A DOZEN extra environmental wardens are to target hotspots across Edinburgh as city council chiefs attempt to get tough on litterbugs.
And the cost of litter fines could also rise, in a key feature of Scotland’s first national litter strategy debated at a private summit at The Hub in Edinburgh yesterday.
The Scottish Government will hold a public consultation this summer into tackling the issue, with increasing the existing £50 penalties for littering and fly-tipping on the agenda.
The drive comes just seven days after a Keep Scotland Beautiful inspection report revealed streets in Edinburgh’s city centre and Leith had fallen well short of meeting national standards for cleanliness.
Princes Street and the surrounding area scored just 60 in the latest Cleanliness Index Monitoring System [CIMS] survey, lagging well behind the target score of 72. Leith was the next worst area, scoring 63 in the survey.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead backed councils and the police using their existing powers to crack down on litter and flytipping as part of yesterday’s summit.
Edinburgh City Council has pre-empted the enforcement push by funding extra environmental wardens as part of the 2013-14 budget. City environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “No-one likes to see dirty, litter-strewn streets, which is why as part of the budget we have agreed to employ an additional 12 environmental wardens specifically to target the minority of people who cause litter, whether that is through fly tipping, dropping cigarette ends or careless presentation of household or trade waste. We are also investing resources in an anti-litter publicity campaign and on working with communities on litter prevention and keeping public spaces clean, green and litter-free.”
Thousands of extra tourists are expected to descend on the Capital next year in an event “logjam” that will also coincide with Scotland’s Homecoming celebrations.
But Leith Business Association chairman Keith Hales warned authorities they were already too late if they wanted to clean up the city’s streets in time for world-class events such as the Ryder Cup. He said: “The general streetscape has actually deteriorated year-on-year. They’re not going to arrest decades of decline in one year.”
Green environment spokesman Chas Booth encouraged the council to direct all the extra wardens to cracking down on litter offenders in the Capital’s dirtiest areas – the city centre and Leith.
He said: “We need to put sufficient resources into the environmental warden service to ensure that the perpetrators are caught and that when they are caught we’re not scared of dishing out on-the-spot fines.”
People can be fined up to £2500 for dropping litter and up to £40,000 for flytipping if convicted by a court. A 12-month prison sentence is the maximum penalty.
Recycling group Zero Waste Scotland was given an extra £300,000 in Government funding last year to come up with new ways of cleaning up litter, with measures expected to be part of the national strategy.
Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “With the eyes of the world on us as we host global events like the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games, thoughtless littering is damaging our country aesthetically and financially just at the time when we need to make Scotland shine.”
A VisitScotland spokesman said: “Tourism is a tough industry and we must do everything in our power to continue to punch above our weight.”
Get ready for influx of visitors
TOURISM businesses across the Lothians have been warned to brace for a huge influx of visitors in 2014, even though none of next year’s three major events are based in Edinburgh.
The Ryder Cup is expected to attract more than 250,000 spectators to Gleneagles in September 2014.
About 7000 staff, marshals, volunteers, and emergency service personnel and media representatives will also be on site each day for one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
An even greater level of interest is expected for
Glasgow next year when it hosts the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Competition will be held over 11 days from July 23 to August 3.
Edinburgh will not completely miss out on the spectacle, with the Royal Commonwealth Pool to host the event’s diving competition.
Homecoming Scotland – a year-long programme of events celebrating the country’s food and drink, natural resources, and cultural and ancestral heritage – will be the third prong in what has been forecast as a golden opportunity for tourism.
VisitScotland chairman, Mike Cantlay said last year: We have an opportunity to sell Scotland to the world like never before – with Brave topping the box office internationally, the Year of Natural Scotland lined up for 2013 and, of course, the Ryder Cup headed here for 2014, along with the Commonwealth Games and the next Homecoming.”