Residents slam ‘cleanest ever Edinburgh’ claim

Litter mounts up on the kerbside on Leith Walk. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Litter mounts up on the kerbside on Leith Walk. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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THE city has never been cleaner and is breaking records for its spotless streets according to a glowing new report – so why are residents not convinced?

The latest results of a Capital-wide cleanliness survey have declared Edinburgh a sparkling city, with 97 per cent of streets passing muster.

According to Keep Scotland Beautiful (KBS), which has carried out regular surveys of the Capital’s streets for the last 13 years, the table-topping scores are the best achieved by the city, with even traditionally troublesome areas like Leith and Gorgie scrubbing up to make the grade.

Council chiefs, of course, have been keen to seize on the success as evidence they are doing something right.

But against this polished backdrop of success, complaints about widespread littering, dog fouling and missed refuse collections have been mounting like overflowing Christmas bins, prompting some to question the accuracy of the KSB report.

Gavin Rehfisch, 55, from Leith Links, was shocked to hear Leith Walk had been given an improved score, saying the street was the “worst it had ever been”.

He said: “The streets around here are really badly kept. On both sides of the Walk all you see are these buckets and they look like they never get emptied. They are always full and their lids are off and overflowing with rubbish continually.

“Are the council saying it’s better? It’s definitely worse.”

Alex Wilson, chairman of Leith Business Association, praised a string of city-run schemes designed to spruce up the area but said there was more work to be done.

He said: “I haven’t seen an improvement in the last few months but I haven’t seen any further deterioration either. The place is not beautiful, especially Leith Walk which is in a fairly dilapidated state. The cleanliness report might apply to parts of Edinburgh but in other parts it’s not so true.

“When the £9 million of post-tram work improvements are carried out, Leith and Leith Walk will look superb and people will look after it better.”

The independent assessment, carried out four times a year, grades a selection of streets depending on the presence of litter, graffiti and dog fouling and provides a snapshot of Edinburgh’s aesthetic condition.

All six of Edinburgh’s neighbourhoods – and 17 wards – received a cleanliness index (CIMS) result of 67 or above, achieving the national target. Streets within seven wards scored 100 per cent for acceptable standards of cleanliness.

Carole Noble, head of environmental services at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said the results were “further encouragement” that improvements to Edinburgh were “being delivered” but added: “There is no room for complacency.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, environment convener, said: “These are encouraging results. We need to keep this up and a change in attitude is essential to achieving this.”

‘It’s hard to see what the city is so pleased about’

MAGNUS RASMUSSEN

NO sooner had I entered Kirkgate and I was scraping a mound of dog mess from the sole of my shoe. Some might say it was a lack of spatial awareness, but I spotted another three well-trodden canine “deposits” nearby, so I was happy that I wasn’t the only one. Still, it didn’t make the episode any more enjoyable.

Sent out to see just how clean our streets are, I was struck by the amount of litter spoiling Leith Walk.

The council has been quick to trumpet the Keep Scotland Beautiful findings, but it’s hard to see what it is so pleased about. Empty crisp packets, greasy used food wrappers and a seemingly endless number of cigarette ends made for a depressing scene.

An expansive mosaic of old chewed gum also stretched as far as my eyes could see. I walked a few yards without as much as a glance upwards, the mosaic appeared to go on forever.

I found myself outside a well-known fast food joint and watched as people used the pavement as a bin. One by one, content customers would enter the restaurant to satisfy their cravings before emerging to shed the paper covers of their straws and other junk food garbage on the ground.

Whipped by the wind this one spot was responsible for litter covering a huge amount of the street, say 20 yards in each direction. No bins were to be found outside the restaurant.

It’s clear cash-strapped council chiefs don’t want Capital dwellers to live in a litter-strewn city. After all, the people who call the shots in the corridors of power are residents and live here, too.

That said, it would perhaps be better to be circumspect about claims we’ve suddenly become, overnight, a predominantly litter free zone.

At the end of the day, the step change that will clean up our streets won’t be taken by the council.

The responsibility lies with individuals. If everyone played their part keeping the area clean, we would surely then be on track to becoming one of the most attractive cities in Europe.

Question: Is Leith any cleaner?

Dave Lloyd, 63, Lochend Road: “It feels cleaner, but what I’ve noticed in the last few days is that people with dogs are fouling the pavement. Saying that, it’s been a whole lot worse.”

Joanna Shanley, 45, Leith Links: “I think it’s cleaner the higher you go up Leith Walk, the lower down you go it’s filthy. It’s disgusting, dog litter and rubbish everywhere.”

Robert Farquhar, 74, Easter Road: “I don’t see it, no. The buckets are always overflowing. Easter Road is getting reasonably hoovered though, so it’s a bit cleaner than Leith Walk.”

Gavin Rehfisch, 55, Edinburgh: “It’s definitely worse. On both sides of the Walk all you see are these buckets and they look like they never get emptied. This is the worst it’s ever been.”

Shirley Harriott, 53, Corstorphine: “It’s not very clean at all, no. I can’t notice that it’s got better, there’s an awful lot of chewing gum and the pavements are dirty, lots of cigarette ends.”

Nicola Fairgrieve, 42, Musselburgh Way: “It’s got a lot cleaner than it was, but on a Sunday when you come down and the buckets aren’t emptied, it’s absolutely covered in litter.”

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Edinburgh streets ‘cleanest ever’