Belfast Telegraph

£40m spent on cleaning up streets

Councils in Northern Ireland spent almost £40 million sweeping the streets and dealing with dog fouling last year, it has been revealed.

More than 4,000 fixed penalty fines were also issued to litter louts, according to the charity Tidy Northern Ireland.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said it was time for councils to get tough on offenders.

Mr Durkan said: "It is completely unacceptable that we spend such a staggering amount of money, almost £40 million each year, on street cleaning. Littering is a form of anti-social behaviour and should not be tolerated.

"It is so easy to dispose of litter properly, but still far too many people drop it on the ground and expect others to pick it up and ratepayers to foot the huge bill.

"The fact that those who litter are more likely to be caught and fined by our district councils is good news. But more needs to be done. We need to work to change the behaviour of those who mess up our streets and beauty spots.

"I call on all of our councils to get tough with those who litter and also with those who fail to clean up after their dogs have fouled. Tougher action by all district councils is necessary to send out a clear and consistent message that littering and dog-fouling offences will not be tolerated."

Details of the expenditure emerged during an anti-litter summit where council representatives and officers gathered in Newtownabbey, on the outskirts of north Belfast, to discuss how best to deal with litter, dog fouling and graffiti.

It was claimed that even though amount spent on street cleaning has dramatically increased over the last five years, there had not been any improvement in the cleanliness of streets.

Dr Ian Humphreys, chief executive of Tidy Northern Ireland said public attitudes towards littering had to change.

He said the annual conference, now in its fifth year, had helped local authorities develop ideas to tackle the growing problem.

"Not only does the summit allow sharing of great ideas on how to stop people littering, but it also results in positive steps being taken, such as through better enforcement, education, media campaigns or public engagement," said Dr Humphreys.

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