Edinburgh's litter problem is worse than my snapshot inspection suggested – John McLellan

No sooner had last week’s Evening News article about the cleanliness of Edinburgh city centre hit the inboxes than a reader’s email popped into mine.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 4:45 pm
Overflowing bins are one source of street litter that has been attracting complaints (Picture: Lisa Ferguson) Rubbish up Calton Hill,

“The bins in Queensferry Street and Melville Street have been overflowing and unemptied for the last two days ─ what a state the pavements are in, strewn with the overflow.”

My quick tour of Princes Street and Rose Street had found them to be relatively litter-free, bar the usual scattering of cigarette ends, and the bins had been emptied.

I acknowledged commonplace problems elsewhere, but that at least this showed a decent job could be done. If only I’d taken a step to the left at Shandwick Place.

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“The seagulls and rats will be having a field day,” wrote my correspondent. “I have never witnessed such a mess in the city centre before.”

Although people tend not to write to newspapers or councillors to tell them how clean their streets are, unfortunately for the council’s waste managers an awful lot of people think the opposite.

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The pandemic prevented a proper follow-up to the 2018 Edinburgh people survey, but back then only 56 per cent of people were satisfied with street cleaning and 59 per cent with their bin service.

Maybe things have improved but judging by the reaction to architect Chris Stewart’s claim that the streets haven’t been as dirty in ten years, I doubt it.

I’m reliably informed a plan for reform is being finalised, and for thousands of residents it can’t come soon enough.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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