Council has thrown away Steve’s hope of using skip

Steve Sonclair at the selkirk skips.
Steve Sonclair at the selkirk skips.

THROWING out rubbish has become nearly impossible for a Selkirk man in a wheelchair, writes Sally Gillespie.

Steve Sinclair is hoping the council will make a gate in the fence it erected for safety around the town’s skips.

Since it went up, in February, he has been unable to throw in his excess rubbish, which builds up after the reduction in council collection.

Mr Sinclair said: “The council has cut refuse collection to once every two weeks and then they say my rubbish is too heavy. But they make the recycling centre inaccessible, so I can’t take it there – although they say it isn’t inaccessible because the men are there to help. But the men say, ‘We are only here to make sure what goes in the skip should go in’.”

Mr Sinclair is confined to a wheelchair because of arthritis, disabled because of thalidomide, and says that while he is able to pull his wheelie bin into the street, he can no longer throw any extra rubbish into the skip because the fence, which cordons off the skips, is the height of his head.

“I can’t go there unless certain members of staff are there who will help me, but the thing is, why won’t they help everybody? I find it patronising that I have got to ask for help. If they help me they should help everybody.

“The men have been more than helpful to me. But when my wife goes down she’s just left to fend for herself. She has ME, her disability is not obvious, but she can’t lift the bags over the fence either.”

Mr Sinclair understood two people had fallen into a skip in the last 15 years, but said: “Why were they so stupid? That’s not a health and safety issue.”

Scottish Borders Council waste manager, Ross Sharp-Dent, said: “The safety barrier was installed following an incident which involved a site user falling into a skip. The safety barrier is believed to be the optimum reasonable adjustment to improve the safety of the site. It has not been our intention to make the site difficult to use. However, given the nature of the incident and the potential seriousness, it was not an option to do nothing. The site is always manned during opening hours and staff are available to assist site users where this is practical and within the requirements of health-and-safety regulations.

“Following the installation of the safety barrier, we have made some alterations, including the installation of an alternative container for scrap metal, and we hope to make more alterations in the future.”

The council said two people have fallen into a skip in the last six years.

Mr Sinclair praised the local authority for its swift action last month when it emptied his wheelie bin - condemned as too heavy for collection - within an hour of his complaining.