FAR from taking issue with the austerity budget for 2011/12 which Scottish Borders Council is being asked to endorse, the six-strong opposition SNP group appears to be taking credit for it, writes Andrew Keddie.
The council will meet today to ratify a spending programme from its Tory/Lib Dem/Independent administration which has managed to avoid compulsory redundancies while bridging a £13million funding gap compared to the current year.
Council Tax will remain unchanged, charges for council services will increase and more social work services will go to the private sector.
Staffing costs will be cut with up to 200 staff set to go: a task made easier by the willingness of around 600 employees to take voluntary redundancy.
As revealed last week, around 150 of these volunteers are likely to have their wish granted later this month, although when exactly they will depart is unclear.
The revenue spending programme of £266million reflects a cut of £6.2million (2.4 per cent) in the grant SBC receives from the Scottish Government. Councillor John Mitchell, the SNP’s finance spokesman, told us: “Drastic Tory and Lib Dem cuts at Westminster have been passed on to the SNP government and they in turn have had to decrease sums payable to local authorities.
“Most of the revenue cuts/efficiencies now planned do not, by and large, appear too unreasonable ... and we are glad to see the council’s administration has done a lot of the things we would probably have had to do if in power. Redundancies have been achieved through voluntary means rather than enforced, and this obviously echoes SNP policy.”
However, the SNP will today table a motion calling for the £4.7million realignment of Dirtpot corner on the A68 east of Cardrona, to be re-instated in SBC’s five year capital spending programme.
The project has been removed in favour of ground stabilisation works worth £300,000.
That call will be supported by rebel Tory councillor Gavin Logan (Tweeddale East).