Council executive reveals draft budget

Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker (centre) with depute leaders Catriona Bhatia and John Mitchell with the administration's draft financial programme.
Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker (centre) with depute leaders Catriona Bhatia and John Mitchell with the administration's draft financial programme.

Infrastructure investment but the loss of over 100 posts headline Scottish Borders Council’s budget proposals, to be decided on Thursday, February 9.

In line with their 10 year £321 million capital plan investment in roads, bridge, schools and protection are key areas for the council in the coming year.

However, as it aims to deliver £9.5m of savings in 2017/18 the council’s executive is proposing a three pre cent rise in Council Tax, increases in fees and charges and a further reduction in staffing levels.

An estimated reduction of 123 posts (not jobs) is on the cards althought the council insist that figure “is likely to be far less”.

To protect the existing workforce, the council has been managing vacancies andcurrently holds in excess of 150 vacancies through natural turnover, redeployment, early retirement and voluntary severance - where appropriate.

They will now introduce a ‘deployment’ process to enable staff to move to jobs in other areas of the council.

Council leader, David Parker said: “The budget we are putting forward on February 9, reflects our ongoing commitment to protect frontline services, and deliver significant investment for the Scottish Borders.

“This includes maintaining teacher numbers in our schools for the next year, continuing our ambitious plans to attract people and businesses to locate here, modernising the way we work, and a capital programme which will benefit the whole of the region.

“Like other local authorities, we are facing financial pressures as a result of decreasing public funding and increased demand on our services. However, thanks to our transformational and financial plans over many years, we are in a better position than we might have been given the economic climate.”

Councillor John Mitchell, depute leader of SBC with responsibility for finance, explained: “Everyone is well aware that these are particularly difficult financial times.

“As a result, we continue to strive to become more streamlined, efficient and do things differently to allow quality services to be delivered to the public.

“Once again, we are putting forward budget proposals which set out significant investment aligned to our priorities, in addition to areas where we can work more efficiently and make significant savings through continuing to modernise the organisation and our services.”