Council staffing levels on the rise

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SCOTTISH Borders Council employed an extra 168 staff in 12 months, a Freedom of Information request has shown.

The local authority’s headcount was 5,710 on April 1 this year, compared to 5,542 on the same date in 2009.

Scottish Borders Council aims to shed around 70 full-time staff from its payroll as it faces a net revenue budget reduction of £13million for the next financial year

A total of 611 workers have shown an interest in voluntary severance or early retirement after being invited to do so last month.

Meanwhile, the annual cost of mobile phone use by council staff to taxpayers has gone up by more than 13 per cent.

Another FoI request showed £85,840 was spent on mobile phone bills during 2009/10, compared to £74,347 in 2008/09.

Calls by councillors saw the biggest bill rise of 45 per cent, from £2,785 to £5,106 in 09/10. That was due to 29 out of 34 councillors now using a council-funded mobile, compared to just 13 in the last financial year.

The most expensive bill came from technical services, which stood at £52,559 for 09/10.

However, SBC could not say how many phones were used by staff in this department.

A spokesperson said: “Our technical services department do not hold records of how many mobile phones they hold and as they do not record this information it is exempt under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act.”

There were 233 phones – compared to 180 the previous year – in use, according to the FoI response.

The spokesperson added that personal calls were deducted from the figures as they were automatically paid for by staff.