IT looks like Kelso’s citzens will continue to face a 20-mile trip to use their nearest recycling centres for some time to come, after councillors were informed at this month’s executive meeting of the local authority that there was still no cash in the budget to provide such a facility in the local Cheviot area.
Although Scottish Borders Council deploys a refuse lorry every fortnight to a central point to which Kelso residents can transport their bulkier unwanted belongings for disposal, local councillors want a more permanent arrangement matching that already enjoyed in other Borders towns.
At last week’s October meeting of the full council, Kelso councillor, Tom Weatherston (Con) wanted to know what formula was used to determine which settlements in the region warranted recycling centres.
“Looking at the map, it seems strange that there is no facility in the Cheviot area,” Mr Weatherston said.
“People in Kelso have to travel 20 miles to Duns or Galashiels, while people living along the A7 have the choice of three centres in that distance.”
Mr Weatherston asked Environmental Services portfolio holder Councillor David Paterson (Hawick & Hermitage, Ind) if he accepted there was an imbalance in the distribution of local recycling centres and whether there were any plans to provide the Cheviot area with its own in the near future.
Replying, Mr Paterson said the location of the current recycling centres was partially historical.
“In the days of the district councils each district allocated an area for a civic amenity site,” he said. “These areas were generally located at landfills or depots where waste activities already took place.
“This explains the location of the sites at Duns, Eyemouth, Selkirk, Hawick and Galashiels.
“In 2002, an area waste plan was approved by council and this formed the basis of a bid for Scottish Government funding to expand and improve recycling centres in the region. The monies from this were received in 2004 and, based on the plan, used to upgrade the existing sites, and construct a new recycling centre and waste transfer station at Peebles.”
Mr Paterson said the council did recognise that Kelso has a significant population which travelled to nearby recycling centres. “Over recent years and in consultation with local members we have explored options for developing a recycling centre in Kelso,” he explained.
“However, we have not yet been able to locate a suitable area. Sufficient funding required to build such a centre has not been available.
“We have recently installed a recycling point for small electrical items in the Sainsbury’s car park at Kelso to enable residents to recycle these items locally. This is the first bank of its kind in the Borders, and Kelso has been chosen as the trial location as it does not have a recycling centre.
“In addition we have expanded and upgraded local recycling points: installing fencing, putting an additional point in at Sainsbury’s and added a book bank to the Spylaw Road recycling point.”
Mr Paterson said he would also look into Mr Weatherston’s query about whether SBC could access some of the £1.2million in new government money made available for recycling.
After the meeting, Mr Weatherston told TheSouthern he felt it important to highlight the situation in the Cheviot area.
“While the refuse lorry is welcome in the town on a fortnightly basis, it’s not ideal, but better than nothing,” Mr Weatherston told us.
“Twice in the last few years we have lost the funding for a centre in Kelso because of other pressures on the budget.
“I appreciate things are tight financially and this will not be easy to deliver, but I think if all three councillors work together with officers of the council and keep plugging away as we have with other projects, hopefully, we will have the same recycling facility as the other larger settlements in the Borders.”
Mr Weatherson’s fellow Kelso councillors are also both behind the call for a recycling centre to be on the agenda for Kelso.
Simon Mountford (Con) said it was unacceptable there was still no recycling centre in the Cheviot area.
“It is unrealistic to expect residents living in Kelso or Yetholm to drive to Duns or Galashiels every time they want to dispose of rubbish that is unsuitable for kerbside collection,” he told us. “It is simply an invitation to people to flytip.”
And Alec Nicol (Lib Dem) added: “Up to now there has been no revenue budget to provide a bring-site in Kelso but if we wish to improve our recycling rates, then this will have to happen.”