South Scotland

Scottish Borders Council administration outlines spending plans

Scottish Borders Council - Image by Jim Barton Image copyright Jim Barton
Image caption The council administration has outlined its spending plans for the years ahead

Scottish Borders Council's administration has outlined its five-year revenue and 10-year capital spending plans.

Leader David Parker said it showed the council's commitment to residents in a "challenging financial period".

Among the authority's spending priorities are flood protection, roads investment, schools and sports provision and better broadband access.

The proposed revenue budget for 2014/15 will be debated on 6 February.

Mr Parker said the Independent, SNP and Lib Dem coalition had tried to listen to what people wanted.

"As part of our budget consultation we asked members of the public, through our online budget simulator tool, what they wanted to spend the money on," he said.

"They asked for extra spending on things like schools, infrastructure and older people's services and that's exactly what we're proposing."

John Mitchell, depute leader with responsibility for finance, said it was an "incredibly difficult period" for local government funding.

"Balancing our budget is essential and we have again managed to prepare a balanced budget while maintaining most services despite austerity," he said.

"Exciting times are ahead in terms of the capital projects if our plans are approved on 6 February."

'Encouraging signs'

Fellow depute leader Catriona Bhatia, who has responsibility for health services, said the council was pleased to be announcing an extra £80m of capital spending to "support the encouraging signs of a general upturn in economic activity."

Key points from the revenue budget plans include:

  • No council tax increase in 2014/15
  • Approval for 200 new affordable homes has already been granted - to be built by a national housing trust, in a council-led initiative
  • Extra funding for social work services including £3.4m extra for elderly care packages and extra money for free personal care
  • Extra funding of £1.165m per annum to expand the early years services
  • Revised staff terms and conditions - £3.6m saving over five years
  • Reductions in back office costs - £2.2m saving over five years

Highlights of the 10-year capital plan include:

  • Investment in roads, lighting and bridges - £57m, an increase of £8m on previously published totals
  • £700,000 for investment in early years facilities
  • Flood protection schemes - £58.9m
  • New Kelso High School - £21.4m
  • School refurbishments and capacity projects - £16.5m
  • Galashiels schools provision - £22.1m
  • Langlee Primary School extension- £8.1m
  • 3G pitches in Peebles, Jedburgh and Hawick - £2.8m
  • Selkirk synthetic pitch - £1m
  • Investment of £8.4m in broadband
  • £300,000 towards the re-opening of Reston railway station

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