Scottish Borders Council was flooded with criticism on Sunday night after it posted a photo of hundreds of plastic bottles of water which was for the people counting votes in the European Election.
Placed on its Facebook page by a member of its social media team, the photo was captioned: “It’s getting warm in here. Making sure everyone stays hydrated! #EuropeanElections2019”.
The count took place in Galashiels’ Volunteer Hall, and those charged with undertaking the manual count were in situ from 3pm till just after 10pm, when the declaration was made.
However, the use of plastic water bottles angered some Borderers, who slated the local authority for buying plastic bottles.
Sam Gibson wrote: “I thought we were trying to save the environment and reduce plastic use,” and Ruth Tait said: “Tap water tastes great. Nice to see council money being used wisely.”
Valerie Henry was thinking along the same lines. She said: “I’m sure I’m not the first person to despair of the plastic bottles!!! Water comes out of the tap. Everyone bring a cup! What did we all do before plastic bottles?”
And Janie Clark added: “We’re in Scotland, we have some of the best tap water in the world and you’re using small plastic bottles instead of a tap and reusable cups. Seriously that’s truly ridiculous and a completely avoidable use of plastic!”
There were also the less serious comments from a number of wags.
Andrew Tuft asked: “Do you want some individually wrapped straws to go with that?”, Neil Laing said: “They could have saved money for more ipads and covers” and Kathryn Peddie said: “What’s wrong with cooncil juice?”
A spokesperson from the council tried to defuse the situation, saying: “Just to confirm that jugs are not allowed at counting tables, containers have to be sealed and non spilling tops used. All bottles will be recycled and some have already been refilled from the tap ready for stage two of the count!”
Several people took them up on this, saying that in the pictures put up by the council and others, there appeared to be coffee cups on the tables, but the spokesperson explained that they contained rubber bands used to bundle the voting slips.
There was one helpful comment among the detractors, as Alice Fisher urged: “Please can you make it compulsory for all SBC events that you not only do a risk assessment, but you also undertake a Green Action Plan. Eliminating single use plastics has to become a priority and we need you to lead by example.”