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How dirty is your town centre? St Andrews and Kirkcaldy rated

Fife litter
A street cleaner in St Andrews - where there wasn't that much to do.

Fife is a place of extremes.

How many areas can boast home to a world-famous golf course as well as some of the country’s most deprived areas?

And one sign of whether an area is deprived or not? Litter.

Just look at any stock image of deprived areas and you know what I mean.

Ahead of the local elections next week, I visited town centres across Tayside and Fife to get a snapshot of how councils are tackling the litter problem.

Street cleaners do an immense job but they can’t be there all the time.

You can read my Dundee findings here. My Perth & Kinross and Angus trips will be published later this week.

So, how were things in the Kingdom?

St Andrews

Date: April 7, afternoon

The cleanest town centre I visited for this series. But then again, more affluent areas tend to be cleaner.

And in Tayside and Fife, it doesn’t get much more affluent than St Andrews.

It’s just a shame that whatever resources are being put into the home of golf are not being allocated everywhere.

A spotless St Andrews.
A spotless St Andrews.

I saw a street cleaner out and about during my visit. It must have been a slow day for him, as there was nothing to clear up.

Our verdict

As clean as you would expect. If only everywhere was like this.


Date: April 15, afternoon

Full disclosure — the Links Market was on during my visit.

I did not realise this until the day before my trip to the Lang Toon.

But upon learning that, I expected a litter-strewn High Street. Coupled with a troubling few years for the town centre, my expectations were low.

Cleaning the Esplanade, as throngs of people enjoy the Links Market just metres away.
Cleaning the Esplanade, as throngs of people enjoy the Links Market just metres away.

Well, to my surprise, the High Street wasn’t looking too bad. Don’t get me wrong, there was litter to be seen, but nowhere near the level I expected.

It was at its worst at the benches near the Mercat entrance.

But staff were actively cleaning the street during the day, no doubt expecting an avalanche of market-induced waste.

The Links Market.
The Links Market.

The Links Market itself was a different story. Under the sea of people soaking up the atmosphere was a sea of litter.

I do not envy the street cleaners tasked with cleaning that up first thing in the morning.


Certainly not as clean as St Andrews, but it could have been so much worse.

How many street cleaners tackle Fife litter?

There are currently 175 full-time street cleaners across the Kingdom and three part-time staff.

We asked for staff numbers over the last decade to make a comparison but Fife Council said they do not hold that information, as street cleaning was combined with other job functions in 2020.

Fife Council service manager Sandy Anderson said the change was made in order to “put more focus on keeping Fife’s streets clean and tidy”.

“Despite the fact that we now have fewer street cleaners, our hard-working teams take real pride in the work they do and are dedicated to improving the service they provide with the resources available.”

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