Belfast Telegraph

No excuse for our filthy city streets

Editor's Viewpoint

During the past week the headlines have been concentrating on the disturbances in Belfast in the aftermath of the curtailed July Twelfth parade in the Ardoyne area. However, there has been another kind of "disorder" on the streets of Belfast which have been disfigured by the litter of the holiday period, and also a general griminess which is one of the results of the hot summer weather.

The city's retailers and citizens have been complaining about this urban mess which has given a bad impression of Belfast to the many tourists who have come here at the peak of the holiday season. Belfast has a great natural beauty unsurpassed by many other cities, and it is wrong that our natural attractions should be diminished by rubbish and grime in this way.

One of the problems has been the usual litany of "who does what?" excuses. For several days the litter buck was passed between different agencies in an attempt to find out who was responsible for the much-needed clean-up.

Was it the responsibility of Belfast City Council or the Department for Social Development, or both? Eventually common sense prevailed, and the dirty streets have been deep-cleansed and returned to a respectable condition.

This has been welcomed by local traders who drew attention to the sorry state of the streets in the first place. However, people are wondering why it has taken the authorities all of nine days or so to spring into action.

The roads authorities have developed contingency plans for dealing with severe weather conditions including snow and ice, but there seems to have been little planning for extremely hot summer weather – which is unusual here – and also the predictable influx of visitors.

It is now time that the relevant authorities sorted out their various responsibilities for keeping our roads and streets in as good a condition as possible all the year round. However, they could be helped in this by many of our litter louts who only add to the problem. Northern Ireland is too beautiful to be disfigured in this way.

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