See The Challenges Of Balancing The Council Budget With The Budget Simulator
19th January 2017
Highland Council is encouraging people across the region to have a go at balancing the Council's books - using a budget simulator.
The Council is seeking feedback from local people as it prepares for the reduction in funding it receives from the Scottish Government.
The online tool is a new way to do this and gives people the chance to understand the choices facing the local authority and consider how increasing spending in one area means reducing the spend in another.
Budget Leader, Cllr Bill Fernie said "Over the last 6 years around £135 million has been taken out of the Highland Council's budget. This year sees another substantial reduction in funding and together with increases in costs, the budget gap is around £26 million. This is a real challenge for the Council, but we have to deliver a balanced budget. We have done our best to look at how we can make savings whilst causing the least impact on essential services and jobs. We have identified a range of savings to reduce this gap and before we put our full proposals to Council, we would like to understand what is really important to people in the Highlands.
"The Council cannot spend more than it has and there are some areas of the budget that have fixed costs and we cannot cut. The simulator cannot include the entire budget for this reason, but challenges residents to attempt the difficult task of cutting £14million from the budget.
"I would encourage as many people as possible to have a go at this innovative tool. You will also be able to see the potential impacts and consequences of reducing spending in certain areas and the difficult choices that Councillors have to make.
"By participating and showing us how you would choose to allocate the budget, we will gain a clearer understanding of people's priorities across the region as we move forward to set the budget on 16 February."
The budget simulator can be accessed at https://highland.budgetsimulator.com/
The simulator will be open until Monday 5 February 2017.
The Highland Council's Planning Performance Framework has been agreed for submission to the Scottish Government. All Planning Authorities in Scotland are required to submit an annual Planning Performance Framework to the Scottish Government, setting out how they have performed over the previous financial year.
Leader of the Highland Council Margaret Davidson commented following her meeting with Police Scotland on 16 August 2017, saying: "I am very grateful to ACC Hawkins and other officers for a very candid and useful meeting and for providing the information which we requested. "I remain, however, extremely disappointed in the recommendation going to the SPA and the poor governance in that decision making process.
Members have today approved proposals to expand the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal funded free open public Wi-Fi system to 14 towns across the Highland. Towns recommended for the free Wi-Fi programme are Alness, Aviemore, Dingwall, Dornoch, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, Fort William, Invergordon, Nairn, Portree, Tain, Thurso, Ullapool and Wick.
The Council has agreed to updated developer contributions for the delivery of new schools in the Inverness area. Taking account of the forecasted phasing of housing sites, school roll forecasts indicate that 13 Primary Schools in Inverness will be under pressure within the next 5 years.
Motorists are advised of a temporary road closure in Caithness to allow repairs to be carried out to approximately 1km of the B876 at Killimster Moss. The road will be closed from 8am on Monday 28 August 2017 until 6pm on Saturday 30 September 2017.
The Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson, has urged the Scottish Government to start using devolved powers to mitigate the impact of benefit changes in the Highlands. The call follows a meeting with Inverness MP, Drew Hendry, where she discussed the problems created by the introduction of Universal Credit.
The Council is to review developer contributions for schools in the Inverness area. Taking account of the forecasted phasing of housing sites, school roll forecasts indicate that Primary Schools in Inverness are under pressure and require significant additional capacity to support growth.
One hundred and forty two probationer teachers who are on the Teacher Induction Scheme and a few probationer teachers on the Flexible Route were recently welcomed to the Highlands (on Friday 11 August 2017) at an induction course held in Smithton Free Church Hall. Bill Alexander, Highland Council's Director of Care and Learning welcomed the probationers saying: "It's really good to see so many young people starting their careers in education here in the Highland and I wish them all well.
Highland Council has written to the Wick Stakeholder Group, Wick High School Parent Council and Newton Park Primary School Parent Council to provide a statement of assurance regarding the new Wick Campus facility. The letter states: We refer to discussion at recent Wick stakeholder group meetings, at which a request was made for the Council to provide a statement of assurance regarding the new Campus facility, and to address media reporting and local concerns over recent months.
Members are to be asked to approve proposals to expand the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal funded free open public Wi-Fi system to 14 towns across Highland. Town centres recommended for the free Wi-Fi programme are Alness, Aviemore, Dingwall, Dornoch, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, Fort William, Invergordon, Nairn, Portree, Tain, Thurso, Ullapool and Wick.
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