The Stornoway Trust is facing a backlash from dog-owners and walkers, after using social media to announce the removal of all waste bins from the Castle Grounds.
A statement issued by trustee Catriona Murray on Friday (July 5th) included reports on progress with the major works in the grounds, but also detailed a decision to remove every bin in the grounds as a move towards eradicating litter.
The statement said: “Trustees agreed to the removal of all waste bins from the Castle Grounds, as part of the Stornoway Trust’s ongoing commitment to environmental improvement, and in keeping with the example set by some of the nation’s best-known attractions.
“As a-much loved public amenity, the Castle Grounds is an area in which residents of the Stornoway Estate and beyond feel some justifiable pride.
"Consequently, trustees expressed confidence that the decision to designate the grounds as a litter-free area would receive strong public support.
“This was supported by the belief that the time currently spent by trust employees on emptying bins could be better deployed on working to enhance and nurture the asset that the Castle Grounds represent to the entire community.”
But instead of expressing support, most people reading of the idea expressed emotions ranging from disbelief to rage, wondering what visitors would be expected to do with bags of dog waste and food packaging in grounds without rubbish bins.
One said: “Visitors to the grounds are not going to carry their bottles, cans, takeaway containers and dog poo bags home with them. It just won’t happen…..I’d love to see this special place litter free but as a frequent walker and cyclist here I fear that won’t happen.”
Another commented: “What a ridiculous decision the trust has made. Does the trust really expect everybody to carry their waste home? I love walking my dog round the grounds and happy going for long walks, knowing that there is waste bins there to dump dog waste into and I'm not prepared to carry bags of dog poo in one hand while my other hand is controlling my dog on his lead. Having no rubbish bins will only encourage litter in the grounds.”
But the decision was robustly defended by Catriona Murray, who is administrator of the Trust’s Facebook page. She said: “We currently have littering, despite the presence of bins.
"People who drop litter do so, regardless of the provision of a receptacle for rubbish. Responsible people who love the Castle Grounds - whom we know to be in the majority - will make certain that they treat the area with the respect it deserves.
"That's why we are giving notice of their removal: so that everyone can ensure they are prepared to take their rubbish home again.”
The Trust said that the plan was due to be rolled out using an online campaign, designed to inform islanders and visitors, via the Trust’s website and social media.
This will coincide with Love Parks Week, (12th – 21st July), a celebration of parks and their importance to local communities across the UK.