Linlithgow is often heralded as a beautiful place to live with things to do and stunning scenery, and of course rarely does a day go by on social media when there isn’t a picture of the Palace taken from a different spot or angle.
However, there is one sight for groups which is particularly galling and all too familiar in the town – litter. Predominantly the main streets are clean but in certain litter ‘hotspots’ you don’t have to look too hard to see empty crisps packets, beer cans, bottles, sweetie wrappers, cigarette ends, chewing gum and food packaging strewn across pathways and dog fouling is a persistent problem.
Sadly there is not just one isolated example, litter can be seen along the lanes of Sellars Path, alongside the Leisure Centre, laybys where drivers tip out their rubbish and various other areas. Some of the spots are well trodden by pupils at lunchtime making their way back from shops to school but the evidence scattered on the ground suggests that children and teenagers are not solely to blame for the scourge – everyone must take responsibility.
Karen Jarvis, head teacher at Linlithgow Academy, said: “I think children do get a bad press but we are doing everything we can to reverse that.
“It’s important to highlight that it is a small minority who drop litter and not just pupils who do it. We are constantly reminding them through assemblies about the importance of taking pride in where you live. We are also looking at how we can support Burgh Beautiful.
“We talk about our role in the community and we are working hard to be a positive part of it.
“We are working in partnership with environmental wardens and parents, and I was delighted when the patrolling wardens reported back to me that they have seen large numbers carrying their rubbish and putting it in the bin in the last few weeks.”
Time will tell whether that message sticks but it is not just pathways which are affected the loch, canal and burns are also treated as “dumping grounds”.
Litter picks have already been carried out on the north and east sides of the loch by volunteers.
But amongst the discarded food packaging and empty bottles another menace is rearing its ugly head – flytipping. It’s hazardous to health, damages the environment and looks unsightly. According to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) it costs Scottish councils more than £2.5 million each year to clean up.
Local organisations and groups are also chipping in and doing their bit. Only a few weeks ago a set of caravan steps, a car bumper and five children’s scooters was just some of the miscellaneous mess pulled out of the Mains Burn during Linlithgow Angling Club’s annual spring clean of the waterways.
Afterwards a club spokesperson said: “It is clear this waste is being discarded by children, adults and corporate organisations alike. It is disheartening that we have had to target the Mains Burn on four occasions now as locals treat it as a dumping ground.”
There is clearly still work to be done to rid the town of the litter which is blighting certain areas and one group in particular will be hoping that this is done in earnest.
After a three-year break, Burgh Beautiful – a group set up to clean up the streets and enhance the look of the town – is set to compete in the Beautiful Scotland competition.
The organisation has proven a success in the past winning the silver gilt, gold and the coveted Rose Bowl (best in Scotland) in 2011. Preparations are being ramped up before the visit by Beautiful Scotland judges in the summer.
Averil Stewart, a Burgh Beautiful spokesperson, said: “Naturally we would like to promote the town looking as good as possible. But we would also like everyone, residents and visitors alike, to share in that aspiration and not just as a one-off.”
A spokesperson for West Lothian Council said: “We spend around £2.5 million per year to tackle the issue of litter in our communities. We would urge locals residents and visitors in West Lothian to always dispose of their waste responsibly and not spoil the environment for others.”
Hopefully in the not too distant future, it can be an issue which can be binned once and for all.