Plan for free public Wi-Fi to be rolled-out across the Highlands
10th August 2017
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.
A report will go to the Highland Council's Places Committee on 16 August detailing the plans for approval.
The City Wi-Fi project, led by the Council and funded by the Inverness and Highlands City Region Deal, aims to create a free open public Wi-Fi system across the Highlands for visitors and residents. By being available 24/7, 365 days per year, it aims to stimulate economic growth and increase digital inclusion.
Increasingly such digital connectivity is seen as essential if the Highlands are to be innovative and keep their competitive place in the tourism market. The project also offers the opportunity to gather data about local users and tourist activity, and the creation of a wireless infrastructure in a town centre allows other innovative technology, such as smart traffic management technology to be utilised.
The first phase of the Inverness City Wi-Fi project, branded Ness Wi-Fi, is providing fast internet coverage in a pilot area including the Victorian Market, Falcon Square and surrounding streets. The system is providing reliable fast internet usage to users, whilst being family friendly and content filtered with average daily user number of between 300 - 500 users. Users also have language choices when logging into the system (with Gaelic coming on-line).
Phase 2 of the project is currently being installed to roll out the coverage across the city centre and along the river to Eden Court, the Northern Meeting Park and Ardross Street Coach Drop off.
Fourteen other towns have now been identified for funding for free Wi-Fi on the basis of the anticipated benefits to tourism and local economy.
Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair of the Places Committee said: "It has always been an ambition since the start of the City Wi-Fi project to extend free Wi-Fi across Highland. I am sure that people across the Highlands will whole-heartedly welcome this plan which is designed to bring a fantastic boost to these areas and help to regenerate town centres."
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.
Candidates wishing to stand at the by-election being held in The Highland Council's Ward 7 - Tain and Easter Ross - have until 4 pm on Monday 28 August to complete and submit their nomination forms. The by-election is being held on Thursday 28 September following the resignation of Cllr Jamie Stone (Liberal Democrat) who has stepped down and taken up his seat in Westminster following the UK Parliamentary Elections held in June.
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