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.
People in the Highlands are being invited to drop in to new Digital Café sessions which could save them significant amounts of money. The Highland Council in partnership with other Highland Social Landlords and the social enterprise company Libertie are hosting a series of mobile Digital Café events during May 2017.
Mears signs new cost savings deal on PPP Highland schools project. Mears has signed a new deal with the Highland Council which will see millions of pounds saved over the lifetime of the Private Public Partnership (PPP) Highland Schools Project.
The Highland Council and partners are advising motorists of temporary road closures and speed restrictions which will be in place next weekend (22 - 23 April) during the Etape Loch Ness cycling event. The restrictions and prohibitions which are being put in place are for participants' safety and to allow the Etape to take place on public roads.
A Local business has been found in contempt of court after breaching an Enforcement Order previously issued following action taken by Highland Council Trading Standards. On the 12th April 2017 at Inverness Sherriff Court Ms Diane Urquhart, Director of Inverness Fireplace and Heating Centre and Mr Michael Armour also of Inverness Fireplace and Heating Centre were found in breach of an Enforcement Order issued under the Enterprise Act 2002 and in contempt of court.
The Highland Council advises that Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) bills for 2017/18 are now being issued. NDR is also known as Business Rates.
Voters are reminded of the deadlines for both registering to vote and applying to vote by post in the forthcoming Highland Council elections on Thursday 4 May. Registration: To be able to vote in the elections, voters must be 16 years or over on 4 May 2017 and must be registered to vote.
In response to a call for evidence on the impact of city-region deals in Scotland, by a Scottish Parliament Committee, Highland Council Director of Development and Infrastructure, Stuart Black said:"It is very early days to assess the impact of the City-Region Deal, however, it is anticipated that the impact of the Deal on Inverness and the wider Highland region will be significant in securing the long term productivity and economic growth of the region and position it as a region of digital opportunity. Regional partners estimate that the City-Region Deal funding of £315m could unlock up to an additional £800 million of investment by the private sector.
With Scottish Council elections taking place in just a few weeks, voters in the Highlands are being urged to make sure they are registered to vote and are able to take part on polling day, Thursday 4 May. The call for voters to sign up comes as the Electoral Commission launches a national voter registration campaign to encourage as many people as possible to register ahead of the elections taking place this year.
The Highland Council has awarded a contract to a world leading engineering design firm to carry out comprehensive flood protection studies for two Highland coastal towns. Thurso on the north coast and Golspie on the east coast have both suffered from flooding incidents over the years that has affected domestic and business properties and resulted in both towns being identified as Potentially Vulnerable Areas (PVAs) in the Highland and Argyll Local Flood Risk Management Plan.
The elections for the 74 seats on The Highland Council, being held on Thursday 4 May, will involve 165 candidates contesting all of the 21 multi-member wards. Caithness will now only have two wards instead of three.
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