How transparent is local government? Well, local resident Peter Matthews wondered how often his street was scheduled to be cleaned after a mattress dumped in his street was left for days without being removed.
No-one at the council would simply send him the street cleaning schedule for Leith when he asked for it, so he had to put in an FOI request to get the information. He has shared the response with Greener Leith and as we like transparency we think it’s only right to publish it here:
Now as Peter says in his blog post about the experience, the information that has been released is not necessarily that helpful, as it remains somewhat jargon filled. It’s unlikely anyone outside the street cleansing team know the difference between an “SSV route,” an “MSC route” and a “barrow beat.”
So at a guess:
- An SSV is probably a manned vehicle – the type often used to empty bins with a small container on the back for the rubbish collected – with three street cleansing staff in the cab.
- An MSC – is a “mechanical street cleaner” – one of those wee green machines, or possibly something larger.
- A barrow beat is a human powered “barrow” like a high tech wheel barrow.
Obviously if anyone in the know would like to confirm in the comments whether our guesses are correct then that would be good.
But in Peter’s view this information should be published as a matter of course by the council. He says:
“The Council could publish a schedule of local street sweeps. I could then ask “why didn’t the street sweeper who came by last blahday report this mattress to be collected?”
It is worth pointing out however that all good neighbourhood managers know that there needs to be flexibility in any street cleaning schedule – as there’s no point in sending people to clean streets that are pretty much clean, just because they’re on a piece of paper that says they should be.
Conversely, if a huge pile of dumped stuff was reported on a street that wasn’t scheduled for a daily clean then it would be perverse if an adherence to the schedule meant that the dumping was not dealt with as a priority.
So, this list above should be regarded as a list of priority places – not a fixed schedule.
But nevertheless, the question remains – do you think the list of priority places is the right list, given that street cleansing services in Leith and Leith Walk wards have been underperforming compared to the rest of the city recently?
And of course, related to this – is the right level of resource available to service managers to ensure that all the places on this list actually get frequent enough attention?
You can find out more about the background to this FOI request on Peter Matthews blog.