Edinburgh council plans clean-up blitz to tackle litter, graffiti, fly-tipping and rubbish

A blitz is to be launched on litter, fly-tipping, graffiti and rubbish after environment convener Scott Arthur said he was “ashamed” of the mess on Edinburgh’s streets.

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The major clean-up effort in the Capital will include doubling the number of litter bins in the city centre, free bulky uplifts for people on low incomes, enforcement notices served on businesses which don’t deal with their rubbish properly and an annual deep clean of communal bin areas.

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Some of the initiatives can be funded using existing resources but others will need to wait for money to be allocated in next year’s budget.

Councillor Arthur said: “Edinburgh is a fantastic city, but too often I am ashamed by the level of mess I see on our streets. I know that issues such as graffiti and fly-tipping need to be addressed, and Edinburgh’s new administration is committed to taking immediate action and making further improvements if funding can be found.”

A report to the transport and environment committee on Thursday says the overflowing bins during recent strike by waste and cleansing staff demonstrated the amount of litter generated and disposed of, particularly in the city centre, where there are currently 350 litter bins.

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The report says: “Subject to approval of additional funding, the number of litter bins in the city centre will be doubled and an annual refurbishment programme introduced across all litter bins in the city, ensuring that every bin is refurbished or replaced each year.”

The report also proposes new fully-electric, walk-behind pedestrian sweepers to replace the traditional push along hand carts on up to six of the 13 city-centre “barrow beats”.

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Overflowing bins during the recent strike illustrated the volume of rubbish generated in the city.

And it suggests an annual deep clean of the city centre, restoring streets to a “Grade-A standard”, tackling issues such as grease build-ups and pavement staining, as well as fly-posting on bins and street furniture.

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The report, which was prompted by a motion from Tory group leader Iain Whyte, includes a plan to set up a dedicated anti-graffiti team. Currently the council can take around ten days to remove graffiti from public buildings. The report says a team could focus on both public and private buildings and tackle non-offensive as well as offensive graffiti.

The council plans to serve Street Litter Control notices on businesses to prevent the accumulations of litter or refuse on the street nearby. The notices could require businesses to clear litter and provide litter bins.

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Councillor Arthur said: “During the recent strike action I welcomed the fact that many businesses kept the areas around their premises clean. We’re going to reach out to them, and other organisations, to further encourage them to engage with us on their corporate responsibility to keep this up. We do have powers we can use if businesses persist in not doing this, and we will not hesitate to use them with those which refuse to meet their legal obligations.”

Fly-tipping in Little France Park: half-burned kitchen furniture in the middle of a cycle path.
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And amid concern over fly-tipping, every household is to receive a letter along with their council tax bill reminding them of their responsibilities in disposing of waste.

Special uplifts of bulky waste totalled nearly 50,000 between January 2021 and August 2022, but there have long been concerns that the charge – £5 per item – deters some people from using the service and leads to more fly-tipping. The report proposes making uplifts free for low-income households – those receiving Council Tax Reduction. Councillor Arthur said if the move saw a reduction in fly-tipping the free service could be extended to all households.

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The report notes concerns about the cleaning, inspection and maintenance of communal bins and proposes a scheduled programme to ensure each communal bin receives an annual wash inside and out. It would involved a specialised bin-washing vehicle and crew and would also mean bins received an annual inspection.

The improvements, which also include introducing sickness and absence cover for the cleansing service, are projected to cost an extra £4,480,000 per year, along with an initial capital cost of £495,000 for additional litter bins.

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