Residents stage protest outside west Belfast refuse centre which has not reopened since lockdown
A group of west Belfast residents have staged a protest outside a civic amenity site which has now been closed for more than five months.
Householders in the Springfield Avenue area said dumping in the area has increased, especially in alleyways, and rats have been spotted.
Residents said the local refuse centre was closed by Belfast City Council in March due to the Covid-19 lockdown but while some other amenities have reopened, it has remained shut.
They now plan to start a petition to get the site reopened.
Sean Murray, chairman of Clonard Residents Association, said the continued closure of the site was causing "major problems".
"It is dumping outside the premises," he said.
"People are dumping at the gate and there is extra dumping in the alleyways because people don't have access. We have some examples of rats in the entries.
"It is an important service and it is well used."
Mr Murray said the nearest refuse centre is in Andersonstown but residents without cars had "no chance of getting there" with bags of rubbish.
"We want it reopened for public access," he said.
"We can deal with any Covid problems.
"Local residents are starting a petition. Local ratepayers want it reopened. They are paying their rates and being deprived of a service."
A spokeswoman for Belfast city council said as a response to Covid-19 "it was necessary to streamline our resources and concentrate available staff in the four main household recycling centres".
"In addition, new safety measures we have had to introduce - eg social distancing, managing numbers on site at any one time, etc - have resulted in new ways of working that have created additional operational challenges for our staff.
"Unfortunately, we are not currently in a position to reopen Springfield Avenue civic amenity site but we are actively reviewing our resources as part of our phased recovery and reopening of services across council".