Rubbish piling up on streets of Edinburgh amid bin strike as ‘massive public health problem’ feared

Scottish capital hit by 11-day garbage walk-out at heart of festival season

Sarah Ward
Monday 22 August 2022 13:35 BST
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Edinburgh’s Grassmarket on Day Five of the city’s bin strike
Edinburgh’s Grassmarket on Day Five of the city’s bin strike (SWNS)

Shocking pictures captured on Monday morning show rubbish piling up on the streets of Edinburgh as a result of the city’s bin strike.

Photographs taken close to Waverley Station showed public bins overflowing with black bin liners dumped beside them.

Takeaway boxes and food cartons spilled onto the pavement as commuters stepped around the detritus to get to the station.

The strike began on 18 August and is due to finish on 30 August, targeting the Scottish capital’s famous festival season.

Unite and GMB unions walked out over a pay disupte with Cosla, the council umbrella organisation, but are now said to be considering a five per cent wage rise offer.

The City of Edinburgh Council has promised a clean-up would happen immediately after.

The unions involved and the city council have been contacted for comment.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Monday, Terry Levinthal, director of Edinburgh’s heritage watchdog the Cockburn Association, warned that the city faced “a massive public health problem” and that vermin levels were expected to increase, with scavenger seagulls already out in “full force”.

“Even before the strike there were problems,” he said.

Litter piles up across the Scottish capital as the bin strike continues
Litter piles up across the Scottish capital as the bin strike continues (SWNS)

“We had our members and stakeholders complaining, particularly in the Old Town, where we’ve seen for hospitality businesses a number of structures erected – these provide fantastic places for the city’s mice and rat population to hide away and eat all of the offerings that have been left for them, if I can put it that way.

”And we’ll see, as a result of it, that in a few weeks’ time there will be a massive expansion in the population of vermin because there is just so much food on offer.”

Rubbish bags and takeaway boxes mount up outside The Grassmarket Hotel
Rubbish bags and takeaway boxes mount up outside The Grassmarket Hotel (SWNS)

Miles Briggs, a Scottish Conservative MSP, has meanwhile rebuked the city’s Labour council for an “astounding” lack of contingency planning.

“More could have been done to prepare the city, such as working with private companies or providing additional bins. The SNP Government must now intervene to prevent international embarrassment for Edinburgh and Scotland.

Locals and tourists alike are having to wade passed mounds of rubbish in the city centre
Locals and tourists alike are having to wade passed mounds of rubbish in the city centre (SWNS)

“The rubbish piling up on our streets risks damaging our city's reputation. These annual festivals are supposed to be a source of pride, not humiliation.

“The SNP Government must get around the table and fix this before it's too late. They cannot stand by and watch while a situation that they created by giving councils a poor funding settlement spirals out of control."

SWNS

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