A new policy to significantly cut the time commercial waste can be stored within St Andrews town centre has finally been drawn up, The Courier can reveal.
Locals and visitors have long complained about the increasing number of large commercial waste bins permanently stored on pavements and public spaces and Fife Council has confirmed it is looking at a project to end the town’s bin blight.
In addition to the unsightly visual impact, council officers have acknowledged the unregulated presence of commercial waste containers and bags on streets can cause obstructions and, if not properly managed, contribute to spilled waste and litter which can attract vermin and gulls.
The local authority is now seeking to ban commercial waste or commercial waste containers on public footways and roads in the historic town centre for most of the day.
Two designated collection windows, likely to be between 7.30 and 9.30am and 5 and 7pm, are envisaged and the proposals are expected to go out to consultation later this year.
Businesses, which will have to clearly mark the waste as their own, will also have to find a commercial waste contractor that will work with them to comply with the new policy or face what has been described as “reasonable and proportionate” enforcement action.
St Andrews Labour councillor Brian Thomson welcomed the move after highlighting the concerns of the community council, which expressed dismay about the impact the bins were having on events which attract large numbers of visitors to the town.
He said: “I’ve been trying to get the commercial bins problem in the town centre tackled for a number of years and, in particular, I’ve been advocating the introduction of a policy similar to that which operates successfully in Edinburgh, whereby commercial waste and bins can only be placed on the streets for a very limited period, and all bags and bins must be clearly marked with a business name.
“Whilst the possibility of introducing an Edinburgh-style policy was initially rejected in favour of a more light-touch approach of, for example, ‘educating’ some businesses to improve their recycling methods, it was soon clear that, despite officers’ best efforts, stronger enforcement is required to properly tackle the problem and I’m therefore pleased that my continued lobbying has led to the stage where a draft policy has now been prepared for consultation.
“The permanent placement of commercial bins on the pavements and, in some cases, in parking places, is simply not acceptable in a historic town centre that’s a major tourist attraction.
“I therefore hope that the proposed policy gets widespread support, and that the consultation is the first step towards seriously tackling this long-standing problem.”
Lib Dem councillor Jane Ann Liston described the news as “long overdue but better late than never”.
She added: “The proposals to regulate the periods of waste collection to the beginning and end of the working day and to use existing powers to prevent the large bins obstructing the pavements and roadway will greatly improve the townscape.
“The removal of this unattractive ‘street furniture’ will make visiting the historic core of St Andrews a much pleasanter experience for residents and visitors alike, so everybody should benefit from this initiative.”
The new policy could be in place by January 2019.