Land reform top of the agenda at Area Committee
12th February 2014
The first item on yesterday's Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee was Land Reform with the meeting starting with a presentation by David Cameron, Convener of Community Land Scotland. Members then took the opportunity to discuss in particular the overview of land reform issues in Sutherland.
Since The Land Reform (Scotland) Act introduced rights for both Communities and Crofting Communities to proceed with land purchase under certain circumstances, six Council owned properties in Caithness and Sutherland have been handed over to local community groups.
The properties are:
. Helmsdale Community Centre
. Embo Community Centre
. Kyle Centre in Tongue
. Tongue Sub-depot
. Site for National Nuclear Archive, Wick
. as well as land at Helmsdale for a Housing project
In its Programme, Working Together for the Highlands, the Council highlights its commitment to promoting and assisting with land reform and to achieve this it has become an associated member of Community Land Scotland in order to further the cause of land reform across the Highlands.
The Community Land Scotland membership in Sutherland currently includes:
. Assynt Foundation - 44,400 acres in community ownership
. Durness Development Group - with interest in MOD lands at Cape Wrath
. Mackay Country Community Trust.
The Leader of Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee, Councillor Deirdre Mackay welcomed the opportunity today to raise awareness of the Community Right To Buy scheme and hear more about the impact land reform has had for local communities as well as looking at the work the Council and other organisations are doing to support communities achieve their goal.
She said: "It is important we understand the regeneration opportunities publicly-owned land might offer communities and encourage and assist any of our communities who are considering taking this step.
"I am keen to encourage more community ownership in our area and as such to share more widely with local people the benefits and developmental opportunities associated with land ownership."
"Here in Sutherland since 2010 the Council has over-seen the transfer of five properties to communities in Helmsdale, Embo and Tongue. Everyone can learn a lot from sharing experiences and hearing how successful community enterprises have managed the transition."
The committee noted that the Government's Land Reform Review Group will be publishing a report in April and decided today to invite the Group to come to present their findings to the Area Committee.
Last June the Council sponsored a Community Land Scotland Conference at Sabhal Mor Ostaig and this year it will be partnering Community Land Scotland to run a series of community seminars across the Highlands to promote the benefits of land ownership and provide technical advice and guidance. Details for these events are to be confirmed but they will be taking place from the end of March onwards in Portree, Durness, Helmsdale, Ullapool, Fort William and Aviemore.
The Highland Council is reassuring people in the region that since Storm Caroline and the arrival of winter weather to the region, the Council's Community Services has been deploying all of its available resources to tackle the condition of Highland Council pavements and roads. The Council's gritting fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and over 200 staff providing winter maintenance services.
Budget update Council will today consider a potential budget gap of £33.5 million in the next financial year in 2018-19. It will take several days to achieve clarification of the precise settlement to The Highland Council following the Scottish Government's draft budget announcement.
Maps of the Council's gritting routes by priority and policy are available online at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting . The information provided is a summary of reports from operational staff and is intended to give a general indication of typical conditions in each area at a point in time.
With Storm Caroline hitting the Highlands yesterday, today's heavy snowfall and the forecast for a drop in temperatures over the next 48 hours, the Highland Council's crews and winter vehicles have been busy in action. The fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and over the coming months 200 plus staff will be providing winter maintenance services.
Wick Campus, including Wick High School, Newtonpark Primary School and High Life Highland Leisure facilities will remain closed on Friday 8 December 2017. The closure is due to high winds during Storm Caroline today which caused some damage to part of the roof of the Wick campus gym, causing the metal flashing around a roof light to become detached.
Following the high winds forecast and experienced this week due to Storm Caroline, The Highland Council is encouraging landowners to check trees and vegetation near to public roads which may have been damaged. Roads affected by fallen trees this morning were near Beauly; Achnagarron near Invergordon and Lochaber which staff are clearing.
The high winds during Storm Caroline today have caused some damage to part of the roof of the Wick campus gym, causing the metal flashing around a roof light to become detached. The school was already closed to pupils today due to the adverse weather.
Road condition reports by The Highland Council's Community Services for the morning of Thursday 7 December 2017 are as follows: Caithness and Sutherland: Most roads are affected by snow and ice. Treatment in progress.
The Highland Council expresses its deep disappointment at the news of further branch closures by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Leader of the Highland Council Margaret Davidson said: "This will cause real difficulties for many customers and small businesses.
Highland consumers who have lost money to a scam involving payment through Western Union wire transfer between 1st January 2004 and 19th January 2017, are being encouraged by Highland Council Trading Standards to file a claim for a refund with America's Federal Trade Commission in a bid to get some or if not all of their money back. In January 2017, Western Union agreed to pay $586 million for turning a blind eye to scammers and other criminals who used its service to trick customers into paying for bogus prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products and other financial rewards in exchange for money upfront.
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