Litter. It’s a bugbear for us all.
While the blame unquestionably goes towards litterers, councils have a large part to play in tackling the issue.
From ensuring there are enough bins to getting street cleaners pounding the pavements, a tidy high street is largely down to how councils allocate resources.
I visited town centres across Tayside and Fife for a snapshot of how tidy – or not – they are ahead of next week’s local elections.
Here, I rate Dundee city centre and the high streets of Lochee and Broughty Ferry for litter.
Throughout the week, I will publish our findings from Angus, Fife and Perth & Kinross.
Dundee city centre
Date: April 7, morning
City Square and Reform street were looking clean.
But when scratching beneath the surface an uglier picture emerged.
Bags of empty glass bottles were inexplicably left next to a food bin at the Yeaman Shore car park.
A nearby lane was a midden with overflowing bins.
There also appears to have been an increase in graffiti recently. A consequence of lockdown?
But the most eye-opening find was a broken toilet in a shady lane off Commercial Street.
Stay classy, Dundee.
No matter how clean an area appears at first, whenever you see a broken toilet all positive impressions are flushed down the pan. And the increase in graffiti really does bring the area down.
Must do better.
Lochee High Street
Date: April 7, morning
A few of the pubs could do with installing ashtrays outside.
Cigarette butts lay soggy at front doors.
Aside from that, the High Street was quite clean and tidy.
But another issue is unkempt grassy areas, such as near the bus stop.
It appears that if rubbish is blown into this area and gets stuck in foliage, then it is left there.
Grassy areas are in bad need of some attention.
Date: April 7, afternoon
The area suffers from the same problem as Lochee — if litter has been blown towards a grassy area, then that is its new home and it isn’t going anywhere.
That’s a shame as it tarnished an otherwise spotless area.
Generally good, but a little bit of extra attention is needed.
How many street cleaners are there in Dundee?
The number of staff employed by Dundee City Council whose main role is street cleaning has nearly halved in the last decade.
In 2012, there were 40 street cleaners. That included four part-time workers and three temporary staff.
The overall figure was still 40 in 2017 – although the make-up of temporary and part-time street cleaners was slightly different.
However, now there are only 22 dedicated street cleaners: 18 full-time and four part-time.
‘Pride in your city’
A Dundee City Council spokeswoman highlighted their ‘Take Pride in Your City‘ campaign, which encourages residents to “make a difference in our neighbourhoods, parks and open spaces”.
She said: “We aim to encourage individuals, groups and organisations across Dundee to help in the effort to prevent litter, dog fouling, fly-tipping and discarded chewing gum from blighting the city.
“There is a lot of great work being done in Dundee by groups and individuals but there is still more to do. We continue to highlight the good work already being done and hope to encourage more people to get involved in the campaign.
“To make a real difference and make our city a better place to live we all need to take pride in our city.”