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Criticism over how winners were chosen by Council in children’s recycling competition

The process by which winners were chosen in a recycling competition run by Mid Ulster District Council needs to be reviewed if the competition is to be run again, a Dungannon councillor has claimed.

The issue was raised at April’s meeting of Council’s environment committee were members were presented with a paper on Council’s Bin smART competition.

The competition was devised by council officers as a way to find a fun activity for children to partake in during lockdown.

The online art competition challenged children of nursery and primary school age to find out more about what was in their recycle bin and how they could reuse it.

Children were asked to create a 3D sculpture from at least two materials found in the recycle bin and to email in photos of their creation with a brief description of how it was made.

Officers expected to receive approximately 50 entries and offered 10 tablets as a prize. In total, almost 550 entries were received.

Due to the volume of entries members were advised a random selection process was used to choose the winners.

One winner was selected from each school year, accounting for eight of the 10 tablets while two more winners were selected entirely randomly, meaning every child had more than one chance of winning.

Reflecting on the competition, Councillor Clement Cuthbertson said that if the competition is run again next year a third party should be brought onboard to judge entries.

“In principle this is great scheme and received a great response to it but I have had several complaints from parents whose children entered the competition,” said Councillor Cuthbertson.

“They felt how it was judged was a bit unfair. If we are to run this again next year and I hope we do, I think it would be worthwhile to bring an outside third party judge in to judge it.

“The parents that contacted me are parents of children who put days and hours into their work and they were so disappointed that it was just random selection.

“I think work and effort should be rewarded and I would propose that we seek a third party to judge it from here on in.”

Councillor Christine McFlynn praised the competition and reminded everyone “we can’t all be winners on this occasion but I think it is a very positive competition that the team put together this year”.

Council’s head of environmental services, Mark McAdoo confirmed his team were delighted with the number of entrants telling the chamber the response to the competition “far exceeded” their expectations.

“It was very difficult, if not impossible to judge them, due to number of entries and I appreciate members comments,” said Mr McAdoo.

“If we do run it again next year we will review the judging process. The response was totally unexpected and if we do run it again bringing in a third party to judge the entries is something we could consider.”

The committee Chair, Councillor Sean McPeake, said he would have no problem with this suggestion.

Councillor Cuthbertson’s proposal to bring in a third party to judge application should the competition be run again was seconded by his party colleague Councillor Wilbert Buchanan.

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