curiosity about the ways of the world

Edinburgh’s New Town Wasteland

Oh contrary Edinburgh. While the people of Leith Walk are (rightly) angry with the council for messing up their street (see comments on Ray’s recent ‘rant) round the corner residents of the posh New Town are turning their neighbourhood into a tip all by themselves.

In fact they seem determined to prevent the council from keeping their streets neat and tidy. Up the West End, according to the Evening News, householders are manning the barricades to stop the council supplying communal wheelie bins which would keep their rubbish in the right place.

Good to know Auld Reekie gets priorities right: we let bankers away with daylight robbery but take to the streets to prevent the council delivering waste bins.

Black bin bags are so much more acceptable in the parts of town where properties fetch an eye watering price (even during the recession). To be fair, Edinburgh New Town is not the only urban area to resist the arrival of the wheelie. A quick online search brings up newspapers across the UK making rubbish puns about community campaigns opposing the wheelie bin. Sometimes they make jokes without realising it: the Wimbledon Guardian (as read on BBC Radio 4 News Quiz) reported a local councillor protesting “It is nonsense to say we are trying to bring wheelie bins in by the back door”.

In Edinburgh the argument seems to be that New Town dwellers couldn’t get the bins in by the back door or out the front door either. They simply have no room for bulky bins inside or outside their well proportioned Georgian buildings.  And, oh dear, communal bins in a heritage site would be far too common.

So these fine flats and houses insist on putting their rubbish out in black bags for hungry foxes and gallous gulls to rip open in search of a ready meal (imagine their disappointment on finding underwear instead) and it gets spread all over the pavement. Lovely.

The May issue of the Broughton Spurtle reported a council plan to introduce a pilot scheme for waste collection – some bins, some (gull proof) bags, some communal skips.  I feared my picture of the bra might become outdated before I got round to posting it but I needn’t have worried. It does look as if garbage guerrillas are intent on keeping up the fight.  Its none of my business – unless of course my (frozen) council tax is helping to pay for the extra cost of picking up their rubbish each week. But I can’t help wondering what they did before the arrival of the black bags in the days when we all had dustbins.


  1. fay

    Thanks David. New Town opposition to the bin is a curious anachronism.

  2. David Higgs

    I live in the New Town and we need bins. We can’t recycle properly and our streets look horrible on collection days which are dotted throughout the week and that’s if they turn up at all to take our bags hanging from our fences. We need to step into the 2000’s.

  3. Administrator

    It is a bit perverse, these are beautiful streets. Bins are not lovely but neither are cars – New Town streets are cluttered with boxes of metal which everyone seems to accept as an essential part of life.

  4. John

    Maybe New Town rubbish is like the stink of Versailles – it denotes a certain status (you’re not a toff unless your street looks like a tip on bin day)

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