New Leith Neighbourhood Partnership Manager, Ian Buchanan has promised more investment in street cleansing services and a more robust approach to dog fouling at a packed Friends of the Water of Leith Basin meeting.
In recent months there has been a spate of poor environmental results for Leith. The area recently came bottom of the city league table for litter, and despite a rising trend in litter and dog fouling fines elsewhere in the city a Freedom of Information request revealed that the number of fines issued in Leith had halved over the same timescale.
And to cap it all, Leithers are also the most dissatisfied with their parks of all Edinburgh residents.
At the meeting, which took place on Tuesday, in the Mal Maison hotel, Mr Buchanan gave his views on this poor environmental record for the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership, after being asked whether he thought Leithers who felt that they were getting a raw deal from the city chambers were justified in having a chip on the shoulder about the quality of services provided by the council in Leith.
He said: “I don’t know whether Leithers have a chip on their shoulders, but I think it’s right that they ask for what they feel that they should be receiving.”
“The June results put us at the bottom of the league table for litter, but the latest survey results [that have yet to be published] have improved significantly.
“We were actually assessed unfortunately on the Friday and many households had had their bin collection day changed from a Monday to a Friday and it was the begining of the modernised waste collections so many households had gone for 18 days without a collection and we were assessed on that Friday when many households around here had been in that situation, and our guys still managed to increase the score quite significantly from June.”
“So, they are doing are a very good job. I walk up and down Leith Walk most days, and it’s been looking really quite good.
“We have got a challenge in certain areas where the people who are in the area, or who use the area, are not keeping it as clean as possibly they could, and our guys still go back and clean-up behind them.”
“There is a bit of work we need to do with the wardens, but I do see an improvement, where we clean something better, and then people look after it better.”
“There’s a bus stop at Junction Street bridge along here, and it always used to look quite poor. We keep it quite clean now, and I notice that the people waiting for the bus will actually use a litter bin now a lot more than they used to.
“So it goes both ways. We are putting investment in, we are doing more, and you’re right to comment to us if you feel you should.”
Asked about the community safet at the Foot of the Walk and Great Junction Street, he continued: “I see some of the crime reports for the area, and I don’t see it figuring particularly highly. There are little pockets of problems around the whole of the city, but I don’t see that area figuring particularly highly compared to other areas.
“I think that the perception of Leith as a high crime area is just a perception.”
And on the vexed subject of dog fouling he said in response to queries from some in the audience who found it hard to believe any fines were ever issued in Leith:
“In Leith the wardens have been taking a slightly different approach. They’ve been working by education and encouragement.
“I feel that the responsible dog owners have already got that message and so maybe, we need to take a more robust approach.”
“There are still people who respond to being encouraged, but I think we need to take a more robust approach. It’s simply not acceptable that in places like the Water of Leith path, people bag up their dog dirt and throw into the bushes.”