THE cost of keeping an elected council in the Scottish Borders has been revealed.

The combined salary and expenses of the region's 34 elected members has now reached £757,910 for 2018/19, following a small increase from 2017/18.

Councillors are paid a basic salary of £16,994 a year, while the 14 senior councillors who hold executive positions are paid £22,329.

The highest paid member of Scottish Borders Council is the leader, Tweeddale East councillor Shona Haslam, who takes home £33,992 a year, while Leaderdale and Melrose councillor David Parker receives the second highest, £25,494, for his role as the council’s convener.

The rural nature of the Scottish Borders, and the size of the region, means that councillors claimed £61,119 in travel expenses during 2018/19.

Councillors can also claim for the telephone and broadband services they use as part of their role, which cost the local authority £29,001 in 2018/19, which is actually £1,132 less than the previous year.

The level of expenses claimed ranges from £419, by Selkirkshire councillor Caroline Penman, to the £6,311 by Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, who as the council’s executive member for economic development makes frequent trips out of the region.

A report, due to go before councillors at a meeting of the full council on Thursday, reads: “Members’ salaries were increased by 0.4% from 1 April 2018 in accordance with legislation and therefore the annual amount payable to each councillor increased from £16,927 to £16,994 per annum, unless he or she was entitled to one of the higher amounts payable to the leader of the council, the convener or to senior councillors.

“It should be noted that where a higher payment is made that is instead of the £16,994 and not in addition to this amount.

“Travel expenses totalled £61,119 in 2018/19, compared to the 2017/18 figure of £58,744.

“Rail travel totalled £2,019 in 2018/19 compared to £1,722 in 2017/18 with car and van expenses £57,833 in 2018/19 and £56,404 in 2017/18.

“The overall travel expenses figure is expected to fluctuate year on year as claims are based on actual journeys made.

“The amount any one councillor claims varies depending on whether they hold a senior councillor role, the distance they live from council headquarters, the number of meetings they attend, and whether their claims are up to date.

“Some councillors may also choose not to make claims for travel expenses.”