THERE are fears that plans to end the special “Saturday lift” bin lorry service in Borders towns in the spring will lead to increased fly-tipping.
The service sees the vehicles and their crews stationed for several hours, on certain Saturdays each month, in Newcastleton, Jedburgh, Kelso and Lauder.
It allows householders to dispose of bulkier items, including furniture and electrical goods, without having to transport them a considerable distance to local authority dumps and recycling centres.
Such is the popularity of the service that Kelso’s Knowes car park – where the monthly bin lorry stations itself – sees vehicles snaking their way right round the car park and out onto several nearby streets.
A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council told TheSouthern: “SBC is removing temporary disposal sites in Newcastleton, Jedburgh, Kelso and Lauder in the spring as part of a number of measures to help achieve required financial savings for future years.
“Over 300 tonnes of waste received at these sites in 2010-11 was sent to landfill which incurred landfill tax. The continued disposal of waste to landfill in this way goes against the council’s commitment of moving towards a zero-waste strategy and increasing recycling rates.
“Alternative disposal options are available, including the council’s six community recycling centres where household waste is accepted free of charge or via the chargeable special uplift service.”
But the news has provoked condemnation, including from Kelso Scottish Borders councillor Tom Weatherston (Con) who told us he was “bitterly disappointed” by the decision, which was disclosed in draft budget proposals.
“It leaves the Kelso area with nothing except the option of a 40-mile round trip or paying £25 to have items taken away. I am concerned this will cause fly-tipping, a problem that was widespread a few years ago,” he said.
“I understand from Councillor David Paterson, executive member for environmental services, that there is little chance of this decision being reversed as there are health and safety issues, and apparently SEPA [Scottish Environment Protection Agency] regulations are being broken by the bin lorry service.
“I have asked the department to look closely at the locations of the present recycling centres as there is a clear imbalance in travel distances for the major settlements, with Kelso at the biggest disadvantage.”
Mr Weatherston says a number of people have complained to him about what they perceive as a “postcode lottery” when it comes to local authority services.
Mr Weatherston continued: “But we all pay the same community charge. Everyone accepts there are serious problems with budgets, but having several recycling centres in one area and none in another is not a money problem, and the sooner it’s looked at the better.”
Others aggrieved by the news include former Newcastleton area councillor Val Robson, now a resident of Dunoon, but who still has links to the region and originally helped establish the “Saturday lift” service.
“I was really disappointed as I read through the council’s budget proposals to note that the Newcastleton and other areas’ special ‘scaffy-cairt’ visits were to be stopped,” she said this week.
“The Newcastleton Saturday lift was one of the fairly small initiatives I established well over 20 years ago under the good auspices of the then Roxburgh District Council.
“Recognised as a successful venture, it was extended to Lauder, Jedburgh and Kelso a few years ago.
“It began because of the need to take some drastic action to reduce the amount of fly-tipping at various sites around Liddesdale.
“One serious incident resulting from the indiscriminate dumping of rubbish was the death of some cattle which had eaten the stuffing material from an old discarded sofa in a field.
“This has always been a well-used, cost-effective and much-needed service which proved its worth in many ways and has been particularly effective in the reduction of countryside pollution.
“To cut it off is a false saving in terms of future costs – both financial and social. Not everyone, of course, is a fly-tipper, but not everyone can afford the cost of a special private removal service.
“Newcastleton in particular gets relatively few council services and these have been eroded through the years, as have the number of council jobs in the area. Removal of this service is a step too far.
“I would hope that the situation has already been explained to the communities involved, but I would be very surprised if they find it acceptable.”