Waste crisis in Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency could spark ‘public health emergency’

Rubbish piling up in the streets of Nicola Sturgeon’s Glasgow constituency could spark a public health emergency if the situation is not tackled, a local councillor has warned.
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Refuse workers said that some areas of Govanhill were ‘drowning in waste’, while the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) saw first hand how streets were strewn with foul-smelling waste.

A Glasgow City Council Spokesman said the situation was at least in part being caused by businesses and private landowners failing to properly dispose of their waste, and warned that enforcement action would be taken if they did not clean up their act.

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But the GMB union, which represents most of the city’s refuse workers, urged the Scottish Government to walk a mile in the shoes of the cleansing workers who are struggling to keep the city clean with “limited resources”.

Rubbish piling up in Govanhill.Rubbish piling up in Govanhill.
Rubbish piling up in Govanhill.

And Southside Central councillor Soryia Siddique condemned the situation and said more investment is needed in her area to tackle the issue which is particularly bad in Govanhill.

Scottish Labour councillor Siddique said: “I have been contacted by many of my constituents over a prolonged period of time, expressing their concerns at the ongoing problem of waste in Govanhill, and at the apparent inability of Glasgow City Council to resolve this problem.

“Complaints include fly tipping, overflowing bins and infestation. In March this year, I wrote to the director of public health asking for intervention in the matter which l believe is leading to a public health emergency in the area.

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“Sadly there doesn’t appear to be any progress. Govanhill needs new ideas and investment urgently.”

The Scottish Government has confirmed it will allocate £1.5 billion in funding to support local services but GMB members believe that fly-tipping and excessive amounts of litter lying on the streets are already having a detrimental effect on local communities which will then in-turn lead to poor health problems for local residents.

The LDR service joined GMB convenor Chris Mitchell on a tour of Govanhill, which sits in the First Ministers constituency, to see just how bad the problem was.

Images show that some areas including Alison Street as well as nearby closes and lanes, appear to suffer more than others when it comes to environmental waste. Cardboard boxes and bulky items have been dumped outside old tenement buildings and litter is strewn all over the streets.

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Meanwhile in Govan, in a side street just off Paisley Road West a no fly tipping zone, was covered in litter, black bin bags, empty plastic bottles alongside bulk waste.

Mr Mitchell said: “The whole city is becoming rife with waste.

“The public deserves better service but our workers deserve to be treated with a bit of respect and dignity. The morale has now hit rock bottom, because the pride has been ripped out of these workers.

“We take pride in cleaning the streets of Glasgow but we are coming in every day, undermanned, undervalued, because of the cuts in the service and then you come into places which are depressing not just to look at but to live in.

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“We need more staff. Every year the Scottish Government releases funding to the local authorities across Scotland and you can quite simply see, it isn’t enough money.

“We need a steady flow of employment into this service because if you don’t, you get a city which is now drowning in waste and I think the Scottish Government needs to take a walk in the shoes of these workers and come and look at the places we try to clean on a daily basis.”

“The UK Government doesn’t fund the Scottish Government with enough money, then in turn the Scottish Government doesn’t fund local authorities enough and it’s the public and the workers that suffer. We need to tell these politicians who run this country that we have had enough.

“We have now got a waste crisis. This cannot and should not be allowed to continue.”

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A spokesman for the Glasgow City Council said: “The incidents shown here highlight situations where individuals or businesses have failed to dispose of their waste appropriately.

“The picture of the Allison Street bin plainly shows a business seeking to avoid their waste management responsibilities by putting commercial waste in a domestic bin.

“Our environmental health officers will be visiting businesses in the surrounding area to ensure they all have waste disposal contracts in place to deal with the rubbish they produce.

“Any business without a waste disposal contract will be given 14 days to get proper arrangements sorted out or face enforcement action.

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“Clifford Lane has previously been highlighted by GMB as a spot for fly-tipping, but the lane is privately owned and any fly-tipping requires to be removed by owners or residents.

“However, our neighbourhood team has been working closely with owners and residents linked to the lane, who have joined forces to maintain their property.

“Residents and owners have now formed a constituted group, which means they will be eligible to apply for any funding available through our private lanes strategy.

“Our staff do work hard on behalf of the city and we also recognise the financial challenges currently faced by the council.

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“We will continue to use all available resources, including developments with technology, to deliver the most effective and efficient services possible.”

The Scottish government has confirmed it will allocate a funding package to Glasgow City Council to help support daily services but it is the local authority’s decision on where that money is spent.

A spokesperson said: “It is the responsibility of individual councils to manage their own budgets and to allocate the financial resources available to them on the basis of local needs and priorities.

“Glasgow City Council will receive a total funding package of almost £1.5 billion to support local services, which includes an extra £119.2 million to support vital day to day services, equivalent to an increase of 8.8 per cent compared to 2021-22.

“Littering and fly-tipping are unacceptable, whatever the circumstances, and there is no excuse for this behaviour anywhere in Scotland.”

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