Community campaigners have accused Aberdeenshire Council of setting two recycling centres “up to fail” after they were saved from the brink of closure.
Last week, the local authority revealed it had scrapped plans to close Insch and Portsoy recycling centres after widespread opposition.
Instead, the authority said it intended to reduce the opening hours of all of its 11 existing centres.
Those proposals – which there had been little or no community consultation about – have been branded “divisive”.
The authority’s latest plans would also reduce fortnightly bin collections to every three weeks.
Residents would be given a smaller general waste bin to encourage them to use other recyclable bins and there would also be a weekly collection of food waste bins.
The changes would help the council save £500,000 of the £20million it needs to cut from its budget.
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Yesterday, bins of three different sizes were taken into chambers to allow councillors to see what residents would be provided with if the unpopular proposals – which have prompted concerns rubbish will pile up – were approved.
Rod Lovie, of Portsoy Community Council, addressed the committee and re-iterated villagers’ concerns.
They are concerned that reduced opening hours would result in a fall in usage, leading to the closure of the centre being revisted in the future.
He said: “The current proposals of reducing hours are unlikely to encourage more people to use the centre.
“The decision set out in the report is perhaps one of delaying rather than scrapping entirely. It is almost like setting it up to fail.
“We also think that to blame Portsoy and Insch for opening hours being cut at other sites is divisive and we are concerned that these changes were not discussed with residents.”
Peter Argyle, committee chairman, said the authority had not attempted to blame either community and also said he would ensure that this was not its stance in the future.
He also said that while the council could not guarantee to keep a recycling centre open “for the rest of time”, there were no plans to re-visit the closures.
Mr Argyle said the plans had the two-fold benefit of helping increase recycling and its positive benefits, while also saving the authority money, and asked the committee to back the proposal.
He also suggested retaining a garden waste point at St Cyrus, at the request of North Kincardine councillor Ian Mollison, which had been due to be scrapped.
Councillor Stephen Smith, Peterhead South and Cruden, said he believed the decision would be a “step too far” at this stage and asked for a bedding-in period to allow people to get used to it – allowing them to have a slightly larger general waste bin.
But Mr Argyle said he believed this would cause even more confusion and would also not achieve the aims that the strategy set out to.
Mr Argyle’s motion was voted ahead by nine votes to five.