FURIOUS traders have hit out at the council after the city centre’s streets were branded the dirtiest in Edinburgh.
Princes Street and the surrounding area were given the lowest score in the latest Cleanliness Index Monitoring System (CIMS) survey, which saw several areas in the Capital fail to meet the target score of 72.
While inspectors and the council blamed the cold winter weather for the fall in standards, traders said this was not acceptable and suggested the tram works were responsible.
According to the latest survey - which is carried out by inspectors from Keep Scotland Beautiful - the city as a whole scored 69, with 89 per cent of streets surveyed achieving the nationally recognised acceptable standard of cleanliness.
Overall, one in ten of the streets surveyed in Scotland’s Capital failed to meet the required level in the report.
The city centre scored just 60, a drop of three from the previous year, with the report blaming “smoking related litter, trade waste and litter at bus stops”.
Council officials said the lower score was a result of “the impact of a period of sub-zero temperatures” during the assessments, as mechanical cleaners couldn’t operate and Task Force staff responsible for keeping the area clean were redeployed on gritting duties.
Michael Apter, chairman of the West End Association, said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if this has more to do with the tram project than the weather. With so many streets closed off, cleansing vehicles have great difficulty gaining access and this leads to litter building up.”
The city centre and Leith neighbourhood achieved the worst score of all areas, with only 63 points overall, while Inverleith, Corstorphine/Murrayfield, Sighthill/Gorgie, Leith and Craigentinny/Duddingston all failed to meet the 72 point target.
City centre councillor Joanna Mowat said: “There always seems to be an excuse regarding these figures. It can’t be a case of one or the other, there has to be flexibility towards both gritting and street cleaning.
“If the figures show that this is a seasonal issue then why can’t we be prepared for it? The council needs to look at what we can do differently on a seasonal basis to ensure the city looks its best all year round.”
Keith Hales, chairman of the Leith Business Association, said: “It shouldn’t be a choice, it should be taken for granted that these things will be done properly. I’m sure I speak for all business owners when I say I want my local streets gritted and cleaned, otherwise people will not come here to shop.”
Green councillor Nigel Bagshaw, whose ward of Inverleith scored 65, said: “The weather should really only be used as an excuse if it’s bad enough that it physically stops street cleaners from picking up rubbish.”
Giacomo Modica, chair of Craigentinny/Meadowbank Community Council, said: “I’m not surprised the report says dog fouling was one of the main problems here as it certainly seems to be getting worse. Also, the number of bins which are overflowing on to the streets is certainly growing, too.”
The West neighbourhood scored highest in the city with 73 points, the only area to meet the council target of 72.
Environment convener Lesley Hinds said: “We want to keep the streets clean and gritted and we have to balance our resources as best we can using the budget that we have.
“When we get a forecast of bad weather, to make sure snow and ice are cleared as quickly as possible, we will use staff we normally use for street cleaning. It would not be practical to keep staff on hand to deal with extremely cold weather all year.”