Here’s to active citizenship. I was walking home, drenched to the skin, after a downpour that brought small floods to cobbled streets, when I met a hardy soul in wellies and raincoat trying to clear a blocked drain in one of the more expensive streets of Edinburgh’s New Town.
Holy smoke: just a small slick of the rubbish left behind by smokers in one of the posher parts of Edinburgh. A good neighbour has stopped flooding by scraping away the grot that chokes the drains.
I stop to chat and discover the man is doing a good deed on behalf of two neighbours who live in a basement flat which floods after heavy rain because drains clog up with rubbish. It’s the usual grot. Poly bags and plastic bottles act like plugs but the biggest problem is the cigarette butts – a great disgusting tidal wave of them – thrown away by the smokers employed at the bank across the road.
The good neighbour is soon joined by the women who live in the basement flat and rather touchingly pose for my mobile phone picture (I think they are just pleased someone, anyone, is taking notice). This isn’t the usual rant against the council who send out bin lorries and road sweepers paid by our council tax. It isn’t altogether the bank’s responsibility either (which is why I decided not to say which bank it is, but it is of course a big and profitable one) though apparently the residents’ association has written to the bank asking them to put up a bin for the smokers.
But doesn’t the blame rest with the smokers? In the absence of a bin, why on earth do they think it is ok to chuck their fag ends on the ground? They should be the ones out in the street with brooms and buckets.