SCOTTISH Borders Council (SBC) has a maintenance budget of £3.3m to keep roads safe and clear this winter, senior councillors will be informed next week.

In addition, a £1m provision within reserves exists for adverse winter weather, for events beyond average conditions.

But due to the continuing financial pressures affecting the council, there is a need to continue modernisation of the approach to winter delivery and to investigate ways of minimising the financial impact that winter service delivery has.

When members of the council’s decision-making Executive Committee meet next week, they will be presented with the authority’s winter service plan.

It explains the arrangements for dealing with ice and snow on the region’s roads and outlines the efforts that will be made to inform the public of these interventions.

Winter weather can impact on the safety of the travelling public as well as the availability and reliability of the road network.

SBC provides a winter service on almost 3,000km of roads and 787 km of footpaths across the region.

The winter of 2022/23 was not significant in terms of snowfall, which was limited to a few occasions. Incidents of ice and prolonged frost were also less than the previous five-year average and on a par with those experienced the previous winter.

This led to a reduced need to treat primary and secondary routes as frequently and resulted in lower-than-average salt usage.

To provide a reliable, secure and robust service for the 2023/24 winter ahead, the council has a number of forecasting tools at their disposal to plan the best possible treatment regime throughout the colder months.

The council now subscribes to MetDesk weather services from October to April and receives 24-hour and five-day forecasts, ice prediction graphs, road surface condition information and a 24-hour consultancy service from the Met Office.

The forecasts are based on global and national information supplemented by six roadside weather stations strategically placed at sites throughout the Borders.

A report to the executive committee, approved by John Curry, the council’s director of infrastructure and environment, says: “Along with our strong record of community self-help in winter service, the council has an extremely loyal and highly skilled workforce which it relies upon heavily to deliver its winter service plan.

“Staff performance was again high across all areas and praise has been shared with the workforce by many in our community and within the council. It is only appropriate to also thank the number of private contractors from across the Borders and south east Scotland who also helped the council maintain its high standards in this area.”