CIVIC-minded Larne residents are to be offered cash incentives to take part in organised litter picks across the borough.
As part of the annual Tidy NI Big Spring Clean taking place in April, local individuals and groups are being encouraged to take pride in their communities by carrying out clean-ups of untidy spots such as beaches, roads or parks.
In return, the council will pay those involved in the clean-ups, provide litter pickers and bin bags, and even arrange for the bags to be collected and transported after the event.
And if the concept proves to be a success, the council may consider extending the scheme to help tackle the borough’s litter problem throughout the year.
Philip Thompson, director of environmental services for Larne council, said cleaning up after “irresponsible individuals within the community who give no concern for the impact of their actions” was a “continual drain” on council resources.
He added that letters would now be sent out to schools and community groups to make people aware of the new initiative and gauge the level interest in the local community.
Any person or group interested in taking part in the scheme must first register with the local authority, and also indicate the area they intend to clean up along with a proposed date and time.
For individuals and groups of up to five people, a fee of £2.50 will be paid for every black bin liner that is filled with litter. When a group has more than five people, £30 will be paid for a two-hour litter pick, £60 for a four-hour litter pick, £90 for six hours and £120 for an eight-hour clean up.
Those taking part in the litter pick must endeavour to collect different material – such as aluminium cans, glass, plastic and paper – in separate bags.
At the latest meeting of the council’s environment committee, elected members welcomed the scheme and said it would go a long way to help tidy up the borough.
However, Alderman Roy Beggs felt that individuals should be excluded from the initiative and said: “I agree with the concept of the incentive scheme, but I think we should restrict it to groups of people. You might get some smart person operating on his own who will go round emptying bins to make up a day’s pay for himself.”
But Mr Thompson moved to reassure Ald Beggs that this would not be the case, stating that those taking part in the clean ups would have to submit pictures of their designated areas before and after each event.
Alderman Winston Fulton said the council should not be discouraging anyone from taking part in this scheme, telling members that he had already been approached by a resident in the Craigyhill area of the town who wanted to organise a group to clean up the area.
“This person did not even ask for any payment,” he added. “I think this is a great scheme that will save the council money and will go a long way to help clean up the borough.”
Mr Thompson said that any individual or group who was interested in taking part in the Big Spring Clean should contact the technical services department on 028 2826 2307.