Edinburgh comes top in Government poll of street cleaning

Overflowing communcal bins and uncollected rubbish on streets has been an issue in Edinburgh.
Overflowing communcal bins and uncollected rubbish on streets has been an issue in Edinburgh.
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STREET cleaning in the Capital has been singled out by Scotland’s local government spending watchdog as a good example of councils saving money without a negative impact on performance.

But the Accounts Commission report praising Edinburgh’s record was greeted with disbelief by opposition politicians who said many people were dissatisfied with the state of the city’s streets.

Grassmarket bins that have underground storage so that they never overflow. Picture; Greg Macvean

Grassmarket bins that have underground storage so that they never overflow. Picture; Greg Macvean

The report, for Audit Scotland, said the city council had reduced the net cost of street cleaning per 1000 residents by 55 per cent in real terms between 2010/11 and 2015/16, from £37,006 to £16,646.

But the council’s cleanliness score had only fallen by 0.4 percentage points from 90.5 per cent to 90.1 per cent.

Green environment spokesman Chas Booth said: “The majority of residents I speak to are pretty angry about the service.

“They don’t feel litter is being picked up properly, dog fouling is getting worse and worse and flytipping seems to be an endemic problem in most areas of the city.

“If the Accounts Commission is suggesting Edinburgh is a good example then frankly they need to get out more. They should come and speak to some of my local residents who will give them an earful and show them plenty of streets in dire need of better cleaning.”

Last year a survey by Keep Scotland Beautiful found the number of city streets classed as clean had fallen to its lowest level in the past 18 months.

Just 92 per cent of city streets passed the cleanliness test in September, compared with 98 per cent of streets in March 2015, and falling short of the council’s own target of 95 per cent.

Conservative group environment spokesman Nick Cook said a new emphasis on street sweeping – and the use of brushes rather than litter-pickers – had been included in the council’s recent 65-point action plan on rubbish.

“There is an acknowledgement this is an area they are not delivering on,” he said. “I’m surprised this is given as an instance of good practice given the volume of concern that continues to be expressed about the cleanliness of our streets.”

Environment convener Lesley Hinds, said: “Over the last five years the council has remained committed to increasing the efficiency of its street cleaning service at the same time as improving its effectiveness.

“Whilst we appreciate that we have further improvements to make, it is good to see our efforts being recognised.

“Council transformation has enabled major senior management savings while protecting frontline posts wherever possible, with further efficiencies realised through changes to shift patterns and a reduction in the number of vehicles on the road.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com