Kildare County Council HQ
Kildare County Council’s standard response to the plethora of demands for road repairs, footpath fix-ups and the latest lighting is that it doesn’t have the money.
The council simply can’t do all that’s asked of it because there isn’t enough money to go around.
Obviously the council has finite resources. The day is long gone too when Kildare County Council was resposible for all of the county’s infrastructure.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland looks after the motorways, the National Roads Authority is responsible for funding national roads, and the National Transport Authority runs public transport and makes decisions about bus shelters.
Last year though Kildare County council “wasted” money at the rate of about €210,000 a month. Probably the same the year before and before that. And again this year and next.
The waste — no pun intended — amounts to €2.5m a year.
At face value it’s a scandal worthy of another of those long running barrister-enriching tribunals.
The €2.5m bill came out of the coffers for street cleaning and the cost of tackling illegal dumping. It is — hopefully — an all in gross figure, but the point is that this money could be better spent on so many other things.
If all of us were more vigilant about litter and its disposal, and we didn’t leave bags of refuse in the countryside rather than disposing of it in a civilised manner, then the money would be spend more constructively.
If KCC didn’t spend the money on something that is largely avoidable, there would be much condemnation headed in its direction as the appearance of our environment deteriorated.
And it is our environment.
It is difficult to understand whether we damage it because we are careless, or whether there are some among us who, for whatever reason, despise our environment.
It can be hardly be a lack of knowledge. Every jackass knows today that it’s wrong to create litter.
It’s not any consolation that the problem across the water in Britain is no less acute. Two years ago The Guardian reported that the head of Keep Britain Tidy (the UK’s equivalent of Tidy Towns) believed “we are on the verge of a crisis” because of the rising rate of fly-tipping and fast food littering.
He said the UK seems “to have more litter than anywhere else in the world” and he was fearful that councils will have spend more to clean up and that there would be follow on cuts to other services.
Joe Boland, KCC’s official in charge of the environment matters in this county, said recently littering is a huge problem affecting the whole county.
“The problem is only getting worse. We put a lot of effort into this and into the local Tidy Towns.”
In Naas, street cleaning starts at 6.15am. In 2017 ,120 tonnes of litter and waste was collected by the street cleaning crew. The council says it cleans dog dirt. It’s just that the rate at which owners let their pets foul the paths exceeds the clean up rate.
KCC shouldn’t have to clean dog dirt. There is some evidence that as a society littering is becoming less acceptable but it is a painfully slow transition. The hope is that, like drink driving, it will move from being accepted to being unacceptable. But when we’re bad, we’re very bad. The sight of take away food containers, the contents of same, bottles, cans, glasses and even puddles of pukiepoohs left on the main street of Naas every morning after the Punchestown Festival is something to behold.
The council cleans it up early every day so you’d need to be up early to see it.
No doubt the consumption of alcohol — and perhaps a little something or two in addition — has a role to play.
But all of these are matters of choice.
Life’s like that, it’s about choices and consequences.
We just keep making the wrong choices and expect someone else to clean up after us.