Council’s bonfire plan falls short on results

by Ian Begley

THERE has been no significant reduction in bonfires at Halloween in the past three years, according to South Dublin County Council.

The news comes as the council revealed it has spent almost €2m since 2005 on post-Halloween clean-ups.

Following the October council meeting, a review regarding the effectiveness of the free access to the Civic Amenity scheme at Ballymount Waste Facility in dealing with anti-social activity at Halloween has shown that it has not reduced the number of bonfires in October.

The review also showed that there was an increase in the cost of operating the scheme, along with increasing logistical issues, resulting in significant safety issues at the civic amenity and in the surrounding areas.

There has also been no increase in the streams of waste accepted at the site that might have been expected to rise if material was being diverted from bonfires.

South Dublin councillor Trevor Gilligan (FF) says he disagrees that the council’s initiative did nothing to reduce the number of bonfires over the past three years.

He said: “Whilst the council says that the initiative did nothing to reduce the number of bonfires, I disagree. There were 523 bonfires in 2009, compared to 343 in 2010. Until now, the council praised the free access as a success. In every report, the first sentence has the word ‘success’. Now, however, it’s a different story.

“Last year, the council offered free access to the Ballymount Waste Facility in an effort to reduce bonfire numbers. Almost 3,000 residents availed of the offer.

“Numerous residents have been calling for this to reduce the number of bonfires. Whilst my motion passed, the council has not provided details offering any free access. The cost was minimal to the council – €56,000, or €0.22 per South Dublin resident,” he said.

“The number of bonfires may double over the Halloween period and the council will incur a much bigger clean-up cost. Bonfires increased by 12% from 2011 to 2012, from 351 to 393. The cost of cleaning up each bonfire works out at €194.
“The cost of cleaning 523 bonfires in 2009 was €101,525 and, in 2010, to clean up 343 bonfires the cost was €77,050,” said Cllr Gilligan.

South Dublin County Council’s Civic Amenity scheme was put in place to acknowledge and reward community groups who strive to improve their environment and encourage them to continue taking positive sustainable actions within their community, particularly at Halloween.

Under the council’s Safe Halloween plan, areas where material for bonfires are traditionally stockpiled will be targeted by the council’s waste and litter-enforcement section.

The council said its officials would be “vigilant” in seeking out stockpiles of material in advance of Halloween. The council has spent almost €2 million on the clean-up after Halloween bonfires over the past three years.

This figure comes as the council says it is currently striving to reduce the availability of old pallets, furniture and tyres in advance of Halloween.

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