GRATEFUL members of Scottish Borders Council this week said a big thank to local authority staff for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic by granting them an extra day off work.

Workers will be able to take up the offer of an additional ‘well-being’ day this year at a notional cost of more than £300k in recognition of their ‘exceptional response’ to the challenges of the last two years .

If it is not practical for a staff member to take the day off they will receive a financial reward instead.

The financial implications of granting an additional well-being day to all staff notionally equates to £305,26, based on lost productivity.

Council leader Mark Rowley fully endorsed the reward.

He said: “The pandemic has possibly been the defining time of many of our lifetimes.

“I think it is absolutely right that council recognises the incredible response that our staff have made during the pandemic. Front-line staff were at risk and worked through it. Our bins were collected, our streets were safe, our roads were repaired and council carried on as normal and carried on in an extraordinary way in getting out support to communities that really needed it, especially in the early days of the pandemic when things were restricted.

“Council colleagues got out £80m to businesses that helped them survive and you have to remember that our council employees are also local residents and they were impacted by Covid in exactly the same way.”

Councillor Harry Scott echoed those views, adding: “All the council employees have show great flexibility and I thought when all the plaudits were quite rightly being handed out to the NHS at a previous meeting that our binmen were our forgotten heroes because if they hadn’t kept on working we’d have been drowning in our own filth. These are people that had to go to work and be in contact with each other, in similar position to people who had to work in supermarkets.”