Council Budget Consultation With The Public 2012
19th August 2012
The Highland Council has today (Monday 20th august 2012) launched a three-month long public consultation to help bridge a projected budget gap of almost £30 million over the next two financial years. A series of Ward Forums as well as briefing events with business, voluntary and specialist groups are planned before 19 October to complement the views expressed by staff, trade unions and the Council's Citizen Panel of 2,300 residents.
The public can also access the budget information and comment online.
The aim is to bring a report to the full Council in December and agree the budget for 2013/14 and 2014/15 in February of next year.
The savings required by the Council in 2013/14 and 2014/15 are £29.7 million. Already proposed are savings of £17.8 million, leaving a gap of £11.9 million.
The public will be asked to comment on four main areas of operation:-
Ways of working
Infrastructure and resources
Council Leader Councillor Drew Hendry said: "The assistance we received from the public two years ago was invaluable and therefore we intend to build on this success in repeating the exercise. The financial environment looks challenging even beyond the next two financial years so the consultation will also assist in our longer term budget planning."
Leading the consultation is Councillor Dave Fallows, Chairman of the Finance Housing and Resources Committee. He will be attending the public consultation meetings and moderating a budget blog on the Council's web site, which will be launched on Monday 27 August. Each week, he will introduce a new subject for discussion, starting with education.
He recalled the success of a similar budget consultation in 2010 when the comments of the public helped the Council agree a package of savings for three years totalling £55 million. The public had told the Council it needed to look at income generation, management costs and making the best use of its assets.
The Council had since introduced advertising in Council publications and on its web site; reduced management costs by £1.3 million; and transferred the running of culture and leisure services to a not-for-profit organisation - High Life Highland.
The Council had also moved to fortnightly bin collections and reduced costs on street lighting through dimming and off-peak switch off of lights.
He said: "Following the close of our consultation, all comments will be collated and analysed. The findings will be considered and firm budget proposals will be developed. Some of these proposals will be considered when the Council meets in December and the final proposals at a meeting of the Council in February, next year. We will assess any proposals for the impact they may have on different groups within our community."
Budget Consultation Events
Have your say on our Budget Consultation by coming along to one of our consultation events that are taking place across the Highland area.
A full list of dates and venues are outlined below. Each event will start at 6.30pm.
Please contact the appropriate Ward Manager should you have any queries.
3rd Portree High School, Portree
4th Caol Community Centre, Fort William
11th Norseman Hotel, Wick
12th venue to be confirmed, Aviemore
13th Durness Village Hall, Durness
17th Lochcarron Village Hall, Lochcarron
19th Mercat Centre, Milton
20th Inverness High School, Inverness
24th Brora Community Centre, Brora
26th Rosebank Primary School, Nairn
1st Victoria Park, Dingwall
30th Culloden Academy Complex, Inverness
The Highland Council has awarded a contract to A & W Sinclair for the delivery of environmental improvement works at Dunnet Bay and Dunnet Head. Work on site will commence week beginning 15th February 2016 and is scheduled for completion by the middle of April.
Following the second call for candidates wishing to serve on Highland Community Councils to come forward - a total of 19 Councils attracted sufficient interest to form a new Council. The uncontested community councils in the second round are: â€¢Ardgay Community Council â€¢Arisaig and District Community Council â€¢Balintore and Hilton Community Council â€¢Ballifer Community Council â€¢Bower Community Council â€¢Coigach Community Council â€¢Conon Bridge Community Council â€¢Dulnain Bridge Community Council â€¢Inver Community Council â€¢Kiltarlity Community Council â€¢Kinlochleven Community Council â€¢Kyle Community Council â€¢Lochardil and Drummond Community Council â€¢Morvern Community Council â€¢Muirtown Community Council â€¢Raasay Community Council â€¢Sinclairs Bay Community Council â€¢Strathpeffer Comunity Council â€¢West Ardnamurchan Community Council.
For the first time the Highland Community Planning Partnership have endorsed a Development Plan published by The Highland Council and have agreed to working with the Council in monitoring its delivery. The Proposed Caithness and Sutherland Local Development Plan (CaSPlan), was published for consultation on 22 January 2016 and will run until 18 March 2016.
The Councils Community Services Committee has approved an additional programme of Â£2.7 million for the coming year 2016/17. Â£2.3 million will be allocated this coming year to re-surfacing, surface dressing and road markings across the Highland network and Â£0.4 million to bridges in Sutherland (Kylesku) and Lochaber (A884 Achnagavin).
Highland Council has invited tenders for a contract for a summer ferry service between Cromarty and Nigg. The previous operator terminated the service contract just before the start of the 2015 season due to difficulties with sandbanks building up off the slipways and berthing arrangements.
Council house rents will be limited to a 1.9% rise in order to maintain current service levels. This will mean an increase in the average weekly council rent of Â£1.35 for all Housing Revenue Account (HRA) rents.
New standards have been set out for grass-cutting across the Council area to meet statutory requirements and achieve savings. There is no statutory requirement that amenity grass must be cut, however, the Council has various duties to maintain public safety, deliver education in accordance to national standards, deliver a burial service, maintain roads and paths in a safe condition and support national play initiatives.
The Highland Council has awarded Â£1.128 million to Community Transport schemes across the Highlands, spread over the next 3 years. This allocation allows Â£376,000 of grants to be made available to the listed community groups and organisations each year for the next 3 years, which enables some certainty in the medium term for these initiatives.
The Highland Council is preparing for the implementation of a Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) Scheme this year. Remedial works have started, which includes sign and road markings replacement across the council to support of our Application to Transport Scotland for DPE authority.
Highland Council Leader, Councillor Margaret Davidson said: The option to raise council tax in Highland has been taken away from us. We have been informed, if we raise Council Tax, we will be fined not just the 3% we expected but also other sanctions will be applied around teacher numbers and funding for social care.
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