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 Leader of the Council has welcomed the announcement by Police Scotland of their plan to delay the closure of the Inverness Control Room and transfer of command and control to Dundee until June 2017. Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson said: "The HMICS (Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabularies Scotland) Report set the bar high for standards of assurance and we need to have a guarantee that all these standards have been met before any changes can take place.
All Scottish councils with responsibility for island communities involved. A new Islands Strategic Group will be created, bringing all six local authorities with responsibility for Scotland's 93 inhabited island communities together.
A business case for the council's proposal for a regional sports hub has been submitted to the council's finance service. Councillors agreed in March 2015 to progress an ambitious Regional Sports Facility for the Highlands, which could include a significant contribution by Sportscotland to the project.
Funding applications totalling Â£558,000 from the Highland Council's Capital Discretionary Fund have been agreed by Resources Committee, for four local proposals in the Highlands. Â£18,000 was awarded to Evanton Community Trust towards the urgent repair and reinstatement of three local footpaths.
The Council's Resources Committee has agreed to select WIPRO Holdings UK Ltd as its Preferred Bidder for the future delivery of its ICT Core Services. However, the Council is still in a commercially confidential procurement process and an announcement of a formal award of contract will not be made until around 12 September following the required legal "standstill period".
People submitting building standards applications to The Highland Council will benefit from a major new improvement to the Council's digital services that will be on offer from Wednesday 24 August. The eBuilding Standards Service will allow customers to submit all Building Standards applications to Highland Council electronically in the same way customers can already make planning applications electronically using ePlanning.
Members of The Highland Council's Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee have agreed to adopt the Onshore Wind Energy Supplementary Guidance as statutory supplementary guidance to the Highland-wide Local Development Plan. This means that from today the Guidance will be used as material consideration in any applications and will have full weight in the planning process as part of the Development Plan once Scottish Ministers have given it their final scrutiny.
The timetable for the election for the return of a councillor for the Culloden and Ardersier ward of The Highland Council has been announced today (Thursday 17 August) The by-election is being held following the sad death of Councillor John Ford. He was one of four Councillors representing Ward 18 which has an electorate of 9,137.
Grass cutting in Skye and Lochalsh is to be brought in house from next year and the Council is to carry out an options appraisal to allow members to decide how future grass cutting will be carried out in the rest of the Highlands. Grass cutting and burial ground maintenance forms part of the Council's Amenity Services which also includes war memorial maintenance, management of public conveniences, play park maintenance and burial and cremation services.
Leader of Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson, has asked the Chief Executive for an overview of the delivery of education capital projects, to see where further improvements can be made and any problems can be avoided. Cllr Davidson said: "During the past year we have learnt many lessons from previous projects and this has led to many improvements in project management and better reporting to elected members.
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