ENNIS slipped way down the rankings in the new IBAL anti-litter survey but the findings need to be taken with a pinch of salt, according to some local public representatives.
The town was ranked 46 out of the 60 towns and cities (down from a previous high of second place) surveyed with Ennis now categorised as “moderately littered” compared to previously being considered “clean to European norms”.
All participating towns are monitored by An Taisce and the assessors found that Ennis had slipped badly with two black spots – the Department of Social Welfare on the Kilrush Road which they described “as shockingly dirty” and the link road from the Camus garage to Caheralla Road which was “heavily littered”.
The assessors warned that there had been a very significant drop in the performance at Ennis since the previous IBAL Anti Litter Survey.
“Being clean is a 365-day responsibility of the local authority. Five of the sites surveyed in Ennis were clean to European norms but it was let down by two very poor sites.
“The Department of Social Welfare was a litter blackspot – clearly, it has been completely neglected for quite some time. The link road at the Citroen/Camus garage to Cahercalla Road had a serious litter problem – it was the worst of all the approach routes which were surveyed coming into Ennis,” the report stated.
With regard to the Department of Social Welfare the report added, “This site was shockingly dirty. The level of litter and general debris, including a discarded hubcap, was such that it can hardly be recent – clearly it is suffering from long term neglect. The entrance to the buildings was in a complete state. Where have those responsible for maintenance been? Why not enforce the Litter Act against the occupiers?”
There was also severe criticism of the link from the roundabout at Citroen/Camus garage to Cahercalla Road.
“This was by far the most heavily littered of the four approach roads surveyed in Ennis. The stretch of road nearest the roundabout was the area responsible for this poor litter classification – there was a wide variety of litter present, not just food-related but also some plastic wrapping. The stretch of road from the entrance to Westgate Retail Park up to the traffic lights was virtually litter-free.”
The report found that Market Square was moderately littered but improvements could be made relatively easily.
“A scattering of fast food wrappers and sweet papers took away from an otherwise clean and tidy street. With a quick clean-up, this could easily get the top litter grade.”
O’Connell Street was found to be clean to European norms, while there was praise for the Cathedral.
“This is a beautifully presented environment which has been well respected and carefully maintained. The overall impression was of a very well presented environment.”
Westgate Housing Estate and Westgate Retail Park both won praise as did the link road from the Clare Abbey roundabout to the roundabout at the West County Hotel.
Mayor of Ennis Frankie Neylon said that the result was disappointing given that over €1 million per annum had been spent on the town’s appearance. He also said he would be interested in knowing when the inspectors had visited Ennis.
Councillor Brian Meaney said the council needed to take on board the negative commentary and to respond to it.
“The improvement of the last few years showed Ennis made progress and now we have to take this on board and improve,” he commented.
Councillor Meaney also said that there was “real credibility” to the ratings system employed by IBAL.
However, Councillor Mary Coote-Ryan said that she felt the findings shouldn’t be taken that seriously. Town clerk Eddie Power was also critical of the IBAL findings. “There were 10 sites selected and it’s unknown how and why.”
He expressed doubt about the criticism in the report. “It’s hard to accept the actual comments, I don’t think that they stand up to scrutiny.”
He also pointed out that Ennis had been the country’s tidiest largest urban area in the 2009 Tidy Towns competition.