Call to sort ‘embarrassing’ Princes Street rubbish

A bin on Princes Street spills rubbish on to the pavement. Picture: Joey Kelly
A bin on Princes Street spills rubbish on to the pavement. Picture: Joey Kelly
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PRINCES Street has been branded a “dirty embarrassment”, with filthy pavements and overflowing bins littering the street as thousands of extra visitors descend on the city.

With the prolonged sunny spell sending people to bask in the Capital’s streets and gardens, and thousands of tourists in town for The Open Championship, the increased footfall has left a mucky footprint on the city centre.

The uncharacteristic dry spell has left pavements blotted with black, sticky stains from spilled drinks and ice creams, being consumed en masse during the current high temperatures, which would usually be washed away by rain.

Bin collections have already been increased from two to three a day to deal with the masses of extra waste being generated, but even these measures have not been enough to stem the tide of rubbish.

Bigger bins for Princes Street are on order, while large container bins are to be put out this weekend.

When the Evening News carried out its own inspection yesterday morning, bins were already overflowing long before the lunchtime rush.

Fast-food wrappers lay discarded on bus shelters and cigarette stubs clogged gutters on a walk up the main shopping strip.

Margaret McAffrey, 77, who hails from the Capital but now lives in Dunbar, said she is embarrassed for tourists coming to a “dirty city”.

Sat at one of the road’s bus stops, she pointed to the soiled sidewalk and said it made her feel ashamed.

“It’s a disgrace,” she said. “It’s embarrassing for visitors to come and look at this, it’s terrible. I think it needs an urgent clean up.

“The pavement has been in this state for a week now. It’s so dirty, my grandson came up from London and even he noticed it.

“I’m shocked when I come through and see the state of Princes Street. It makes me ashamed of it.”

Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, which represents 600 city businesses, warned that the increased footfall now was nothing compared with what’s going to be coming next month.

The organisation, which works in conjunction with the council to keep Edinburgh looking its best, cleans chewing gum from pavements and keeps the doorways and steps of private properties clean.

“I have seen quite a bit of staining on some of the pavements. Castle Street is quite bad, I think there have been too many markets on it for too long,” he said.

“Parts of Princes Street are the same. I think the council knows they are going to have to up their game massively in August and this long spell of weather has probably come a bit early for them.

“If it means extra collections is what it needs, then that’s what we’re going to need to do as it’s how people will judge the cleanliness of the city.

“I think the good thing is that some work has been done to identify the bins that need emptying more and, as a result, it’s much better now than it was.”

Council staff, on a lorry dedicated to Princes Street, carry out frequent collections but have been overwhelmed by the extra visitors – and rubbish they produce.

At any given time there are 43 staff on environmental duties in the day and 20 on duty during the night covering the city centre and Leith.

Resources are usually stepped up in time for the Festival but are being done a few weeks earlier this year to cope with the sunny spell.

But the measures have come too late for some people who say it should never have been left to get in this state.

City centre councillor Joanna Mowat said the state of the city was “totally unacceptable” to visitors and anyone living here.

She said: “Hot weather equates to more mess on Princes Street and it is something we should get sorted. It is unacceptable that we are seeing this yet again.

“Yet again people are left wondering where are the council’s priorities? It certainly isn’t keeping the city centre clean.

“It should be kept in a clean condition, not only so it looks its best for tourist visiting the city or here for The Open, but for people who live here, too.

“This was supposed to be sorted with silo bins but they obviously haven’t worked.”

Environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said street cleaners were working hard to keep the city looking as tidy as possible.

She said: “We’re doing a lot of work to keep the whole of the city, as well as the centre, as clean and tidy as possible during the hottest period for several years. We know there are some issues with space in bins that we’re addressing, but I’d urge people to use bins, or to take their litter away with them, for the sake of everyone who wants to enjoy Edinburgh in the sun.”

‘It’s a shame for litter to spoil a nice city’

Maaike Scholtemeijer, 19, a tourist from the Netherlands: “I have noticed in some places that the bins have been overflowing. It was really noticeable in Princes Street Gardens. I think they need to empty them more often.”

Architect John Garofalo, 50, visiting from Australia for The Open: “It is a beautiful city but more needs to be done to cope with the warm weather. It is really important that they keep it clean. Maybe the city management programme needs reassessing when it’s hot weather. There’s probably more people that are out and using the area so there is extra demand on the resources.”

Douglas Turek, 47, also from Australia: “It is a nice city so it is a shame for litter and the dirty streets to spoil it. It’s obvious the hot weather is behind it but maybe the council needs to restructure its cleaning programme to deal with it.”

Ryanne Van Herk, 19, a student from the Netherlands: “We have been here a week and it has definitely become more of a problem as the week has gone on. It is still cleaner than the city I live in so I can’t really complain.”

Not so tweet smell of success

Fine Wine Company


“@Edinburgh_CC is there is an issue with street cleaning in central Edinburgh? Princes & George St pavements v. dirty & bins overflowing”

Gemma Hibee @GemskaF: “Are the bin men on strike? #Edinburgh”

Meadowberry Froyo

@meadowberry: “@Edinburgh_CC here we go again! Hasn’t been emptied in over a week...flies and the stench of rotting food!”

thebarras’s avatar Gordo

@thebarras: “@Edinburgh_CC The pavements on Princes Street are an absolute disgrace. Filthy. Please get them cleaned”

Calum Macdonald

@CalumAM: “Does anyone know why princes street absolutely stinks today? #edinburgh”