Recycling centres across Angus have been given a stay of execution to allow councillors to find out all of the cost-cutting options available to them.
At a meeting of the local authority’s communities committee last week, members were asked to consider a report by Stewart Ball, head of regulatory and protective services, which included controversial proposals to shake-up the county’s recycling centres.
These included the phased closure of the Brechin, Carnoustie, Forfar, Kirriemuir and Monifieth facilities with the retention of Arbroath and Montrose, with a new centre to be developed in the Forfar/ Kirriemuir area.
In addition to reducing recycling centres from seven to three, the servicing of skips from the facility maintained by Edzell Village Improvement Society (EVIS) will be stopped.
The proposals sparked protests across the county, including outside Town and County Hall in Forfar prior to the committee meeting and Councillor Donald Morrison, committee convener, proposed deferring the matter until the next cycle of meetings.
He said: “We have the officer’s recommendations but in relation to recommendation one councillors fell they haven’t been fully informed of all the options so I propose deferring until a members’ briefing.”
Councillors from across the county have been vocal in their support of the move.
Forfar councillor Ian McLaren said: “In my view this would have been such a backwards step for recycling, leading to an inconvenience and cost to the public and which may have led to an increase in fly-tipping.”
Fellow councillor Colin Brown also said he had recently conducted a straw poll of recycling centre users and found that most were against the proposal.
He said: “I think it has been ill-thought out with no consultation with users. I made a fleeting visit to Forfar’s recycling centre and spoke to 28 users and 27 of those were happy with Forfar as it is.”
Brechin Councillor Bob Myles said:“I am very pleased the report was pulled. If it hadn’t been, I had an amendment to put forward to suggest doing so. It would have been a very decisive issue in communities, with some having centres and some not.”
Asked if a quick decision to defer was best, given the amount of interest in the proposal, he said: “Without a doubt. I had discussed the last few days with officers about looking at other options but we didn’t have time before Tuesday to get any on the table.
“All councils are finding it difficult to meet their targets with reduced funding, but there has to be another way to achieve this.”
Montrose Councillor David May said: “While I am delighted that the SNP have deferred the decision I have concerns that it will go ahead in another form after the election. Is a decision on recycling just being delayed for political reasons? Will it be part-time closure of all the centres rather than just some of them? Even part-time closure is likely to impact on less being recycled and this means going to landfill.
“Over the last few years we have seen an improvement in waste collection in Angus but these SNP proposals will be bad for recycling. However, I am aware that as a result of Scottish Government budget decisions the council have had to make very considerable cuts and targeting waste collection is a way the SNP council had of saving money.
“The Angus SNP proposal to charge for collecting garden waste has been passed and this is also bad for the policy of moving to zero waste and carbon reduction. This charge is a council tax increase by the back door, penalising anyone with a green bin.”
Independent Carnoustie councillor Brian Boyd added: “I don’t think there is fairness throughout the burghs as a result of the £25 garden waste fee being agreed. People in the burghs losing bins will no longer have the option of what to do with their garden waste.
“The fee should not have been agreed before discussing the future of the recycling centres and I stood up in chambers and said that.
“If you live in a town with a recycling centre you have that choice to pay the fee or take your garden waste to the centre. People who do not have a recycling centre in their town are being penalised.”
Mr Boyd suggested that one solution could lie with the county’s public golf courses which could act collection points for residents to deposit garden waste, which could be uplifted and disposed of as currently happens.