Simple litter picks across the borough could see entire roads closed in what has been described as “bureaucracy gone mad”.
Rural roads across the Armagh borough have gone five months without so much as a crisp packet lifted, however, new advice from the Health and Safety Executive is the reason behind this, according to one local councillor.
The SDLP’s Thomas O’Hanlon claims guidance issued by the Executive has resulted in roads not being litter picked for almost half a year and has called for a common sense approach to prevail.
“Rural roads are in a complete and utter mess,” slammed councillor O’Hanlon.
“No matter which town you drive out of the hedgerows are littered with wrappings, bottles and food containers. Whilst there needs to be a greater emphasis on catching those responsible, we just cannot let the stuff lie there, it must be cleaned up.
“As a council, we talk much about boosting the economy, attracting jobs and tourists or this being a great place to live and work in.
“But in all sincerity who wants to live in a dirty area, who would visit or invest in an area like this.
“I have raised the issue and met with the director and senior officials to discuss this very issue. I was astonished to learn that new advice from the Health and Safety Executive is apparently the reason why we cannot get our roads cleaned.
“The official advice is to ensure that when staff or contractors are litter picking along roads there must be at set clearance area between operatives and vehicles using the road.
“Working this through to its natural conclusion, this could see main roads coned off or even closed just to enable litter to be cleared. This is bureaucracy and red tape gone mad and is completely bonkers.
“This is pure madness. If this were implemented in full, it could mean for example lane closures implemented on the Armagh – Monaghan Road for days just so litter can be cleared, or where you have narrower roads like the Derrynoose Road, Darkley Road or Keady Road closed all together to facilitate these works.”
Councillor O’Hanlon said officers across the councils are challenging this guidance and that staff involved in the work think “it’s madness”.
He said: “The health and safety of our staff and contractors vital, but this guidance is overkill.
“It could and will see litter stacked up on roadsides and will ramp up the costs of clearing it when the issue is settled. I just hope common sense prevails and that some action can be taken in the interim.”