Easter Road locals have published an open letter voicing their frustrations over the state of local streets.
The letter, published by ACORN, raises detailed concerns over the level of resources put in to the area to tackle street litter, particularly in the wake of events at Easter Road stadium, as well as the council’s approach to dealing with dumping.
They argue that charging for £21 for the removal of bulky items is counter productive – and simply encourages more illegal dumping.
And they criticise a council trial in the neighbourhood which aims to use CCTV to catch fly-tippers arguing that the use of CCTV in this way is a “short sighted expensive solution” that is “an infringement of our civil liberties.”
CCTV is being used, in conjuction with threatening street stencils, as part of series of trials the council is running in the city to try to tackle dumping, with the help of a £50,000 grant from Zero Waste Scotland.
Notably, none of the pilot projects looked to gather evidence on whether providing free uplifts for bulky items for people who may struggle to pay could be a cost effective way of cutting illegal dumping, even though ACORN claim they’d previously received assurances from officials that they’d consider trialling “amnesty days” for large items in the area.
Greener Leith, has also voiced scepticism over the value of initiatives such as the street stencils, and has also campaigned for the council to invest more in the Leith area to tackle street cleansing for some time.
Historically at least it would seem these campaigns had some effect.
Leith regularly featured at the bottom of the city street-litter league table throughout 2012 and early 2013, according to independent survey results from Keep Scotland Beautiful, and for much of 2014, standards in both wards improved.
Yet, recently, it’s clear from a number of indicators that street cleansing services in the area may be going backward.
Recent independent street cleanliness surveys of the area show litter levels in Leith Walk ward, which includes Easter Road, have been in decline since the middle of last year. In December, the figures show that the performance of the street cleansing service fell below the minimum acceptable score of 67 in the area for the first time since March 2013.
As the chart below shows, there have been significant reductions in the amount of litter on the streets in the Leith Ward since 2012. But worryingly it would seem that performance in December fell in the Leith area too.
But the Keep Scotland Beautiful surveys are not the only indication that standards are slipping.
The council recently published the results of another independent city-wide survey of citizens, which included the views of 624 people in the Leith and Leith Walk wards.
It found significant drops in the way people perceived street cleansing services in the area.
Just 49% of residents of Leith Walk ward, which includes Easter Road, said they were satisfied with council street cleansing services. This is a big drop from previous years, when 74% said they were satisfied. A similar drop was also found in the Leith ward.
Commenting on the satisfaction survey results Council Leader Andrew Burns said that budget cuts and service changes were indeed the likely cause of increased levels of street litter and dumping.
He said: “Given a backdrop of falling budgets and greater demand for our services, it is hardly surprising that some are performing less well – particularly those areas, such as refuse collection and recycling, currently undergoing significant changes to delivery.
But he went on to pledge that the council would act on the feedback, adding: “We are listening to what residents are telling us – and acting on their feedback.”
Given that all the indicators point towards the fact that more resource is needed in Leith, it remains to be seen what action is indeed taken as a result of all this feedback.
Pic credit: Easter Road | M J Richardson | CC | http://bit.ly/1bmPZag