Donald Anderson: Let’s tackle litter and dog fouling

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One of the nicest things I’ve become involved in recently is helping out with a fantastic group of volunteers – The Friends of Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park. The group meets for two hours a month to help look after the park through such initiatives as planting bulbs, maintaining trees and improving the park for wildlife. I’d recommend it as a healthy bit of regular mild exercise with the added satisfaction of seeing great results from what you do.

The park runs through a valley from Burdiehouse through to Ellen’s Glen in Liberton. I first encountered the park when I joined clean-ups in the 1980s. In those days it was a mess and over the years it’s been drastically improved with new fences and tree planting. The park has even been designated a nature reserve and been awarded Green Flag status, the benchmark standard for the very best parks in the country. No mean feat.

The park is an oasis for people and wildlife and an absolute pleasure to spend time in. You regularly see herons, the black rabbits so common in the area (and featured in Monday’s News) and all kinds of birds and butterflies. Unfortunately, what you also see all too regularly is litter and dog mess. These are now the only major issues that blight what is otherwise a magnificent parkland area.

Most people are fine. You see people walking their dogs and clearing up, you see people enjoy the park without leaving a mess. However, there is also a minority of people who don’t behave and you also see too much litter and dog mess as well. Last week we had a record turnout for a clean-up with 42 people out clearing the Burdiehouse area of a small mountain of litter, but despite the numbers there is still too much litter there. Last Sunday morning I confronted a dog walker near the local Morrisons, just walking away without clearing up after his dog. He was sheepish and thanked me for the bag I’d offered, explaining that he’d forgotten to bring bags. That may well be true, but it happens far too often.

I welcome the commitment of the News to name those fined for litter and dog fouling offences.

The most recent council survey showed city residents are fed up of litter and dogdirt. It is literally a stain on one of the most beautiful cities in the world and, in South Edinburgh, one of the most beautiful of the city’s parks. Let’s get more fines issued and put the dropping of litter and dog fouling in the same shameful category as drink driving. Let’s Dish the Dirt and keep Edinburgh clean.

Donald Anderson is former Labour leader of Edinburgh City Council