Help us make Edinburgh sparkle this summer

Environment Vice-Convener, Councillor Adam McVey, writes in today's Evening News encouraging the public to take responsibility for their own litter, keeping the city clean this festival.

Each year, Edinburgh receives accolade after accolade for its beauty, heritage and quality of life – and it always makes me incredibly proud to call this city my home.
 
We boast some of the most historic architecture, striking landscapes and, of course, vibrant festival programmes in the world.
 
But with this comes a responsibility to ensure we maintain the high standards expected, to offer visitors a pleasant and memorable experience and to provide our residents with the standard of cleanliness that they deserve from their council.
 
Every summer, as our population surges and temperatures rise, more people than ever take to the city’s parks and streets to soak up the atmosphere, and we need to be ready to deal with that.
 
We’ve already upped our capacity in terms of street cleaning, with more than 60 extra staff now kitted out and on barrow beat duty across the city centre, plus larger bins installed at key locations. We’ve also fitted litter bins with state-of-the-art sensors to help us decide how often they need emptied, especially over the busy summer months.
 
But it’s not just about ploughing extra resources into the city centre - we want to effect a change of culture amongst the public too. Most of us will wince at the sight of festival flyers mounting up in Old Town closes or cigarette butts scattered outside bars and restaurants, so we want to encourage the small minority that do drop rubbish to think twice.

For the last few months we have been working with Keep Scotland Beautiful on the #NeatStreets campaign in the Grassmarket, which aims to change the habits of litter-droppers using innovative techniques like the recently-installed ballot bins. By encouraging people to ‘vote with their (cigarette) butts’ on a series of fun and topical questions, the bins have really engaged the public and got people talking on social media.
 
Our own efforts over the festival will continue this interactive approach, with more ballot bins set for the streets, as well as brightly-coloured bins, portable ashtrays and ‘bin me’ stickers for take-away packaging – all measures designed to shake some people out of their littering routines.
 
And it’s not just during the festival that we want to keep Edinburgh clean – we want our City to shine all year round. We’re already planning ways to keep the momentum going after summer, working with local businesses, organisations and individuals to bring forward our sense of pride and responsibility in our communities for our environment.
 
As part of our festival campaign we’ll be telling a series of bad jokes, promising that the Council will ‘bin’ these jokes if we all bin our litter over the period. Help us shine as the beautiful city we are and prevent Edinburgh from being a laughing stock this summer - find a bin, put it in.

This opinion piece was published in the Edinburgh Evening News on Monday, 1 August.

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