Thursday, 14 January 2010

Hypocritical garbage on litter

The recent Hogmanay Edinburgh Street Party highlighted official hypocrisy towards the issue of littering. In a news article entitled 'Great party...shame about the mess', The Scotsman's report on the event and subsequent clean up said:
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.)


Observer said...

This carry on about being fined for dropping a fag end is rubbish. I was fined, I was aiming it at a drain as I went for the bus and it missed. So I was fined for not having a good aim. I would never drop litter in the streets, and if I see anyone doing it I tell them to pick it up. If I am feeling brave enough and the person isn't too scary I will pick stuff up people leave in the park and give it to them saying, you forgot this.

I can't abide litter louts, they do my head in, but sadly I seem alone.

Observer said...

I was caught as I was queueing in an orderly way for the bus rather than just pushing in. And when they asked for my name and address I told them.

This being brought up properly is an expensive business.

Mini-rant over.

Stuart Winton said...

Thanks Observer, looks like you were the archetypal 'easy target'!

Your point about 'giving people back' their litter reminds me of a story in the press a while ago about someone who I think threw a fag end (?) back into a car that it had just come out of. I think things escalated a bit and it all ended in tears.

Stuart Winton said...

I think I was actually talking, er, rubbish about the car incident - some numpties threw litter into a car and when one of the occupants challenged him he ended up dead.

I don't think the litter actually originated from the car, but I could be thinking of another case.

I've certainly been tempted to throw rubbish back into a car, but discretion has generally been the better part of valour. I think!