Clean-up plan as Leith Walk named dirtiest area in city

Street cleaner Craig Barnes sweeps up in Leith
Street cleaner Craig Barnes sweeps up in Leith
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A MAJOR clean-up operation for Leith Walk has been set up after it was highlighted as the dirtiest area of the 

In total, seventeen areas of the city were independently surveyed by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, and all passed except Leith, Leith Walk and the city centre.

As a result, extra staff and equipment are now being allocated to help improve results of the street cleaning survey, which was carried out in June.

Keep Scotland Beautiful inspectors found that while the vast majority of the city’s wards exceed national 
targets for cleanliness and continue to improve, more work is needed in Leith and the city centre.

Overall, Edinburgh achieved a score of 72, up one from the same survey in March. The national Cleanliness Index Monitoring Systems (CIMS) target is currently set at 67 or above; the city centre scored just below this with 66, Leith Walk achieved 64 whilst the worst area was Leith on 58.

The figures represent an improvement on March figures for the city centre and Leith Walk, when they scored 59 and 63 respectively. Leith, meanwhile, fell from 62.

Almond was the highest scoring ward with 82, followed by Southside/Newington on 79, in third came both Inverleith and the Pentlands on 76.

In an effort to improve the Leith figures, four more staff per shift dedicated to dustcarts and mechanical sweepers have now been assigned on Leith Walk, Great Junction Street, Duke Street and part of Constitution Street; meanwhile, in the city centre, the number of environmental wardens was nearly doubled during the Festival, from seven to 13, to help deal with waste and littering.

City centre councillor Joanna Mowat welcomed the overall improvement but insisted more needs to be done to tidy up the city centre and Leith after years of tram works. She said: “The trams upheaval in these areas hasn’t helped and has somewhat led to a drop in standards. These are the city’s showcase streets and whilst higher footfall will lead to more litter, more can still be done to keep them clean.”

The survey offers a snapshot of the cleanliness of streets as a 50-metre section is surveyed from a random sample of ten per cent. Each section is then graded on presence of litter on a scale from “A” to “D” whereby “A” equals three points and “D” equals zero points.

The main instances of litter gaining a “C” and “D” grade related to fly-tipping around communal bins and smoking-related litter near licensed premises.

Keith Hales, chair of Leith Business Association, echoed Cllr Mowat’s views while also offering a possible solution to the fly tipping problem.

He said: “It doesn’t take much common sense to see what’s needed. The issue is whether the council wants to listen to traders and install larger communal bins on the street. These would do away with three of the present smaller bins whilst also solving the issue of fly tipping and seagulls tearing open bags.”

City transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “While there is no room for complacency, these figures are encouraging. Naturally, we would like every part of the city to do well, but there are particular problems in some areas.

“Obviously, the Festival period puts a great deal of strain on our resources, but there are also problems with cigarette littering outside pubs and people fly-tipping at 
communal bins.

“We will continue our work to keep the streets clean but we also call on everyone in Edinburgh to be responsible and play their part in maintaining our beautiful city.”

Shop soiled

THE extra measures to clean up Leith Walk come on the back of claims it was the “dirtiest high street in Scotland”.

Figures released in recent weeks showed the area was being shunned by shoppers, with footfall down almost 12 per cent in the first three months of 2012 compared with the same period last year.

And business owners and community leaders said the fall was down to the state of the area, which they said had been neglected.

There were claims bins were being left overflowing and one business said environmental wardens were hardly ever seen in the area, while another branded the street “shabby”.

Anna Christopherson, who runs a string of bars on Leith Walk through the Boda group, said: “It’s not the Champs Elysees that it could be.”

Much of the blame for the state of Leith Walk has been put on the tram works which saw the area repeatedly dug up and resurfaced.

The council has pledged to spend £5.5 million to restore the area it to its former glory.