Extra staff hired to pick up rubbish in West Lothian

The volume of bags full of litter collected by volunteers has become so large that West Lothian Council has hired more staff to collect them.

Monday, 30th August 2021, 2:46 pm
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The success of West Lothian Litter Pickers and other voluntary groups has been widely recognised, with hundreds of bags being filled on weekend rubbish collections.

As the Local Democracy Reporting Service highlighted in June, West Lothian’s volunteer litter pickers are filling 800 bags a week.

In July West Lothian Litter pickers filled 200 bags in one day.

Andy Johnston, countryside manager at the council, revealed that the Neighbourhood Environment Teams (NETs) had now secured £165,000 to enlarge staffing.

He said: “More funding has also been secured by the NETs team to assist in hiring additional resources to help reduce the pressures of uplifting extra bags collected by the volunteers across the county.

“We had two teams and we’ll now have four picking up the bags collected and also helping clear areas where there has been fly-tipping.”

Council officers have also provided £32,000 worth of equipment to members of volunteer groups.

An army of the general public has continued the clean ups, which first seriously got underway during the first lockdown.

Chairing the council meeting last week, Councillor Harry Cartmill welcomed the extra resources: “It’s good news on extra staffing and resources. I would also mention that West Lothian Litter Pickers have just been fantastic, Both Charles [Kennedy] and I have been out with them .

“They are working so well with the council, and thanks too to council staff for collecting it all.

"Our county is looking so well for both of these reasons.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Council officers acknowledge they don’t have the resources to collect the amount of litter dropped- and without a change in public attitudes to littering the situation will only get worse.

Mr Johnston also revealed figures for the first quarter of the year on fly-tipping had shown a slight drop for the Bathgate ward over last year. Figures for April to June this year showed 82.1 tonnes lifted at a cost to the council of just over £54,000 compared to 83.19 tonnes lifted in the same period of 2020.

His report added: “We are unable to split costs over specific ward areas or from the other works they carry out, but can give the yearly cost for the NETs teams with an estimate of their time spent on fly tipping which we currently estimate as 75 per cent of their time. For 2020 the estimate was 80 per cent of their time.”