Budget Consultation Timetable Agreed
28th June 2012
The Highland Council has agreed to embark on a four-month public consultation over budget savings needed in 2013/14 and 2014/15. The Council estimates the savings targets will be £11.5 million in 2013/14 and £18.2 million in 2014/15.
Having run a successful budget consultation exercise in 2010/11, the Council will repeat the exercise by posting the budget consultation document on its web site: www.highland.gov.uk in early August and holding public meetings in August, September and October through ward forums and stakeholder discussions.
Analysis of the consultation exercise will take place in October/November and budgets considered in December before the two-year budget is finalised in February of next year.
Councillor Dave Fallows, Chairman of the Finance Housing and Resources Committee, said it was important to consult fully with the public over the budget savings.
He said: "A longer-term financial planning process offers a number of advantages to the Council, allowing us to forward plan our budget and identify any savings required. At the same time, it allows improved links between the revenue budget, the capital programme and the Council programme priorities. It is therefore proposed that following agreement of a two-year budget in February 2013, work will commence on developing a longer-term plan, covering a five-year period up to and including 2017/18."
Later, the Council was advised that it had achieved £13.162 million of efficiency savings in 2011/12 - £562K more than the target set by the Scottish Government. This had been the sixth year in succession that the Council has met its efficiency savings target.
It was also reported that the Council's statement of accounts for the year to 31 March 2012 had been published - ahead of the 30 June deadline. The statement had shown an underspend of £5.5 million - only 1% of the overall annual Council spending - which was mainly attributable to savings on financing charges.
The next phase of The Highland Council's on-going programme to check its properties for levels of naturally occurring radon gas is to take place in 34 schools throughout the region commencing in December 2014. The programme is risk based, with previous testing focused on housing and schools considered to be in higher risk areas.
Highland Council has saved a total of over Â£476k and cut carbon emissions through reduced business mileage over the past 4 years. Councillors' total expenses have reduced by 10.1% and the cost of reimbursing employees for mileage has reduced by 15.9%.
The SNP/LibDem/Labour Administration of Highland council today announced that, having listened to the concerns of the public regarding proposals to reduce the primary school week, they have decided to remove the proposal from year 1 (2015/16), to allow further work on the detail and to minimise any impact on schools. Budget Leader, Maxine Smith (Scottish National Party) said: "We are currently considering the responses to our consultation and listening carefully to what people are saying and early feedback suggests there are major concerns regarding the primary school week.
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.
[Printer Friendly Version]