A former Hawick councillor has started a petition to force the council to reinstate the garden waste collections.
Andrew Farquhar says this is one of the most contentious issues ever and it’s “one that isn’t going to go away”.
He’s had hundreds of petition forms printed and several banners made and is set to tour strategic points in the Borders in the coming weeks.
And according to Councillor Watson McAteer, who supports the campaign, Scottish Borders Council could face a £900,000 penalty for dumping the extra garden waste which is being dropped off at hard-pressed recycling centres.
Speaking to the Hawick News this week, Mr Farquhar said: “This petition is now necessary because councillors have totally ignored overwhelming public opinion. The ill-conceived decision to withdraw the kerbside garden waste service with no effective plan to deal with the consequences was wrong.”
And he is further arguining that recycling centres are unable to cope and that anger is rife: “This has resulted in unnecessary inconvenience and anger amongst council tax payers. Many are unable to compost this level of waste and are obliged to take it to centres which are often congested and totally inadequate. It is a disgrace that old people and those with disabilities are expected to use council facilities which are not fit for purpose. The irresponsible alternative is for garden waste to be placed in the black bins and consigned to landfill at a cost of £80 per ton which is apparently acceptable to the council in spite of them having spent nearly £3million on landfill tax last year.”
The cash-strapped council’s garden waste collections were halted earlier this year in a bid to save £450,000 and at the time, SBC’s envoronmental portfolio holder Davie Paterson said: “We have to make savings of £28million and although folk are unhappy it has to be done.”
Councillor McAteer, who is backing Mr Farquhar’s campaign, is hopeful the decision may be overturned.
“During the recent by-election campaign I spoke to many people who were very unhappy at the way SBC managed the removal of garden waste collections. I promised to do my best to have this matter revisited and hopefully overturned. I am very happy to support this petition.”
He added that the issue may end up costing SBC twice the projected saving: “In the knowledge that we are already exceeding our landfill allowance by some 6,000 tonnes, I am concerned that while the Scottish Government landfill scheme remains in place, and there is no defined date for the rollout of the new integrated waste treatment facility at Galashiels, SBC is at risk of incurring a projected £900,000 financial penalty. That figure dwarfs the reported savings of £450,000 saved by removal of green waste collections which are a major contributing factor to the increased tonnage.”
Mr Farquhar, who says he has support from community groups throughout the Borders, added: “Enough people have already signed to enable the petition to go forward to the council but to be effective it is intended to seek wider support to reflect the strength of feeling on this issue.”
Councillor Paterson, who proposed the motion to scrap green waste collections, said: “I have no idea what Andrew Farquhar is trying to do here.
“Yes, he can take it to the petitions committee but it stands no chance whatsoever of succeeding.”