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What A Waste: No wriggle room from council on return to refuse collection services

County Hall
County Hall, St Alphonsus Road, Dundalk. Photo Credit: Adrian Crawley.

Louth County Council remain steadfast in their refusal to even entertain bringing back refuse collection services back into public ownership, according to local authority Chief Executive Joan Martin.

Martin addressed the February meeting of the council last Monday at County Hall and responded to a request from Pearse McGeough as to whether there had been action taken on a motion he had passed last September in which he requested that a working group be established to investigate the viability of the council providing such refuse collection services.

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Cllr McGeough’s motion had initially passed last September by 11 to nine. There was one abstention (Cllr Conor Keelan) and eight members were absent for the vote.

His original motion read, ‘That this council agree that the current privatised system of our domestic waste services is expensive, bad for the environment and lacking in controls and regulations. That this Council agree to set up a working group with a view to the viability of taking waste collection back into public ownership or at least adopting the ‘franchising’ model which would give Louth County Council the power to contract a single waste collection service for the county.’

In response to the Sinn Féin councillor’s question, Martin reiterated her stance from last year. She read out the council’s response to the motion, saying, “There is no plan to provide domestic waste collection services by the council.”

Cllr McGeough asked that his motion be referred to the Strategic Policy Committee “so they can adjudicate” but Martin told him that was not a function available to members.

“The SPC doesn’t have any adjudication or decision making powers,” she said. “The decision rests with this council. There is no obligation on the executive to follow through on a notice of motion adopted by members of the council.

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“I did make it clear on the day that I was not going to entertain going back into a refuse collection service. We’re out of it a very long time. People were not prepared to pay the council for it.

“We are simply not in a financial position to take a risk like that with our finances again. My view on it hasn’t changed,” she told the meeting.

In 2018, a review conducted by The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) recommended that a regulator should license waste firms and set prices where necessary, and be backed by strong enforcement powers- findings that were rejected by the Irish Waste Management Association who said the market was operating in the best interests of the consumer.

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