The council’s Conservative group failed in a bid to get a delay to the removal of green waste collections across the Borders to enable experts to analyse the council’s overall waste management strategy.
Group leader Michelle Ballantyne called for a delay to allow Zero Waste Scotland to carry out an eight-week review of the council’s plan, which was agreed in December. She also claimed that Zero Waste Scotland were ‘surprised’ by the council’s overall waste management strategy.
“You will have our whole-hearted unanimous support if they come back and say that they support it,” Councillor Ballantyne said at last week’s full council meeting.
She added that roll-out time for the food waste collection was nine months, so there was no issue with the delay, adding that such a review would re-assure the public the move was the right thing to do.
However council leader David Parker said: “Why would we want to do a review for eight weeks when we have already done that work?
“We have asked Zero Waste Scotland to prepare a business case for us on delivery of food waste collections, but also asked for their opinion on delivery of food waste and garden waste.”
He said it would cost an additional £2 million to roll out food waste collections to 22,000 households and cut the number of garden waste collections down to that figure.
To retain the current garden waste collections and extend the upcoming food waste collections to 34,000 households would cost an extra £2.5 million, according to Councillor Parker
He added: “I have no doubt that the decision is the right one.”
Ron Smith said he ‘disliked’ the removal of the garden waste collection, but added that the end of the service was an ‘inconvenience’ given the wider picture of savings required and that the service did not affect life chances, or health or education etc.
He added that private enterprises had already taken steps towards establishing garden waste collections as a result of the council’s decision to remove the service.
East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton said Zero Waste Scotland were “very concerned” that recycling rates will fall as a direct result of the council scrapping the garden waste collections.
However, Willie Archibald said that the garden waste collections had been a ‘discriminatory service’ as it was not Borders-wide; it was a service provided in the region’s towns but not available to the many small villages across the Borders.
Countering that, George Turnbull pointed out that the food waste collection to be implemented in the larger towns only, will actually serve even fewer households than the garden waste service. Food waste collections will only be in Hawick, Galashiels, Jedburgh, Selkirk and Peebles.
At the end of the debate the Conservatives lost the vote 21-10 and garden waste collections will stop in March.