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SBC plans to freeze council tax again

Scottish Borders Council headquarters at Newtown St Boswells.

Scottish Borders Council headquarters at Newtown St Boswells.

Scottish Borders Council’s administration is proposing to freeze council tax in 2014/15 for the seventh successive year.

In a budget announcement also outlining a number of capital project proposals over the next 10 years, SBC pledged to commit £300,000 towards the re-opening of Reston railway station, spend £8.4m on upgrading broadband and invest £58.9m on flood protection schemes.

Councillor David Parker, leader of the Council, said: “We are announcing our revenue proposals and a number of exciting capital projects that show our commitment to the residents of the Borders during what continues to be a challenging financial period for local authorities across the country.

“As part of our budget consultation we asked members of the public through our online budget simulator tool what they wanted to spend the money on. They asked for extra spending on things like schools, infrastructure and older people’s services and that’s exactly what we’re proposing.”

Councillor John Mitchell, depute leader (with responsibility for finance), said: “This is an incredibly difficult period for local government funding. Balancing our budget is essential and we have again managed to prepare a balanced budget while maintaining most services despite austerity. Exciting times are ahead in terms of the capital projects if our plans are approved on 6 February.”

Councillor Catriona Bhatia, depute leader (with responsibility for health service), added: “We are mindful of the contribution that capital spending makes to the local economy and are therefore very pleased to be announcing an extra £80m to help support the encouraging signs of a general upturn in economic activity.”

£271m is being allocated for the 10-year capital programme starting in 2014/15. This is an increase of £80m on the previously published plan that will see significant additional investment in roads, schools, flood protection, community infrastructure, IT and regeneration projects.

The proposed revenue budget for 2014/15, which will be debated at the council meeting on 6 February, is £252m (£1.26 billion over five years).

Key points from the revenue budget plans include:

· No council tax increase in 2014/15, which will be frozen at 2007/08 levels for the seventh successive year

· Approval for 200 new affordable homes has already been granted - to be built by a national housing trust, Council led initiative

· Extra funding for social work services including £3.4m extra for elderly care packages and extra money for free personal care

· Extra funding of £1.165m per annum to expand the early years services

· Revised staff terms and conditions - £3.6m saving over five years

· Reductions in back office costs - £2.2m saving over five years

Highlights of the 10-year capital plan include:

· Investment in roads, lighting and bridges - £57m - an increase of £8m on previously published totals

· £700k for investment in early years facilities

· Flood protection schemes - £58.9m

· New Kelso High School - £21.4m

· School refurbishments and capacity projects - £16.5m

· Galashiels schools provision - £22.1m

· Langlee Primary School extension- £8.1m

· 3G pitches in Peebles, Jedburgh and Hawick - £2.8m

· Selkirk synthetic pitch - £1m

· Investment of £8.4m in broadband

· £300k towards the re-opening of Reston railway station

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