SBC to meet public over budget talks

borders residents are being given the opportunity to tell Scottish Borders Council which council services are most important to them in the run-up to the council setting a very difficult budget for 2011/12.

A series of public meetings had originally been planned for November/December to give members of the public a chance to hear what the council have in mind and also to air their views on how the limited council funds should be spent.

However, the wintry weather put paid to those plans.

Keen to ensure that a high level of service is delivered to all residents across the Borders as it faces ongoing funding pressures, the council has now rescheduled the meetings, and council leaders along with officers will be attending a series of meetings including one at Eyemouth Primary School on Thursday, February 3, starting at 7pm.

Councillor David Parker or depute leaders Councillors Neil Calvert and Alec Nicol will lead the meetings and SBC chief executive David Hume will also be present.

SBC leader, Councillor David Parker, said: “It is our priority to ensure local residents are aware of the pressures we are facing and are actively involved in the future of how we deliver our services.

‘‘We have already been reviewing and streamlining our services for the past few years so we are in a fairly strong position, but this is still going to be a very difficult budget-setting round.

“We are doing everything we can to reduce the impact of any changes to frontline services but it is inevitable that some changes will happen.

“We do, however, see this as an opportunity to embrace new ways of working and to take a fresh look at our services to sustain the high levels of service we deliver.”

Depute leader of the council (finance), Councillor Neil Calvert, explained: “This is not an easy process and we have been working closely with colleagues across all departments to look at how we can achieve the most efficient and effective ways of working.

“I think we have achieved this in some areas but we can still do better to make further savings while at the same time sustaining our services.

‘‘As we move forward, we hope to have the opportunity to speak to a large number of residents and gain a good insight into where their concerns lie.”

Councillor Alec Nicol, depute leader (HR) added: “Obviously, we need to be realistic in what can be achieved, but I am confident that we can continue to be ambitious and, with the help of our residents, dedicated workforce and partners, maintain a bright future despite the economic challenges which lie ahead.”