Londonderry Mayor Martin Reilly swapped his chain for safety boots and a binman’s uniform for a shift with the city’s cleansing and refuse staff recently.
He adorned the bright yellow suit for a first hand look at the trials and tribulations facing our front line service providers.
He explained: “As Mayor, I feel it is important to get a real sense of the work that happens within the Refuse department; to see exactly what issues they face daily, and to provide a voice to those dedicated staff who sometimes do not receive the acknowledgement they deserve.
“In recent years, there have been major investments that have seen the department improve dramatically, and with the city looking better than ever, it is a credit to the 105 employees currently working within the refuse sector.
“Derry City Council places community needs at the very core of its services, delivering a quality service and ensuring the City is clean, which is of the most importance.”
The Mayor said he acknowledged the unsung work of the city’s binwomen and binmen, much of which is carried out whilst most of us are in bed or enjoying bleary-eyed breakfasts.
“The Refuse Collection team at Derry City Council are on the streets at six each morning and a lot of the work carried out can sometimes go unobserved in the mornings as they rid the streets of the debris of the night before, and provide us with an exemplary service by emptying our rubbish with a weekly service,” said the Mayor.
And it’s not just collecting our wheelie bins that dominates the working week of local cleansing workers.
“It is not only the bins each day that the refuse team is responsible for, but the cleansing of parks, public spaces as well as lifting cigarette butts, gum removal, dog fouling and graffiti removal. Since the introduction of litter wardens who work around the city centre we have also seen an improvement in the overall cleanliness of the city centre,” said Mayor Reilly.
John Quinn, Principle Supervisor at Derry City Council facilitated the Mayor’s visit.
He said: “We are delighted the Mayor has taken time out of his busy schedule to meet with the staff and accompany them on a typical day at work and see for himself the challenges we face on a day to day basis.
“It’s not an easy job but the staff are a credit to the department. Working well as a team, there is a great relationship between staff and the majority of the public, who are appreciative of the services we provide.
“There is also a great sense of pride in our work and the role we play in the everyday running of the city. The Mayor’s visit to Skeoge also helps create awareness of the department and what we do.”
The Mayor also believes the city’s nomination as UK City of Culture 2013 helped instil a greater sense of civic responsibility amongst citizens.
He said: “During our year as the UK City of Culture the public seemed to have taken great pride in the city and a more proactive and responsible attitude to keeping the city clean. This is fantastic and welcome change and shows how the proactive work carried out by the refuse and cleansing staff to increase awareness is paying off.”
He said he would continue to encourage the public to take responsibility for their city and to play their role in keeping the city litter free.
“I would appeal to the public to be proactive in regards to waste management. We all share responsibility for this and the onus is on all of us to do our bit to achieve a clean city.
“The blue bins that are given free to each household are a convenient way of playing your part. In the year 2012/2013, there were nearly 50,000 tonnes of household waste, and nearly 12,000 tonnes of recyclable material collected.
“These data indicate the vast amount of waste for the Derry City Area and shows that there is room for improvement in the recycling sector.
“There will soon be a pilot scheme in which 24,000 homes across Derry will be able to avail of the new brown bin service for the disposal of food waste, and this will commence in March. There has been a renewed pride in our city, and this will hopefully continue as we set to have an exciting year with maintaining our legacy of City of Culture.”
Derry City Council has seven household recycling centres at Brandywell, Glendermott, Pennyburn, Strathfoyle, Eglinton, Claudy and Park village.
The Council’s civic amenity sites and recycling centre’s provide residents of the city and district the opportunity to recycle or dispose of larger household items and contribute towards a better environment for everyone.
Recycling enables us to save energy, reduce pollution and conserve natural resources for future generations. Recycling is so much more convenient and accessible to everyone and is beneficial to all. For more information on recycling visit – www.derrycity.gov.uk/recycle