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.
The Leader of The Highland Council Councillor Margaret Davidson welcomed the First Minister's announcement of a Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund to deliver much needed improvements to tourist infrastructure to support the rising numbers of visitors to the Highlands. This comes the week after figures were published for August which showed Highland visitor attractions were performing 17% higher compared to August last year, a result that is backed by accounts from residents and businesses that the area has been hugely popular with visitors this season.
The Highland Council is ready for winter and prepared to grit council roads as the council's winter maintenance programme starts on 14 October. Trunk roads in Highland are the responsibility of Transport Scotland and their operators Bear Scotland.
Trading Standards are looking for young people to take part in test purchasing exercises. We want to find out which shops are breaking the law by selling age restricted products to young people under 18.
Caithness Civic leader Cllr Willie Mackay (centre) cuts the tape at the opening of the newly refurbished half mile Killimster Moss stretch of the B876 Wick to Thurso road. Looking on are some of the Highland council workers praised for the project which was done on time and within budget.
Caithness Civic Leader Cllr Willie Mackay has welcomed the reopening of the B876 Killimster Moss Road. A stretch of the Caithness Wick to Thurso road at Killimster Moss was refurbished over a four week programme of improvement and reopened on Friday 29 September.
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The Scottish Government is allocating £1 million to improve school libraries over the next three years. Launched today by the Deputy First Minister, the School Library Improvement Fund will be open for education authorities to apply for funding on behalf of school libraries in their area.
The Scrutiny Lead for The Highland Council, Cllr Matthew Reiss responded to the decisions made today by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) at their meeting in Inverness. He said: "We are naturally deeply disappointed by the decisions today to close the Inverness Control Room and to spread the National Database Enquiry Unit between Inverness and Govan.
The by-election for a councillor to represent the Tain and Easter Ross Ward on The Highland Council has been won by Alasdair Rhind (Independent) who was one of six candidates who contested the vacancy. The bi-election was brought about by the resignation of Jamie Stone following his success in the Westminster elections He joins Councillors Fiona Robertson (Independent) and Derek Louden (SNP) in representing Ward 7 on The Highland Council.
Highland Council is supporting the Scottish Government's campaign to raise awareness of how people can find out if they are eligible for benefits and to apply for them. A week-long series of radio and press adverts are running to highlight the range of support available from social security, such as the Sure Start Maternity Grant, Carers Allowance and the Funeral Expenses Payment.
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