nature Trail Walks on Grace Road – the latter is a lovely natural amenity which is sensitively presented.
“Battery Road just missed getting the top litter grade. A careful eye needs to be kept on the derelict site at start of Roscommon/Galway Road junction to prevent it become seriously littered.”
The survey also showed sweet papers are once again the most common form of litter on our streets, followed by fast food wrappers, cigarette butts, and chewing gum.
Commenting on the survey, Fine Gael councillor and mayor of Athlone, John Dolan, said: “I want to compliment the work of the Tidy Towns and the many volunteers who have come out to take part in various clean-ups during the year. It is so great to see people giving their time freely for a good cause. There is a lot of unseen voluntary work goes on behind the scenes to keep Athlone litter-free.
“I also have to commend the efforts of Westmeath County Council. Sometimes people do not realise all the work that goes on with street cleaning and keeping the streets tidy as much of it takes place very early in the morning. If the council wasn’t there and that work wasn’t going on we would all know about it.”
Fianna Fáil councillor, Frankie Keena, said: “I welcome the news. A lot of work has been done and is ongoing between the council and Tidy Towns to keep our streets clean. Our environmental officer, Ruth Maxwell, in particular, has undertaken a lot of initiatives in the county and Athlone to keep our streets clean. I think this is something we need to build on now. This has the potential to bring more tourists to the town and create more jobs. It is all a stepping stone process, but keeping our streets clean is certainly an important start to that process.”