There is no doubt the sunny weather we’ve seen this week leads to lots of people flocking to our parks, and beauty spots like the Pentland Hills and Portobello. It’s great that so many people want to enjoy all that’s on offer, but the influx of visitors can, of course, put pressure on areas like this.
I want to minimize disruption to residents and keep our roads and pavements safe. In Portobello specifically, I have asked the Council to undertake extra visits to deter inconsiderate and dangerous parking after a resident complained yesterday. Unfortunately, many of the streets there are unrestricted so the Council can’t carry out enforcement, but I would urge people to report any irresponsible driving to the police. The case for the much-awaited pavement parking ban has never been stronger.
This weather, and the boost in people out enjoying the sun, can put an extra strain on our services which are delivered within limited resources, and we also must rely on the public to take responsibility by disposing of litter at the next available bin, taking care with BBQs and, of course, parking and driving safely – or ideally consider taking the bus, walking or cycling to the park or beach if possible. That way we can all enjoy our summer together.
Lastly, I would like to thank the waste, parks and traffic teams for all the work they are doing to keep as safe throughout the heatwave. Their job is difficult all year round, but this heat makes it for more difficult. These staff are asking the Scottish Government for a fair pay rise right now, and they earned it over the last day or two.
In the coming months I hope to consider carefully any mismatch between the resources available to these teams, and public expectations of service delivery. This must, however, be done within the planned Scottish Government cut to Edinburgh’s budget.
In-terms on the more general impact warmer weather can have on council services, a briefing is below.
Warmer Weather Pressures on Parks, Waste, Cleansing, Parking, etc
Parks – increased footfall in our parks, resulting in increased littering, damage to parks in some cases (e.g. BBQs scorching of grass), anti social behaviour and an increased need for Rangers to focus on water safety issues (e.g. at the Pentlands reservoirs). We try to undertake additional collections of litter bins, but the increased demands within parks are not usually compensated for in reductions in ‘day to day’ work – this also still needs to be done. Alongside this, we also have to focus additional resources on watering young trees and bedding areas.
Waste – the main impact in waste is on the welfare of our staff. We need to ensure that they are kept safe in the warm weather and don’t get adversely affected by the heat. This can sometimes mean that there are delays in collections, but we are not seeing that at any scale just now.
Cleansing – as with Parks, the additional demands of managing litter in our open spaces and beaches places a big demand on the cleansing service, with no respite elsewhere – there is still the need to clean the city centre (where more people tend to eat outside in the warm weather and drop more litter), deal with littering and fly tipping complaints, and to ensure that we don’t lose control of cleanliness in our residential areas by over-committing resource to the areas that are busiest due to the warm weather.
Unfortunately, in the case of Parks and Cleansing, we don’t have access to a supply of additional staff that can provide assistance at short notice, so it invariably means that some other work has to be sacrificed in order to focus on the hotspot areas.
Parking – this is one of the most challenging areas to respond to, as we simply don’t have enough resource to cover all of the areas where people would like us to focus. Whilst we can guess the areas which will be busy, we can’t always be clear on the mode of transport that people will use to get there. As we saw in Portobello yesterday, a lot of people arrived in cars and parked inconsiderately and, in some cases, dangerously. Unfortunately, a lot of the parking issues (pavement parking, double parking etc) were not on regulated streets (where we have a TRO in place and can enforce) and therefore require Police attention – Police colleagues also have a finite resource to work with and tend to need to focus on preventing anti-social and criminal behaviour at the Promenade area as this priority.