Bins petition results in council apology

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Scottish Borders Council has apologised for the way it handled the scrapping of the green waste collections in March.

But there’ll be no change in the decision, despite Andrew Farquhar’s 8,000-signature petition for reinstatement.

All 34 Scottish Border Councillors backed a motion yesterday, acknowledging the mistakes and calling for further improvements, which include “identifying specific support to meet the needs of smaller communities, giving assistance to the vulnerable and the elderly to access recycling centres, assisting private waste collectors and encouraging increased levels of home composting.”

The council also aims to “develop a communication plan to ensure that our proposed actions are clearly communicated to the Borders public”.

The motion also concedes that the council could have handled the green waste cuts better: “Scottish Borders Council recognises that consultation with the Borders public on the withdrawl of the green waste service could have been more carefully and effectively implemented.”

And the council offered the following apology, saying: “We regret any inconvenience and disturbance this may have caused.”

Conceding defeat this week, former councillor and green waste campaigner, Andrew Farquhar, said: “The premature withdrawal of the garden waste service, without proper consultation, or a plan to deal with the consequences resulted in our petition being supported by over 8,000 people who asked to have the service restored.

“Councillors did not see this as being possible which is disappointing. However, we have to accept the democratic decision.

“By admitting that they got this wrong and apologising indicates that lessons have been learned.

“Action is also being taken by the council to address some of the issues raised at the Petitions Committee so it was not a total waste of time. The debate is now over and we must now move on.”

Councillor Watson McAteer, who threatened legal action against portfolio holder and fellow councillor Davie Paterson at the height of the green waste row, said: “I welcome today’s debate and acknowledge the motion and this council’s public apology, admitting that this matter has been very badly managed through lack of effective public consultation. I am reassured to see that we now plan to address a number of concerns.”

However, Councillor Davie Paterson denied the council was apologising and added: “We could have handled this better but it is over and done with now.”