WISE enforcement group will meet with a council working group at 6pm on Tuesday, October 12 ahead of the Environmental Services Committee meeting.
Director of Environmental Services, Aidan McPeake confirmed to councillors at the full meeting of Causeway Coast & Glens Council that invitations to the meeting would be sent out ‘once Democratic Services has received nominations’ for the working group.
At the September meeting of the Environmental Services Committee, DUP Councillor John McAuley had called for a meeting with the litter enforcement company to discuss the enforcement and fines being handed out saying ‘WISE has lost the support of the public.’
The councillor was damning in his assessment of the work being carried out by WISE, raising concerns that the officers are only concentrating on littering of cigarette butts because they are an ‘easy hit’.
Councillor Adrian McQuillan proposed a working group was formed to meet with WISE. Councillor McAuley seconded it saying: “Let them prove their worth and see if they can focus on other aspects rather than cigarette butts.”
During October’s full council meeting, Councillor McAuley asked the director for an update on the impact WISE were making and how it was affecting council services or were they ‘just focusing on areas not maintained by council or are we now looking after private car parks because that’s where they are focusing on?’
Mr McPeake replied: “I think it is best addressed through the committee or working group when we can raise that with the WISE contractors at the time and deal with it then.”
“That’s not a question for WISE as to how it has impacted council services,” said the Causeway DEA councillor. “They won’t be interested in how it has impacted council services.
“I’m asking why they are focusing on areas we don’t control or are we saying this hasn’t impacted the cleansing teams and that’s why we are sidestepping the answer?”
McMcPeake said it was too early to get ‘an exact impact’ as the contract with WISE was only two months old.
PUP Councillor Watton also raised his concerns about WISE saying: “I have been contacted by many people, mainly pensioners about what they now call in Coleraine ‘the butt men’ because it seems to be all they concentrate on.
“I thought the easy pickings would be over now but apparently not. I have been out at 7am and I have been out after tea time and I do not see any evidence of them out trying to catch the dog foulers which is the reason I voted for this.
“It has created a bad, bad feeling and when you see the figures and only none out of 749 fines were for dog fouling, it’s dismal and just not good enough as far as I’m concerned.”
UUP Councillor Darryl Wilson said ‘this is what we voted for and this is what we asked for.’
“I do appreciate there are a very, very large number of cigarette butt fines being issued but that’s littering and we have said we would meet with WISE over the coming months and we will try to direct them and steer them towards other areas through feedback we get as elected representatives,” he said.
“Nobody likes receiving a fine but in general we are going in the right direction. If you take the figures out for cigarette butts then there is a significant increase compared to what we were issuing as a council. Littering is littering and it’s a fair cop if you are caught.”
DUP Alderman George Duddy agreed that ‘littering is littering’, however, he added ‘we don’t sweep the supermarket car parks, we sweep the streets.’
He commented: “Most of these fines are taking place in the likes of the Riverside Retail Park, the Jet Centre, ASDA, Tesco not where we actually have a cost for sweeping the streets.
“This council employs WISE so this council can tell WISE where to go to try and apprehend those who are dropping litter. Therefore this council has the authority, without having to wait on any working group, to come forward and direct WISE to the main streets, main thoroughfares, along the rural roads where there are numerous offences of litter being dropped on a daily basis.
“However, for WISE to make their profits they must sit in those areas and wait for those people because they are getting 90p in the pound it’s simple as that.”
The working group meeting with WISE will take place at 6pm on Tuesday, October 12 followed by the Environmental Services Committee at 7pm.