Changes to Borders recycling centres' opening hours spark outcry

Council chiefs have been taken to task over plans to close the region's recycling centres one day a week.

Hawick's recycling centre in Mansfield Road.
Hawick's recycling centre in Mansfield Road.

A heated exchange was initiated by Walkerburn community councillor Mary Daykin after she asked Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam about the planned closures at Eshiels recycling centre during last week’s meeting of the authority’s Tweeddale area partnership.

Ms Daykin said: “I’m really wondering when we’ll know more as I’m very distressed about this issue with the recycling centres.

“I’m now reading that each one in turn will be shut for one day a week.

“We’re talking about quality of life tonight. We already have a very poor percentage of recycling, and fly-tipping is increasing all the time.

“That won’t improve our quality of life in this beautiful part of Scotland. How can we help, what can we do and how can we stop this cut?”

Tweeddale East councillor Mrs Haslam explained: “We did a massive consultation with the public, who said they don’t mind it closing one day a week as long as there are longer opening hours during the summer.

“There’s been a huge amount of data that I’m happy to share with people, looking at traffic movement coming in and out of the recycling centres, so we’re basing which day of the week it’ll close on which days of the week people use the recycling centres.”

Before she could explain further, however, councillor Haslam was interrupted by fellow Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell, leader of the local authority’s Scottish National Party opposition group.

Speaking over Mrs Haslam, he claimed councillors have not seen that consultation report and asked her to share it more widely.

Peebles Community Council chairman Lawrie Hayworth added: “We have had in the past consultations that really affected the town.

“Senior decisions are made based on these consultations, and then hundreds of people come out of the woodwork saying they’ve not heard of them.”

The Eshiels recycling centre, near Peebles, is one of seven in the region, the others being at Duns, Eyemouth, Galashiels, Hawick, Kelso and Selkirk.

Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Haslam said: “There will be no closure of Eshiels recycling centre. Instead, there will be a change of opening hours as part of a review of our community recycling centres.

“The review was extensive and detailed and included a consultation with the Borders public in 2016 which over 1,400 people took part in which indicated the public wanted recycling centres open for longer during the summer months.

“As a result, all recycling centres will be open for longer and later during the summer and will remain open at weekends. However, all seven recycling centres will be closed for one weekday at least to allow this to happen.

“We believe this will mean the service better meets the needs of the Borders public at our recycling centres, as well as ensuring savings can be made at in a time when budgets are tighter than ever and demands for services are increasing.

“The review was approved by council as part of its 2018-19 budget and is expected to be introduced in late 2018. Further information on it will be made available via an extensive communications campaign prior to any changes taking place.

“Staff and trade unions have been and continue to be consulted regarding how the service changes will be delivered.”