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Galway clean-up groups say they're concerned about 'which roads they'll be allowed to clean'

Voluntary groups are not permitted to work on roads with traffic volumes greater than 1000 vehicles per day.

Image: Shutterstock/Makistock

TIDY TOWNS AND clean-up groups in Galway have been told that they must now follow strict health and safety requirements, which include a ban on working on roads which carry more than one thousand vehicles a day.

Under the new requirements, voluntary groups are now expected to submit a written proposal of planned work, provide written confirmation of group insurance and have appropriate health and safety training for any proposed works, such as picking up litter or watering plants.

The document by Galway County Council also states that voluntary groups are not permitted to do any work on major roads with a speed limit greater than 80km per hour and traffic volumes greater than 1,000 vehicles per day.

GCC has advised that groups contact a local area engineer for guidance on traffic volumes.

The council has stated that all groups must comply with the requirements “for the safety and benefit of all” but groups say the requirements will greatly restrict their work.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Galway City Clean-up Group chairperson Jason Sherlock voiced his concern about the future of his group.

”We’re very concerned about which roads we will actually be allowed to clean up, a thousand cars per day doesn’t seem like a lot to me.”

While Sherlock’s clean-up group is based in Galway City, they regularly clean-up in Galway County, which is where GCC’s requirements are in place.

”We’d love to help out more in the county but we are based in the city so that’s why we’re not called Galway clean up group but we’d still help out our friends anytime we’d know a clean up is on.”

According to Jim Cullen, Director of Services Galway County Council, the new restrictions are not byelaws.

They are the requirements that voluntary groups need to have in place for the safety of organisers and participants if they are going to be working in public areas such as roads.

Insurance 

GCC also say that community and voluntary groups should have public liability insurance to a level of €6.5 million for one incident.

Groups will be expected to provide written details of insurance when they are carrying out works, construction or non-construction.

Works deemed as non-construction include litter picking, grass cutting, and watering plants while construction works can include painting, drainage and erecting signage.

For works deemed as construction, groups are required to submit a method statement and risk assessment of the proposed work.

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Safety 

Councillor Martina Kinane told TheJournal.ie that anything that improves safety for voluntary groups should be supported.

”It puts a spotlight on the safety aspect. It will stop certain groups but anything that increases safety we should support.”

The requirement to comply with health and safety legislation is something which concerns the Galway City Clean-up group. They say the council could have been much clearer.

”I just want to know what happens for example if four people have done the health and safety training course and got permission to do a litter pick but an extra guy shows up to help out on the day, is that person not allowed to help and are we or he going to be punished if we let him/her come?” Sherlock said.

Councillor Gabriel Cronnelly told TheJournal.ie that what the council is doing to voluntary groups is “disgraceful”.

Galway County Council stated that failure to comply with requirements will “prevent a project from commencing or cause it to be stopped without notice”.

Johnny Delaney has been a member of Athenry Tidy Towns for more than two decades and said he would continue his work regardless of the council’s requirements.

”It’s not going to affect me to be honest because I’m going to still do it, the amount of work that Tidy Towns in County Galway do is colossal.

”I’m going to go out and do what I’ve been doing for the last 26 years, I’m going to keep my town clean because the County Council won’t be doing it.”

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Adam Daly

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