Angry locals have been pursuing city Environment Convenor Lesley Hinds by email over the poor state of Leith Walk and the surrounding streets in recent weeks.
One person, who kindly copied Greener Leith into their correspondence, even said that the extent of filth on the street had reached an “all time low,” recently.
Sadly, Greener Leith can confirm that this claim isn’t just hyperbole. It’s backed up by the council’s own independent survey results.
The latest council litter report shows that Leith Walk ward only managed to score 62 in the last street survey conducted by Keep Scotland Beautiful this June.
This is the lowest score awarded to the ward in more than three years.
But whilst Leith Walk ward locals may be feeling aggrieved, residents of Leith ward have experienced worse than this.
For much of the latter half of 2012, litter in the port area generated consistently low scores as well, leading Greener Leith, and others, to repeatedly call for more to be done – as Leith was often the lowest scoring ward in the city.
This campaigning ultimately ended up in more street-cleansing resources being allocated to Leith. The result? Both Leith and Leith Walk wards enjoyed a whole 12 month period between September 2013 and September 2014 where street-cleansing met – or exceeded a score of 67 – the minimum standard set by Keep Scotland Beautiful.
But now the latest street survey, undertaken in June, shows that there has been a dramatic departure from this higher standard. Leith Walk scored just 62, and Leith Ward faired little better on 63.
In fact that stats show that there has been a worsening volume of street litter in the port area since last September.
Councillor Hinds has responded to her critics and provided some insight into why there had been problems on Leith Walk. She said:
“The large on street bins in Leith Walk are emptied by a specialist side loading vehicle. Currently we have a limited number within our fleet.
“Waste Services was experiencing numerous issues with these vehicles which resulted in running behind with our collection schedules across the City, and not just in Leith. The vehicle issues have now been resolved and collections should have resumed as per the agreed schedule.”
The recent service failure from the council could be a temporary aberration. Or it could be a sign of things to come as cuts bite at the local authority.
Cllr Hinds has also responded to locals arguing for the council to respond to the low scores with more street-cleansing resources. In another email she said: “The allocation of resources for cleansing was recently reviewed. Taking account of the population and cleansing challenges in Leith, resources were allocated taking this in to account.”
Of course, whether this recent ‘review of resources’ is the cause of the recent drop in litter scores – or the solution – remains to be seen. It will take a few more street surveys to know for sure.
In the meantime, Leith Walk locals have a by-election to consider.
If you see litter or dumping that needs to be cleared up, you can report it to the council online at fixmystreet.com