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Draft Corporate Improvement Objective 3

To create cleaner neighbourhoods, where everyone takes responsibility for their waste and the environment.

This objective links to theme two in Mid Ulster’s Community Plan, Infrastructure.

The outcomes aligned to this objective are:

  • we increasingly value our environment and enhance it for our children
  • we will develop and deliver programmes/activities in conjunction with our partners & communities to ensure clean neighbourhoods

Why We Are Doing It?

Pre-pandemic we all used public spaces every time we left home. These include the footpaths and streets we walk or drive along each day, the parks our children play in and the outdoor areas we go to exercise or relax in.

Many of our daily decisions and activities are influenced by our perceptions of the quality and cleanliness of the public areas we encounter. The importance of clean, green and blue (our rivers, canals, loughs and so on) spaces, parks, cannot be underestimated. Many benefits derive from a pleasant environment.

The covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns have shown just how important it is for us to have easy access to open space for recreation and exercise and has had a huge impact on everyone in the district, region and worldwide. At its peak, half of the world’s population was made to stay at home or restrict movement in public (Sandford, 2020). The importance of safe, accessible and well-connected green and blue spaces for improving quality of life has never been more pertinent, and for those without gardens the value of these spaces is amplified.

Good quality parks and attractive open space contribute economic benefits to towns and villages. As Mid Ulster competes with others to attract growth, tourism and inward investment a clean, green and pleasant environment plays an important role in marketing the District as a place to live in, move to and visit. Businesses are drawn to places with good quality environment as this in turn attracts customers, employees and services into the local area. In addition, well-maintained towns and villages has a positive impact on commercial and domestic property values.

Regionally and locally increases in obesity, are linked to more sedentary lifestyles including lower levels of outdoor activity. Patterns of exercise in adults are set early in life, so obesity and inactivity in childhood can led to poor health in later years. Good quality public open space is required to encourage healthier lifestyles by providing opportunities for walking, cycling and other outdoor pursuits, as well as being beneficial to mental well-being.

Clean and well-maintained play areas, parks and open space provide important beneficial opportunities for children to learn and develop (their social and emotional development) and stay healthy. Apart from access, the quality of green spaces is crucial too. Quality of facilities – including toilets and cafes; regular maintenance; organised activities can help ensure a green space supports the wellbeing of its citizens equally.

Clean neighbourhoods engender social pride, add vibrancy, reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, all of which are essential to the development of strong prosperous neighbourhoods. Anti-social behaviour can be seen through dog fouling, littering, abandoning vehicles, graffiti, and fly tipping etc.

We are very much aware that many of our clean and green services are demand led, whilst much of this demand is inevitable, it is also clear some of it is avoidable. We want to be clear about our service promises, standards, and the response times we aim to achieve to ensure our communities understand what levels of service they can expect.

On its own the Council cannot deliver a cleaner and greener environment for residents. We want to work collaboratively, with residents, communities, visitors and businesses and through active citizenship we hope to see reduced demands on our services and more residents taking greater pride in and ownership of their local environment. This is more necessary then ever as overall public sector expenditure reduces at an unprecedented rate, combined with the economic fallout arising from the pandemic.

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