Local Authority News
Today, The Highland Council's approach to a phased reopening of schools and Education Learning and Care (ELC) settings in the Highland region was discussed by Members at the Recovery Board. Guided by the national framework, Highland Council will look at the local and individual circumstances of each of it's 203 school and ELC settings to provide the safest and most valuable learning experience possible to its 50,000 children and young people when term resumes in August.
In a letter To Highland council the contractor RJ McLeod set out plans to restart work at Berriedale Braes "Further to our letter of 4th June informing you that we were proceeding with planning and pre-start site preparations for construction on A9 Berriedale Braes project in accordance with the published Scottish Government's Construction Sector Guidance document and Construction Scotland Re-Start Plan we are writing to provide you with a further update. The health and safety of the workforce is our main priority and we have now completed the necessary planning and pre-start site preparations.
Highland Council Garden Waste Permits are now available to purchase for the 2020/21 permit season. All existing permit holders will receive a reminder to renew their permit over the next few weeks.
The Highland Council can confirm that from Monday 15th June 2020 the re-opening of the Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC) will move to the next stage. This follows the successful re-opening of the majority of sites across the region less than 2 weeks ago and will see the range of materials that householders are permitted to take to the sites expanded to include electrical appliances and cardboard as well as bagged household waste and garden waste.
Statistics released by HMRC show that the Highland has the highest number of workers on furlough per head of population across Scotland. 32,000 people, 27% of the working population are currently furloughed in the Highlands.
Highland Council has been speaking to staff about their wellbeing during the coronavirus lockdown, working from home and how they see their roles developing in the future. Today, the local authority launched the first in a series of video interviews with staff, who offered honest accounts of how the crisis has affected them and how it has changed their roles.
The Highland Council's Environmental Health Team has identified raised levels of naturally occurring Algal Toxins following routine monitoring at Kyles of Scalpay, off the east coast of the Isle of Skye. Eating shellfish such as mussels, cockles, oysters or razor fish from these areas may pose a health risk arising from the consumption of these algal toxins.
Highland Council has created a video to explain some of the impacts of COVID-19 on communities and on the Council. Leader of the Council, Margaret Davidson said: "The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on many individuals, businesses and communities across Highland.
Guidance for education authorities and teachers published for next academic year. New guidance will help teachers and councils prepare for the ‘blended model' of both classroom and home learning when schools re-open in August.
The Highland Council is responsible for the ‘policing' the new The Health Protection (Coronavirus)(Scotland) Regulations and coronavirus restrictions such as physical distancing and enhanced hand hygiene controls in a range of business premises including shops, hotels, offices and leisure industry. The new law was made in response to the serious and imminent threat to public health which is posed by the incident and spread of coronavirus in Scotland and came into force at the end of March 2020.
All eligible young people are being encouraged to apply for a weekly, term time allowance of £30 per week from August. The Highland Council administers Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in respect of eligible young people from across its 29 secondary schools.
On Monday (1 June) The Highland Council reopened 14 Household Waste and Recycling Centres across the Highlands to allow people to drop off their garden waste and bagged household waste. The last few days have been a success with the phased approach to the re-opening working well.
The first full meeting of the Highland Council Recovery Board met (virtually) today (4 June 2020). The full membership reflects political balance with 11 Members and 3 senior officers.
Councillors taking part in today's virtual Corporate Resources Committee were left in no doubt about the significant and serious impact COVID-19 continues to have on the budget of The Highland Council. The scale and immediacy of financial challenges to be faced were laid out in a report that modelled two different potential scenarios - in the ‘mid case' scenario, a budget gap of £65.7m is projected, and in the most severe, a potential gap of £96.9m is projected.
The Highland Council has reported a successful year end position for 2019-20 delivering £18M of a 3-year savings plan and an underspend of £7.526m. The Council's unearmarked reserves, which act as a general contingency against unforeseen events or to meet unbudgeted costs, stand at £15.451M at 31 March 2020, having almost doubled over the year due to the in-year budget surplus.
Extra cash in the pockets of low income families Eligible parents of children aged four and five are being encouraged to apply for financial support worth £250. The one-off £250 payment is currently open to eligible families with a child who was born between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016 and who is old enough to start primary one this year.
The COVID-19 small business and self-catering grant schemes, set up to help companies stay in business during the coronavirus crisis, have now paid out £59,628,750 to over 5500 Highland businesses. The Council has now processed 99% of the applications received since the grant schemes opened.
Works on the Inverness West Link Stage 2 were suspended on the 24 March 2020 following COVID-19 guidance from the Scottish Government. The Highland Council has been in dialogue with Contractors RJ McLeod and has agreed that essential works are required to begin to address safety issues but primarily the works to be undertaken are to provide for physical distancing and encourage active travel, walking, wheeling and cycling as part of, and to augment the successful Spaces for People project.
Blueprint for safe return to classes. Detailed guidance on practical measures to allow schools to re-open on 11 August has been published.
The Highland Council's Environmental Health Team is advising consumers to use their water wisely and check their private water supply systems for any signs of water leaks or risks of contamination. A private water supply is a property that does not have a Scottish Water mains water connection.