Leith Walk pavements could be free of trade waste bins from the New Year.
Next week, councillors are set to vote on proposals that could see traders on Leith Walk given strict “timed collection periods” when they will be permitted to put their waste out for collection by waste contractors. Outside the approved period, businesses will not be permitted to keep waste on the street at all.
Locals have long complained that some businesses on the street essentially treat the pavement as an extension of their premises; by storing large quantities of waste in large containers on the pavement.
This may be cheap and convenient for the business but the combined effect deters people from spending time and money on the street and makes it hard to navigate for blind people, wheelchair users or people with pushchairs.
It is also claimed that the proliferation of bins also makes it harder for council workers to keep the street clean too.
If approved, the stricter approach will coincide with a number of other changes.
Over 2014, work will start on the £9.1m revamp of Leith Walk. This will see further improvements to the pedestrian environment, including more pedestrian crossings, wider pavements, and the movement of domestic waste containers off the pavement into the parking lane.
But more urgently, the new council approach to trade waste will also coincide with the introduction of the new Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012. This places a legal obligation on all businesses to recycle their waste with specific rules that require businesses that produce more than 50kg of food waste a week to recycle it.
The council proposals are likely to see a “compliance team” working on the street over the nine months from January, advising businesses about the new rules, and ultimately taking enforcement action against any that don’t comply.
Whilst many may have sympathy for struggling traders that may find themselves hit with extra costs as a result of complying with these new rules, there is strong public support from Leithers for action to tidy up the street. De-cluttering the bins from the street featured in the top 10 ideas people supported in the “Vision for Leith Walk” consultation we undertook last summer.
Ultimately, there is a growing body of research evidence that suggests that clearing up the street and managing the public space better, will lead to an increase in trade that should offset these extra costs over time.
There may also be scope for small businesses worried about the extra costs to work together to cut waste collection costs. A group of traders on Rose Street successfully cut their waste collection costs by agreeing a collective price with one waste contractor, rather than each business making their own arrangements.