City litter fines at all-time high

Flora Stevenson Primary pupils join the Clean Up Edinburgh campaign. Picture: Greg Macvean

Flora Stevenson Primary pupils join the Clean Up Edinburgh campaign. Picture: Greg Macvean

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More litter fines have been dished out in Edinburgh than ever before as part of a crackdown on dropping rubbish and dog fouling.

A record number of 1592 fines have been issued over the last 12 months with smokers tossing away cigarette butts bearing the brunt of the action.

Ignorant dog owners were also targeted after the city put an extra 12 environmental wardens – dubbed the Dirty Dozen – on patrol as part of our Dish the Dirt campaign, which saw the city council team up with the News to target the scourge of dog fouling.

Litter louts and lazy dog owners had to pay up a total of £50,350 in on-the-spot fines in the 12 months up to November 1.

The result continues a trend of rising numbers of litter fines being handed out across the city.

Edinburgh wardens fined 1385 litterers in 2011-12 and just 659 offenders in 2009-10, meaning almost two-and-a-half times as many litter louts are now being caught red handed compared to just four years ago.

The vast majority – 86 per cent – of penalties were handed out for cigarette litter.

Glasgow is the only local authority in the country that has been tougher on litterbugs, with a whopping 18,391 people handed fines.

Only 210 fines were issued in West Lothian over the same period, while just four penalties were given out in East Lothian.

City environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “There are many cities in the world where people would never even consider dropping something in the street and that’s what we want here, to change people’s mindsets.”

The extra wardens, who have been drafted in at a cost of about £300,000 a year, have brought the council’s pool to 51 workers. Fixed penalty notices for offenders have also been lifted from £40 to £50 this year.

The authority spends £1.6 million a year cleaning up Edinburgh’s streets and parks.

A widespread campaign against litter involved hundreds of people, including schoolchildren, taking to the streets with brooms on November 29 for Clean Up Edinburgh’s first Day of Action.

Princes Street and Leith continue to be two of the city’s worst litter hot spots.

Leith Business Association chairman Alex Wilson described the introduction of extra wardens as a “partial success”, but suggested major streetscape improvements to Leith Walk would have a far greater impact by making people proud of the area, adding: “It will be a radical change.”

Mr Wilson also welcomed a zero-waste pilot scheme starting from Wednesday that will see traders on Leith Walk, Rose Street and the High Street hit with £50 fines for leaving rubbish in the street more than 30 minutes before pick-up time.

Keep Scotland Beautiful head of environmental services Carole Noble said the organisation supported plans by the Scottish Government to raise the litter fines to £80 next year.

Residents can continue supporting the Dish the Dirt campaign by calling 0300 4563476 to report dog fouling.