Residents and officials have said they were “disgusted” by the “inexcusable” and “appalling” amount of litter left on city centre streets on the weekend of the Edinburgh Marathon.
On Saturday evening, bins were left overflowing on Princes Street, with questions being asked over whether council resources were properly distributed.
Joyce Morrison, 49, of Livingston, who was visiting the city centre with her husband on Saturday night, was so shocked by the mess that she took pictures and questioned council workers she saw attempting to clear the towering rubbish.
She said: “They said that the mess had been left over from the day shift. They also said that there were only six of them covering the night shift. They seemed outraged – one of them was taking pictures himself.
“I can honestly say I’ve never seen a mess as bad as this in the city centre. It seems like madness that the streets, especially Princes Street, are allowed to get into that state when we are supposed to be welcoming tourists into the city.”
Mrs Morrison contacted several MSPs over the problem. Green MSP for Lothians Alison Johnstone said she was “disappointed” to hear about the problem and would be contacting the Cleansing Department.
Conservative City Centre councillor Joanna Mowat was also horrified to discover overflowing bins on Dundas Street on Sunday.
She said: “I will be asking questions as to how this inexcusable oversight was allowed to happen. The biggest complaint people in Edinburgh have is over bin collections and I certainly have concerns that something went very wrong over the weekend.”
The frequency of bin collections around the city has been a bone of contention since new fortnightly collections were introduced in September. The move sparked months of chaos, with residents across the city complaining that bins had been left unemptied for weeks at a time, increasing the risk of fire and vermin.
City Centre SNP councillor Alasdair Rankin said the latest mess had been caused by an “operational problem”.
“Though a mess like this is not acceptable at any time of year it is especially important to present our city in the best light over the summer when many tourists flock to the city,” he said.
“I’ve been assured that this was not a question of resources, it was an operational oversight which has been solved and will not happen again.”
A spokesman for Edinburgh Council said staffing levels had not been changed and did not cause the overflowing bins.
Environment convener Lesley Hinds said: “Keeping Edinburgh’s streets clean and tidy is really important to us.
“We’re sorry that we didn’t empty this bin earlier and appreciate it when people tell about problems so we can fix them.”