SKIBBEREEN’S new bring site is not working to its full potential, but councillors found at a recent meeting there was little Council support for their suggestions to improve opening times.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said: ‘People are having to take time off work to go to it.’
For four years – ever since it was first proposed that the town’s bring site would be upgraded to an ‘enhanced’ site – Cllr Carroll has been raising the issue at Western Committee meetings.
But at the recent meeting, it was the turn of Cllr Karen Coakley of Fine Gael to complain. She tabled a motion highlighting the deficiencies of the enhanced site.
She said the opening times do not suit anyone who works Monday to Friday, especially because it closes for lunch, and is closed all day Saturday.
She made the point that most people come to town on Saturday, specifically for the market at the Fairfield in the town centre, which makes Saturday the ideal day for them to dispose of their rubbish and do their recycling.
Cllr Coakley said she has seen people turn up with a car full of refuse and items to be recycled, only to find the gate locked, which means that they have to take everything home again and unpack it.
‘This lack of access will lead to dumping, especially on our country roads,’ she warned. Responding to claims that it would cost considerably more to keep it open during lunch, as well as Saturdays, Cllr Coakley pointed out: ‘There is also a cost element in having more staff dealing with illegal dumping.’
Ted O’Leary, who was standing in for the director of environment, Louis Duffy, at the Western Committee meeting, first addressed an issue raised by Cllr Holly Cairns (SD) who suggested that the bottle banks should be located outside of the pay zone.
In every town where there is a civic amenity site or an enhanced bring site, Mr O’Leary said, there are no bottle banks outside the site. ‘That is the situation,’ he said, ‘and that is how it will remain in Skibbereen.’
Cllr Cairns pointed out bottle banks in places like Ballydehob and Schull are free, but the divisional manager, Clodagh Heneghan, said these bottle banks do not have operational costs.
The manager said: ‘It is important to be conscious of the resourcing. If additional costs are incurred, it means a reduction in service levels somewhere else.’
In terms of overall expenditure, Mr O’Leary said the cost of operating Cork County Council’s 12 recycling centres is €6m per annum.
In Skibbereen, he said, the cost of creating the enhanced site was €280,000, and the projected income could be in the region of €180,000 per annum.
‘Saturday,’ he added, ‘is not part of the budget. To open on Saturday would require a substantial budget increase.’
Cllr Coakley argued that ‘a lot of people have Monday to Friday jobs and people want to do their recycling on Saturdays.’
Another Council engineer, Liam Singleton, told the councillors: ‘Skibbereen was given a big asset – other towns don’t have this asset – this was a balancing measure.’
According to Mr Singleton, to open it at lunchtime, or on Saturdays, would require two additional members of staff.
He also pointed out: ‘The usage of the site is very low.’
Sometimes, he said, the number of people using the Skibbereen site is less than 10, but could be 20 on a good day.’
He said the local authority is even considering launching a PR campaign to try to promote it.