Local Authority News
The Council's budget gap for 2017/18, the difference between required expenditure and income, is £20.344m. Budget proposals include increasing the rates of Council Tax by the maximum allowed 3%.
Highland Council has today confirmed that the planned decant and operational date for the new Wick Campus will be pushed back, with the facilities now to open following the Easter 2017 school holidays. Having assessed the building following handover by Hub North Scotland and Morrison Construction, the Council has reached the conclusion that the level of snagging and other works still to be completed does not allow it to commence its February decant plan, as had previously been advised to stakeholders.
Motorists are being advised that pay and display parking at Highland Council's headquarters car park comes into force on Monday 13 February 2017. The pay and display scheme is part of the Council's Decriminalised Parking Enforcement across the Highlands.
The Administration of The Highland Council is hoping to balance the council's budget with far fewer job losses and cuts to services than previously feared. Following considerable analysis of potential savings and consultation with staff and opposition groups, the Administration have developed a package of proposals to take to the Council meeting on 16 February for approval.
Highland Council continues to work with consulting engineers, Aecom, to find an affordable solution for the refurbishment of the Coghill Footbridge, Wick. New information on ground conditions, received in December 2016, has resulted in design changes and impacted significantly upon construction cost estimates, now in excess of the capital budget of £505,000 available to the project.
Highland Council has updated Wick Campus stakeholders and confirmed that the Campus has now been handed over by Hub North Scotland to the Council. The building is not as yet operational, and there are a number of outstanding works to be completed.
From 1 April 2017 the Scottish Government is changing the basis on which properties are assessed for Council Tax and this will increase the charge for Council Tax properties that are banded E to H. The Highland Council has no discretion in this matter and must apply these increases to the Council Tax charges from 1 April 2017.
Highland Council is encouraging people across the region to have a go at balancing the Council's books - using a budget simulator. The Council is seeking feedback from local people as it prepares for the reduction in funding it receives from the Scottish Government.
Leader of The Highland Council, Margaret Davidson (Independent) has welcomed the outcome of the vote yesterday, 17th January 2017, in the Scottish Parliament, on the motion to reverse the decision to scrap the Board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Cllr Davidson said: "This vote sends a strong message to the Scottish Government about their incessant centralising agenda and we would now urge Ministers to reconsider their entire approach.
The deadline for commenting on The Highland Council's draft Landscape Appraisals to help in the consideration of future proposals for wind energy development is drawing near - but has been extended to 31 January 2017. Two landscape sensitivity appraisals are currently being consulted on: one for the Caithness study area and another covering The Black Isle, surrounding hills and Moray Firth Coast.
The Leader of The Highland Council, Margaret Davidson has written to the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing MSP, in relation to the recent press coverage on concerns raised about the handling of emergency calls in the Highlands and Islands. Councillor Davidson said: "It does raise concerns over the Government's decision to close the Inverness Fire control room and transfer responsibility for handling emergency calls to Dundee.
Highland Council's administrative offices will close at 4pm on 23 December 2016 and reopen on 4 January 2017. The Service Centre will close at 4pm on 23 December and open as normal on 28, 29 and 30 December (closing at 4pm on 30 December) Service Points will be on reduced opening hours.
Highland Council is reminding pupils, parents and carers how to find out if their local school is closed or school transport is affected in anticipation of Storm Barbara hitting the north west of Scotland. Information on school closures is uploaded to the Council's school closures website www.highland.gov.uk/schoolclosures from 7am each morning School closure messages can be heard on the ‘school closures information line' by phoning 0800 564 2272 (with a school PIN number) to get the latest pre-recorded message from the head teacher of r child's school.
Reacting to the Scottish Government's Budget Settlement for 2017-18, Budget Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Bill Fernie said:"Disappointingly, our worst predictions are realised in that there has been a real cash cut to councils of £350 million. The devil will be in the detail, but an early analysis equates this to a significant cut in the grant to our core budget.
Since the introduction of Decriminalised Parking at Highland Council in October, the demand for Inverness Parking Permits has increased dramatically. This has seen the number of applications and permits issues increase from around 80 per month, to an average of 210 per month in October and November.
Highland Council is introducing pay and display parking at its headquarters car park as part of its Decriminalised Parking Enforcement Schemes. Cllr Allan Henderson, Chair of the Council's Community Services Committee said: "This change has come from a savings proposal agreed by Council in the December 2014 budget for implementation in 2015/16 to save £20,000 per year.
Speaking after attending today's COSLA meeting, Leader of the Council, Margaret Davidson said: "The Highland Council’s services, along with other Local Authorities’, have been cut to the bone after years of real terms reduction in funding from the Scottish Government. Since 2010/11 the Council has made savings of £135m, with £39m in this year alone.
Nominations now open for Scottish Education Awards 2017. The search for the Highlands' brightest education stars is underway as nominations are open for the Scottish Education Awards 2017.
Members of The Highland Council will be asked to approve a proposed scheme to make workforce reductions at the Council meeting on 15 December. The Employee Early Release Scheme (EERS) is designed to make reductions in the council workforce in a way that is affordable and in line with the reductions in funding available for the 2017/18 budget.
The Highland Council has been notified by hub North Scotland Limited that the expected handover date for the Wick Campus facility is now Thursday 8 December 2016, slipped from Friday 2 December as previously notified to stakeholders. The Council is deeply disappointed by this further delay, and has escalated concerns with hub North Scotland Limited and Morrison Construction Limited to understand reasons for the delay, and seek assurances on the revised handover date.