Council clean-ups - ‘The idea seems a cheeky one’

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AT first glance the latest idea from the city council – for local residents and businesses to help them clean up our streets – seems a cheeky one.

And some people the News has spoken to have responded accordingly, asking why those who pay council tax or business rates should have to get their hands dirty doing what they see as the council’s job.

But we would be hypocritical if we didn’t stand back and take a more thoughtful look at the plan.

After all, for some years now the News has been calling for more efficient and smarter local services.

In May 2010, when the cash-strapped council announced 1200 job cuts we noted that in tough economic times “we’ll all have to get used to the council doing less for us”. That, we added, may be no bad thing.

The new plan for “co-operative clean-ups” appears to fit in with this vision of a less-dependent culture. While street cleaners will continue to do their usual work during the week a hit squad will be available on Saturday mornings to target rubbish and graffiti hot spots.

Crucially, they’ll be called in by locals who have had enough of the eyesores and are willing to help do something about it.

At a time of council tax freezes and budget shortfalls, there may well be an element of penny-pinching about the plan. But nonetheless it should also recognise and reward pride in our local neighbourhoods – and anything that fosters community spirit has to be a good thing.

We’ll keep an eye on the scheme to make sure that spirit doesn’t get abused.

But as the newspaper which brought you Get It Sorted to shame the powers-that-be into cleaning up the eyesores which blight our streets, the News is happy to endorse Get It Sorted – Together!

Why the long face?

We reveal today how the Lothian and Borders’ mounted police section seems likely to be the latest to fall victim to cost cutting.

It will be with a tear in the eye that the 130-year-old unit trots out of the city, even if the impact is little more than football fans being controlled by west coast steeds rather than those from the Fettes stables.

Politicians are right to seek assurances that this will not lead to any loss of service in the Capital – but they also have to be careful to pick their battles.

When the canter towards a single police force begins in earnest, it may not only be the Edinburgh stables that are left empty.