Milestone as Otter Rotters enter into partnership with EDDC

THE future of Otter Rotters has been secured until at least 2015 – thanks to a partnership agreement with East Devon District Council.

THE future of Otter Rotters has been secured until at least 2015 - thanks to a partnership agreement with East Devon District Council.

The agreement, described by Otter Rotters' director Mandy Jennings as "a significant milestone", will see the community group's garden waste and composting scheme extended to new areas.

The not-for-profit organisation will operate a fortnightly, pay per use, kerbside collection service in Axminster, Seaton, Colyton and Colyford from next month - to divert garden waste away from landfill.

Mrs Jennings said: "I am delighted that East Devon District Council has recognised and shown its support for this successful community enterprise. The scheme recognises that garden waste is a valuable commodity that should not end up in landfill sites and redirects it back to be used for growing local produce and providing opportunities for horticultural activities."

Councillor David Cox, EDDC's portfolio holder for StreetScene, said: "This partnership makes both environmental and economic sense.

"It will enable Otter Rotters to provide employment for local people, as well as fulfilling our commitment to a more environmentally sustain-able way of life."

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Cllr Cox added: "I hope, if this extended scheme proves as popular as I think it will, that we will be able to roll out the service to all parts of Devon."

Mrs Jennings said that, from humble beginnings, Otter Rotters has become a key contributor in the effective, sustainable management of East Devon's garden waste.

Speaking to the Herald last week, Mrs Jennings said: "The council's formal recognition of the valuable services we offer means that we can maintain our capacity to fulfil community goals not solely based on their commercial viability.

"We're very proud of our highly individual approach to opportunities which enable people to gain new experiences, skills and friendships."

Mrs Jennings said local businesses make an important and ongoing contribution to the scheme by selling Otter Rotters' bags and tags without being reimbursed for their time and effort.

"Their support is essential for the smooth running of the scheme and, although they do not get public recognition for their generosity, we value the vital role they play.," she said.

"The same goes for our volunteers, who often pitch in at short notice and have ensured Otter Rotters continues fulfilling worthwhile objectives."

Otter Rotters, which moved out of its unit at Honiton Business Park last year, may not need to find alternative premises.

Mrs Jennings said: "As we cover such a wide area, choosing one base is difficult.

"Our plans for 2010 will see us having activities in more areas, leaving us the flexibility to work with other groups developing their own local focus and this working together will ensure effective use of available resources."

On the subject of new initiatives, she said: "We produce a quality, natural compost and, as such, we have had a lot of interest from local food producers and we have run joint horticultural activities that were very rewarding for all concerned.

"We will continue to work with other organisations across East Devon, making sure that everybody has a worthwhile and enjoyable experience whilst gaining new skills and making a difference at a local level.

"We are particularly interested in people having access to affordable local produce and ensuring that local skills and cultural heritage is championed.