Scottish Borders Council’s £250m budget approved

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COMMUNITY wardens will be scrapped after Scottish Borders Council’s long term spending plans were approved today.

The administration managed to push through its revenue budget of £250million for each of the next five years as well as its capital budget of £191m for the next decade.

A total of £27m has been shaved off council spending in the next five years as Newtown tackles severe funding pressures from Westminster and Holyrood.

Part of its cost-cutting measures sees eight-strong warden service brought to an end from 2014/15, saving SBC £264,000 per year.

And council bosses will now go-ahead with introducing new terms and conditions which would end shift and weekend additional payments, a move which has angered unions.

However, the local authority has still be able to pledge support to various capital projects, such as £10.4m invested into flood prevention schemes in Galashiels, Jedburgh, Hawick and Selkirk and £18.5m towards Kelso’s new high school.

They also promise to spend £900,000 for a new synthetic sports pitch for Selkirk in 2015/16 as well as a £4.3m improvement to Peebles High School’s sports facilities and £8.4m on improving broadband provision.

And wages for its lowest paid staff will increase to £7.50 per hour from April this year.

SBC leader, councillor David Parker said: “Although it is a difficult economic climate with more demands placed on the council than ever before, our financial proposals do allow us to continue to invest in high quality well run public services throughout the Borders.

“Once again we are able to freeze the council tax for the sixth year in a row and continue to deliver a significant but sustainable programme of transformation of council services.”

Depute leader, councillor Catriona Bhatia called SBC’s budget robust and affordable.

She added: “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.

“For example, we have provided additional funding of £1.3million for social work to ensure that we meet the needs of our growing elderly population, and give them the care that they deserve.”

The administration ruled out ending its no compulsory redundancy policy, as suggested by the opposition Conservative group in its alternative budget earlier this week.