Schools Budgets To Be Protected In Highland Budget Proposals
14th February 2017
In another challenging financial year, the Highland Council Administration has pledged to protect education services in the 2017/18 budget.
The Highland Council will consider next year's budget at its meeting on Thursday 16 February. School budgets, which fund teachers and school support services, have been protected by the Council Administration, and there are no proposals to make savings in these areas.
Having met the Scottish Government's teacher numbers target in 2016, Highland Council remains committed to maintaining teacher ratios in Primary and Secondary Schools. The Council has also developed a programme to enhance the support to Headteachers and to sustain rural education, which will ensure that all schools can be more effective, as well as more cost effective in future years.
In addition, while Additional Support Needs (ASN) budgets have been reduced by Councils across much of the country, Highland Council's Administration intends another successive year where there will be no cuts to ASN in this authority.
Councillor Drew Millar, Chair of the Education, Children & Adult Services Committee said: "This Administration has pledged to protect education, and I am delighted that we are delivering on this pledge. We will maintain funding for teachers and ASN services.
"This has not been easy, given that Education and Additional Support Needs make up over a third of the total spend of the Council. However, elected members understand how important these services are to our children and to our communities. By investing in education, we are investing in our young people and in the future of the Highlands. We have therefore been determined to protect these services.
"I am also especially pleased that we have committed to withdrawing one budget measure agreed by Council in December 2014. Instead of the planned 10p increase in school meal prices for 2017/18, we are proposing a price freeze this year. We are proud of the quality of our school meals, and we want to encourage full take up, and we believe that this decision needs to be reversed."
Cllr Bill Fernie, The council budget leader said "As both Chairman of Resources committee and as a former chairman covering Education I have tried in these very difficult times with cuts to our core budget to protect this important aspect of our spending plans. The Independent group who make up the present Administration of the council were in no doubt about our priorities and children were one of them. Children, Adult Service and Roads were our top three when we took over and we have tried hard to maintain that position even in the face of significant cuts in our funding from Scottish Goverment.
Members of the Communities and Partnership Committee have approved a new Polling Scheme to come into effect for the Election to Highland Council on the 4 May 2017. The decision comes after a review of Polling Places during which the public, politicians, community groups and those with expertise in access to premises for disabled people were invited to comment on the existing and proposed changes arrangements for Polling Districts and Polling Places.
The pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan is nominated for prestigious planning industry award. The Plan was developed by a working group consisting of Marine Scotland, Highland Council and Orkney Islands Council who are a finalist in the category for Excellence in Plan Making Practice at the Royal Town Planning Institute's (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence (external link) 2017.
The Highland Council has agreed a budget for 2017-18, which includes a council tax increase of 3%. A package of £10.689m savings were agreed for 2017-18, on top of £5.824m savings agreed in previous budgets.
From 1 April 2017 the Scottish Government is changing the basis on which properties are assessed for Council Tax and this will increase the charge for Council Tax properties that are banded E to H. The Highland Council has no discretion in this matter and must apply these increases to the Council Tax charges from 1 April 2017.
New cutting-edge careers spaces aimed at inspiring youngsters have opened in Inverness. Skills Development Scotland (SDS) Chair John F.
The Leader of The Highland Council, Margaret Davidson (Independent), has welcomed KLM's announcement today of a second daily service from Inverness to Amsterdam starting from 15 May 2017 to complement the existing service. Cllr Davidson said: "This news of a second daily flight between Inverness and Amsterdam is splendid news! This expanded service means we are better able to make the most of global connections between Schiphol and key markets throughout the world.
Member of the Caithness Area Committee have given the go-ahead to a project to improve the safety of pupils walking and cycling to and from Miller Academy in Thurso. £20,000 will be spent creating a footpath and installing a barrier with linings on the ground to make the usage of the drop off area at the school safer for pupils.
Proposals going before The Highland Council on Thursday propose a reduction of £220,000 from a total budget of £3.029 million. Budget Leader, Cllr Bill Fernie said: "In our original proposals were looking at a cut of £660,000 from the street cleaning budget, so the cut we are now proposing is significantly less by two thirds.
The long-term future of a section of Harbour Quay in Wick was secured last week when The Highland Council sold the historic buildings to Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited (BOWL), ahead of plans to develop the disused buildings as part of the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Base for the Beatrice offshore windfarm development. This landmark transaction welcomes significant investment and job creation within the Conservation Area of Lower Pulteneytown.
Prospective candidates at the forthcoming Highland Council elections on 4 May 2017 and their agents are being invited to attend one of a series of six awareness briefing sessions being held by the Returning Officer, Steve Barron, Chief Executive of The Highland Council. The sessions will take place in Inverness, Fort William, Portree, Dingwall, Golspie and Wick.
[Printer Friendly Version]