SHODDY, litter-strewn areas of Dingwall are likely to get even worse without a dramatic response from the public because likely council cutbacks will see even less street cleaning than now.
The grim warning came as a local resident issued a rallying call to the public to back efforts to spruce up the town and tackle some of its “disheartening” blackspots.
Local resident Elaine Fraser’s concern about the impact of rubbish strewn in streets, vennels, woodland and canal banks prompted her to embark on a clean-up of her own at the weekend following repeated appeals to Highland Council for action.
Elaine, who filled several bags of rubbish around Peter’s Bridge in the space of an hour-and-a-half, said she took matters into her own hands after failing to get a response from the local authority after her appeals to help clear difficult to access canal embankment areas of heavier metal items.
Yesterday her call for a wider section of the public to help boost the appearance of the town won support from Dingwall and Seaforth councillor Angela Maclean who said she could understand the frustration felt.
Cllr Maclean said: “There are so few officers left in community services who deal with cleaning that there is little chance this will be done by Highland Council, to be honest.
"One of the leaked proposals that will be coming forward as a budget saving is to reduce street cleaning even further so I can only see the situation getting much worse in all communities.”
She said the council will assist with community clean-ups if rubbish is left where a lorry can gain access to uplift.
She said: “We will also give litter pickers, bags and gloves for any volunteer who wants to lend a hand. I and fellow ward members have been involved in clean-ups in the past and it is surprising how much can be collected if there are a few people helping.”
She backed calls for the Developing Dingwall group to look at co-ordinating such clean-ups.
She said: “As Highland Council moves forward, especially with the reduction in our budgets from central government, there needs to be more and more partnership working. Taking part in a litter pick can be an opportunity for people who have recently moved to the area to come along and meet new people.
“Where I have taken part, the organising group – often the community council – have provided teas, coffee, juice and biscuits, usually donated by the local supermarket.
"They have cleaned cemeteries, woods, housing schemes and car parks. In a few hours you can do a great deal and as you mention there is a real sense of achievement – and we should all have civic pride in where we work and live. Dingwall Community Council can advertise the event on their website. They are doing a clean-up at Ferry Point soon and looking to put in new benches.”
Councillor Graham Mackenzie paid tribute to volunteers who offer to help with cleaning up the town and pointed to previous successful ventures at Maggie’s Wood and Loch Ussie, where the council had been able to assist with materials and rubbish uplift. “That seems to be in line with what Highland Council is proposing in terms of community empowerment,” he said.
He added: “What we do know is that the council simply isn’t able to do provide what it used to do a few years ago.”
Ms Fraser told the Journal she had been so disheartened by some of the litter blackspots she sees every day as a local resident that she decided to take action last weekend. She said: “If we want to put this place on the map there needs to be a sense of civic pride.”
She said: “I’m concerned about the plastic bags. Our oceans are full of them. There’s parts of the canals, vennels off the High Street and Maggie’s Wood that are affected.”
She said she’d attempted to draw the council’s attention to the problem on three occasions in the past month and would welcome support from members of the public in tackling the blight.
What do you think? Would you get involved in clean-ups? Email us at email@example.com@RJ_hmackenzie