At present, our bin collection services remain unaffected and continue as normal. However, In line with other Councils, our Household Recycling Centres remain closed and we are unable to accept new bookings for bulky waste collections.
Many of the processor contractors who remove waste from the Recycling centres have furloughed their staff so this has a knock on effect for us. We are currently operating with significantly reduced staff numbers due to illness, underlying health conditions and self isolation. We have prioritised other key frontline services such as emptying litter bins etc.
In most cases visits to recycling centres are not essential, and materials should be stored until after the pandemic. The situation remains under review, however, when we do re-open, we are anticipating significant traffic issues and we are currently developing a recovery plan to manage this.
During this COVID 19 pandemic we recognise the benefits for people’s mental and physical wellbeing to take exercise in the outdoors and enjoy green spaces, so these remain open for pedestrian access. We have closed the car parks at our parks facilities, as we were concerned about people not observing social distancing, and also to ensure that their use is primarily by local residents.
At this time, difficult decisions have been made to protect our residents. A number of Council facilities including allotments have been closed in accordance with the direction from Government which requires people to “stay at home”.
Council Officers are contacting allotment holders regarding a refund for the period during which these facilities are unavailable or alternatively offering an extension on their lease.
We are also making arrangements for allotment holders to collect any belongings or tools by appointment, and the Council will carry out watering at these facilities whilst they remain closed.
All Council leisure, sports, cultural buildings and theatres are closed until further notice and comprehensive FAQ articles can be found all matters relating to these facilities on our website. Other facilities that are closed include our play areas, caravan parks, public toilets, visitor attractions and outdoor gyms.
The decision to keep these facilities closed will be kept under review.
As directed by the Government, our cemeteries at closed at present to comply with the legislation that states: “A person who is responsible for a burial ground must ensure that, during the emergency period, the burial ground is closed to members of the public, except for funerals or burials.”
Meanwhile, the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman John Smyth, thanked local residents for their understanding during this period.
“This is a time like no other, and the many challenges we have faced and will continue to face during this global pandemic require sometimes difficult but necessary decisions and changes.
“On behalf of the Council I wish to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to our residents, businesses and colleagues who have helped make this process of change run so smoothly.
“It is your co-operation, willingness to adapt and generosity of spirit that makes these challenges surmountable and will ensure the return to those daily routines will be much more straightforward.”
Alderman Smyth also paid tribute to the frontline services that have been instrumental throughout this crisis.
“Like so many I am in awe of the fearless and tireless work of those on the frontline throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. From our health care workers to those who ensure our shelves are stacked, our deliveries continue and our medication supplies remain uninterrupted, we are indebted to your efforts and commitment and we thank you all.”
Full details of all changes to Council services and facilities as a result of COVID-19 can be found here: https://antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk/coronavirus-council-services-facilities/