Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Council’s street cleaning in Crossmaglen ‘well below acceptable standard’

Street cleaning in Crossmaglen falls well below acceptable standards despite the provision of extra equipment and an increase in workers’ hours, Councillor Terry Hearty has claimed.

The Sinn Fein councillor says he has invited the head of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Mr Liam Hannaway, to visit the town and see for himself the affected areas and those frequently strewn with litter.

“I am seriously disappointed with street cleaning in Crossmaglen despite the increase in cleaning hours and the significant rate payer investment in expensive mechanical sweepers over the past five years,” Mr Hearty said.

“As well as the streets and Square not receiving the care they require, we have bins overflowing with rubbish for days and paving bricks covered in moss which will become slippery and dangerous once the wet and cold weather sets in.”

The councillor revealed numerous meetings have taken place over the years regarding the issue, which led to brief periods of improvement before reverting “back into old habits”.

“This cycle must stop,” he said.  “Community Associations and businesses do excellent work in keeping the town looking clean and welcoming but the Council must play their part as well.  Officials responsible for street cleaning must spend more time in the area and check that proper cleansing is taking place and a sustainable cleansing schedule is in place.

“We have seen a marked increase in the numbers of tourists visiting the south Armagh area and naturally many of them want to come and see the area’s main town, visit the shops, eat in the restaurants and take a walk around our famous Square.  Tourism is a priority for our Council and particularly this area, so it is simply unacceptable that people could go away with a bad impression of the area because proper street cleansing cannot be maintained.”

The councillor says he is personally inviting the Council’s Chief Executive to visit the town “not only to see how bad the problem gets, but also to see the potential the town has if it could just get the support and services it deserves”.

“I also want to address the fact that a number of footpaths have not been swept this year and, as well as looking bad, discarded tins, packets and bottles present a hazard to children walking to and from school.  I personally witnessed a lady with a pram in the town struggling to get it around and over rubbish on the footpath.

“The Council talks so much about Health and Safety but here we have a health and safety issue that could easily be resolved and so far they are failing to act.  The issue is no different in Lismore and I can assure residents and businesses that I will not let up on the Council until they get our street cleansing right.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Hearty revealed that Transport NI, following sustained lobbying, has promised to commence weed spraying in the areas of Crossmaglen, Creggan and Culloville.

Welcoming the move, he said: “Community groups do tremendous work volunteering their time to make their towns and villages as welcoming and presentable as possible.  It’s a shame when all that work is undone by unsightly weeds and nettles sprouting from every crack in the pavement and kerbstones.

“I lobbied both the Housing Executive and Transport NI about the various pathways and alleys that they are responsible for and while I am happy a commitment has been given it is disappointing that these are the lengths communities must go to in order to get the basic services they are entitled to,” he added.