Early yesterday morning, more than 50 street-cleaning staff began the task of removing 30 tonnes of litter from Edinburgh city centre.Yet the report juxtaposes that with the following statement from a senior police officer:
We have been delighted with the behaviour and attitude of revellers in Edinburgh this Hogmanay. Only four arrests were made by our officers on scene, and we would like to thank the public for helping to create a fun and memorable event for all concerned.A few weeks ago I highlighted the tokenistic stance of the powers that be in Dundee to the issue of litter law enforcement, with the negligible amount of fines handed out being contrasted with the scale of the problem.
Indeed, I well recall a BBC Life of Grime programme from a few years ago which featured Scotland's capital, and footage showed New Year revellers knee deep in rubbish but council orderlies out at the crack of dawn cleaning the whole thing up - it wouldn't do for ordinary people to see this mess. However, elsewhere in that episode council enforcement officers were filmed sitting in surveillance vans during daylight hours and handing out fines to the odd 'suit' who dropped a cigarette end. (I'm not sure if this particular juxtaposition was deliberate.)
Perhaps the authorities should be more honest about their stance on litter - if effective enforcement is either impractical or undesirable then they should tell us so in preference to the current approach, which is self-evidently ineffective and seems to achieve little more than breed resentment against the tiny number of 'easy targets' brought to book.
Instead of praising the "behaviour and attitude" of people who treat Scotland like a rubbish tip, perhaps it's the behaviour and attitude of the authorities that should be examined.
(I see the comments added to the Scotsman's article contain some predictable stuff about "belittling Scotland" and suchlike. Unfortunately this kind of attitude is similarly part of the problem rather than the solution.)