Should we be cleaning up our own streets?

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A new council scheme which aims to get residents to clean up the streets has been criticised for having taxpayers do the local authority’s job.

Fife Council’s Adopt A Street scheme invites residents to pick an area and devote a few hours to keeping it clean, offering help in the form of litter pickers, bags, and gloves.

The Safer Communities team has been circulating advertisements on social media, where the idea has been met with an instant backlash.

Many members of the public feel that cleaning the streets is the council’s job.

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Dawn Jamieson, Fife Council’s Safer Communities team manager said: “The council is still cleaning streets but, unfortunately, too many people are dropping litter without any consideration for the law, the environment or their neighbourhoods.

“Community groups already organise lots of local clean-ups around Fife so we’re just letting people know we can support more of this activity if they want to get involved.

“While not everyone feels able to get involved in this initiative, we’ve had a high number of supportive comments from the public who are keen to work with us towards a litter-free Fife.”

Criticisms have included questions over whether the council tax will be lowered, or if the move would prompt cuts to the number of council street sweepers.

However, others see the scheme as an opportunity.

A number of communities have already made a success of litter picks, and are making the case for taking pride in your area.

Why we shouldn’t be angry at being asked to clean up our own streets

In Kirkcaldy, the Rabbit Braes Development Group conducts clean-ups twice a year and has seen significant improvement in the area as a result.

Lorraine Wilkinson is chairperson of the group, and she said: “I can understand where people are coming from because I’m quite loathe to go and clean-up after somebody else when they’re quite capable of putting stuff in a bin.

“For us, because it’s a greenspace, it’s a case of looking after our environment, and getting the community involved.

“For the Rabbit Braes, I think it’s really important that the children who come along to the clean-up have the opportunity to learn why we have to keep it tidy.

“If you teach children young, they’re going to know what to do when they’re older.

“We’ve also spoken to people who we know are littering at the Rabbit Braes. Sometimes they turn around and say ‘it’s not me’.

“I tell them ‘we have children coming in to pick up litter, and we shouldn’t have children cleaning up after an adult’.

“I think people have to take responsibility.

“The council really back us up on our clean-ups.

“They’ll deliver the litter pickers, the gloves, the black bags, all before the pick-up.

“They support us because we work together, and for community groups that’s what we should be doing.”

Would Lorraine recommend a litter pick for those who wanted to see their area cleaned-up?

“I would definitely advise people to join a group in their area if there’s something happening,” she said.

“It’s good for community spirit, and you get to meet new people.”

Whichever side of the argument you’re on, the simplest solution is always the best one.

If you take pride in your area, don’t drop litter, and if you see someone else do it, ask them to pick it up.

A litter pick at Rabbit Braes is scheduled for this Saturday at 10am, meeting at the bottom of Linton Lane, while Fife Coastal Trust has organised a coastal walk beach clean up for 10am on Saturday, September 15, which will start at Kinghorn Park and end at Seafield in Kirkcaldy.

Litter and fly-tipping incidents causing concern in the Kingdom

The issue of rubbish left on our streets is already a contentious one in Fife

Last month police raised concerns over fly-tipping after Fife Council took the decision to charge for commercial waste disposal.

Ken Gourlay, head of assets, transportation and environment wrote in a report that the estimated income generated over 2018/19 would be £264,000 rising to £500,000 by 2019/2020.

The new measure would be introduced on January 1, 2019.

Projections form a previous study estimated that providing commercial collections cost the council £2m every year, a cost which Mr Gourlay called “no longer sustainable”.

However, then-Police chief superintendent Colin Gall raised concerns about what would happen to waste if people were unwilling or unable to pay.

He said: “Fly-tipping would increase fire hazards in local areas.

“If they’re not going to pay for these collections, where will they tip that waste?

“And if it’s not going into skips, whose issue will that become?”

It follows a rash of incidents of fly-tipping since the start of this year.

Heatherywood near Kirkcaldy has been blighted by ongoing problems surrounding piles of rubbish being left lying.