CASH-strapped councillors have agreed to proposed cuts and changes to their gritting and salting service.

But they froze when it came to stopping breakfast-time treatments for pavements outside schools, hospitals and town centres.

As part of identified budget savings from winter service costs was the stalling of pavement gritting from a 6am start to 7.30am each morning - extending the finish time for the main footway routes being treated to around 10am.

Senior councillors agreed back in December that savings would need to be made from the winter service budget during 2019/20.

And a review was commissioned, which compared Scottish Borders Council against the performances of other authorities.

A total of 15 immediate-to-medium term recommendations were tabled this week.

Although members of the Conservative-led Executive committee agreed to all of the other recommended savings, they decided to postpone a decision on the pavement treatment times.

It was predicted that footway operations only being carried out during 'standard day hours' would save Scottish Borders Council around £82,000 a year - almost half of its identified efficiences for the forthcoming winter.

Infrastructure manager Brian Young said: "Footways are not subject to preventative treatment like the roads, only post treatment.

"The 20 primary footway routes are mainly focused within the town centres, shopping areas and approaches to public buildings, schools, hospitals and medical centres.

"Currently the footways are treated from each of the six main depots and each depot has about 50 actions per year.

"At present SBC footway treatment typically starts at 6am to allow all the priority footways to be completed by 8.30am. The peer review revealed that a number of rural authorities provide a service Monday to Friday only and aim to treat before 9am or between 8am and 3.30pm as resources allow.

"It is felt that this provides support for SBC to relax its footway gritting times slightly such that it is carried out in “normal day hours” of 7.30am to 3.30pm with exceptions for severe weather events or special occasions."

Although Executive members delayed making a decision on pavement treatment hours, they did back other changes which include removing night-shift arrangements for employees, stop prioritising school bus routes at weekends, lowering the gritting threshold temperature by 0.5°, and switch weather forecast companies.

Medium-term savings will also include further new vehicles being introduced.

Mr Young added: "Much of the existing winter fleet is old and now beyond its most productive use.

"The report summarises that 60 percent of the main gritter fleet is beyond expected useful life with the oldest vehicle being 18 years old.

"This has led to a position where there are regular breakdowns, down-time and high levels of expenditure on vehicle repair bills.

"Three new gritters are due to arrive in August and it is currently proposed by the service that a further five gritter/tippers be ordered this year."