Four registry offices for the chop

Councillors will be asked today to axe four of the region’s 13 registry offices in a bid to save around £50,000 in staffing costs.

The closure of the facilities in Lauder, Jedburgh, Selkirk and Newcastleton is recommended in a report by Jenni Craig, Scottish Borders Council’s customer services manager.

Lauder is in the firing line despite generating income of £5,912 in 2009, while incurring running costs of £4,882, and registering 31 marriages and 21 deaths.

But Ms Craig says no deaths were registered there in 2009, civil ceremonies were declining and there were no toilet facilities for staff and customers. The Lauder office was only open for two hours a week and alternative facilities, with longer opening hours, were available in Galashiels and Melrose.

Jedburgh, which opens for eight hours a week, has been selected for closure, not least because running costs of £12,999 in 2009 far exceeded income of £5,219. The number of civil ceremonies (11) was low and there was no disabled access to the marriage room. Kelso and Hawick are cited as the best alternatives, while some specially trained customer service advisers will be able to register births at the town’s contact centre.

In Selkirk, income of £4,553 was dwarfed by costs of £7,812. Again, Ms Craig stresses the low number of civil ceremonies.

And Newcastleton, which currently opens for two hours a week, has “very low numbers of registrations” (five births, 11 deaths and eight marriages in 2009). Councillors will hear that registrations could be made in Hawick and that the Grapes Hotel had recently received a licence for holding civil ceremonies. The village office costs £3,656 to run in 2009, but generated income of just £1,015.