As chairman of Belfast City Council's health and environmental services committee, I would like to congratulate the Belfast Telegraph for helping to raise awareness about litter through its Big Clean-Up campaign.
We all have a responsibility to keep Belfast tidy and I'm pleased to say that since we launched our own anti-litter campaign six years ago, there has been a great improvement in littering behaviour, but at great cost to the ratepayers of our city.
Every year we spend around £11m on cleaning our city streets - money which could be better spent on enhancing council services, or even going some way to reducing rates bills.
Littering has a negative impact on the environment as well as being unsightly. Those who continue to ignore the anti-litter message also risk getting a £50 fine.
So far this year, we have issued more than 950 fines for littering which shows that too many people still think it's acceptable to litter. It is even more unacceptable because the council provides a free collection service for anyone that wants to get rid of old furniture, sofas and cookers - we'll even arrange to pick it up from your home, so there really is no excuse for this blight on our environment to continue.
We have also engaged schools across Belfast in some very successful initiatives, including the Lord Mayor's Big Clean-up Challenge which we ran last year, and which has just received a national environmental award. We've also helped communities across Belfast organise around 70 clean-ups so far this year.
We want to live in a city that we can be proud of and each of us has a responsibility to help create a brighter Belfast for all.
COUNCILLOR PAT McCARTHY
Belfast City Council