LIKE defying gravity, travelling through time and dodging the flyer crews on the Royal Mile in August, solving Edinburgh’s litter problem seems to be impossible.
Despite talking about tackling the problem for years, the streets in some parts of the city are simply a disgrace, strewn with litter and covered in dog dirt. And it is not just confined to our streets. We have some of the most beautiful parks in the country and wonderful beaches, yet dog dirt in particular is a perennial blight.
The problem can seem intractable – but does it have to be like that? Isn’t there something that we can do, collectively, to make a difference? Surely it is not beyond us? The question is how we can really make a difference to this beautiful city of ours.
Gerry and Zsuzsa Farrell and the team of volunteers they have gathered in Leith are already making a difference. There is similar pride and passion in evidence in community groups across the city. Finding ways of supporting and galvanising that community spirit, as Councillor Lesley Hinds says, must be part of the answer.
It should not be the responsibility of the council to always clean up after ignorant and slovenly residents. We all have a part to play. And, as our reports this week have shown all too clearly, the city has fewer and fewer resources to throw at the problem. Yet, it is no coincidence that the problem is getting worse just as the council is having to cut back on services like its environmental wardens team. The council has to take a lead in order to make a real difference.
Learning from the success of others, whether it is in Budapest, Northern Ireland or elsewhere, has got to make sense. This has all got to be backed up with tough action against those who refuse to tow the line. Our ever improving technology, better CCTV and so on, should help. And we should not shy from naming and shaming those who ignore the message. Now THAT really would make a difference.