Council Revenue Budget Set For 2011/12
11th February 2011
The Highland Council has confirmed a freeze on the Council Tax for a fourth year in succession. The tax for 2011-12 is: Band A: £775.33; Band B: £904.56; C: £1,033.78; Band D: £1,163; Band E: £1,421.44; Band F: £1,679.89; Band G: £1,938.33; Band H: £2,326.
It has also confirmed a balanced revenue budget of £598.8 million for 2011-12. Spending includes £235 million on Education Culture and Sport; £23 million on Children and Young People; £106.55 million on Social Work; £62.8 million on Transport Environmental and Community Services; £9.25 million on Housing and Property.
The total savings now made and identified by the Council (2010-2013) is £55.763 million, leaving a gap of an estimated £3 million - £4 million to be agreed by February 2012.
Councillor David Alston, Budget Leader, said that as a result of recent budget announcements by the UK and Scottish Governments, the Council faced a 2.5% reduction in grant in the new financial year, equivalent to a cut of about 6% in real terms.
He said: "We have been faced with an enormously difficult situation. I think we have dealt with this as best we can. One just needs to look across Scotland, where many other councils are facing much worse decisions than us today.
"This is because we have prepared a three year budget plan and have been prepared to take some tough decisions. My thanks go to everyone in this Chamber who has been prepared to face up to difficult decisions. We have listened to the public through consultation and protected community centre, swimming pools and leisure centres and grants to voluntary organisations.
"I would like to pay tribute to a number of organisations, which have engaged with the council to agree different ways of doing things in a more cost effective way."
He said it was inevitable that there would be fewer jobs in the council in future. "By planning ahead, we have a much better chance of managing any reduction in posts through natural turnover we have in our staff."
The Council also pegged council house rents for 2011-12 to 3% - an average weekly increase of £1.92 per week. The increase will see the average council house rent increasing from £64.15 to £66.07 per week (over 48 weekly charges).
Next Wednesday (4 February) the four housing partners of the Highland Housing Register in Caithness will be hosting special sessions in Wick and Thurso to let people know about an exciting new way of allocating some of its properties, giving applicants much more choice about the housing they will be offered. For a period from 16 February 2015 onwards, vacancies will be advertised to promote choice.
Paper and can banks are to be phased out of The Highland Council's network of Recycling Points during February and March. The decision was taken at a meeting of The Highland Council on the 18th December, at which the budget for 2015/16 and the indicative budget for the following 3 years was agreed, a package of savings totaling ¬£42.8 million.
PROPOSALS for changing customer service provision in 22 locations across Highland are being considered as part of a public consultation. Council staff and members of the public are being asked for their views on proposed changes to how services are currently provided.
The Highland Council's new website has risen to the top 6% of UK Local Government websites, according to an independent survey into online presence. The website, launched in July 2014, aims to focus more on the needs of the customer and provides a platform to deliver more services online.
Early in February the first two in a series of workshops specifically for anyone working in the local food and drink sector will take place to highlight how social media can be best used to increase profit, support other local businesses and promote the area. The workshops follow on from the project The Highland Council ran last year across the Highlands to investigate the potential and appetite for developing an industry-led local food and drink network that could co-ordinate and drive future activities to support the local food and drink sector in the region.
The Highland Council wishes to clarify that if anyone is seeking information on their Winter Maintenance Policy and gritting maps then this information can be found on the Highland Council website. The Highland Council Winter Maintenance Policy states: "The treatment of roads will be carried out based on a hierarchical system dependant on route priority".
LEADER of The Highland Council, Drew Hendry and Chief Executive Steve Barron praised council workers following a week of severe weather affecting the region. Storm force winds caused havoc, leaving thousands of homes and businesses without power for days, bringing trees and branches down across roads and railway lines, damaging buildings and causing network and telecommunications problems across the area.
Proposals to deliver the Scottish Government's report on "Developing Scotland's Young Workforce" in the Highlands have been welcomed by Members of The Highland Council‚Äôs Education, Children and Adult Services Committee this week. Members were informed that an implementation strategy for Highland‚Äôs young people will need to take into account: ¬∑ industry engagement in developing general education Curriculum for Excellence; ¬∑ specific vocational pathways leading to industry recognised qualifications; ¬∑ college systems focussed on employability; ¬∑ apprenticeship opportunities and advanced qualifications through work based learning; and ¬∑ a systematic approach to business sector engagement.
Highland Council Members have agreed the terms of reference for a review of the Facilities Management model which is being rolled out in schools across the Highlands. In 2010 the Council previously agreed to take forward the Facilities Management model, the benefits of which were expected to: ¬∑ create of a universal support function to assist Head Teachers with property and grounds management; ¬∑ create a standardised operating model under specialist line management arrangements; ¬∑ create standardised job descriptions ensuring a consistent approach to facilities management across all schools; and ¬∑ is affordable within the Council's current budget allocation.
Two Highland Council roads and 12 schools remain closed or affected today (Monday 12 January) following the severe weather. Newhall Bridge B9163 on the Black Isle is closed until further notice, due to structural damage.
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