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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

“The town is in a bit of a state” – Councillors call for action on street cleaning in Ballymena

Ballymena town centre

Mid and East Antrim councillors have been given an update on the borough council’s environmental performance for the last financial year.

A report to the Environment and Economy Committee noted a 14 per cent reduction in electricity usage for 2023/24 and drop in water usage by 20.8 per cent.

Energy consumption has reduced by nine per cent during the last financial year and fuel consumption by three per cent.

The report says that the local authority aims to deliver three “large” LED lighting projects and three solar projects in its buildings in a bid to further reduce energy consumption.

Braid DUP Alderman William McCaughey suggested the council should purchase electricity direct from a provider such as a solar farm. He urged the council to write to Stormont seeking a decision on the proposed wind farm at Carnalbanagh and solar farm planned in Kells.

Meanwhile, the council aims to reduce fuel usage across its fleet by five per cent during this financial year. Bannside TUV Councillor Timothy Gaston asked if the council’s “route optimisation” initiative has worked.

Route optimisation was introduced by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council last October to improve efficiency of its bin lorries. It involves planning the quickest way for the vehicles to get from one street to another.

Shaun Morley, the council’s new operations director, said he did not know if has worked “as well as intended” and suggested that there may be “work to do where pressure points are”.

Cllr Gaston went on to comment during the meeting on street cleanliness saying: 

“When you look round Ballymena, our street cleaning has fallen away down.”

He pointed out street cleanliness was highlighted in an update from Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID) also presented to the committee at a meeting on Monday evening.

A report to the committee said: “Street cleanliness remains a problem in the town – dog fouling not being cleared in a timely manner, general litter and fly-tipping are causes for concern.”

Cllr Gaston said he believed street cleaning is “non-existent” in villages outside Ballymena. However he suggested areas such as Galgorm “do not have this problem” and he would not like to think there are places “being shown favouritism”.

Ballymena DUP Cllr Lawrie Philpott said:

“The town is in a bit of a state. There is something that needs to be done. Set up a programme for a complete clean up.

“Community groups which are afforded not just funding but equipment, get those community groups on board with this. There are many community groups which get involved cleaning up their areas but we need to support them.”

Ald McCaughey called for DfI (Department for Infrastructure) to inspect the paving in Ballymena town centre saying if loose stones are not mended, this will have a “ripple effect”.

Cllr Gaston remarked: “The reality has not lived up to the hype when it was laid.” He also said the council should not “shirk responsibility” for street cleaning.


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