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18 May 2016

Leithers Don't Litter

We have a perverse attitude towards litter. Given the chance, everyone would surely opt to live in a litter free environment but while it may be anathema in many European countries to drop litter, in Scotland we do - and in ever increasing quantities. A new report released by Keep Scotland Beautiful highlights that an already bad situation is actually getting worse.  Although Councils have a part to play in all this, everyone needs to take responsibility for sorting out this blight.  And many communities do - but few to the extent of one committed couple from Leith. 


 

By Ian Swanson, Evening News

COMMUNITY campaign group Leithers Don’t Litter has been hailed as a model for local anti-litter drives across Scotland.


The initiative – launched last year by advertising guru Gerry Farrell and his wife, Zsuzsa – was praised by MSPs as setting an example which could be followed nationwide.


The group, which has won the backing of hundreds of residents, organises an “adopt a street” scheme where volunteers collect litter, and works in schools to promote respect for the environment.


Its Facebook page has become a platform for residents to highlight problems and seek advice on issues from flytipping to bin collections.


During a debate in the Scottish Parliament on litter, Lothian Conservative MSP Cameron Buchanan said Scotland was “dirty” and singled out Leithers Don’t Litter for its action to tackle the problem.


“Such initiatives can make a difference in local areas and are setting the exact example that we need to see replicated on a national scale,” he said. “Gerry and Zsuzsa Farrell, among others, are running a determined campaign that is spreading the message about the problem and what we can all do to help.


“They are right to highlight the difference that comes from adopting a street and using a simple litter-picker.


“If locals make that effort for their communities and such initiatives spread across Scotland, we will see the lasting difference that we need.


Mr Buchanan said education was the key to tackling the “scourge” of litter. He said: “We have to educate people not to leave litter, and that education has to start in nurseries from the age of three or four.”


Edinburgh North and Leith Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm also praised the “amazing” Leithers Don’t Litter campaign and said he wanted to join in after he stands down at the election.


He said: “It has been going for only a few months but it has engaged large numbers of people in the community. When I have a bit more time on my hands in seven weeks, I want to get involved in the campaign. It is one of the best community initiatives that I have seen.”


Mr Chisholm also urged tougher action on dog fouling.


The Evening News revealed recently that more than half the dog-fouling fines dished out across the Capital in recent years have never been paid.


He said: “There should be a national initiative and campaign about this problem of dog fouling. However, it has to be backed up by enforcement. The offence must be given higher status. It is very serious antisocial behaviour.”


Mr Farrell watched the debate and said he had been really pleased with its tone.


“There was a lot of enthusiasm for trying new ideas and a recognition that some of the old methods had not really worked,” he said.


“It’s great to feel Holyrood is open-minded across the parties, as is the council, sitting up and listening and approving of the idea we liberate our communities to get on and do the job and show an example.”

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