TRADERS claim a new waste collection scheme to clear up Rose Street was foisted upon businesses almost without warning, as fines for flouting the strict schedule soar to £200.
The pilot project was designed to remove unsightly trade bins from the Amber Mile and back lanes by enforcing three-times-a-day collection windows – with traders dumping rubbish outwith those periods liable to be fined.
But while the scheme has proven successful and popular with many, some businesses have railed against the tight one-hour deadlines and claim penalties for uncollected rubbish are often unfair.
New Scottish Government legislation introduced on April 1 has quadrupled fines from £50 to £200.
The pilot scheme has also been rolled out to High Street and Leith Walk. A grace period in which no fines could be issued ended in mid-March.
Charlie Galloway, area supervisor for DM Stewart Ltd which owns the Abbotsford Bar, said Rose Street traders support the drive in theory but described communication with the council as “poor”.
“We don’t have a problem with the concept because a cleaner street is better for the business,” he said. “But there has been a total lack of communication and consultation with the council.”
The 62-year-old businessman also said being forced to store large amounts of waste on site had created a “horrendous problem” for traders operating in buildings founded in the 1890s.
“We don’t have space to store rubbish,” he said. “It would be fine if we knew that in this one-hour window the rubbish would be picked up but the problem is it’s almost impossible to get a waste lorry along Rose Street in the morning because that’s when businesses get their deliveries.”
Other traders, who declined to be identified, confirmed “poor levels” of contact with the council and said they feared irregular collections would see them unfairly fined.
One said: “What I didn’t see during the fines amnesty was an environmental warden or a council official – now the fines are being enforced, they are all over the place.”
Environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said officials had attended meetings, overseen letter drops and mounted signs to “communicate the scheme as effectively as possible”. “Our enforcement of the pilot has focused on advice and assistance rather than immediately handing out penalties, and we’ve offered to visit anyone having difficulties meeting the requirements or their contractors,” she said.
“However, it is important that businesses take responsibility for their own waste, and work with us to help achieve the aim of the pilot, which is to improve the environment of our city centre streets for visitors and residents.”