Edinburgh Council put to shame by Fuengirola on street hygiene – Sue Webber

Like Edinburgh, tourism makes a major contribution to the economy of the Costa del Sol and like thousands of Scots I’m just back from two weeks visiting family and friends.

By Sue Webber
Friday, 29th July 2022, 6:16 pm
Conservative MSP Susan Webber
Conservative MSP Susan Webber

Fuengirola is where my partner’s late father lived until recently, so as a regular visitor until Covid I know it well.

But unlike Edinburgh, it seems, Fuengirola’s local authority knows how much keeping the town spick and span matters to its reputation because there are plenty of other resorts ready to welcome visitors should it not come up to scratch.

Each time I visit, I’m struck by the cleanliness of the streets, the litter-free roadside verges, the spotless beaches and public areas. It is not limited to the areas where tourists throng, but right across town because the local authority recognises that keeping the whole place clean and tidy for all residents, permanent or passing through, benefits all and should be an absolute priority.

Back for the first time since 2019, it’s clearly still top of the agenda, with new buggies carrying squads of up to twelve workers, unmissable in their smart new navy and hi-vis yellow uniforms as they patrol the streets.

Once each bin is emptied the immediate area is swept, fishing nets are used to retrieve litter from sand or water, weeds are strimmed, and pavements power-hosed every morning.

And the crews are out in the heat of the afternoon. No siestas here.

There is no waste to be seen anywhere and locals respect the effort. Unlike Edinburgh’s cack-handed recycling hubs which disfigure so many streets, larger bins and recycling facilities areas are all underground, so nothing spills onto the streets.

And it’s not just in high season because although beach cleaning is intensified in summer, it’s done daily on foot all year round.

Back home, despite the promise of a fresh start from the new Labour-led administration in May, we appear to be going in the opposite direction. Edinburgh’s streets are still covered in litter, detritus, overflowing bins and weeds, and with threatened strike action it could get much, much worse.

Rather than being a priority, it’s as if the waste services department has given up, and the condition of some streets is nothing short of disgraceful. It shouldn’t matter if it’s a tourist hotspot or not, every resident deserves to live in a well-kept district.

Maybe it’s complacency because of all those “best places to live” awards that Edinburgh regularly, or because Glasgow has the M8 when we have Princes Street Gardens, but even a casual eye can see that Edinburgh should look much better than it does.

The local political leadership might have changed, but sadly it seems to be the same sub-standard business as usual for the officers in charge.

A deep-clean is long overdue and maybe they’ll get round to it, but what is the plan to keep it that way, like they have in Fuengirola? Maybe we’ll find out when a report is produced in September, as instructed by a successful motion from Conservative leader Iain Whyte, but by then the summer will be over.

One thing Edinburgh has which they haven’t is a Twitter account to report overflowing bins. They don’t need one.

But one thing they have which Edinburgh doesn’t, apart from a can-do attitude, is a conservative administration. Viva Partido Popular!

Sue Webber is a Lothians Scottish Conservative MSP