City council staff set to be granted powers to fine litterers in ‘undercover wardens’ move

HUNDREDS of city council staff would be given powers to hand out litter fines under new plans to clean up the Capital’s rubbish-strewn streets.

A wide range of employees would be trained and encouraged to challenge those dropping litter or allowing their dogs to foul streets and parks.

Parking enforcers already equipped with ticket machines could be among those given dual roles, along with other council staff who are regularly out and about in the city.

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The plan was floated by Mark Turley, director of the council’s communities department, as councillors discussed the Capital’s litter problem.

He said budget constraints prevented the local authority from spending more on staff.

However, he suggested rolling out powers and responsibility to some sections of the 18,000-strong workforce would represented a huge opportunity for a litter crackdown. He added: “I could be a warden. There are thousands of council staff that could be wardens. We perhaps need to make better use of this resource.”

Edinburgh was this week crowned the nation’s cleanest city by Keep Scotland Beautiful. However, the City Centre and Leith wards continue to lag behind others, with residents and councillors calling for a tougher approach to deter people from dropping litter.

Businesses dumping trade waste have also been identified as a key contributor to streets appearing unclean.

There are currently around 40 environment wardens city-wide, which elected members said was clearly not enough for a major city.

Keep Scotland Beautiful made a presentation to members of the city’s environment committee at the City Chambers, highlighting the improvements and praising efforts made this year.

The city overall scored a score of 72 out of 100, which is above the national ‘acceptable’ target of 67. However, City Centre and Leith scored only 63. The cleanest area of the city is the Almond ward, which includes the suburbs of Barnton and Cramond, with a score of 82. This meant 98 per cent of streets were judged to be acceptably clean.

Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith, said: “The score is not acceptable in the City Centre or Leith and we cannot suggest there is enough being done to improve on this. If there are insufficient wardens there is no disincentive to dump litter.

“There is a great deal of work done by local communities across the city, but we cannot rely on community clean-ups to pick up where we fail.”

Joanna Mowat, Conservative councillor for the City Centre, whose party has previously suggested a dual role for parking enforcers, said: “We are not keeping up with other cities. In the City of London you could eat your dinner off the pavement, the streets are so clean.

“And I’m embarrassed to say I was in Glasgow the other day and their streets were far cleaner than ours.”

Roland Reid, secretary of Leith Central community council, backed Mr Turley’s plan.

He said: “This was raised at one of our community council meetings. Some of our members suggested it should be incumbent on all council officers on the streets to keep our streets clean, not just issuing litter fines but also being alert to fly-tipping and making sure trade waste is responsibly managed by shop-owners.

“Sometimes people can be quite aggressive, so there might be an issue about personal safety for the staff and that would be a concern.”