FORMER council leader Drew Tulley has slated the Newtown administration for its handling of common good funds, writes Kenny Paterson.
The Selkirk Community Council vice-chairman, Dr Lindsay Neil has now called for a meeting of representatives from all eight Borders towns with common good funds in an effort to pressure Scottish Borders Council into action.
Mr Tulley told Galashiels Community Council on Wednesday that the town’s £110,000 fund was losing money, as its £600 a year interest was less than SBC’s annual administration charge.
This was despite an SBC meeting in December last year which decided to take forward an investment strategy in order to maximise returns.
Mr Tulley said: “This is nine months later and still nothing has been done. “I am not satisfied that only £600 interest is being made, it is not good enough. I know of one local fund which has £50,000 who are able to get £2,600 a year return.
“The council should hang their heads in shame. This has been going on for eight years and every town in the Borders should be up in arms and forcing their councillors to do something.
“Whether it is £40,000 or £12.50 left to look after a grave, that money should be invested. It is millions of pounds we are talking about across the Borders.”
Mr Tulley’s concerns were shared by former Selkirkshire councillor Carolyn Riddell-Carre last year, when she described the interest received for the Royal Burgh’s £49,000 investment in SBC’s loan fund as “derisory”.
Dr Neil said: “The problem is common good funds are low on the list of priorities for SBC. They would prefer people don’t ask questions about common good funds.
“But SBC are not acting in the spirit of the 1973 legislation which says they should administer common good funds for the benefit of the benefactors. We need a meeting where members from each of the Borders towns sit down and decide a common policy which we can take to SBC and demand answers.”
Councillor John Mitchell, depute leader with responsibility for finance, said: “A report will be submitted to council in the early autumn setting out proposals for the procurement of an external investment manager(s) to improve common good investment returns.”