SBC’s £50,000 winter savings

SAVINGS of £50,000 will be made to Scottish Borders Council’s winter spending this year, though a £360,000 overspend is expected.

Cuts will be made through a variety of measures approved by SBC’s executive committee on Tuesday, including relocation of the region’s 830 salt bins.

However, the saving will not match the authority’s average winter service expenditure of £3.025million, with only £2.665million allocated.

The allocation is £835,000 less than the £3.5m spent in each of the last two winters.

Complied by four SBC managers, the winter plan report to councillors highlighted six areas of improvement or where money could be saved – night cover, winter desk coverage, salt use and storage and salt bin provision.

£100,000 could have saved by reducing night shift cover for salt spreading and other emergencies, but officers will keep the current arrangement to meet EU rules and changes in nocturnal conditions.

However, a £15,000 cut will be made by pulling winter desk coverage between 8pm and 4am. Further savings of £30,000 were hoped for through the trial of salt additives last year but the scheme has been scrapped after a conclusion on its effectiveness could not be reached.

Instead, £10,000 will be knocked off the winter bill by reducing salt wastage through an automated treatment system in SBC’s six gritters.

The council has 19,000 tonnes of salt in eight stores, but during last year’s extreme wintry conditions, levels reduced to less than 1,000 tonnes. Councillors backed plans to look into creating a new covered salt storage area to offset future shortages.

The biggest efficiency will come through SBC’s decision to leave out salt bins all year, reducing overheads by £30,000. Any bins that are on regularly salted routes will be reallocated.

SBC hopes villages and towns can fund further salt facilities themselves.