Increased investment in Borders’ road infrastructure by the local authority has been welcomed by local politicians.
The draft budget by the Scottish Conservative led administration at Newtown St Boswells includes an extra £2.2m for upgrading and maintaining the road network. This equates to around £83m over the next 7 years.
Councillors will have the opportunity to vote on the budget this week which will also see bus routes saved, continued investment in local policing, new care homes built, and new schools across the Borders.
The budget comes in the face of cuts from the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government budget has increased by 2.8% since 2013, yet they have chosen to cut local government budgets by 3.8% over the same period. The capital budget, which allows the council to invest, has been slashed by 25% since last year. This has meant the council have had no option but to raise council tax.
One of the most frequent concerns raised with elected representatives is about the maintenance of the road network.
Commenting John Lamont MP said: “We have a very large rural network of roads in the Scottish Borders and a harsh winter like this one can lead to significant degradation.
“Unfortunately, this means potholes can sometimes take a while for council workers to get to. However, with this new investment from Scottish Borders Council I hope that local residents will start to see a difference.
“People are rightfully concerned about potholes and unmaintained roads as this can lead to safety issues. Local residents regularly contact me about their concerns, and I am always happy to highlight these with the relevant authority.”
Rachael Hamilton MSP said: “Most of us in the Borders have to use our cars to get around due to the rural nature of where we live. This means we are all well aware of the dangers of a poorly maintained road.
“Although it may seem quite insignificant to some, my constituents can be worried by potholes which are causing damage to their cars or meaning that they are having to take evasive action.
“Those looking after our roads are always going to be playing catch up, so I welcome this extra £2.2m for our roads network.”
Leader of Scottish Borders Council, Cllr Shona Haslam commented: “Every year it is becoming harder and harder to balance the books due to cuts in our funding from the Scottish Government. This year, our capital budget is being slashed by 25%.
“I know that roads are a priority for Borderers and that is why my administration has decided to find extra funding in next year’s budget for investing in them.
“This funding is part of a package of investment that will see new schools for our young people, more spaces for our elderly to be cared for, and safer communities for us to live in. I would urge all councillors to vote for these measures this week.”