Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has given an assurance that its street cleansing programme will be “delivered as planned”.
The council gave the assurance in response to claims that cleansing staff were unable to carry out litter picking duties along certain busy roads in the area due to new health and safety regulations.
According to local UUP Councillor Alexander Redpath, residents in Aghalee recently complained to the local authority about rubbish lying on the Soldierstown Road only to be told that the road could not be litter picked as staff hadn’t received the necessary health and safety training.
After being informed that it could take several months for all staff to be put through the training, Cllr Redpath raised the issue at a special meeting of the council last week.
Welcoming support from a number of councillors from other political parties, he said the council has now done “a U-turn” on the issue and “reversed its decision not to litterpick on rural roads following intervention by councillors.”
Cllr Redpath, who has welcomed an assurance that rural roads around Aghalee will benefit from regular litter picks from this Saturday, commented: “Councillors are elected to deliver results, not to provide excuses. Residents were rightly concerned when council officers indicated that this vital service couldn’t be provided for health and safety reasons.
“Having raised this matter at full council I am glad to say that while a training need does exist, suitable qualified staff are available to plug the gap. The remaining training will be provided as soon as possible.”
Cllr Redpath has also asked council officers to consider additional litter bin provision along the Broad Water towpath.
Responding to concerns about the provision of street cleansing services, a spokesperson for Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council stressed that “at no time has the council’s planned street cleansing obligations been curtailed.”
Pointing out that the local authority is regulated by the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland, she said: “In terms of compliance with relevant health and safety legislation the council ensures that all staff are appropriately trained, and this includes those staff deployed on street cleansing duties.
“Due to the high level of traffic on roads with a national speed limit in the city council area street cleansing duties on these roads are currently being carried out at off-peak hours. This is to reduce the risk to both those operatives carrying out these duties and road users.”
The spokesperson added: “Staff health and safety and awareness training is ongoing which will enable the full street cleansing programme to be delivered as planned.
“The safety of all road users is of paramount importance to the council.”
Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist Assembly candidate Robbie Butler, who joined party colleagues to help with a clean-up in the Aghalee area last week, has stressed that littering isn’t just an issue for the council.
“We all have a role in keeping Lagan Valley clean and tidy. If issues exist please bring these to the attention of your local representatives and when out walking please ensure that any litter is disposed of properly in the bins provided,” he commented.