All areas of Borders to benefit from budget plans

All areas of Borders to benefit from budget plans

A budget to support every part of the Borders and help residents of all ages has been agreed by Scottish Borders Council today, as part of a five year revenue plan and a 10 year capital plan.

The Conservative/Independent Administration’s draft financial plans were approved by 21 votes to 11, with the opposition (SNP/Liberal Democrats) also putting forward full budget proposals.

Council Leader, Shona Haslam said: “Every part of the Scottish Borders will benefit from the budget agreed today, from town centre regeneration to investment in our roads and specialist services to support our most vulnerable residents.

“We have committed substantial funding to deliver projects such as a specialist dementia care facility, further new and improved schools, increased community policing and youth programmes, but the measure I am most proud of is the additional £1.2m to focus on our young people.

“This will provide respite care for families and supported living opportunities, provide round the clock youth services and funds to help young people access further education opportunities. This programme is focused on intervention, prevention and innovation.

“We are also contributing towards the re-opening of Reston Station, the £41m Hawick Flood Protection Scheme and new and improved visitor attractions in Galashiels, Duns and Selkirk.

“What is good for one area of the Borders is good for all, and many of these projects will deliver wider economic benefits, from work for local contractors to increased visitor numbers. Through this budget we have also sought to protect front line services and have committed to modernising them and making them more efficient so they are sustainable in the longer term.”

Councillor George Turnbull, Executive Member for Finance, added: “The Council is facing a substantial funding gap due to resource constraints, increasing demand and demographic changes. We are investing heavily in a range of important areas, but have had to make some difficult decisions, including increasing Council Tax by three per cent.

“We are committed to further internal changes to make the Council more efficient and less costly to run, whilst still maintaining high quality services. This ranges from amending the operating hours of our Community Recycling Centres to match demand to delivering more online services and further changes to working practices.”

The budget includes:

· £1.2m additional funding towards teenage mental health provision

· £2.8m over four years for new and improved outdoor community spaces

· £0.282m for a community policing team to prevent low level criminal activity and deal with issues such as parking

· Over £22m investment in roads and bridges over three years, with £79m planned investment over the next 10 years

· £0.5m for youth intervention work

· £0.350m for shared access paths

· £4.125m over 10 years to provide grants for home adaptations to enable people to live at home for longer

· £0.2m to improve access to youth opportunities, through travel and digital initiatives

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, Depute Leader of SBC, said: “As an Administration we have worked very hard with officers to ensure we deliver a positive budget for the Borders. It’s never an easy process, but we are confident this budget puts us in a good position going forward.

“Given the financial challenge, it is absolutely vital that we continue to work with communities to develop plans, initiatives and projects into the future – so I would actively encourage our residents to get involved in whatever way they can.”

Up to 35 full-time equivalent posts may be removed during the next year as a result of structural changes and more efficient service provision at the Council. This figure is based on average salaries.

The Council has been preparing for potential staff reductions by holding 65 vacancies and this, alongside a natural staff turnover level of 10 per cent, will all contribute to a managed reduction of the workforce without impacting on existing staff wherever possible.

Date of Publication: 20th February 2018