SPORTS and fitness clubs across the Borders are facing a three percent hike in hire charges from April for all council-run facilities.

And the fees could increase further once a joint research project with leisure facility operator Live Borders has been completed in the spring.

Hire of local-authority operated synthetic pitches is due to increase to £48 from April, with the hourly cost of indoor courts, community rooms and classrooms also increasing by three percent.

Last year indoor courts were rented from the council more than 7,000 times, around 3,500 bookings were made for use of 2G pitches, and 1,000 grass pitch rentals were made.

There were also around 200 bookings for community rooms and a similar number for dining and assembly halls within schools.

But an ongoing joint study by Live Borders and Scottish Borders Council aims to bring the rental costs of all leisure facilities into line - and could lead to further charging.

Speaking ahead of Scottish Borders Council members unanimously agreeing for proposed increases to local authority charges, finance officer David Robertson said: "The council in conjunction with Live Borders recognises the need to undertake a wider piece of joint work on community access to schools and other facilities.

"This is a significant piece of work which will aim to standardise fees and charges and ensure as far as possible charges to groups, clubs and individuals for hire of facilities are affordable and encourage access to public facilities such as astroturf facilities for as many people as possible after school hours, at weekends and during school holiday periods.

"This project will not be concluded by February when the council sets its budget and the results from this project will be reported when available along with the resulting financial implications.

"Any amendments to the fee and charges schedule will be reported at that time."

The vast majority of all local authority charges will increase by around three percent from April - including waste charging at transfer stations and landfill, recycling sacks, burial plots and marriage certificates.

But members have agreed to freeze the costs associated with health and social care across the region, including care home and nursing fees.

Although school meals will go up by 10 pence, music tuition has been frozen for a further year.

The biggest hikes come in licensing where anyone considering opening a sex shop in the Borders will now have to pay £650.

The 243 percent increase for a sex shop licence is to reflect the additional requirements by the authority.

An increase in regulatory input is also blamed for the 57 percent hike in the cost of a metal dealership licence, from £159 to £250.

The new charging will be implemented as part of Scottish Borders Council's 2019/20 budget.