Results Revealed Following Environmental Audit of City Centre

A report from environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has highlighted the impact of waste and litter on Stirling city centre and outlined how the area can be improved.

The audit, commissioned by Go Forth Stirling BID, describes how many city centre areas are badly affected by litter and how the presentation of trade waste bins outside collection windows is further impacting the local environment. Domestic waste presentation is also revealed as “a potential hazard for further littering” with regular observations of waste left out overnight; outwith collection windows and with contents spilling out.

The report also identified that smoking-related waste comprises most of the litter discarded in Stirling city centre – making up 74% of litter items encountered during the survey period. The next most identified items were paper, fast-food waste, cartons, cans and bottles with many areas affected despite an abundance of public litter bins.

The Go Forth team is now working on an action plan, along with city partners, aimed at improving specific areas and issues of concern and based on recommendations from Keep Scotland Beautiful. The audit, designed to measure litter and other quality indicators affecting Stirling’s appearance, was commissioned by the BID (Business Improvement District) as part of its remit to ensure the city centre is a welcoming destination for businesses, shoppers and visitors.

Danielle McRorie-Smith, Project Director at Go Forth Stirling BID, said: “The cleanliness and appearance of the city centre is a key concern of our business community and an issue we’ve been addressing for several years now. The audit is extremely useful in providing us with an evidence-led baseline report on the environmental quality of the city which clearly sets out areas of concern requiring more effort and gives recommendations for how we build on current efforts and move forward.

“We are already making headway by conducting regular walkabouts and reporting any environmental issues to the relevant authorities while our Street Ambassadors often spend time removing graffiti and litter picking with the aim of inspiring civic pride. And a major area of concern highlighted in the report – regarding the prevalence of cigarette litter – is something we are already working to tackle through a joint initiative with Keep Britain Tidy which has recently seen new ‘Bin Your Butts’ buckets installed in city hotels and pubs.”

She added: “We are now formulating an action plan and hope the public and business community will be inspired to join us in our improvement efforts by disposing of waste properly and keeping shop frontages clean and tidy. Stirling is a wonderful city with so much to offer and we can make it an even better destination if we all do our bit to look after our environment.”

Brian Rae, Acting Operations Manager (Environment & Place Services) at Keep Scotland Beautiful said: “The data we’ve gathered for Go Forth Stirling will help to prioritise actions ensuring the city centre area is as clean as possible for all those who live, work and visit the area.  The findings from the audits reflect much of what we see nationally in Scotland.  We know that good quality spaces are good for people and businesses, but if we are to tackle the litter emergency across the country and here in Stirling, we need to all take action together.  Litter and waste is everyone’s responsibility.  We look forward to supporting further action to keep Stirling beautiful.”

The audit quantified litter in the city centre, monitored public litter bin use, evaluated trade waste bin use and surveyed the public about the area’s cleanliness. More than 3,000 visitors were asked about their perception of the cleanliness of the city centre and their first impressions of Stirling with more than half giving the area a positive rating.

Meanwhile, just over two-thirds of the areas audited were found to be moderately littered (68.8%) with almost a third significantly or substantially littered (28.1% and 1.6% respectively) and it was clear smoking litter was the most prevalent.

The report notes: “Tackling smoking-related litter and the behaviour surrounding it is one of the clear challenges to be addressed moving forward.” 

On a more positive note, the report found a low percentage of sites affected by vandalism, flyposting and graffiti while an observation of the public’s litter behaviour found the majority (93%) displayed positive actions in terms of appropriate waste disposal. The report also noted that several city centre buildings need regeneration while there are shopfronts requiring rejuvenation to present a better impression of the area. 

This is an issue the BID has already been addressing through its shopfront improvement scheme which offers grants and matched funding to applicants who want to revamp the exterior of their building.

A key component of the audit was to note any issues encountered in relation to trade waste bins and while it was found the majority (86.6%) displayed clear information about the contractor responsible for waste disposal, only 7.8% displayed information about the business the bin belonged to.

Trade waste bins were also being left out beyond collection times with 54.4% observed to be present outwith collection windows. The report notes: “This is a concern for businesses, commuters and visitors to Stirling. With bins clearly present outside of structured timeframes, it has the potential to lead to bins being used inappropriately by others; contamination or escaped waste and increased presence of pest species where bins may be overflowing or without suitable covering.”

The audit makes a series of recommendations including a deep clean of the whole area; a bespoke campaign appealing to city centre users to help address the problem of litter and encouraging businesses to lock waste containers to alleviate issues around contamination and overspill. It warns the impact of litter should not be understated and that identifiable areas of concern must be tackled in order to maintain a good quality local environment in Stirling city centre.

It also highlights positive indicators of the wider street scene – such as clear signage, renovated shopfronts, low levels of graffiti and well swept surfaces – and adds: “Despite the issues outlined in this report, there is a general perception of a vibrant city centre environment in responses to the public survey run by Go Forth.”

A full version of the Keep Scotland Beautiful report can be accessed on Go Forth’s website –  goforthstirling.co.uk/city-centre-environment/

Go Forth Stirling is the city’s BID representing more than 600 business owners with a key objective of increasing visitors to the city and devising initiatives to help make it a more welcoming destination for businesses and shoppers.

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