Rethinking street cleaning

After STV revealed that four areas of the city failed to meet national street litter standards in March, Green group leader on the city council, Councillor Steve Burgess, says the new council administration must rethink its approach.

The latest Council report on litter raises some crucial questions about how we tackle street cleanliness across the Capital.

Steve BurgegssOn Monday councillors will be asked to consider a report that shows that some areas of the City are consistently quite clean, whilst other areas are consistently failing to meet cleanliness standards. The big question here is why there a disparity? And is the Council taking the right approach in tackling a problem that blights some areas and impacts on residents’ quality of life?

In March 2012 Keep Scotland Beautiful carried out an independent survey of the cleanliness of Edinburgh’s streets.  Each area is given a score out of 100 – a score of 67 or above is deemed to be acceptably clean. The results show that the City came very close to passing the overall cleanliness test  but behind this overall score lie more mixed results with some parts of the City faring worse than others.   It seems that while the low-density, less busy suburbs tend to meet standards, more densely populated inner-city areas with more of a night-time economy of fast food take-aways do less well.

Ahead of the latest KSB survey and just after councillors rejected the take over of the City’s environmental services by private company Enterprise, the same company were paid thousands by the Council Administration to help with a ‘Spring Clean’ in certain areas of the City. The Council report up for consideration next week clearly shows results were mixed. Some areas such as Leith improved, but strikingly some areas where Enterprise were brought in still failed to meet the City’s own standards for street cleanliness.

With Council budgets under pressure, and this approach failing to bring results, it looks like a waste of money especially as it’s unlikely to be sustainable in future. A better approach has to be to develop the Council’s own in-house street cleaning capacity. A capacity that could also be applied in a more targeted way across the City to ensure there is greater equality of street cleanliness for residents.

In the wake of rejecting privatisation, there’s now a challenge for the new Council Administration to ensure that all neighbourhoods are brought up to an acceptable cleanliness standard. This will only be achieved through sustained investment in the Council’s own street cleaning service.

This was first published by STV Edinburgh