Glasgow's streets STILL overflow with rubbish, weeks before COP26

Nicola Sturgeon’s embarrassment as streets of Glasgow overflow with rubbish after SNP council switches from bin collections every fortnight to every THREE WEEKS – just days before COP26

  • Streets of Glasgow are continuing to overflow with rubbish with the prestigious COP26 conference looming
  • SNP-controlled Glasgow City Council cut refuse collections and introduced £35 bulk item charge this year  
  • Bin collectors warn of a health and safety crisis, as politicians including Keir Starmer slam ‘waste crisis’ 
  • Nicola Sturgeon’s party faces fresh embarrassment with world leaders set to descend on Glasgow in weeks 

Nicola Sturgeon faces the grim prospect of becoming the laughing stock of the world community as Glasgow’s streets continue to overflow with rubbish just weeks before it is set to host the prestigious COP26 global summit.

Residents say they have been forced to watch their pavements pile higher with bin bags bursting at the seams and gutters fill with litter as once-fortnightly bin collections were pushed back by an extra week.

Pictures show the grim reality of every corner of Scotland’s second city being blighted with rubbish, fly-tipping and bins overflowing in recent months.

Glasgow City Council, run by the SNP, rubberstamped plans to make refuse collections happen every three weeks in April and introduced a new £35 charge for ‘bulk items’, which has prompted a marked increase in fly-tipping. 

Refuse collectors have warned of an impending health and safety disaster – pointing to the ever-increasing risk of Weil’s disease, which can be passed on to humans through rat urine, in Scotland’s prestigious second city.  

Sturgeon, 51, and her party have faced criticism from leaders across the political spectrum, including Labour’s Keir Starmer who warned Glasgow was ‘in a waste crisis’ earlier this summer.

Thomas Kerr, the Conservative leader on Glasgow’s council, added: ‘We’ve become the fly-tipping capital of Britain and host the UK’s fourth-highest population of rats. That’s the legacy of Glasgow’s first Nationalist council.’ 

Glasgow’s streets continue to overflow with rubbish just weeks before it is set to host the prestigious COP26 global summit. Pictured: Overflowing recycling bins in Kelvinbridge, West Glasgow

Residents say they have been forced to watch their pavements pile higher with bin bags bursting at the seams and gutters fill with litter as once-fortnightly bin collections were pushed back by an extra week. Pictured: Fly-tipping in Cranhill, Glasgow

Flytipping has skyrocketed in the city since a £35 bulk waste charge was implemented by Glasgow City Council in April. Above: Litter is left in Camlachie area of east Glasgow

Workers remove bath tubs, window frames, mattresses, broken furniture and construction waste dumped underneath the M8 motorway on September 15

Global leaders are unlikely to look far beyond the irony of a city hosting what is regarded as the world’s most important environmental conference, also known as COP26, in the midst of an environmental crisis of its own doing.

Bath tubs, window frames, mattresses, broken furniture, construction waste, drug paraphernalia have all been pictured left to rot on Glasgow’s streets in recent months. 

In September, refuse collectors armed with mechanical diggers and excavators, tackled a fly-tipping hotspot under the M8 motorway that had accumulated. 

Community bins have overflowed, discarded masks and takeaway boxes spill out of gutters and piles of waste have mounted high in the city’s centre, providing rich pickings for Glasgow’s ever-increasing population of rodents.

From January 2020 to March this year, more than 8,500 calls were made to the council’s pest control services in response to rats. The estimated cost of dealing with these cases is £800,000.

Residents’ fury has boiled over in recent months, with aggressive messages telling neighbours to ‘put your s***’ in your own bin’ being left on fences and lampposts in particularly hard hit communities in the east of the city. 

Susan Aitken, the council’s SNP leader, has borne the brunt of the community’s frustration. 

In one televised interview last month, the 49-year-old suggested the city simply required a ‘spruce up’ after she faced criticism for Glasgow’s filthy streets. 

Aitken denied claims that the streets are filthy, instead blaming certain ‘problematic patches’ that needed specific measures.

She added: ‘By and large, when I’m walking about, as I do all the time, the problems I see are to do with commercial waste, much of which is not the responsibility of the council. 

When Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer slammed the ‘failure in leadership of the SNP council’, Ms Aitken hit back and accused him of ‘scapegoating Glasgow’. 

Bath tubs, window frames, mattresses, broken furniture, construction waste, drug paraphernalia have all been pictured left to rot on Glasgow’s streets in recent months

Old car seats, boxes and household rubbish line the streets of Govanhill in Glasgow, just weeks before the COP26 conference

Community bins have overflowed, discarded masks and takeaway boxes spill out of gutters and piles of waste have mounted high in the city’s centre, providing rich pickings for Glasgow’s ever-increasing population of rodents

The news comes amid sweeping cuts to local authority budgets backed by the First Minister – whose Scottish National Party took charge of Glasgow City Council in 2017. Pictured: Fly-tipping outside flats in Anniesland, Glasgow

Eva Murray, a city councillor who has lived in Glasgow all her life, says: ‘The other day, I was walking around the city centre, and I noticed that there was a genuine smell.

‘There’s just no doubt that the city is very dirty. We are in the middle of a waste crisis and it’s important that people should know that – including all the world leaders and delegates that are coming to COP26.’

Paul Sweeney, the Labour MSP for the Glasgow region, added: ‘Over the past few years, while the Scottish Government’s budget has increased, the funding for Glasgow City Council has been cut by 15 per cent.

‘It’s going to be an absolute embarrassment when we will shortly have world leaders stepping over bin bags and rats bigger than cats.’ 

From January 2020 to March this year, more than 8,500 calls were made to the council’s pest control services in response to rats. The estimated cost of dealing with these cases is £800,000

Bin bags sit beside a bin in Merchant City, Glasgow City Centre ahead of COP26 the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference

Drug paraphernalia (pictured) has also been found strewn amid the rubbish on Glasgow’s streets

Pictures show the grim reality of every corner of Scotland’s second city being blighted with rubbish, fly-tipping and bins overflowing in recent months

The news comes amid sweeping cuts to local authority budgets backed by the First Minister – whose Scottish National Party took charge of Glasgow City Council in 2017.

Chris Mitchell, GMB Scotland Convenor for Glasgow City Council Cleansing, points to a budget that has been decimated by cuts, forcing the city to slash the numbers of street cleaners.  

‘Over the past six to seven years, our budget has been obliterated,’ he said.

‘The number of street cleaners has gone from around 800 to 900 down to 213.

‘The number of refuse collectors has gone down from 1,300 to 800. And the council often has to hire agency workers, who have no pensions, or don’t even know if they have a job at the end of the week. 

‘It’s a risk to public health and safety, and in the summer the city stinks. It’s actually embarrassing.’

Mounds of rubbished piled high underneath the M8 motorway, Glasgow in August (above), but have since started to have been cleared

Refuse collections were pushed back to happen every three weeks in April, and staff numbers have dwindled amid council cuts

Instead of waiting for refuse collection teams, Glaswegians have rolled up their sleeves and set-up their own community ‘clean up’ programmes. Pictured: Fly-tipping and overflowing bins in Scotstoun, west Glasgow

Instead of waiting for refuse collection teams, Glaswegians have rolled up their sleeves and set-up their own community ‘clean up’ programmes.

One popular scheme, Cleanup Glasgow, states its aims on its website as holding the ‘UK and Scottish governments and Glasgow City Council accountable for failing to tackle the litter crisis’.

Others have demanded a return to fortnightly bin collections and harsher punishments for prolific litterers and fly-tippers. 

Glasgow City Council has been contacted for comment. 

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