Duns first town to have council services merged?

Councillor Frances Renton.
Councillor Frances Renton.

MID-BERWICKSHIRE Councillor Frances Renton has given her support to plans to merge Duns library with Scottish Borders Council’s contact centre in the town.

On the other side of the Borders last week, chairman of Selkirk Community Council, former councillor Gordon Edgar, blasted the proposed shake-up by SBC which would see the merging of contact centres and libraries in seven Borders towns. Mr Edgar said that taxpayers should get a rebate as the proposals were “inherently unfair.”

The cost-saving measure was first announced in February and if it is given the green light, Duns will be the first town where services will be integrated, with the contact centre and registrar moving to the library building on Newtown Street.

Jenni Craig, SBC’s head of customer services, commented: “Scottish Borders Council is currently reviewing all of its community services. As part of that review, an option is being investigated which would result in seven out of 12 libraries and contact centres being integrated.

“The new integrated facilities would ensure that the services provided by both libraries and contact centres would be retained in the towns and delivered on a day to day basis by staff trained in both library and contact centre. This would have the advantage of protecting services and making more services available in the one place at more appropriate times.

“The proposal which is being considered for Duns is that the contact centre and the registrar will move along to the library.

“Duns has been prioritised due to the close location of the current services, the minimal work required to accommodate all the services in the current library building and the further opportunities which arise from the contact centre and registrar vacating their current accommodation.

“No decisions have yet been made and it is planned that the proposals be presented to the council for consideration at a later date.”

But Councillor Renton said the decision should be made to press ahead with the plans, describing the move as “the best way forward” for the services.

The executive member for social care and health told The Berwickshire News: “I’m pleased with this option. By integrating the two services I believe this is the best way forward to keep both services within the town, and also there will be some advantages such as the contact services being open a couple of nights a week and also being open on a Saturday morning, and the library service would be open over lunch time on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“However we must remember that these proposals are still at the consultation stages, and that all comments will be taken into consideration before final proposals go before full council meeting later this year.”