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).
A huge number of responses have been received as part of the phase two Budget Consultation. There were 4 key strands to this phase of the consultation including surveys of the Citizens' Panel, the Highland Communities Panel, ten Focus Groups with hard to reach groups and an online survey as well as general comments which were received.
Highland Council Licensing Committee is voicing its concern that a small number of licensed taxi and PHC operators are failing to take appropriate steps to ensure their vehicles are safe and meet the standards required. This follows three hearings at each of the last two Committee meetings, on 14 October and 11 November, following the receipt of reports from Trading Standards.
Over one hundred delegates will be welcomed to The Highland Council's second Carbon CLEVER Conference on Monday 17 November, in Inverness which this year is titled "Working Together for a Low Carbon Highlands". Highland Council Convener and Conference Chair, Councillor Jimmy Gray said: "The range of speakers and delegates who have signed up to the conference shows real commitment from organisations in Highland to address climate change, and is testament to the vision of Carbon CLEVER.
Building work has begun on a new enterprise and research centre at Inverness Campus. The building will house a new collaboration between two of the region's key strategic organisations.
Members of the public are being invited to an event in Thurso to consider the Main Issues Report for a new Caithness and Sutherland Local Development Plan (CaSPlan). The first event is in Thurso on 18 November at Caithness Horizons, High Street.
As winter approaches householders are reminded that Garden Waste Collections will cease for a period of 3 months from the end of November. There will be no brown bin collections in December, January or February.
North businesses are being invited by The Highland Council's Procurement team and Business Partners to join them at Mackay's Hotel, Wick on Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 November to find out about new opportunities in public sector business. This is a free advice and information event aims to help interested businesses bid for public contracts, whether they have worked with the Council before or never considered public sector contracts.
The construction works to provide a safe cycle route from the Inverness Campus at Beechwood to Inverness city centre are now complete. The completed route forms part of the link from the new Inverness Campus and the recently constructed golden bridge over the A9 in the east, through Raigmore housing estate to Millburn Road, where it continues to the city centre.
The Community Services Committee today considered the implications of a report on the cost of running the Corran Ferry, which, despite fare increases, continues to run at a deficit. Under European State Aid tests, there is a real possibility that the public funding of the Corran Ferry service deficit may be viewed as State Aid.
The addition of new materials to the blue bin will be introduced next year and could save around Â£70,000. A report on the first phase of a waste compositional analysis study, which was carried out on household kerbside collections in June 2014 in the Inner Moray Firth area, has been considered by the Community Services Committee.
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