This is taken from a recent rant of mine concerning Cork's Future. In it, I noted a number of 'problems' I feared, if not overcome, would damage the successful realisation of Cork's development and regeneration. Among these fears is Cork's reputation as a 'litter blackspot'. Again walking the streets of the city today I felt compelled to post this - litter is an issue that needs to be tackled from the ground (literally) up, starting not simply with physical work, but also educational. It is a mindset that needs to be changed radically and rapidly. I can't help but sometimes blush with embarrassment at some eye-sores and littered places around the city.
As one of my friends commented to me recently as we discussed the situation, "If my wife was as dirty as Cork, I wouldn't be able for work in the morning".
1. [i]Civic Pride/Maintenance - relates much more to the attitudes of persons and groups associated with the Cork region. As I walked Daunt Square and Saint Patrick's Street yesterday afternoon (and I have mentioned this extensively before) I was still struck by the volume of litter bleamishing the pavements. This is an issue I think that is far too casually dismissed. Social and environmental conscience is a nice concept - everyone agrees or at least agrees with novelty efforts for reasons of public image - however I don't think it is sufficiently taken to heart; this is evident by pacing Cork's city centre streets and suburbs. The same old tired agruments emerge from businesses, public bodies and the public alike - "It's too costly", "I have to take care of my business first and foremost, I don't have enough time or finance to meet the requirements for environmental care demanded", "That's what the street cleaners are for", "The City Council already spend X, Y and Z a year on environmental programs and are curently doing A, B and C". I am aware of all this but it still is not good enough and it is not working to what should be the appropriate standard. Environmental education needs to be forcefully drilled into the mindsets of children from nursery school non-stop until they reach their final year in Secondary School. Every litter bin in every street in Cork should be subdivided in paper, plastic, glass etc (of course some persons won't give 2 hoots about this - so enforce it with strictly regulated, performance-pay-related Litter Wardens who can work in conjunction with the Gardai (give them a linked radio frequency) to document, enforce and punish individuals there and then with community service for example (street cleaning etc) depending on the extent of the offence). The existing numeracy, monitoring and nature of bring sites around Cork is inadequate. Too often persons shove mixed-rubbish bags into the same slot of a recycle bin because there is no accounting for disregard. The recycle centre in Trim, Co. Meath is perhaps a good model for an organised, monitored and well structured Bring Site - more of this please in Cork.
Street-cleaning is often looked upon as a low-bracket job ~ an image which needs serious revision. I have observed some genuinely hard-working and attentive gentlemen and women on the streets of Cork fulfilling the roles of Sanitation Officers; however given the volume of city centre traffic (pedestrian and otherwise), the frequency of such work is insufficient. There is a need for more officers on the streets with the capacity to continuously clean paving (stains, chewing gum etc), collect and organise litter, weed unsightly vegetation non-stop 16 hours a day on all Cork's major city centre streets (in various shifts of course) with awards based on volume and extent of work. Yes this is a costly operation but it is an essential one which should under no circumstances be given second stroke. Cork features too prominently too often on Ireland's Annual Litter Black-spots list - walking the streets of the city today highlights the reasons why only too well.
All building proprietors by strictly enforced law should ensure the upkeep and presentation of their buildings - everything from paint, stains, watermarks, broken pipes, slates, signage, unsightly vegetation growth (moss, weeds etc) - should be regularly reviewed by assigned agents under the direction of an independently appointed body; perhaps in conjunction with reports by the aforementioned santitation officers who will be most frequently on the streets to observe such failings. Where funds are genuinely unavailable to carry out immediate works, perhaps an interest-based loan system may be made by the City Council to proprietors for instant works.
The attitude to our environment in Cork is as much a mindset issue as much as it is a capacity one. I've heard so many economic, social and not-my-problem arguments and I'm not convinced by any of them. Cork's presentation and environment is the responsibility of everyone. The long-term benefits (i.e. tourism, investment etc) are overlooked so easily on the basis that they are strategic and not immediate. A pity that must end. It's time to get your cleaning act in order Cork.