Budget cuts have forced Falkirk Council to close both its household waste recycling centres for two days during the week.
Roughmute, in Bonnybridge, will be shut to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday, while Kinneil, in Bo’ness, will be closed on Thursday and Friday.
That is the bad news.
The good news is both sites will be open for five days, including weekends, from 8am to 6pm throughout the entire year – even during the dark winter months.
They will also have designated late nights – Wednesday for Kinneil and Friday for Roughmute – when they will stay open until 8pm.
These changes, which are scheduled to come into force from April 1, have been put in place to save Falkirk Council’s development services around £200,000 per year.
However, some residents believe the reduction in opening days will lead to an increase in fly-tipping – a problem which is already blighting certain areas in and around Falkirk.
One householder said: “Both sites shut for two days – you can watch the back roads for the results.”
According to the budget report, the changes will ensure the public will continue to have access to at least one site per day, and more importantly, both sites will be available for public use at the weekends.
The report stated: “This is an opportunity to maximise the use of both sites.”
At the moment the opening hours are 8am to 8pm from April to September and 9am to 6pm from October to March.
Councillor Paul Garner, environment spokesman, said: “A lot of local authorities are closing their facilities or shutting them over the weekend, but we’re not going down that road.
“This is about the best outcome for residents, our bin uplifts and our workers. It’s the best we can do in this current financial climate. All the staff were asked their opinion about this and if they wanted to have the two days staggered or have them together.
“They said having the two days together would be beneficial to their hours and their working patterns.”
Councillor Garner said extra funding would now be available for the litter strategy team to improve mobile CCTV units to detect and deter fly tipping.
While the recycling centres will be closed to the public on the designated days, they will still be open to receive council bin uplifts.
And from April 1, van users will be able to claim up to ten free permits throughout the year to enable them to use the recycling centres.
There are concerns from council insiders it will take longer to implement the changes at both recycling centres.
A worker, who did not want to be named, said there was no way the new regime would be in place by the start of April, especially considering there had been no consultation about the new operating method.
He said: “By the time we heard about it, it was already decided on.”
As part of this year’s budget proposals by the SNP administration there was a commitment to redesign the waste management strategy to encourage even more recycling.
Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said work was ongoing and plans to introduce another bin for paper and cardboard waste are already underway.
Back in January, residents in the Falkirk area learned they will be saying hello to another wheely bin later this year after £1.5 million of funding was secured for a new look charter compliant refuse collection service.
The Zero Waste Scotland cash will be used to pay for the additional new grey wheely bin, which will be rolled out to households in the autumn, joining its colourful counterparts – the blue, green and brown bins and the grey food caddies currently residing in people’s properties.