McAteer refutes Paterson’s “libellous” allegation

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Information used by Councillor Davie Paterson in a bid to discredit Councillor Watson McAteer was “wrong”.

Mr Paterson, the council’s environmental services portfolio holder, accused Councillor McAteer of “misleading the public” three weeks ago.

Mr McAteer’s claim, in a letter to the Hawick News, that Scottish Borders Council may face £900,000 landfil tax penalties from the Scottish Executive because of increased garden waste levels, was rubbished by Councillor Paterson who said in the Hawick News on August 29: “Plans to impose any financial penalty on the council have been shelved and the council has that in writing.”

However, an e-mail from council waste manager Ross Sharp-Dent, dated September 3, states that the Scottish Government “still intends to revoke the Landfill Allowance Scheme including the associated penalties”, But it fails to back Councillor Paterson’s claim that SBC had received written confirmation of this and Mr Sharp-Dent’s e-mail confirms that the letter “was not issued.”

And in a statement to the Hawick News, Mr McAteer said: “Councillor Paterson’s allegation that ‘The Waste Management Strategy Document is clear. Plans to impose any financial penalty on the council have been shelved and the council has that in writing, is wrong.

“Officers within his department confirmed to me, in writing, on 3rd September 2014 that no such written confirmation had been received. They have further confirmed that the Scottish Government although still intending to revoke the Landfill Allowance scheme have not done so. In other words the risk, no matter how small, remains in place.

“Councillor Paterson is accountable for the effective delivery of environmental services to the people of the Borders. A role that adds some £5,000 annually to his pay packet. He has told us that he agonised over the decision to remove garden waste collections. But I have yet to see any written evidence that he tried to stop or reverse the council’s proposed decision on garden waste.

“I completely refute councillor Paterson’s potentially libellous accusation and again leave it to those affected by this fiasco to decide who is misleading who.”

Mr Paterson refused to comment but an SBC spokesperson said: “Since the introduction of the Zero Waste Plan in 2010 the Scottish Government has been consistent in its position in relation to the Landfill Allowance Scheme. Their position has been that they intend to revoke the Landfill Allowance Scheme and they have not imposed related fines. This position was reaffirmed on September 8 via a Scottish Government email.”