Council to juggle its services as cuts bite

Artists impression of the new Duns Primary School
Artists impression of the new Duns Primary School

Education, flood defences and economic regeneration are the focus of Scottish Borders Council’s 2016/17 budget being decided today (Thursday).

Against a challenging financial background, which includes a freeze on Council Tax for the ninth successive year, the council will set out its provisional revenue financial plans to 2020/21 and its capital proposals to 2025/26.

Council Leader, Councillor David Parker explained: “Scottish Borders Council recognises the financial challenges faced by residents and is striving to support them by retaining vital services while ensuring the Council Tax remains affordable.

“Through consultation with the public, as well as a range of plans through our corporate transformation programme, we are looking at ways of doing things differently to address a potential funding gap of £29 million caused by pressures on public funding combined with increased demands on council services.

“We remain focused on delivering continued investment in education, are committed to health and social care integration in partnership with NHS Borders, and economic development through encouraging people and businesses to consider relocating to the Borders.

“The quality of life in terms of high quality education and health care, low crime rates and access to affordable housing in the Borders is excellent, and we must find a way of ensuring the budget is allocated to build on those strengths.

“Due to robust and long term financial planning, we are in a much better position than we might have been given the economic climate.”

The proposed ten year capital budget involves £304 million of investment in Borders infrastructure including new schools, sports facilities, visitor attractions, energy efficiency measures and the continued investment in transport infrastructure.

Capital spending of £80 million up to 2019 includes: Duns Primary School (£3 million); upgrading the Jim Clark Museum (£1.4 million); and new primary schools at Broomlands and Langlee (£18 million).