Local Authority News
The Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee has approved a draft Strategic Housing Plan for 2021-2026 that sets out The Council's key housing investment priorities and demonstrates how they will be delivered for development across Highland. The Plan, which will be submitted to the Scottish Government for their approval, also identifies the resources required to deliver new homes and outlines the partnership approach with housing associations and developers to achieve the Council’s commitment to providing more quality affordable housing across the Highlands.
The Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee members have approved a report which highlights the actions taken by the Council to further the conservation of biodiversity. The Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 requires public bodies in Scotland to produce a publicly available report every three years.
High Life Highland youth projects have been highlighted as part of a YouthLink Scotland report that recognises the impact of youth work during the summer. Examples of Highland activities are included in the report, one of which was supporting young people in Dingwall through the Activity Agreements programme, for those aged 16 and 17 who aren't in school, work or training.
Highland Council is encouraging its workforce to be aware of stress during working life and its potential impact as part of National Stress Awareness Day, which takes place on Wednesday, 4 November 2020. A key focus for National Stress Awareness Day this year is to tackle the anxiety and emotional pressure which many may be feeling as a result of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, ranging from concern for family and close friends to financial worries.
The Highland Council has been making good progress with paying out grants on behalf of the Scottish Government's COVID-19 Business Hardship Fund. Since applications opened on 20th October 2020.
Members at yesterday's meeting of Highland Council homologated its response to the Scottish Government's consultation on the proposals for the regulation of short-term lets in Scotland. The response was submitted by the 16 October deadline following consultation with the chairs of the Tourism and Licensing committees.
Fiona Duncan has been appointed by The Highland Council as Executive Chief Officer for Health and Social Care, taking over from Fiona Malcolm who has been undertaking the Interim ECO role since early September. Ms Duncan is due to take up the position in January 2021.
At today's meeting of The Highland Council members gave their backing to a motion that highlights the need for the UK Government to review the sick pay system and reform it as a matter of urgency. Councillor Alasdair Christie, Chair of the Council's Recovery Board who put forward the motion along with Councillor Alex Graham said: "It has become more obvious than ever during the current Covid 19 crisis that there are clear and substantial long-standing inadequacies in the sick pay system.
REGIONAL Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has welcomed a commitment from Highland Council to return all schools to a hot meal service. In a letter to the MSP this week, the local authority confirmed more than 60 per cent of schools have gone back to serving hot meals already and it said all schools are expected to follow suit "shortly".
Highland Council Trading Standards are keen to raise awareness of the role of The Small Business Financial Ombudsman Service in resolving disputes between small and medium sized businesses (SME's) and financial service providers which include banks, insurance and money lending businesses. David MacKenzie, Highland Council Trading Standards Manager explains: "We realise the financial struggle that some SME's have had recently because of Covid 19 restrictions.
The Leader and the Chief Executive of The Highland Council earlier today took part in a meeting of COSLA focussing on the Scottish Government's new five level protection system for Covid. The meeting gave council leaders the opportunity to examine in more detail the mechanism outlined by the Scottish Government along with the framework of how the tier system will be implemented.
Following its launch on Tuesday 20th October 2020, Highland Council has received and paid out the first Business Hardship Fund grants. As part of the Scottish Government's response to the COVID-19 Brake Restrictions which came into effect on 9 October, the Council has been asked to deliver this grant scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government.
At the Caithness Area Committee on 22 October 2020 members unanimously confirmed their full support to the business case for Wick John O'Groats Airport to receive Public Service Obligation (PSO) status by putting forward a motion and reinforcing their commitment to working with stakeholders and partners to deliver this as a matter of urgency. The motion lodged recognises the fundamental strategic importance of Wick John O’Groats Airport to the economy of the region, and the energy, business and tourism sectors in particular.
Members of the Caithness Committee have identified fuel poverty as their number one concern and are pleased to announce that the member-led capital housing budget has increased to 10% as they welcome £2,253,000 of investment which will be used to carry out improvements to the housing stock across the county. A specific priority of the capital programme is improving heating and make homes more energy efficient, with over £1,300,000 of budget approved to replace the oldest and most inefficient heating systems with a further £150,000 for one-off heating replacements.
Highland Council Trading Standards supports FASathon - the Friends Against Scams marathon day Highland Council Trading Standards is encouraging Highland residents to take part in ‘FASathon', the Friends Against Scams marathon day, on 21st October 2020. The aim of the FASathon campaign is to get as many people as possible to complete the free Friends Against Scams online awareness session to learn about the different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others against scams.
By intervening, Local Government has reduced the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for the most vulnerable in our communities, COSLA said today (Wednesday). COSLA also said that is why their Blueprint outlines the lead role of Local Government in securing a fair and inclusive recovery with a strong focus on human rights, tackling poverty and addressing inequalities.
In advance of the 2021 tourism season, Members of The Highland Council's Tourism Committee have agreed that the local authority will continue to work and engage with partners, national agencies and local communities to meet the challenges and opportunities that exist in the region for motorhomes and wild camping tourism. Councillor Maxine Smith, Tourism Committee Chair said: "While coronavirus and the increased demand for staycations in the UK have played a large part in the massive increase in demands placed on the Highlands of Scotland from across the UK, the evidence does show that motorhome ownership and hire has been increasing over recent years.
The Highland Council has published new information on the Coronavirus Covid-19 button on the front page of its website on how people can access the new Covid-19 Self-Isolation Support Grant. https://www.highland.gov.uk/coronavirus Funded by the Scottish Government, the new grant is available for individuals who are asked to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Protect Service, in receipt of low-income benefits and who will lose income as they are unable to work from home.
Highland Council is currently looking at options to secure the future of the lifeline ferry service at Corran Ferry, Lochaber. The local authority is responsible for operating the Corran Ferry service, which is the busiest single vessel route in Scotland.
The Highland Council would like to thank householders who have purchased a Garden Waste Collection Service permit for 2020/21. The current permit started on the 1st of September and will run until the 31st of August 2021, with collections continuing until the end of November.