Bhatia warns of budget limitations

DESPITE agreeing a £250 million budget last week, the deputy leader of Scottish Borders Council has warned it ‘cannot meet every need and expectation’.

Catriona Bhatia made the comment following the 20-10 vote in favour of the administration’s proposed budget, which aims to save £27m over five years.

The savings come at a price however, with increased school meal prices and the merger of the warden service into neighbourhood services.

Cllr Bhatia said: “The administration’s budget is robust and affordable, and at its core protects the key service areas which are important to people in the Borders.

“Although the council has a budget of around £250million we cannot meet every need and expectation, so it is important to focus on services which we are statutorily required to deliver, and deliver them to the highest possible standard.”

The council agreed to continue the council tax freeze and maintain its policy of no compulsory redundancies, and rejected the Conservatives’ alternative budget proposal.

Opposition member George Turnbull told TheSouthern: “We were disappointed that the administration rubbished our figures, when we spoke to the same officers as they did. We think they are stacking up problems for the future by not investing in the roads and scrapping the warden service.”

He added: “Obviously there have to be cutbacks, but with a budget of £250m it is about how you prioritise that money. The administration group have taken a different route from ours and the public will get the chance to judge them on it in four years time.”