Edinburgh City Council leaders have been told to ‘stop playing student politics’ and clean up the city – as a new report shows Edinburgh is officially dirtier than supposedly ‘filthy’ Glasgow.
Despite recently attracting national media attention for the state of its streets, Glasgow is actually cleaner than the capital, according to environment charity Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB).
As part of a national audit of Scotland’s streets, known as the Local Environmental Audit and Management System (or LEAMS), KSB found that while 82.5% of Glasgow’s streets are considered ‘clean’, only 81.2% meet that standard in Edinburgh.
This is on the back of a huge reduction in performance from last year when Edinburgh managed 92.9%.
Now, Edinburgh City Council’s Conservative group leader, councillor Iain Whyte, has called on the SNP/Labour administration to stop discussing national and international politics and focus on the city.
Councillor Whyte said: “Glasgow’s SNP council has been rightly heavily criticised for the ‘filthy’ state of its streets in recent weeks.
“Now we find that the official survey shows that Edinburgh is even worse.
“That’s an absolute disgrace when it has taken a dramatic deterioration in the last year to drop that far.
“It’s hugely ironic that just as Glasgow is being slated in national and local media for street litter, Edinburgh’s performance gets worse than our neighbour along the M8 for the first time.
“Most Edinburgh residents think our city is very different to Glasgow but with SNP leadership in both cities that certainly isn’t the case for street cleanliness.
“No wonder residents and senior Edinburgh business figures are speaking out about the litter, overflowing bins, weeds and graffiti they see around them.
“This is all the result of an SNP-run council that couldn’t care less about the basic services like bins, road repairs and litter and instead would rather concentrate on playing student politics with national and international issues.”
Social media has been awash with complaints about rubbish in the streets, overflowing bins and blocked drains as the council struggles to juggle the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic with keeping the city’s streets clean.
Edinburgh City Council has been accused of leaving the capital’s streets in disrepair – with Conservative Lothian list MSP Susan Webber saying “the state of Edinburgh’s streets are a disgrace”.
Earlier this month SNP council leader Adam McVey said the council had faced a “particularly difficult” set of challenges during the pandemic, and said an extra £300,000 had been invested on top of existing budgets to help clean up the streets.
At the time, he said: “Our message to people in the city is please bear with us.”
Councillor Whyte said that response was “pathetic”, adding: “We need strong management, decent performance standards and, if necessary, more resources in these services.
“And if the in-house team can’t manage the job properly due to sickness absences, we should bolster them with additional contracted help.
“We are the capital city of Scotland and it is an utter disgrace that our streets are dirtier than Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.
“We should be the cleanest and the best and to put up with anything less is appalling.”
In response, the council’s transport and environment convener, councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “We recognise that the pandemic has had a serious impact on our ability to keep Edinburgh’s streets looking their best.
“It’s why we’ve allocated more resources to ensure maximum flexibility to keep services running as best as they can.
“Whilst we recognise the impact on the progress we were making, we’re keen to get back to the trajectory of improving standards for the people of our city.
“The teams have rightly focused on keeping our almost half-million weekly waste collections functioning across the city, something that some other local authorities have not been able to achieve during these very testing times. This is solely due to the team’s enormous effort and hard work.
“Before Covid we had overseen a steady improvement in our street cleanliness scores as a result of improved management and resourcing – which we are striving to achieve again.
“We have allocated additional resources with an extra £300,000 invested on top of our budgets for mechanical litter sweepers also capable of removing weeds.
“It is clear that the Tories don’t have an alternative plan, or indeed any new ideas except their tired old mantra of privatising services.
“We’re working hard with council staff to get through the enormous complexities of continuing to deliver core services in the face of current challenges and will always support our staff in being able to provide the best possible standards for our residents.”
By local democracy reporter Joseph Anderson
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