In response to last week’s opinion piece by former Councillor Andrew Farquhar, I would like to point out that that the council is currently facing significant financial pressure and therefore is required to bridge a £28 million revenue funding gap by 2017/2018.
The council’s waste services department, like every other department, is expected to play a role in contributing towards the funding gap (around £800,000) through the introduction of its integrated waste management strategy, which was approved on December 12, 2013.
The aim of the strategy is to provide a waste service that is fit for purpose and financially sustainable for future generations of Borderers, this will require the council to change the way it delivers waste services in the future.
The removal of the garden waste service was certainly not taken lightly, we had many heated discussions over this in the months leading up to it. We looked at a lot of options, including the introduction of a charging policy for the garden waste service, but it was felt that a charging policy would cause more problems than it would solve. It was felt that to make the required savings for this year, the only option open to us was to end the service, giving us a saving of £450,000 a year.
I have to stress that this decision was one of the hardest that we have ever taken and certainly was not taken lightly, and I think it fair to point out that not one councillor voted against the scrapping of the green waste service. The Tories certainly wanted more time to come up with an alternative, bearing in mind I have had professional people looking at alternatives for months. The Tories have had since December 12, 2013, so what is their alternative for the Scottish Borders?
Regarding Mr Farquhar’s points on the Hawick Community Recycling Centre, it is recognised that the facility is extremely well used by Border residents and I can say that plans are in place to upgrade the site. Work is already under way and in recent months new storage bays have been introduced at the site for wood and garden waste. Additional capital funds have also been identified in the council’s capital programme in the coming years to make even more upgrades.
Councillor Davie Paterson