Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Campaigners question costs of 86 appeals, use of outside agents by debt ridden Scottish Borders Council in fight over rateable values of school buildings

sbclogoScottish Borders Council are now fighting rates increases on school buildings. Scottish Borders Council, the £262 MILLION POUND debt ridden South of Scotland local authority is facing mounting criticism from local transparency campaigners over the high costs of the council launching no less than EIGHTY SIX appeals against increased rateable values set by the Regional Assessor on schools and educational buildings owned by local authority across the Scottish Borders.

Local campaigners have also pointed out that the costs generated by the Council refusing to use their in-house legal team and instead contracting in outside firms, in this case DM Hall, of 15 Alva Street, Edinburgh, who are representing Scottish Borders Council in each of the 86 appeals, could be significant and in the words of one campaigner, “appear to be a move designed to thwart any public disclosure of information on the appeals.”

Full details of the now disputed values placed on each school by the Regional Assessor can be found here : Valuation Appeal Committee Hearing Ettrick & Lauderdale Court Date : 21/11/2012

A Council insider has today agreed with criticisms of the way Scottish Borders Council were handling the appeals.

He told Scottish Law Reporter : “The new values have added many thousands of pounds to the council’s rates bill which is why SBC are fighting to have the valuations reduced, however this could have been achieved at a lesser cost with an in-house team rather than resorting to the use of outside contractors.“

The hearing of the Valuation Appeal Committee for Ettrick & Lauderdale was held earlier today at Old Gala House but was adjourned without a decision until next month to allow “further discussions” between the Council and the Assessor.

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