A four month lead-in time from their regular suppliers of bins is causing issues for Mayo County Council in installing new bins at beaches - the elected members of the Westport-Belmullet Municipal District were told this week.
Achill based Fianna Fáil councillor Paul McNamara raised the issue at the district's May meeting which took place on Monday. Cllr McNamara said: "I have raised this issue several times, the last time was three months ago when I asked what was the plan in place regarding the tourist season and the services we were providing.
"To date there is nothing in place, what happened in Achill over the weekend, was nothing short of a disgrace to Mayo County Council and that is my opinion.
"To think we had the crowds in the place and only one bin in the parish. I visited all the areas on Saturday night and Friday night - the five Blue Flag beaches and in the village of Keel at 8.30pm on Friday evening, the bin was overflowing.
"There was about 55 camper vans I counted in the Keel vicinity and I welcome every one of them and about 30 tents - there was no bin whatsoever for those people who were there. There was one small little bin, the same size you'd have at your house, in fact maybe smaller, in Keel village, and the look of it is a disgrace.
"I went back to Keem Bay on Saturday night at about 9.20pm and there was 37 tents pitched, camping right around the Keem Bay area, because I walked the whole lot of it and there was no bin there either.
"I flagged this, my colleagues flagged this three months ago, we knew this was going to happen. We knew once restrictions were eased we were going to have an influx of visitors to these areas.
"Last week we had our five blue flags awarded and we didn't even have the decency to have our blue flags flying on our beaches. To me, that is a total let-down to the community of Achill that have kept those beaches in pristine conditions all winter, not Mayo County Council, the people themselves who have walked those beaches and picked up the litter and made sure they were in tip top shape.
"Even the toilets that are in place on these beaches, there are hundreds of people now using them on a daily basis, is there a plan in place for the management and cleaning of these facilities? Because the publicity we will get out of this as county and parish, will destroy our areas if we don't get a hold of it."
Responding to Cllr McNamara, Padraig Walsh, head of the district for Mayo County Council, said: "We all know the pressure the beaches will be under this summer. We are doing everything we can to respond to that, the budget we have for maintaining beaches and delivering services at beaches was set at budget time, it is a limited budget. However in response to the situation, there was a commitment by the senior management team that some additional funds could be made available and that allowed us to provide additional toilet facilities and additional refuse collection facilities.
"But we have to live in the budget we have, I have to live within the resources I have, I don't have scope to over-extend any of my budgets - it is that simple.
"There is an issue with bins, unfortunately that there is a very surprising and lengthy lead-in time for the supply of bins. There is about a four month lead-in time from all of our normal suppliers and we are working hard to source alternatives. I don't know is this an issue post Brexit, but I know there are bottlenecks in all kinds of supply chains and unfortunately bins is one of them.
"We will do our best to provide additional waste facilities as quickly as we can, but we do have to live within our budgets."
Responding Cllr McNamara said: "I never heard such a load of codswollop in all my life about bins, the bins that are on these beaches are concrete pipes stood up and black bags within them and they serve a purpose and the lorry comes around every day, twice and three times daily on the busy times and picks them up.
"If we are waiting four months for a concrete pipe and to turn it upside down and install it and put a black bag into it, we have a serious problem. Why can we not put our hands up and say we have mismanaged the situation, but we have a plan in place and we will go and deal with it. But no, we are trying to talk our way out of it and say it is down to budget and everything else.
"Covid-19 has played a tough role on a lot of people and business in these areas and the least you can do is a bit of help there to welcome the people into the areas and get business up and running and show a bit of respect to our communities. We can't provide a simple service for ten or 12 weeks of the year - that is all it is, two weeks in May, June, July and August. Can we not just get it right and say we made a mistake here and we have no plan in place, but we will get a plan in place?"
Director of services for Mayo County Council, Catherine McConnell, replied to Cllr McNamara saying: "We did put a plan in place, in late April we put a plan in place which saw us also agreeing to put in an additional 58 bins around the Westport-Belmullet Municipal District, but we cannot get them, we cannot source them, it is proving extremely difficult and I don't think any member would like to see old concrete pipes turned upside down and black bags in them, that is not litter management."
Cllr McNamara respond saying: "That is the bins that are on the beaches, I visit them every day, I live beside one, it is a concrete pipe painted white and a bag in them."
To which the director of services replied: "If we are talking about litter facilities for people who are coming camping, those pipes are not going to cut it and I don't think anyone would be advocating we would go out and source them. I do know the municipal districts and the environment section are working really hard to get facilities in place.
"We have to make sure those bins are secure, they are secure from vermin, they can be of adequate capacity to take the kind of litter we are now experiencing - unprecedented levels of litter and it is not just in Mayo, and on our beaches, it is across our country. We are working extremely hard to get those in place, we will be doing our damndest to get them in place. It is not fair to say we have no plan in place. There was an additional cost of €120,000 to provide those services and we are working hard."