It has emerged some homeowners are gravelling and paving parts of their gardens to avoid long trips to recycling centres with green waste.
Kelso Community Council vice-chairman, Dean Weatherston, chairing this week’s monthly meeting of the council, revealed the surprising development during a discussion about the halting of local authority green waste collection services.
Scottish Borders Council ended uplifts of garden waste from outside homes at the end of last month, but the three Kelso members on SBC believed they had been given assurances that temporary measures would be put in place to cover the gap in provision until the town’s new recycling centre opened next year.
An article in a recent issue of ‘Kelso Life’ magazine also informed residents the garden waste collection service was to continue in the town.
But a Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said the article was 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 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.”
If the councillors put forward the motion for approval by the full council later this month it needs a suspension of standing orders.
Mr Mountford told community councillors he felt “very let down”, that officers’ plans to try and create a stop-gap service had been “trumped” after it was made clear that minutes of December’s local authority meeting which agreed the end of the collections, stipulated there was to be a total cessation of the service.
Mr Weatherston said it put Kelso and its citizens at a clear disadvantage compared to other Borders towns, as government rules stated any town with a population above 4,000 must have a recycling facility within 10 miles.
“We were given an assurance that Kelso was a special case and we would get something [interim scheme] and that was then later withdrawn,” he said.
Vice-chairman Dean Weatherston then told how he had recently taken garden waste to his nearest recycling centre at Galashiels - a 40-mile round trip.
“When I was there, the queue of cars stretched from the facility right out to the public road. I spoke to a few people who were saying they’d been chopping down trees and bushes in their gardens because they couldn’t face going to Galashiels every couple of weeks with garden clippings and the like.
Asked afterwards if he thought the cancellation of household green waste uplifts would see such practices continue, even though there might be a new recycling centre for the town, Mr Weatherston agreed, saying many people, particularly more elderly, may not be able to make trips to a recycling centre.
“It won’t be very good for local wildlife if larger numbers of people start ripping up their gardens,” he told us.