curiosity about the ways of the world

New Town rubbish: our World Heritage

What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located UNESCO World Heritage website

So who owns the New Town? The morning after blogging about the bin bags of the New Town, I am strolling along Regent Terrace enjoying the view when I find a pile of rubbish not far from the American Consulate. As it happens there’s a group of tourists right behind me, “What a mess,” says one of them, warily stepping her way round the grot.

Coincidentally Ray was taking a picture of a pile of bags in Great King Street (below) demonstrating an attempt to prevent scavenging gulls ripping them open before the bin men get there.

Why should I care? I don’t live in Great King Street  or Regent Terrace (above) where ‘kerbside sacks’ are collected on Mondays and Thursdays.  I live on the edge of the New Town (even that phrase can add a few quid to value of a property ) where  wheelie bins are emptied once a week.

But, at the risk of sounding obsessed, I think there are two reasons why New Town rubbish is a public issue.  The first is a matter of pride. To quote UNESCO, the world heritage site belongs to all of us. Besides, Edinburgh’s World Heritage status is exploited as a tourist attraction. Tourists are encouraged to explore the elegant New Town to admire the 18th century architecture and streetscapes that had a major influence on European town planning.  At present the streets don’t look so pretty on Mondays and Thursdays.

The second is more serious. At a time when council tax is frozen, when council services are up for privatisation, when funding is withdrawn from support to the most vulnerable people in our city – in short, when every penny counts – then it is simply wrong to waste money on twice weekly collections plus the extra costs of clearing up after spilt bags.  Oh go on, accept communal wheelie bins, they won’t look any less aesthetically pleasing than parked cars, and a whole lot better than garbage!

Black canvas sacks hung on the railings in Gt King St, emails Ray,  an attempt to beat the foxes and seagulls no doubt. But some residents still use bin bags.


  1. Administrator

    Thanks Ian, glad you agree, it just seems odd and sad that litter has become a problem in such a handsome part of the city.

    European cities set us a good example in so many ways, but particularly when it comes to civic pride. A couple of years ago we visited Rovinj in Croatia and were amazed to see young people queuing up to put their litter in bins provided by the cafe they hung out in after school. There was no fast food litter in the streets.

  2. Ian Jamieson

    I couldn’t agree more, Fay. This Summer Edinburg World Heritage are launching a campaign to get more visitors into the New Town. It’s a shame that they will go to so much effort and low-level annoyances like rubbish could undo all their great work.

    I know that in many European cities – Madrid, Barcelona etc have teams of people power hosing the streets every night. I guess there’s little money available to do anything, or so we are told.

    I guess people could just look after their litter a bit better. That’s a cheap and effective solution.

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