Edinburgh Council's Labour leadership, and their Tory and Lib Dem friends, are to blame for rubbish piling up in streets – Angus Robertson MSP

The rubbish state of Edinburgh at the moment is appalling.

Refuse, rubbish and waste on our streets and overflowing bins are a disgusting blight on the city for its residents and tourists, just as thousands are here for the festivals.

In the first test of civic leadership since taking over Edinburgh Council, the Labour-led unofficial coalition has fallen dramatically at the first hurdle.

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Two weeks ago, Edinburgh’s Tory and Lib Dem-backed Labour council leader offered a measly pay rise to the city’s hard-working refuse collectors.

It was totally unnecessary. From the off, the council had enough money to cover a rise of over 4.5 per cent without needing to look at other finance.

The budget available for pay rises is in part thanks to Rob Munn, finance convenor of the previous SNP council, who ring-fenced enough money for the single largest pay rise for council workers in any local authority in Scotland.

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Add to this a further up payment of £140 million from the Scottish Government and Edinburgh Council had the lion’s share needed to take the pay raise offer to a reasonable five per cent, the least our hard-working staff deserve.

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Overflowing bins in Monmouth Terrace, off Ferry Road

Instead of taking advantage of this prudent fiscal management and government help, Labour, the Lib Dems and Tories together decided to withhold a whole percentage point of the already available rise and proposed to workers the insulting increase of 3.5 per cent.

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This short-changed workers by less than the cash available now, with Edinburgh Council’s Labour, Tory, Lib Dem administration pocketing that money. At a time when energy bills are increasing and everyday costs are rocketing, this was a slap in the face.

It’s incredible to think Labour would not vote for something to benefit public workers. It does not reflect well on national leadership either. If Labour wants to pitch itself as a viable option to voters, it would not be withholding pay rises for those who work hard to keep our streets clean and our city beautiful.

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A week late, and an unnecessary week of litter piling up, the council have finally caved, offering the minimum five per cent rise workers deserve.

It’s a damning indictment of the new Labour-run council. With only 13 out of 63 seats, they rely on the Tories and Lib Dems to pass their votes. This coalition, though they pretend it is not that, is formed on a purely political basis which is not in the interests of the people of Edinburgh.

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Two of Labour’s councillors were so incensed by the deal with the Tories, they abstained from voting for the agreement. They were promptly suspended.

This was their first test, and they have failed completely. The leadership of the Edinburgh Council has built their house on sand. The people of Edinburgh deserve better.

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The SNP – which, remember, is the largest party by far in Edinburgh Council after winning the recent council elections – are ready to bring expertise and strong leadership back to the financial and administrative management of our city.

What we need right now is agreement between our local authorities and the trades unions that represent our refuse collectors. Edinburgh residents and visitors alike want Scotland’s Capital to be clean, attractive and hygienic. It must be a urgent priority for everybody, especially our civic leadership.

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Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary