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Thursday, 1st April 2021

Council’s high handed approach frightening elderly people says former Mayor

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The letter sent out by Louth County Council last week which threatens recipients with fines of up to €2,500 if they can't prove they are in compliance with the waste bye-laws.

“Tone and content of Council letter to elderly person unacceptable” says Michael O’Dowd

Sometimes you’d wonder about Louth County Council. They certainly do themselves no favours when it comes to communications, their attitude lets them down time and time again.

They are public servants but in their dealings with the public, the people they are there to serve, they seem to like adopting an authoritarian tone.

A case in point was brought to our attention this week by local Aontú Party representative and former Mayor of Drogheda Michael O'Dowd who is angry with Louth County Council over letters they sent to individuals across the county relating to new waste bye-laws that were introduced in 2019.

An elderly Drogheda person contacted O’Dowd and showed him a letter dated March 23 from the Council threatening legal action and fines of up to €2,500 because there was no bin in front of their house when the Council carried out a “Household Waste Presentation Survey” on an unspecified date in 2020.

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The letter goes on to say:

We wish to advise that in order to comply with the above bye-laws, households must be able to provide evidence that they have:-

  1. A contract in place with an authorised waste collector (receipt or confirmation letter/email from authorised waste collector).
  2. Have a bin sharing agreement in place with another household who has a domestic wheelie bin service with an authorised waste collector. Proof of the agreement and the bin service will be required.
  3. Demonstrate (by providing receipts) that they regularly dispose of their waste at an authorised waste facility. (Copies of receipts from a registered waste facility such as V&W Civic Amenity sites, showing that you dispose of your waste there.)

The letter then demands that the recipient demonstrate that they comply with the bye laws threatening that failure to do so  may result in a fixed notice payment of €75 or a summary conviction of up to €2,500.

 “There is so much wrong with this approach” Mr O’Dowd said. This is a heavy-handed approach that frankly has frightened elderly people.  It is not signed or properly addressed so is of dubious legal standing.”

 “When contacted the Council wouldn’t share the dates upon which the survey was carried out so the resident couldn’t check why no bin was put out at the time.

“The tone of the letter is wrong and unacceptable and not what we expect from a public service organisation. This is not good enough to get buy-in from the public.

“The Council needs to educate, encourage, engage and then, as a last resort, enforce. The heavy-handed approach and threatening tone towards elderly people is counterproductive in our community”, concluded O’Dowd.

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