Edinburgh’s dirtiest streets revealed

Sweeping up in Great Junction Street. Picture: Kate Chandler
Sweeping up in Great Junction Street. Picture: Kate Chandler
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The grimiest streets in the Capital have been revealed in a national cleanliness report naming Craigentinny and Duddingston as the city’s dirtiest districts.

Edinburgh achieved a high overall score in the Keep Scotland Beautiful survey but five out of 17 wards – many in less affluent areas – were found to be below the “acceptable standard of cleanliness”.

Long-standing litter hotspots like Leith and the city centre again failed to move off the bottom rungs of the chart amid claims that scaled-back bin collections had exacerbated the problem.

Portobello/Craigmillar, Almond and Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart ranked as the best performing wards.

The report concluded that while 95 per cent of streets in Edinburgh hit the mark, others like the coastal route of Seafield Way and Wishaw Terrace, off London Road, were rapped for being strewn with junk food wrappers and “significant accumulation of packing material”.

Both streets fall within the Craigentinny/Duddingston ward – which came bottom of the cleanliness pile – and were said to be frequent targets of flytippers. Today, local community watchdogs praised the neighbourhood as a “wonderful place to live” but admitted that illegal dumping had spiralled out of control.

Giacomo Modica, chairman of Craigentinny and Meadowbank Community Council, said the blight of littering undermined the integrity of the area and residents would be “disappointed” that it had fared so badly in the cleanliness chart. Parts of it have become a dumping ground and plots of land that were previously left bare are now covered with mattresses and bedding,” he said.

“A lot of the residents try their best to eradicate the problem but with all the illegal dumping and the move to fortnightly bin collections instead of once a week it’s very difficult. Even when the bins are collected there needs to be another team that comes in behind them and sees what needs to be cleaned up because there’s often rubbish scattered and blown around after.

“Bins are now over-full and I would pin part of the blame for the cleanliness report on fortnightly collection. People find there is more litter on the streets on collection day that on any other day.

“Also now that people have to pay for special uplifts we have a lot of problems with people flytipping.”

Reduced waste collections have also come under fire from community leaders in other areas of the city who claim over-filled bins are a major component in widespread littering.

On Tuesday, the News told how residents were still being let down by the scaled-back collection rota that was introduced to boost recycling levels nine months ago. The city now receives around 72 complaints a day about the refuse and recycling department with grievance rates 70 per cent higher than before the pared-down collections came into force.

Keith Dyson, 78, secretary of the West Cromwell, Persevere & Citadel Residents’ Association, said there were insufficient communal bins for Leith which is a high-density area with large populations.

And he said the district was often overlooked by cleansing teams who were more focused on preserving 
Edinburgh’s cultural heritage. “The big problem seems to be there are too few council bins to take all the refuse from a high density area,” he said.

And he added: “I think it’s frustrating for residents but we have to carry on pushing because people have a right to live decently and there’s many good people here.

“Higher levels of management are more concerned about Edinburgh as a cultural city and the outskirts can fall below the radar.”

Alex Wilson, of Leith Business Association, lamented the port’s failure to achieve pass marks for several years in the Capital cleanliness report.

“It’s a fundamental duty of the council to keep streets safe and clean and they seem unable to do both. I think the ward councillors are deeply embarrassed by it because there isn’t much being done about it.

“Litter is an ongoing problem but I don’t see any real improvement until 
public realm work is completed towards the end of 2014.”

“There’s been a general malaise because of the tram works and much of Leith Walk looks like a war zone. It’s more difficult to take pride in the place when people look at it like a dump and treat it like a dump.”

Ward councillor Deidre Brock has now called for a cross-party summit to mastermind long-term solutions to Leith’s litter problem.

“There has been gradual improvements but it seems Leith is starting to take a dive again,” she said. “The community feels that Leith loses out to other areas in the division of cleanliness resources.

“Leith has some of the highest numbers of restaurants and bars per head of population in the city and I want that to be taken into account when resources are being divided up in the city.”

Great city clean-up on track

EDINBURGH’S overall cleanliness levels have improved, according to the Keep Scotland Beautiful report.

The cleanliness index remained the same as it was in March but the percentage of streets achieving an acceptable standard of cleanliness increased marginally, by one per cent.

Similarly, five out of six neighbourhoods – north, south, east, south-west, west, city centre – received a cleanliness index result of 67 or above – the national standard target.

Eleven out of 17 wards in the city met or exceeded the council’s target of 72, while five wards achieved a result of 100 per cent clean rating, compared with only two wards in March.

Inspectors reported that the biggest source of litter was from pedestrians (91 per cent of all litter identified in the survey) but that there was a reduction in the incidence of dog fouling, down from eight per cent to four per cent.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, pictured, transport and environment convener, said: “These are fantastic results, and I would like to say a big thank you to all our street cleaning and environmental warden staff who have worked so hard to keep Edinburgh a clean and beautiful city.

“I would also like to thank residents who play their part by disposing of litter responsibly and taking part in community clean-ups.

“However we still have some way to go to in terms of public behaviour when pedestrians are responsible for 91 per cent of litter on the streets of Edinburgh.”

And she added: “It’s no surprise that the city centre proves to be a challenge with so many businesses and a high footfall. Our efforts are increasingly focused on working with businesses and others to see how we can reduce the amount of rubbish that ends up on our streets in the first place. We also hope changes to waste collection will have an impact.”