SBC gives way to roads services plan

Councillor Gordon Edgar, Executive Member for Roads Infrastructure.

Councillor Gordon Edgar, Executive Member for Roads Infrastructure.

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Borders councillors have taken their first steps to allowing the bulk of roads services in the region – including winter gritting and emergency pothole repairs - to become part of a new organisation involving five other local authorities.

In May last year, elected members baulked at the centralising move – supported by the Scottish Government - preferring instead to keep a watching brief as the councils in Edinburgh, Lothians and Fife progressed the shared services arrangement.

On Tuesday, SBC’s executive heard the other councils had now concluded that immediate implementation of a limited liability partnership (LLP) was not feasible.

Instead, they wanted to set up a joint shadow committee to explore the options for formal collaboration.

In a report, Andrew Drummond-Hunt, director of commercial services, said SBC should be represented on that body. He warned that the Scottish Government could step in and order a radical restructuring of roads authorities across Scotland if the council did not “constructively engage” with the proposal. And he cited the recommendation of a national roads maintenance review which found that the existing delivery of services by 32 Scottish local authorities was likely to become unsustainable.

Mr Drummond-Hunt said the six councils already had many functions in common, including repairs and surveying, salt and gritting, traffic light maintenance and weather forecasting and officers from each council met informally to share information and experiences.

Members agreed on Tuesday that Councillor Gordon Edgar, executive member for roads and infrastructure, should represent SBC’s interests on the new body.