Mayor of Athlone, Aengus O’Rourke, says illegal dumping has now reached crisis proportions.
The Fianna Fáil councillor says he is now receiving as many representations each day from the public concerning illegal dumping as he is about social housing, which is a subject of national crisis.
In response, Mayor O’Rourke is calling on each and every member of the public to do their part in tackling the problem.
“The issue of illegal and harmful dumping is not just about the sly, reckless people who drive around under the cover of darkness to blight our laneways, bogs, and cul de sacs with their household waste,” Mayor O’Rourke said.
“It’s also about the people who flick their cigarette butts on to the ground, who throw their sweet wrappers out the window of the car, and who let their dogs dirty our streets and parks.
“I don’t buy the argument that people dump because they can’t afford to have it taken away. Generally, they drive to their dumping location, so if they can afford to drive, then buying a bin tag once a month should not be an issue.”
Mayor O’Rourke added that some people take littering for granted, and that the council is constantly fighting a losing battle due to a lack of sufficient resources.
“If you litter, dump, or your dog fouls in a public place, you should be fined,” he said. “I would even go as far as saying you should be named.
“Our problem as a local authority is that we only have and can only afford one litter warden for the moment. Even if we had 10 litter wardens it wouldn’t be enough. The way we tackle littering is by people power. I would love to see the public put their eyes and ears to work on behalf of our town.”
Members of the public who wish to report instances of illegal dumping can call Westmeath County Council’s free phone number (1800 ) 819 000. Alternatively, log on to www.westmeathcoco.ie and complete the form online, giving the details of the act of dumping you witnessed. Reports are treated confidentially.