The City of Edinburgh Council has declared the 29th of November a “mass clean-up day” for the city, and is urging local people to pick up a litter picker and join a clean-up event in their neighbourhood on that day.
In Leith, there are two clean-up events planned, although details of the only one open to the public – planned for Great Junction Street – still seem a little hazy at the time of writing. The council should update this map when they have more details.
Whilst you wait, the council is also promoting a litter “pledge,” which reads thus:
“I pledge to support the Clean Up Edinburgh campaign through my everyday action, by helping free my community of litter and graffiti, reporting incidences of fly-tipping and abandoned vehicles and responsibly disposing of my litter and mess.”
You can see lot’s of examples of the kinds of things you could report to the council on our Fix My Leith page, and judging by the data it is dog fouling and fly-tipping that local people generally find most irksome.
Although the council have not really embraced the Fix My Street service which powers the Fix My Leith page, we think it’s the best way to get things fixed because it maintains a public record of your report – which is useful if the council don’t respond to your complaint in a satisfactory way.
And whilst the council campaign seems to be targeted at getting civic minded folk to do more – this week the Scottish Government announced that people caught dropping litter in Scotland will have to pay an increased fine of £80 from April next year.
Greener Leith has long argued that behaviour change campaigns like the Clean-up Edinburgh campaign must also happen in tandem with a range of other measures – including better enforcement and service improvements – if anything is actually going to change.
Recently local councillors held a productive “litter summit” to discuss how litter in Leith could be better tackled.
Productive cross party summit on making Leith cleaner. thanks to @DeidreBrock for making it happen!
— Adam McVey (@adamrmcvey) October 30, 2013
There seems to have been no more public statement on the substantive actions that will happen as a result of the meeting, although Cllr Deidre Brock has promised us a guest post explaining it all, so in the interim here’s some ideas of our own that the council could consider if they are serious about cleaning-up Leith.
1. Emptying litter bins more often
We’ve received several reports from local people over the last few weeks of over flowing litter bins. People who might not be conscientious about binning their litter will not be encouraged to do so if they look like this.
— The Innertube map (@innertubemap) November 8, 2013
— the warm shoots (@thewarmshoots) October 29, 2013
2. Enforce more, and shout about it
FOI requests have revealed that there is relatively little enforcement action taken in Leith, when it comes to litter, dog-fouling and flytipping, when compared to other parts of the city. This imbalance needs to be sorted – and then the fines that are given out should be publicised locally.
There are some people who believe that the chance of getting fined for dropping litter or not picking up after their dog is minimal. Imagine, if there were signs up in every local park notice board telling people how many people got fined there in the last six months? This would maximise the deterrent effect of even a small number of fines.
3. Abolish fees for bulky item collection in neighbourhoods with more poor folk
The council currently charges people a minimum of £19.99 to pick up bulky waste regardless of income or where you live in the city.
People who are on low incomes are the least likely to have access to a car to transport their waste to a recycling site where it is free to dispose of these large items. This means that many of the people who are most likely to need this service are the people who are least able to afford it.
To discourage people from dumping large items, such as fridges or freezers randomly in the street, the council should consider making this service free to people on low incomes – or alternatively free in neighbourhood areas of the city which fall within the 15% most deprived in Scotland.
Afterall, when things are simply dumped in the street the council currently ends up collecting them anyway.
4. Make greater use of Street Litter Control Notices
Anyone who has ever taken part in a community clean-up event will know that a large proportion of the litter is food related. The council has the power to require businesses – such as fast food businesses – to clean-up outside their premises, but they rarely, if ever, use it.
As part of the proposals to improve the way trade waste bins are managed on Leith Walk the council is to put a dedicated “compliance team” on the street from January. It takes time to go through the Street Litter Control Notice process, but the same people could also be used to collect the evidence needed to put Street Litter Control Notices in place and monitor them afterwards.
5. Acknowledge the impact of the night-time economy in Leith.
Take a look at how many licensed premises there are in Leith, and compare it to other parts of the city.
Whilst many folk see the huge variety of bars as one of the things that makes Leith awesome (and everyone at Greener Leith would agree), it does have a knock on effect. Drunk people drop more litter.
The council must recognise this when allocates cleansing resources – and if there’s no more resource to be had, then perhaps questions need be asked about whether it’s time to restrict any further growth in the number of licensed premises in Leith? And how many more shops can be given planning permission to be converted into takeaways for that matter too.
6. Invest cash in designing out fly-tipping hotspots
There has been an informal dump since, well, forever, on Marine Esplanade, where it bends at the coast. The council must have spent thousands on clearing the site over the years.
Either cash should be invested to make it harder to dump there, or covert CCTV should be used to try to catch the dumb dumpers in the act.
There are a very small number of regular dumping hotspots in Leith, and the council already know exactly where they are.
7. Focus on the most littered areas relentlessly.
This map shows that some parts of the city – like West Edinburgh – are consistently cleaner than the minimum national standard, whilst other parts of the city – like Leith – consistently fall below the minimum acceptable standard. This suggests that street cleansing resources are not allocated optimally in the city, if the target is to ensure all parts of the city reach a minimum acceptable standard.
When challenged. service managers have been known to insinuate that the reason for this disparity is simply that Leithers drop more litter – and that there is some sort of cultural problem unique to Leith. But can that really the case?
What would you like to see change?
Have you got any ideas that could help clean-up Leith? Do you think Leithers have a special problem with litter that is unique to Edinburgh? Let us know in the comments to this blog post.