Posted by in April's Magazine

Gerry Farrell and his wife Zsuzsa got so fed up hearing themselves moaning about Leith’s filthy streets that they decided to do something about it:

‘Are youse getting paid tae dae this?”
We get asked this every time we’re out picking up litter in Leith.
“Nope, we’re doing it for nothing.”
“But that’s the Cooncil’s job.”


Sums it up, really. Folk think oh well I’ll just let my half-eaten sausage supper fall to the ground because “it’s the Cooncil’s job” to pick it up. It’s brilliant having someone else to blame, isn’t it? Gets you right off the hook.

My missus was cleaning up after a bunch of workies the other day. They had charmingly peed in their Irn-Bru bottles, screwed the tops back on and left them in the gutter. Again. “Whit are yi daein the Cooncil’s work fir?” “Because I don’t want to live in a shithole,” she said.

My apologies for being a greetin-faced Grumpy Old Man but I’m just back from a 3-hour litter-pick. We were going to do the whole of Leith Walk but we were distracted by the delights of Smith’s Place. It’s a dump. Are you listening, residents of Smith’s Place? You’re living in a dump. You come out your front door and there are beer cans, fag packets and chip wrappers in your front garden. You have seven wheelie bins at the end of your street. Is it the Council’s fault you don’t use them?

With a bladder full of beer and a few voddies inside us we’re so proud of our wonderful Scottish selves. “Wha’s like us? Naebody.” We’re brave and proud and passionate and strong – this amazing wee country, pining for independence, ready to take responsibility for its own destiny. Aye, right.

Putting your litter in the bin doesn’t make you a decent citizen. Not if you’re happy to walk down your own street past dirty nappies, broken bottles and losing lottery cards. If you gave a flying Fokker about where you live, you might just think about giving the place a wee spring-clean.

Scottish councils spend £1million every single week shifting our mess. They do their best on shrinking budgets. It’s us that are the shirkers. Now, say what you like about the Germans but you won’t see dirty pavements in Germany. The first thing their kids learn at primary school is to pick up anything they see on the street and put it in the bin. Whether it’s their own litter or not, little children take responsibility for keeping their cities clean. By comparison we are whining babies, blaming our council for the mess we allow to accumulate around us.

So I’m asking you now to show a wee bit pride and take some responsibility. If you go onto our Leithers Don’t Litter Facebook page you’ll find details of the Adopt-A-Street Scheme we’ve started with the Council. If you print off the Pledge agreeing to adopt your own street (or part of it), sign it and take it to Leith Library, they’ll give you a free litter-picker and plastic gloves.

Try it. Pin a big smile on your face, go out into your own street with your own litter-picker and start picking up rubbish. You might be surprised at how it makes you feel. You’ll actually look forward to seeing a Walker’s Cheese ‘n’ Onion bag or an Irn-Bru bottle and putting it in your bin-bag. Your neighbours will come up to you and say thanks.

All of a sudden your whole attitude to litter will change. You’ll stop blaming other people and start taking responsibility. We need your help. Take the pledge today.


  1. Steven Beer, Leith says:


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