Local Authority News
The Highland Council is to form a Highland Citzens' Panel to gauge representative views of the Highland population on Council services and spending priorities. The Council will switch the current spending on externally commissioning its public performance survey each year to funding the panel and surveying it instead.
In the Highland Council area over the festive period, there will be changes to the collection schedule for kerbside refuse and blue recycling boxes/bins. There will be no refuse collections on Christmas Day and New Year's Day and all waste and recycling centres will be closed on Christmas Day and 1/2 January.
The Highland Council is urging parents and carers in the Highlands not to waste their cash but to take advantage of the fact that more people are now entitled to free school meals. Chairman of The Highland Council's Education, Culture and Sport Committee, Councillor Bill Fernie said: "The eligibility criteria for free school meals and school clothing has been extended, and this means that some people who were previously not entitled may now be.
The Highland Council has appointed Bill Alexander to the temporary post of Chief Operating Officer in the Social Work Service. Over the next six months, Mr Alexander will step aside from his substantive role as Head of Children's Services to work directly to Harriet Dempster, Director of Social Work, to lead the modernisation of social work services for adults.
The Highland Council calls on building construction and consultancy companies to register interest Consultants, contractors and skilled trades businesses are being advised they have until Friday 8 January next year to register an interest in working for The Highland Council on future contracts with an individual value of up to £25,000. The Council is also urging consultants to register an interest by this deadline for future consultancy work for projects of all values.
Guidance on tackling bullying via the Internet and mobile phones is soon to be distributed to all staff in education, culture and sport establishments throughout The Highland Council's area. Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of the Council's Education, Culture and Sport Committee said: "Members have given their full endorsement to new Cyberbullying Guidance which was created by a multi-agency/organisation working group.
Highland Council Trading Standards Service is warning householders to be on their guard if they receive a phone call informing them that they have won a free house alarm. Unsuspecting consumers are being 'cold called' by phone with the news that they have won a 'free' alarm and that a representative will be round to fit it for them.
The two day Highland education festival held at Dingwall Academy on Tuesday and Wednesday has been a resounding success with over 1800 teaching staff, learning support auxiliaries and classroom assistants from schools across the Highlands attending. Featuring the Curriculum for Excellence work taking place in Highland schools, both days brought teaching staff together for workshops and training sessions and to hear from keynote speakers to demonstrate the depth and variety of good practice in the Highlands.
Recent enforcement action in Caithness has seen seven fixed penalty fines issued by The Highland Council in a matter of weeks in a clampdown of dog walkers who do not clean up after their dogs. Dog Warden, Anne Macdonald, who also deals with stray dogs as part of her job, has been working on joint enforcement patrols in Caithness with Area Education and Enforcement Officer James Sanderson.
Residents, Community Councils and community representatives in the Caithness Wards of Wick, Thurso and Landward have the opportunity to say what they think the area should be like in the future at their Joint Ward Forum on Tuesday 8th September. In the run up to this meeting there will also be an opportunity for people to take part in two special information days as part of the Council's consultation on the new Highland-wide Local Development Plan.
Work on the refurbishment contract in the Thurso Pedestrian Precinct has now been completed apart from the laying of coloured bitumen over the tarmac area running through the centre of the precinct and a few other minor works. The project which cost just over £370,000 was financed by The Highland Council's T.E.C and Planning & Development Services was designed by the councils Wick based engineering team who consulted with the Community Council and members of the public before finalising their plans.
The Highland Council is joining in with the UK-wide campaign Foster Care Fortnight which starts today (Monday 11 April), to attract more local people into fostering. The fortnight is co-ordinated by fostering charity Fostering Network, to raise the awareness of fostering and highlight the shortage of foster carers across the whole of the UK.
The Highland Council has issued a clear warning to irresponsible dog owners that it will not tolerate owners allowing their dogs to foul public areas without clearing up after them. The Council this week announced that during a crackdown week in April, officers issued eleven fixed penalty notices to members of the public and warned that this was just the start of the clampdown with other enforcement weeks to follow.
For the second year running young Highland people are to benefit from the Duncraig Educational Trust Scheme which provides grants totalling around £25,000 each year. The Highland Council is the governing body of which makes available scholarship, grants and assistance for young Highland people who have particular or exceptional talents in specific identified areas.
The Highland Council has awarded a contract for construction of a new footbridge which forms an important pedestrian link over the River Thurso, at Thurso Cemetery. The new bridge will replace the structure which was destroyed by river flood flow, in the storms of October 2006, and will re-establish the river crossing which is part of a popular local walking route.
The Highland Council has put in place interim arrangements in five Highland communities to replace postbus services withdrawn by Royal Mail on Thursday. These arrangements will continue until the Council has met with local communities to identify sustainable long term arrangements.
Today (1 April 2009) responsibility for providing business advice has transferred from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to local authorities. Advice will be provided through the Business Gateway service which already operates in the rest of Scotland In The Highland Council area it will be managed by the Council's enterprise trust, Highland Opportunity and will be the first point of access for information and advice on all services to business and social enterprises in the Highlands.
A nationwide scheme which helps disabled people carry out essential home adaptations has been enhanced. Changes arising from the implementation of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 will trigger a simpler and fairer system of financial help.
Clubs, groups, organisations and societies in the Highlands can now register on The Highland Council's new free community information website www.high-societies.org that was launched on Monday 30th March 2009 at Dingwall Library. Developed by the Council's library service, High-Societies is designed to signpost members of the public to essential contact information for not-for-profit organisations and to their existing websites where appropriate.
The credit crunch may be biting but Highland Council has cash grants available to assist with home improvements. Home improvement and repairs grants are available to help people living in owner-occupied or privately rented housing to meet the costs of having their homes improved, repaired or adapted.