It’s hard to know where to start with the ourtageous comments from the (unelected) Chief Executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey in relation to public bins (echolive, 27 April 2021 – ‘We are not throwing more money into this’: Cork Council Chief rules out providing more bins to ease littering). It seems as though he almost doesn’t understand what the role of Local Authorities even is. His approach to this shows a complete disregard for the health and safety that having public bins brings to society and furthermore shows his disdainful attitude towards the general public and the public realm.
Tim Lucey doesn’t want to spend public money on ensuring we have a clean litter-free environment and instead says that Cork County Council will spend money on a marketing/public information campaign.
Let’s pick his comments apart bit by bit:
Tim Lucey: “If I had my way I would have no bins around the county as I feel it only encourages people to leave litter”
Response: Public bins have been a part of society around the world for a very very long time. When operated and maintained correctly, they work. They don’t encourage people to litter – quite the opposite: their presence deters littering.
TL: “We spend €3.2 million on street cleaning and litter management every year. That is not a good use of taxpayers money”
Response: €3.2 million for Cork County Council is not a significant amount of money for litter management. It is less than 1% of Cork County Council’s annual budget. Given that there are 330,000 people living in Cork County Council’s jurisdiction, that is <€10 per person per year. This appears on the surface at least to be a good use of public money to keep areas clean.
TL: “No matter how often we empty our bins, there will be people who will leave their rubbish at the side of a bin which is a disgrace”
Response: How insulting this comment is to the general public warrants a wider discusssion. For now, it was warned that the privatisation of waste services and the pay-per-weight basis to which this has progressed would lead to fly-tipping. Furthermore Cork County Council has cut the weekend overtime work for staff who empty bins – i.e. they are ensuring that rubbish piles up at the weekends where public bins are provided. It is clear why rubbish piles up at hotspots which people visit at weekends. Bins should be emptied based on the public need, not on budget-led decisions to cut overtime.
Cork County Council and Tim Lucey’s approach is completely inconsistent with public spaces around the world in which local municipalities generally provide bins and keep areas clean. His budget-obsessed attitude flies in the face of the public need for a clean and safe environment as well as environmental amenity value.
Cork County Council should bring domestic waste collection services back in-house and end the privatisation rip-off that every household is subject to.