Local Government in Peebles and Peeblesshire

ensuing year had to remain unfinalised so as to ensure the rate that they finally imposed on their ratepayers was not impossibly onerous.

As we move into the mid-1960s and the 1970s, the structure and effectiveness of local authority services came under criticism - described as ineffective, overly expensive, not attracting the highest calibre of staff - and with the view being expressed that larger units would be more efficient and less under the control of central government. These rumblings led to the appointment of a royal commission under the chairmanship of the late Lord Wheatley to examine the existing structure of local government and report with recommendations on its future. The commission's findings led in turn to the passage into law of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 which sounded the death knell of county councils and town councils in Scotland as at 15 May 1975, and to the establishment in their place of regional councils and district councils and also, where desired, community councils.

What then were the implications of these reforms in a local context? Borders Regional Council (basically represented by the four former counties - Peebles, Selkirk, Roxburgh and Berwick) retained the major functions of education, planning, finance, roads and water supply (this latter in succession to shortlived water boards appointed under the Water (Scotland) Act 1949). Services such as Police and Fire continued to be provided on a joint basis with other areas. District councils retained fairly limited jurisdiction over local housing, cleansing, parks, recreation, cemeteries and similar essential local interests.

Noteworthy achievements of the district council in recent years were the provision of a modern swimming baths complex on the site of the central and convenient site of the former Tweedside Mill and the redevelopment of the Cuddyside area with modern municipal housing. Until the introduction of the Community Charge in 1989/90, the rating authority was the region, who having been advised of the district revenue requirements levied a composite rate and accounted to the lesser authority for its share. A new concept was the community council designed to provide a forum for local discussion but without any fund-raising or borrowing powers. Such a council was established in Peebles and in other areas throughout the county.

Regrettably, however, these changes have not proved equal to their

351

 

Contents