Council leader says cash will be spent on what Borderers want

Scottish Borders Council’s administration group outlined its spending plans for the year ahead on Friday, and pledged to splash out on the region's failing roads network.

Sunday, 14th March 2021, 3:55 pm
Council leader Shona Haslam at Scottish Borders Council's Newtown headquarters.

The proposed budget will go in front of councillors on Friday, March 19, alongside an optional budget proposed by the opposition.

Shona Haslam, leader of the council, claimed this budget would “help the Borders build back better”.

The council says it has earmarked £1.112m towards improving the roads badly hit by one of the wettest winters in memory during 2021/22, with a further £0.51m being spent the following year.

New machinery is planned in order to fix the potholes in a better, more lasting way.

Also mentioned in the budget is £180m investment in the planned new schools, such as new high schools in Peebles, Galashiels and Hawick, over the next six years.

There’s also a further £28m investment in digital transformation to “establish the Borders as a Smart Rural Region”.

The council has pledged to deliver Hawick’s Flodd Prtoection Scheme, work on which is already under way, to the tune of £91m, with a futher £4m being spent on flood pretection work across the region, including a new consultation into the flooding problem faced by villagers in Newcastleton.

£17m is being pledged for the Borders Innovation Park in Tweedbank over the next four years, as well as £23m investment in two new care facilities.

And while the council says it will make savings of over £2m, due to taking a back step in maintenance of parks and open spaces, a social work review and roads review, it will create around 40 new jobs in areas such as the council’s food growing initiative and a sustainability officer to reduce the council’s carbon footprint.

The council also wants to spend up to £6m on replacing some of its older diesel vehicles with hybrid and electric alternatives.

Mrs Haslam said that although she felt that the money the council was receiving from the government was "unfair”, she believed this was the best way to spend it.

She said: “The pressures we have felt over the past year due to Covid has been substantial, and we don’t think the money from the Scottish Government will cover all that.