PICKING up litter, saving lives, giving directions – it is all in a day’s work for the Capital’s street cleansing contingent.
From cigarette butts and fliers to plastic bottles and even the odd piece of discarded underwear, there is little Norie Sclater cannot handle when it comes to keeping the Capital clean.
And this year the 44-year-old has had a helping hand as he trials a new grime-busting machine dubbed “The Glutton” to help him on his rounds in the heart of the Old Town.
Working in and around the Royal Mile, Norie is just one of more than 100 people working round the clock this festival season in a bid to keep things tidy across the city.
And it seems their hard work could be paying off after latest figures, reported by the News, revealed a year-on-year drop of nearly 30 per cent in calls made to the council about litter during the Festival.
Norie, who lives in Broomhouse, joined the council’s street cleansing team four years ago and loves the job as much now as the day he started.
“I love it, out all day, plenty of exercise,” he said.
“I love working outside – there’s always something different going on.
“When I do a job I do it right. I don’t call it the High Street – it’s my street, it’s my office, I’m there every day so I like to keep it clean.”
Clocking on at 6am, a typical shift can see Norie walking up to ten miles picking up everything from festival waste to piles of needles left behind by drug users.
He also carries a small body-worn camera to help him record footage of particularly messy areas which he can then report to the council later.
“A tourist said to me I don’t fancy your job much [but] I said it’s a really good job.
“I’m out all day in the fresh air, plenty of exercise walking up and down sweeping up, hundreds of new people every day and I get paid at the end of the month.”
And getting used to the public’s varying reactions comes part and parcel with the job, he explained.
“You get some helpful, you get some that just blame you for everything,” he said. “They could have a problem with their council tax but they take it out on me.
“I just try helping out. There are times when I get agro [but] I try to be calm.
“Some people get the impression that I’m a criminal with all the tattoos but I’ve never been in jail in my life.
“Now and again you’ll get a thanks very much for the work you’re doing but not very often. Twice I’ve had it this week which is pretty unusual. It’s quite nice when they say that, I always say thank you.”
It is not just litter which keeps Norie busy – twice he has helped save people’s lives by being the first to call an ambulance.
Karen Doran, vice-convener for transport and environment, paid tribute to the cleansing team and the “fantastic job” they are doing.
She said: “This is one of our busiest times of year and we have more than 40 additional staff providing a 24/7 street cleansing support at the moment, joining the existing team of 90 working across the city’s Old and New Town. They are doing a fantastic job keeping the city clean for residents and visitors.
“I would encourage everyone to support them by being responsible with their waste at all times and reporting any issues they discover so they can quickly be resolved.”