MEMBERS of the local authority have voted through a controversial record hike in council tax.

On Wednesday spending plans by the ruling Conservative-Independent administration, which includes a 4.84 percent council tax increase, were passed by 21 votes to 11, with Selkirkshire member Caroline Penman opting to abstain.

Justifying the need for the biggest ever increase in council tax payments, leader of the authority Shona Haslam said: "This level of council tax means that we essentially break even on our budget, and can still deliver the vital capital investment that this region needs."

As part of the spending plans for 2020/21, the local authority intends to progress work on replacement secondary schools in Peebles, Galashiels and Hawick.

They also want to build two 60-bed care homes for the elderly.

And provide an additional £2.2 million towards repairing the region's crumbling roads.

But it is all coming at a cost to Borderers.

From April the annual bill for an average band D property will increase to £1,254, while householders in plusher band G and band H properties will face an annual bill of £2,456 and £3,072, respectively.

Finance councillor Robin Tatler also defended the 4.84 percent increase for householders.

He said: "Importantly this will enable us to raise the capital funding required to deliver an extra £2.2m for road repairs, the secondary school replacement programme and these two new care homes.

"That is a huge amount of investment for a relatively small weekly cost to our residents."