The Mayor of Castlebar has rejected survey results released this week which named the county town as one of the most littered spots in Ireland.
Castlebar was the only town in Ireland to be labelled ‘littered’ and ranked 41st out of 42 towns and cities surveyed nationally for the annual Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL ) league, which announced its end of year results this week.
Castlebar’s dramatic slide down the cleanliness rankings was described by an IBAL spokesperson as the ‘surprise result’ of 2013.
The town was the fifth cleanest nationally in 2012.
Ballina was found to be ‘clean to European norms’ and came 27th in the same survey.
IBAL tasked environmental group An Taisce to carry out the litter inspections for the report.
It found that only Dublin Inner City North - the country’s single ‘litter blackspot’ - achieved a lower ranking than Castlebar.
One location in the county town, a recycling facility at Mayo County Council’s carpark on John Moore Road, was described by inspectors as ‘shocking’ and the ‘worst in the country’.
Inspectors also said the train station was littered with food trash and cigarette butts.
A second recycling facility at Dunnes Stores carpark was noted to be dirty, neglected, and marred by broken glass.
However other locations in the town were litter-free and praised for their sprightly appearance, such as The Quarter shopping area, Lough Lannagh, and the Mayo Peace Park.
The litter survey results are based on two inspections carried out during the year - one in the summertime and a second between September and November.
Mayor Noreen Heston said she totally rejected the litter report, which she described as ‘harsh’.
“I know they have a job to do but I totally disagree with this,” she said. “Castlebar has never looked so good.”
The Mayor praised the residents groups, Tidy Town volunteers, and council maintenance staff, who she said are doing a great job keeping Castlebar clean, and advised them not to ‘lose heart’ at the disappointing results.
“This survey is not a true reflection of Castlebar,” she added. “But we will take note of it and look at some of the problem areas identified.”
Castlebar Town Council discussed the report at its monthly meeting last night (Thursday ).
The IBAL spokesperson added: “Typically, year-on-year, Castlebar would have performed very well in these surveys. Castlebar coming 41st in the league is the surprise result for us this year.”
Ireland’s most litter free town in 2013 was Kilkenny, winning the league for the second year running.