Next budget forum to be held in Strathy, Sutherland
27th June 2014
The next Highland Council budget forum will be held at 6.30pm on Tuesday 8 July in Strathy Village Hall, Strathy, Sutherland.
It is the latest in a series of budget events being held to consult the public over spending priorities between 2015-2019, during which time the Council has to find savings of an estimated £63 million.
The forum will include the first stage of public consultation on the Customer Service Review (including Service Points) agreed at the Council meeting in March. The feedback from the public and focus groups will help shape the Council's budget setting priorities.
Councillor Maxine Smith, the Council’s Budget Leader and new Chair of the Resources Committee, said: "The Council is keen to raise awareness of the implications of the budget constraints and importantly to engage with our communities to identify the services they want to protect and retain. It is vitally important therefore that communities participate in the local consultations to help identify which areas must be protected. I would really encourage people to come along and have their say."
The themes of the budget events are:
· What services should be provided and who should provide them?
· How should we provide our services?
· How can we organise our customer service provision (Service Points) in the future to deliver efficiency savings? We need to save £355,220.
· Can we provide some services less, some less frequently or stop providing some services altogether?
· What more could the Council do to generate income to pay for services?
· How do we prevent costs in the future?
Members of the public attending the Budget Forums will also be given information about:
· the £63m of savings to be made and why we must do things differently to avoid cutting services;
· how much some services cost;
· what we have saved already; and
· what the public have told us before, how we used that information and why we need their help again.
There will be a further consultation from mid-September to early November, involving the Council’s Citizens’ Panel of 2,700 adults and see the creation of a new Communities’ Panel to consult with as well. This new Panel will be drawn from groups representing communities across the Highlands, including community councils, other established community groups including those representing people with disabilities. An on-line survey for others interested will be also be available. These surveys will be developed from the consultation responses from stage one and would have a greater focus on specific proposals with detailed projections of savings and impacts.
Services are currently undertaking consultation with staff across the organisation to identify savings that can be considered for inclusion in the budget strategy and the outcomes will be fed into phase 1. Further consultation will then take place with unions and staff, as part of phase 2 consideration of detailed proposals.
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.
The Highland Council and Department for Work and Pensions are implementing plans to improve accessibility to their services. This joint venture will see the jobcentre staff co-locating with the Council and other services in the council's new modern office developments in both Fort William and Wick.
City-region deal investment means that Inverness can now be branded a digital city. Ness WiFi, a free WiFi service, which was successfully piloted earlier this year, has now been rolled out across Inverness city centre, extending to and including areas such as the High Street, the Castle, Eden Court, and the bus and railway stations.
Leisure and cultural venues currently run by council arm's-length bodies will continue to benefit from charity relief from non-domestic rates. Following lengthy consultation with stakeholders, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay today confirmed that the Scottish Government will not be accepting the recommendation of the Barclay Review to end this benefit.
[Printer Friendly Version]