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DAERA Minister inspects new street sweepers during visit to Mid and East Antrim

From left to right: Alderman William McNeilly, Chair of MEABC's Direct Services Committee, with Mayor, Councillor Peter Johnston, and the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Minister, Edwin Poots MLA, in Ballymena.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s ongoing fightback against littering and waste crime has been praised by the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots MLA, during a visit to the area.

Council Mayor Cllr Peter Johnston, and Officers from the Waste Services Team, welcomed the Minister, who inspected a fleet of new street sweepers funded by his department.

The £234,000 state-of-the-art equipment forms another key part of Council’s commitment to tackling littering throughout the Borough.

Council has also recently teamed up with Waste Investigations Support & Enforcement (WISE) for a yearlong trial to help prosecute those who flout the rules.

Enforcement Officers are working in partnership with Council Officers and have powers to issue fixed penalty notices (FPN) to anyone failing to pick up after their dog or dropping litter in the street.

Speaking following the DAERA Minister’s visit, Mayor Cllr Peter Johnston, said:

“I was delighted to welcome Minister Poots to Ballymena and that he was able to see for himself the new street sweepers which are another major tool in Council’s efforts to keep our local environment clean and looking its best.

“As a Council we are required to provide scheduled and reactive street cleansing across the Borough.

“The compact sweeper will not only support the immediate demand on the service as a result of Covid, but also help us tackle the medium to longer term increase in cleansing regime required as a result of the phased lockdown easing over the coming months.

“The sweeper is a valuable resource to help us keep the streets and paths clear of litter and dog foul, and the support of the Department and Minister Poots is very welcome.

“We want all those who live, work and visit Mid and East Antrim Borough in the coming weeks and months to enjoy our beautiful towns, villages and countryside, and every one of us has a role to play in that.”

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA said:

“I am pleased that my Department has been able to provide £234,000 of funding to purchase state-of-the-art sweeper equipment.

“Here in Northern Ireland we have some of the most stunning natural landscape in the world, and the scourge of littering and dog fouling is costing us all, not just in financial terms through our public services, but especially through the harm that is caused to our precious environment for current and future generations.

“It was good to see how Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is tackling these problems and sending a clear message that our local communities are worth protecting.

“As we begin to see the reopening of visitor attractions across Northern Ireland over coming weeks and months, it is crucial that we all do what we can to look after the places and spaces we call home.”

In addition to the new street sweeping equipment and the rollout of the WISE enforcement team, Council is also working with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful to promote environmental awareness in local schools, while additional surveying across the Borough is helping to identify areas that need extra attention.

Dog fouling and littering have seen an increase throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, while the level of PPE such as gloves and masks, has markedly risen.