Members of the public in south Belfast are being invited to have their say on plans to clean up streets and alleyways.
A consultation process was launched last week, as Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, revealed proposals for a draft Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill for Northern Ireland.
It was initiated by South Belfast MP, Dr Alasdair McDonnell, after he lodged a Private Member’s Bill in the Assembly.
“I tabled this Bill because my constituency offices are inundated with complaints from residents right across south Belfast on a wide range of environmental quality issues, from dog fouling in parks and on the street to nightly torture by noisy neighbours,” he told The CT.
“I also frequently receive complaints about litter — in particular, the amount of chewing gum dropped on our pavements — graffiti and fly-postering in and around the city centre and University area.
“These issues are upsetting and reduce the quality of life for people living in south Belfast.”
Dr McDonnell explained that, unlike other cities in England and Wales, Belfast has insufficient powers to effectively deal with the range of problems.
“I tabled this Private Member’s Bill so Belfast City Council could be given enhanced powers to get to grips with these problems and eyesores,” he said.
“Alley gates, to combat crime and anti-social behaviour, are in big demand in parts of the constituency like Lisburn Road, the Holy Land and the Markets.
“I have also pushed for this legislation because it will make the process of erecting alley gates much more effective.”
Mr Poots paid tribute to Dr McDonnell for his part in seeking to have the new law introduced.
“It is good to see that the Assembly can work on a cross-party and a cross-community basis and that it is not as dysfunctional as some people make it out to be,” he said.
“We can work and co-operate with one another in the best interests of the public of Northern Ireland.
“Therefore I pay tribute to Dr McDonnell for bringing this matter to my attention and for urging me to bring forward measures.
“That is one of the reasons why we are where we are today.”
The consultation runs until April 23 and can be viewed and downloaded from www.doeni.gov.uk.