Dirty old town... wait goes on for Twelfth clean-up
Shoppers, retailers and tourists dismayed at the mess in Belfast's streets as the unrelenting heat takes its toll will have to wait another four days before it is cleaned.
Blackened and sticky surfaces along Royal Avenue have been a talking point for visitors and shoppers for nearly a week now, as they negotiate the filthy post-Twelfth pavements in sweltering weather.
"I could not help but notice the mess," Ann Winters from Belfast said. "It's ridiculous to bring visitors into a place like this. I feel ashamed."
Shoppers said they had been negotiating the stained pavements and melted chewing gum outside Belfast's high street chains since the weekend. An unbroken spell of hot weather has only heightened the problem.
Refuse lorries operated by Belfast City Council did not appear to be making much impact as they drove up and down the commercial strip yesterday morning.
On Tuesday, the Department for Social Development – which manages the shopping area along Royal Avenue and Donegall Place – requested that Belfast City Council carry out an urgent deep clean of the area.
A spokeswoman for the department said the delay in commissioning the work was caused by the holiday weekend.
But that clean-up will not start until Sunday, Belfast City Council confirmed last night.
Yesterday, shoppers pointed to the smell caused by days of neglect on pavements and side streets.
"It's unbelievable," Darren Gray, a tour guide with Royal Avenue's Allen's Tours, said. "A few tourists have been asking if something has been going on because of it.
"With the heat, the mess on the streets is melting, and when people walk over it, it gets stuck to their shoes," he added.
Carol Thompson, from Saintfield, said: "It's very off-putting, especially for the tourists."
Michelle Masterson, a sales assistant who works in a shop on Royal Avenue, added: "You would not want to shop in Belfast when it's like this here.
"A big power wash would be handy."
"Following a DSD request on Tuesday for Belfast City Council to carry out an urgent wash because of the current state of these pavements, this work is now scheduled for this Sunday when there will be reduced footfall and better access for equipment and staff. Although it is not a legal requirement for Belfast City Council to carry out street washing, there is an agreement in place with DSD that we will wash the new natural stone pavements in the city centre, for payment, at periods throughout the year."
Belfast City Council