Army of staff to tackle litter problems in city

A record number of staff will keep the streets clean over the Festival season. Picture: Kate Chandler
A record number of staff will keep the streets clean over the Festival season. Picture: Kate Chandler
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AN army of litter busters has been recruited to launch a summer blitz on rubbish in city centre streets.

A record number of street cleaning staff has been signed up for the Capital’s war on litter over the peak tourist season at an estimated cost of £200,000.

Existing environmental wardens will be diverted from other parts of Edinburgh to reinforce the effort to keep the centre clean.

And extra bins are being provided in key locations in the city centre and visitor hot spots such as Portobello.

A total of 78 staff are being drafted in over the summer to patrol the streets with black bin bags, picking up litter, blitzing problem areas and emptying small bins with the help of a dedicated mini refuse collection vehicle.

The temporary staff will wear uniforms but will not have the power to hand out fines.

A council spokeswoman said keeping the streets clean was crucial for Edinburgh to be seen in its best light.

She said: “Every summer we welcome millions of visitors to the Capital thanks to our vibrant festivals programme and world-class attractions.

“While it provides a significant boost to the economy, this increase in population requires the council to focus its resources on keeping the city running smoothly.

“Part of this commitment is to keep our streets clean and tidy not just for visitors, but for residents throughout Edinburgh.

“This year we have made every effort to ensure a welcoming atmosphere, with more than 70 temporary street cleaning staff and lots of extra litter bins to position in hot spots.”

But she added: “Even with additional resources, we can’t keep this up without the help of the public, so we would urge all those enjoying the city to dispose of their litter responsibly to keep Edinburgh looking beautiful.”

The street cleaners will work with the Fringe Society to deal with litter around the High Street during the Festival.

There will also be dedicated temporary staff working in Princes Street Gardens and covering Calton Hill and Regent Road Park.

Staff will work 7am-7pm with some cover until 10pm. And there will be a 4am “early bird” operation to deal with any overnight rubbish problems. Additional power washing operations will be brought in at known problem locations, including High Street closes, the Scotsman Steps and the Grassmarket.

The council said staff would speak to businesses to get them to stop their bins from overflowing and targeting areas with a known problem of cigarette litter.

There will also be extra staff to cover the Pleasance, Clerk Street, Buccleuch Street, Tollcross, Holy Corner and the Meadows area at night.

The initial roll-out of extra bins will see 25 large 1280-litre bins in key locations such as Portobello Promenade, the city centre and the Meadows; up to eight 660-litre bins for Porty prom and 1100-litre bins in George Street, Waterloo Place and Regent Road, the foot of Calton Hill and Croft-an-Righ.

The council was unable to give a precise cost for the anti-litter initiative, but on the basis of a 40-hour week the cost of temporary staff paid above the £6.31 per hour minimum wage with an agency fee on top, it would be in the region of £200,000.