Rubbish on streets is a blight on the Capital

'˜THIS is not a dumping ground' blares a council sign in block capitals.

Wednesday, 7th September 2016, 7:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th September 2016, 1:58 pm
Overflowing rubbish bins - Edinburgh Sienna Gardens

Residents of Sienna Gardens in Sciennes could perhaps appreciate the irony – if the rubbish-strewn pavement beneath wasn’t so foul.

And it’s a scene that’s repeated across vast swathes of the Capital.

Since the Evening News first highlighted the growing litter problem at the end of last month, hundreds of readers have sent in their complaints, pictures and horror stories.

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Overflowing rubbish bins - Edinburgh outside Hanam's Restaurant on Johnston Terrace

From rats scurrying along Old Town closes to bursting bin bags left uncollected for days on end, the response has been overwhelming.

Today we are pledging to keep a spotlight on the problem – in a bid to clean up our streets.

Overflowing bins outside Hanam’s Restaurant on Johnston Terrace, just yards from the historic battlements of Edinburgh Castle, present a particularly striking example of what’s gone wrong.

Manager Ali Obeid branded the mess “disgusting” and said it had been reported to the council multiple times.

Overflowing rubbish bins - Edinburgh Chamber street

He told the News: “The council haven’t picked it up – it’s been days and days now. Why is the rubbish still like this? It’s just ridiculous.”

He said the eatery had paid thousands of pounds to provide outside seating, only for diners to be put off by the scattered junk.

“I think they have a serious problem with the [refuse] staff at the council,” he said. “They don’t really care – they just want to finish and go home.”

An internal council document leaked to the News on Monday revealed concerns that bin men are finishing their shifts up to four hours early – while complaints around missed bin collections soar. The private briefing note said refuse staff are failing to work their contracted hours, bringing the council “into disrepute”.

Overflowing rubbish bins - Edinburgh East Craigs bins

It blamed a long-standing practice known as “task and finish”, which sees bin men go home after completing their usual route, instead of working until the end of their shift.

Hanam’s isn’t the only business to raise concerns. Franco Margiotta, owner of Edinburgh grocery shop chain Margiotta, has repeatedly complained about the smell of domestic bins outside his store on Ashley Terrace.

He said the problem was so bad that he had occasionally tidied the bins himself.

He added: “It’s horrible. Often you get seagulls and crows picking at the waste. It’s a recurring problem, in that, as often happens when the bins are full to capacity, the neighbours just put rubbish bags on the kerb.”

Overflowing rubbish bins - Edinburgh outside Hanam's Restaurant on Johnston Terrace

Meanwhile, Ian Mowat, chair of New Town-Broughton community council, said there was an ongoing issue in his area with both bin collections and litter on the streets.

Complaints about Edinburgh’s waste service have rocketed by a third in a year, with an average of one complaint every ten minutes.

Officials acknowledge the rising swell of public unhappiness.

A document seen by the News, written by a senior council employee, said there had been a particularly high number of complaints in the Capital’s south, south-west and west.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment leader, admitted there “have been some issues with refuse collection”.

She said: “We are also trailing new technology to help us reduce the incidents of missed bins and to better respond to customer requests and complaints.

Overflowing rubbish bins - Edinburgh Chamber street

“Our street cleaning team worked flat-out, 24-7 to manage the impact of festival and I think, on the whole, they did pretty well and deserve a bit of credit.

“However, we can’t ignore the rubbish bins that are overflowing and we make every effort to attend to these instances. That said, we need the public to help minimise its effects by disposing of litter and waste responsibly.

“There is, however, a wider issue regarding trade waste. We have made huge progress in reducing the amount of commercial waste being stored on public spaces by businesses and have seen the removal of 80 per cent of trade waste bins from the streets. However, there is clear evidence that some of the problems that we see with overflowing on-street bins are due to them being illegally used by nearby businesses to dispose of commercial waste.”

Overflowing rubbish bins - Edinburgh East Craigs bins