The shameful condition of a green area adjacent to one of the busiest roads into Kilkenny City makes a ‘joke’ of Kilkenny’s recent Tidy Towns win, according to local councillor David Fitzgerald.
Cllr Fitzgerald, who is also the chairman of Keep Kilkenny Beautiful (KKB), was speaking at the September meeting of Kilkenny County Council. He called on the council to do more to address issues relating to the St Mary’s halting site on the Hebron Road.
The issue was initially raised by Fianna Fail councillor Pat Fitzpatrick, who congratulated KKB on the Tidy Towns success, but said he was very concerned about the Hebron Road and the burning of rubbish by the Travelling Community there.
“What is going on at that halting site?” he asked.
“The state of the place – to see the smoke in the afternoon – it is absolutely shocking and it is insulting to KKB and those involved [in the Tidy Towns success].”
Cllr Fitzgerald (FG) said he had attended a function in the wake of Kilkenny’s Tidy Towns success, and someone had asked him how the city had managed to win given the state of the Hebron Road. The area was criticised in last year’s Tidy Towns adjudication report for its litter problem.
“I then called over to St Mary’s [halting site] myself and stood beside a steaming pile of household refuse,” said Cllr Fitzgerald. He revealed he had been told it was regarded by some there as a solution to the rubbish problem, and a protest against the council.
“I don’t accept that anyone can burn refuse as a ‘protest’ on a public green,” he said.
“It is totally beyond acceptable, and on a gateway to our city where thousands of people come through. It makes a joke of our Tidy Towns win and I would like to see it dealt with urgently.”
Cllr Pat McKee (FF) agreed, and asked that the council address the concerns.
“It is completely unacceptable that we have a situation in the city where we apply a different set of standards to one section of the community, and a higher standard for others,” he said.
“I have witnessed, on several occasions, incidents of anti-social behaviour [in that area]. The impression you get coming in the Dublin Road is that Kilkenny is the Wild West. It cannot go on that we are held to ransom by one section of the community.”
The council is trying to get the Travelling Community at St Mary’s to make binding committments in relation to paying for refuse collection and housing rents. Substantial arrears has built up on rents over the last eight years.
“St Mary’s is a very challenging situation,” director of services John McCormack told the meeting.
“They refuse to pay for the refuse, and there is a serious problem with rent arrears. We are working towards a solution on it.”