Colonel David Burch, Minister of Public Works

Known for his no-nonsense approach, Public Works Minister Lieutenant Colonel David Burch put the island’s trash generating public on notice that the Government is about to take a no-nonsense approach to householders who insist on illegal dumping.

In an online question and answer session last night, the Minister stated outright that it’s just a matter of time before the clampdown begins, while discussing the “restrictions we have endured over the last nine weeks, including scaled back services”.

“I indicated in my statement that I had some ideas about how we’re going to address that and what I will say is that – I’m not going to expound on that, but anybody who knows me, knows that I don’t make promises that I cannot keep.

“And so what I will say is consider yourself warned. That’s all I’ll say and you know that I am serious and we are well down the road,” he said.

“I’m not talking about you having to wait weeks or months – maybe a couple of weeks but not months.

“The plan is already in operation and it’s just a question of waiting enough time to have enough examples to take that action that’s going to discourage folks from doing what it is that they’re doing.”

During the initial stages of Shelter in Place regulations, Colonel Burch said there were specific challenges with “householders putting their garbage out after their areas had been serviced and illegal dumping across the island”.

But he said: “The issue with residential garbage was quickly resolved with government supervisors visiting those responsible parties.

“The illegal dumping is still to be addressed.

“It is a source of significant disappointment and irritation for me, as such, there are several options available for enforcement that are being explored,” said Col Burch.

“I’m determined to take the necessary and possibly controversial steps to curb this behaviour.”

That segment of the Minister’s Q&A session started with a question on “what is going to happen with all the discarded boats left on the beaches from hurricanes past”.

The Minister replied with a question of his own and asked: “How many beaches have boats on them?”

Admittedly, he said he was not a beachgoer and that he did not want to “shovel it over” to another Minister.

But he did, saying: “That really is a question first for the Minister responsible for Transport because his Ministry is the one that issues licences to boats.

“And so if he identifies a boat that’s been abandoned, then Public Works would certainly come in and provide the resources to have it removed.

“But I also think that – I’m going to stretch this answer a little bit – not only in terms of abandoned boats, but in terms of our behaviour – some citizens’ behaviour generally across the island,

“I think in the main, most people adhere to the rules in terms of garbage collection and have a sense of responsibility and a sense of pride in our country.”

But he said: “There’s a small nucleus of people who just decide that they are going to do as they please.

“Well in a democracy, in an organised society you can’t have that. And if you do there are repercussions and consequences for that behaviour of breaking the rules,” he added.

“In the case of waste management, it is a source of personal irritation to me, not just as the Minister responsible for that area – I just can’t even process how people can pack up their garbage, put it in their car and drive to somebody else’s yard, or somebody else’s property and drop it off, particularly when we have a drop off facility that is open 12-hours a day, seven days a week from 7am in the morning until 7pm at night.

“That’s got to be convenient for everyone. And as someone who personally uses the Tynes Bay Drop Off, I found it most inconvenient when we first came to Government that it opened at 9 o’clock in the morning.

“It was never convenient for anybody who makes 9 o’clock or earlier to work. And so one of the first things I did was to set about was how can we extend the hours so that it’s more convenient for folk and provide the opportunity for them to not to have do it illegaly.

“There are still some people who insist on doing that.”

Moving forward – stay tuned.