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 Highland Council, Margaret Davidson has written to the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Annabelle Ewing MSP, in relation to the recent press coverage on concerns raised about the handling of emergency calls in the Highlands and Islands. Councillor Davidson said: "It does raise concerns over the Government's decision to close the Inverness Fire control room and transfer responsibility for handling emergency calls to Dundee.
The deadline for commenting on The Highland Council's draft Landscape Appraisals to help in the consideration of future proposals for wind energy development is drawing near - but has been extended to 31 January 2017. Two landscape sensitivity appraisals are currently being consulted on: one for the Caithness study area and another covering The Black Isle, surrounding hills and Moray Firth Coast.
Highland Council's administrative offices will close at 4pm on 23 December 2016 and reopen on 4 January 2017. The Service Centre will close at 4pm on 23 December and open as normal on 28, 29 and 30 December (closing at 4pm on 30 December) Service Points will be on reduced opening hours.
Highland Council is reminding pupils, parents and carers how to find out if their local school is closed or school transport is affected in anticipation of Storm Barbara hitting the north west of Scotland. Information on school closures is uploaded to the Council's school closures website www.highland.gov.uk/schoolclosures from 7am each morning School closure messages can be heard on the ‚Äėschool closures information line' by phoning 0800 564 2272 (with a school PIN number) to get the latest pre-recorded message from the head teacher of r child's school.
Reacting to the Scottish Government's Budget Settlement for 2017-18, Budget Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Bill Fernie said:"Disappointingly, our worst predictions are realised in that there has been a real cash cut to councils of ¬£350 million. The devil will be in the detail, but an early analysis equates this to a significant cut in the grant to our core budget.
Since the introduction of Decriminalised Parking at Highland Council in October, the demand for Inverness Parking Permits has increased dramatically. This has seen the number of applications and permits issues increase from around 80 per month, to an average of 210 per month in October and November.
Highland Council is introducing pay and display parking at its headquarters car park as part of its Decriminalised Parking Enforcement Schemes. Cllr Allan Henderson, Chair of the Council's Community Services Committee said: "This change has come from a savings proposal agreed by Council in the December 2014 budget for implementation in 2015/16 to save ¬£20,000 per year.
Speaking after attending today's COSLA meeting, Leader of the Council, Margaret Davidson said: "The Highland Council‚Äôs services, along with other Local Authorities‚Äô, have been cut to the bone after years of real terms reduction in funding from the Scottish Government. Since 2010/11 the Council has made savings of ¬£135m, with ¬£39m in this year alone.
Nominations now open for Scottish Education Awards 2017. The search for the Highlands' brightest education stars is underway as nominations are open for the Scottish Education Awards 2017.
Members of The Highland Council will be asked to approve a proposed scheme to make workforce reductions at the Council meeting on 15 December. The Employee Early Release Scheme (EERS) is designed to make reductions in the council workforce in a way that is affordable and in line with the reductions in funding available for the 2017/18 budget.
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