The viability of a business idea by an unemployed Coldstream man, to provide a garden waste collection service, is under pressure from a separate plan by Kelso councillors.
Kevin Wiles has worked up a business plan and with the help of JobCentre Plus has applied for a £3000 start up loan in an effort to get himself off benefits and start up his own business collecting garden waste from Coldstream, Kelso and Greenlaw.
Meanwhile the three Kelso councillors have been in discussion with a private contractor and hope to use money from the council’s Quality of Life fund to pay for a garden waste service to continue in the town until a new recycling plant opens in the town next year.
Now, after handing out 3000 leaflets Kevin doesn’t know whether to continue with trying to get his business up and running.
“I can’t come off the dole and go on to full council tax and rent for them to take half my business,” said Kevin, who has also been told by SEPA that it could take up to two months for him to be granted a waste carrier’s licence.
When he got wind that Kevin had started leafleting the town about the door-to-door service he hoped to operate, Councillor Alec Nicol phoned him.
“I heard that leaflets were going around the town and asked if anyone had seen them and when I got hold of one I phoned Kevin,” said Councillor Nicol.
“I was keen to talk to him and encourage him to go ahead and try and supply a door-to-door service, which obviously he could do.”
That’s not quite how Mr Wiles remembers the conversation; his understanding is that Councillor Nicol and two other councillors would be in competition with him and he was questioned about whether he had his SEPA waste licence.
Councillor Nicol explained that they would not be in competition with Mr Wiles and said: “No, I really hope Kevin gets lots and lots of people to use his service. I would be the last man in the world to stop someone setting up for themselves.”
An article in the ‘Kelso Life’ last week told residents that the garden waste collection service was to continue in the town - that information is wrong according to Scottish Borders Council.
A council spokesperson said: “The article featured in the latest edition of Kelso Life is incorrect - there is no interim garden waste service being provided for the Kelso area. Garden waste collections stopped on March 31, across the Borders, including Kelso.
“We are aware of private business initiatives to provide a new garden waste service and we welcome those initiatives.
“We are aware of a discussion that took place at the Cheviot Area Forum last week and of a possible motion from Councillor Alec Nicol - supported by councillors Simon Mountford and Tom Weatherston - to the April meeting of council.
“We understand the motion would request that consideration be given to the use of Quality of Life funding to provide an interim garden waste service for Kelso during 2014/15.
“We have been informed the Kelso councillors are in discussions with a private contractor before they decide whether they can pursue this at the council meeting on Thursday, April 24.”
Councillor Nicol confirmed those discussions were still “in the early stages”.
“There’s no budget for garden waste collection but each area has a sum of money and councillors can allocate it. If we can provide a simple garden waste service it would be one of the best ‘Quality of Life’ things we could do for the people of Kelso for this summer.”
If Councillor Nicol puts forward the motion for approval by the full council later this month it will require the council to suspend Standing Orders and any subsequent contract would have to be negotiated and awarded by council officers, not the local councillors.