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Agreement Reached On New Administration of The Highland Council

9th July 2008

The Independent, Liberal Democrat and Labour members of The Highland Council have joined forces to form the new Administration of the Council. Following a series of meetings, they have agreed to work together to replace the former Independent/Scottish National Party coalition. The Independent Group has 30 members; the Liberal Democrats, 20 and Labour 7. The Opposition will be the Scottish National Party, 17 members, and the Independent Members Group of 6.

A special Council meeting is to be held on Friday 1 August to confirm the new working arrangements.

The new coalition proposes that: -

The Administration should continue be headed by Convener, Independent Sandy Park, Nairn. He will continue to chair meetings of the Council and represent the Council at civic and ceremonial matters which have a Highland-wide impact.

Liberal Democrat Michael Foxley should fill the new post of Leader of the Council's Administration. He will lead the political administration of the Council, ensuring that the political decision making structures operate effectively.

The new position of Budget Leader should be held by Councillor David Alston, Liberal Democrat, who would chair the Budget Information Group and provide political leadership on budget strategy, financial planning and efficiency.

A new Land Environment and Sustainability Sub-Committee be formed. It should be chaired by Councillor Isobel McCallum, Independent, who will also be Vice-Chair of the Planning Environment and Development Committee.

The election of Chairman of the Inverness City Committee, which carries the role of Provost of Inverness, should be delegated to the City Committee.

The election of office-bearers of the three local Planning Applications and Review Committees and the three local Licensing Boards/Committees should be delegated to the local committees.

Councillor Park said: "We are delighted to announce this new partnership. I am confident we have strengthened the Administration, with increased focus on budget scrutiny and delivering services more efficiently."

Councilllor Foxley said: "This is an exciting new partnership which commits itself to working towards greater decentralisation of political decision making within the Council. We will work closely together as a team as there are very difficult budgets ahead over the next two years."

Councillor Gray said: "The Labour Group is delighted to be joining the Administration and helping deliver services to communities throughout the Highlands. The plan to increase apprenticeship and training schemes, possibly in conjunction with industry, is particularly welcome."

The total number of remunerated posts will remain at 21. The Administration will be recommending the following strategic committee chair persons: -

Convener: Sandy Park, Ind - Nairn

Leader of the Administration: Michael Foxley, Lib Dem - Fort William and Ardnamurchan

Budget Leader: David Alston, Lib Dem - Black Isle

Education Culture and Sport: Bill Fernie, Ind - Wick

Gaelic Committee: Hamish Fraser, Ind - Eilean a Cheo

Housing and Social Work: Margaret Davidson, Ind - Aird and Loch Ness

Transport Environmental and Community Services Committee:
John Laing, Ind - Eilean a Cheo

Planning Environment and Development Committee:
Chair: Ian Ross, Lib Dem - East Sutherland and Edderton
Vice-Chair and convening the Land, Environment and Sustainability Sub-Committee - Isobel McCallum, Ind - Black Isle

Resources Committee: Carolyn Wilson, Ind - Cromarty Firth

Audit and Scrutiny Committee: Chair and Vice-Chair to be nominated by the Opposition.

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