RESIDENTS are being asked to help clean up their own streets in a series of “spring cleans” on city streets.
A group of four council workers are part of a team that will help remove graffiti, fly-tipped items, chewing gum, litter or graffiti from areas that are said to be among the city centre and Leith’s worst “hot spots”.
The team’s Saturday mornings have been set aside to respond to calls by residents for help tackling problem streets or lanes. But those who report the problems are also expected to help select a team of residents and staff from local firms to help make the clean-up operation a success.
The plan has met a mixed response, with some residents suggesting council staff want people to do their job for them.
The idea is aimed at encouraging and helping community councils, traders groups or local organisations – rather than individuals – organise clean-ups. It is hoped that the initiative will help restore a sense of pride and ownership amongst local communities, and encourage people that live or work in the area not to drop litter.
The proposal comes just a few weeks after it emerged that Edinburgh has the dirtiest streets in the whole of Scotland.
The idea has come from managers within the city’s neighbourhood partnership network and is currently being piloted in the city centre and Leith, two areas that suffer worst from litter problems, but could be rolled out to other parts of the city.
Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city’s environment leader, said: “I hope that community groups will take the opportunity to get involved in this innovative scheme.
“Giving people the chance to keep their local neighbourhood clean and tidy can help to instil a sense of community pride, and can also hopefully encourage others to take more care of the local environment.”
The city centre’s cleaning task force works throughout the week but four staff will be made available each Saturday morning to work with the local community on major clean-up operations. As staff already work Saturdays there will be no extra cost for the service.
Specialist machinery will include “green machines” that sweep clear pavements, deep cleaning hoses, tools to remove weeds and debris and trucks that can take away dumped items.
However, some believe that the council should be able to keep the streets clean itself.
Graham Muir, who runs the Royal Mile Supermarket, said: “You don’t want to be doing that on your day off. I sweep the pavement outside my shop every day and I keep that clean but I don’t think I need to do more. It’s the council’s job.”
Nick Cumming, who lives on a lane off the Grassmarket that is often affected by litter caused by late-night drinkers, and is a member of the Grassmarket forum, said: “It could work because a lot of us have got to the stage that we do things like this ourselves because we know the council will not get round to it for some time.
“I think there’s probably mixed feelings about it when people expect the council to do these things. A lot of flats around the city centre are rented as well and a lot of these people will not participate so I suspect that maybe a few will help and the majority won’t – but anything that makes a difference is very welcome.”
The city centre and Leith are among the areas that have the worst scores for cleanliness and the new drive will focus on the worst hot spots in each area.
Councillor Charles Dundas, a member of the city centre neighbourhood partnership, said: “A big clean with lots of people can make a big difference. We are dependent on public support and I am hopeful people across the city centre will be willing to help.”
MORE MONEY FOR SHIFT CHANGES
Bin men have demanded extra money to compensate for changes to their shift patterns in a new row with council chiefs, despite agreeing to the changes.
Staff agreed to move to a five-day working week instead of the current four-day pattern during negotiations to stop a series of “environmental services” being privatised.
The new working arrangements, which will see staff work five shorter days but still be expected to do the same amount of work, had been due to come into force yesterday but have now been put back by a week.
Staff and trade unions have been demanding extra money to cover for extra expenses such as childcare which are necessary because of the changes.
But council chiefs and union leaders insist that they remain confident a deal can be struck without reviving the industrial dispute that dragged on for nearly two-and-a-half years.
Councillor Robert Aldridge, the city’s environment leader, said: “93.3 per cent of staff signed up to a five-day working week. There was never any question of extra payments and when we met with the trade unions the undertaking they gave was that these matters were agreed.”