Council’s 2012 budget priorities

SCOTTISH Borders Council’s 2012/13 capital and £264 million revenue budget had been approved by councillors when they met last Thursday.

Faced with considerable funding pressures, elected members worked closely with staff and finance officers to put forward a set of proposals which would continue to protect front line services and deliver value for money for Borders residents.

SBC’s depute leader (with responsibility for finance), Councillor Neil Calvert, said: “When some councils are continuing to re-trench services and facilities, I believe we are fortunate to be able to provide additional funding in support of so many of our services which will allow us to satisfy the added demands being experienced in areas of integrated children’s services and health and care for older people.”

Highlighting the protection of frontline service Councillor David Parker, leader of Scottish Borders Council added: “I am pleased that the administration’s revenue and capital budgets have been approved by council. We are fortunate to have been able to deliver a budget programme that protects front line services and continues to invest in schools, roads, children and economic development.

“We have not faced the difficult budget decisions of many other councils and that is due to the sound budget planning and preparation that takes place within SBC.

“I must admit to a degree of sadness that this will be Councillor Neil Calvert’s last budget as the finance executive member of Scottish Borders Council. Neil has done a tremendous job and the content of this budget and the fact that it was approved is a testament to the work that he has carried out on our behalf.”

Councillor Alec Nicol, depute leader (with responsibility for human resources), added: “Those who work at SBC continue to play their part in delivering efficient services across the Borders. In particular I want to thank staff for accepting a total pay freeze. This co-operation is greatly assisting councillors in protecting vital services and avoiding cuts in many areas.”

Highlights of the 2012/13 revenue budget plans include: no council tax increase for the fifth successive year; no compulsory redundancies; pupil-teacher ratios in P1-3 maintained; additional support of £1.1m for looked after children through the council’s integrated children’s services; additional investment of £0.4m in the road network; investment of £0.2m in the fabric of school classrooms; policing levels protected with no reductions in SBC funding to Lothian and Borders Police

Highlights of the 10 year capital plan include: new flood protection schemes (£4.3m over three years); waste management (£4.2m over three years); new primary school at West Linton (£7.5m over three years); Duns Primary School relocation (£3.5m over three years); improved sports facilities at Peebles High School (£3.9m over three years); investment of £8.4m in broadband.

The council will deliver just under £4m in efficiency savings to help balance its books including reductions in its workforce through: early retirement/voluntary severance; reduced travel, supplies and services costs; savings from the library and contact centre review; the rationalisation of property and reduced staff training costs; and £0.8m of savings in back office staffing and processes.