Athlone has jumped six places in the annual Irish Businesses Against Litter Survey (IBAL ), finishing 17th out of 40 towns and cities nationwide.
An impressive nine out of 10 sites examined as part of the process received the top litter grade. However, that also means that just one site let the town down, with the car parking area at The Diskin Centre singled out for the amount of dumping taking place there.
The report for Athlone stated: “An excellent result for Athlone with nine out of the ten sites surveyed getting the top litter grade. This is a big improvement for Athlone. Some examples of top ranking sites included Burgess Park, Athlone Castle, AIT Sports [Centre], and Athlone Institute of Technology and the car park of Golden Island Shopping Centre – these sites were all exceptionally well presented and maintained.
“There was one litter blackspot – car parking area at Diskin Centre – this wasn’t just casually littered but subjected to dumping and there was no improvement here on previous IBAL litter surveys.”
Tullamore topped the rankings this year followed by Dublin Airport Environs and Leixlip. Once again there was a wide gap between towns and disadvantaged city areas, with the latter occupying the bottom six places in the ranking.
“In the 16 years we have been conducting these surveys, this is possibly our best result,” Conor Horgan of IBAL said. “Across the board we have seen improvements. The news is all the more positive given the importance of how we present our country over the summer months, when we attract over 40 per cent of our visitors.”
The survey also revealed that levels of marine littering and dumping are on the increase. Mr Horgan linked the increase in dumping to people being asked to pay for waste disposal, and does not expect the issue to go away.
Gerry Johnson of Athlone Tidy Towns committee said: “Athlone Tidy Towns is very pleased with the results but with a sense of letdown by Diskin Centre, which is very badly littered. This centre was found wanting in previous reports. The overall results reflect the hard work of all our supporters and the wider community in Athlone, who appreciate a litter-free environment. We also appreciate the co-operation of the Athlone Municipal District staff in helping Athlone attain good ratings.”