The green bin service may have been saved if council officials had secured £240,000 government cash for planned food waste collections.
Zero waste Scotland had a £20million fund to hand out to Scottish councils who were having to implement statutory food collections but Scottish Borders Council recieved none of the cash.
This has angered Councillor Paterson who said that the council may have retained the green waste service if their bid for £240,000 had been successful: “This is a ridiculous situation. This money was allocated on a first come first served basis and that is no way to hand out this kind of money.”
Asked if this had any bearing on the decision to scrap the green bins, Mr Paterson added: “I do not know if it would have made any difference but it would have been looked at. Let’s put it this way, it certainly did not help matters. They may not have been cut if we had got this money.”
And he added: “We can’t pay for both garden waste and food waste collections.”
However, Mr Paterson apprears to be at odds with council bosses, who, when asked if the lack of Zero Waste Scotland cash signalled the end for green bins, said: “No, the council’s unsuccessful bid to Zero Waste Scotland to help fund the food waste introduction had nothing to do with garden waste bin service being withdrawn. “
A briefing, given on the instructions of council leader David Parker amidst growing concern over the reinstatement petition, which was leaked to the Hawick News, has caused further controversy.
A briefing note issued to administration councillors last Thursday was leaked to the Hawick News less than an hour after it was released.
The note, acknowledges the existence of Andrew Farquhar’s petition and details additional cost implications of reintroducing the garden waste service which was withdrawn to save £450,000. The cost of bringing back the green bins is now estimated at £610,000 plus an additional £180,000 for “vehicle and associated revenue implications that would be higher than previously so that would inflate the £610,000 figure”
The notes also highlights “challenging equality issues” over who would be entitled to the service if it was reinstated.
Concern is also expressed that council officials will be blamed for not securing funding from Zero Waste Scotland.
And the suggested response to any criticism reads: “At no point in working with ZWS were council officers alerted to any liklihood of there being no finding.” But the man behind the petition isn’t buying that, speaking to the Hawick News this week, Andrew Farquhar said: “The fact is that the cash wasn’t applied for quick enough. Certain councillors knew about this in October last year and shortly after that it was decided to scrap the green bins. This has been a failure on the part of the council and the public are the ones to suffer.”
Davie Paterson is also saying officers were blameless: “I do not think officers were to blame. I am not happy at the way this funding was handed out.”
Mr Paterson has written to Paul Wheelhouse MSP this week, urging him to look at the way the ZWS funding was handed out.
But Andrew Farquhar is scathing of what he calls a purely reactionary measure: “David Paterson should have written to Paul Wheelhouse last October and is only doing so because this information is now in the public domain.
“This administration is facing a crisis and they have to admit that. It’s not just green waste, it’s the situation with the tapestry and the rail funding, it’s mired in controversy and people can see that.”