Contract cock-up costs council a cool £250,000

THIS week we report on how bosses at Scottish Borders Council are faced with coughing up a quarter-of-a-million pounds of public money to pay the fine slapped on the local authority for the bungled disposal of sensitive pensions data.

Over 800 files, some containing bank and salary details, were dumped in a supermarket car park bin by the firm hired by the council.

Reacting to the fine, SBC chief executive Tracey Logan this week moaned that the size of the penalty was ‘disappointing’.

Disappointing? She may find it disappointing but we’re sure thousands of struggling taxpayers across the Borders will be more than disappointed. Furious more like and rightly so.

Ms Logan and senior officials and councillors tell us ‘don’t worry we’ve got money in our reserves to cover such eventualities’.

But they seem to be forgetting that the money in reserves is public cash, gathered from ordinary citizens in the form of hard-earned taxes such as the council tax.

Do we really have to go down the road of listing what £250,000 would buy in the Borders?

No doubt headteachers of cash-strapped schools and people struggling with the crumbing state of our roads could happily make some suggestions.

But perhaps we should consider ourselves lucky. Afterall, the information commissioner could have fined the council up to twice as much if felt so inclined.

Given the stinging criticism of the council’s procedures in the matter, will anyone be held accountable at local authority headquarters for costing Borders tax and ratepayers such a hefty sum?

If someone was guilty of a similar breach in the private sector, they would be shown the door.

Let us at least hope our recently-elected crop of councillors don’t settle for being just disappointed with this affair.