Local Authority News
Following the announcement from NHS Highland yesterday that the number of positive cases of Covid in the Highlands had tripled in just a few days, the Leader of The Highland Council is reminding everyone to follow all guidance and to remain extra vigilant. Councillor Margaret Davidson said: "Up until now the low Covid numbers we have had in our area has been due to very high levels of compliance with the restrictions and the excellent partnership work across Council, NHS Highland and Police to successfully deal with local outbreaks.
The Leader of The Highland Council and the Chair of the Communities and Place Committee have expressed their heartfelt thanks to all council staff, community groups and volunteers helping with the COVID-19 emergency response. During the original lock down, in March, staff from across all council services volunteered for new roles that included delivering food and essentials, processing business grants and welfare applications, taking calls on the Council's dedicated helplines and contacting the most vulnerable members of our community.
The Highland Council has notified its service users and customers of its opening hours and service arrangements over the festive period. The Service Centre will close at 4pm on 24 December.
The Leader of The Highland Council is encouraging all businesses to apply for a new support grant. The Council has paid out Business Restriction Grants of over £740,000 to 461 businesses impacted by the current Tier 1 restrictions Businesses required to close due to the Tier 4 restrictions from Boxing Day, will be able to apply for further Scottish Government grants early in the New Year.
We are delighted to announce, in partnership with Text Help, that every pupil and teacher in Highland schools now has access to Read&Write software, which supports learning both in the classroom and in the home on any device. Schools in Highland have over 30,000 Chromebooks to support learning and the Connecting Scotland Grant has enabled investment in Read&Write.
The Highland Council and NHS Highland are reminding Highland residents of the importance of reaching out for help if this is needed over the festive period. The current time of year can be difficult for many people anyway, and others may have found that their plans for the festive season have changed at the last minute and the chance to see friends or family is now not possible.
The Highland council is reminding people that the Red Hot Highland Fling at Hogmanay event in Inverness will not be taking place this year. It, like all other Christmas and New Year-themed civic events including the Winter Wonderland at Whin Park and the Christmas lights switch-on parade, has been cancelled due to the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Mental health services have become an increasingly important topic in Caithness in recent months following several tragic events and issues relating to suicide and addiction. At a special meeting of the Caithness Committee on Friday 11 December 2020, the focus was on launching the Caithness Mental Wellbeing Pathfinder Project to bring statutory service providers across health, education, housing, and emergency services, third sector delivery partners, politicians, community representatives, families, and young people themselves together to move forward in a connected way.
Families with children in receipt of free school meals due to reasons of low income are eligible for a £100 per child Covid winter hardship payment from the Scottish Government. There are no restrictions on how families choose to spend the additional payment.
Wick Sheriff Court has granted a court order against local Thurso man Mr Thomas Russell. Acting on intelligence received officers from Highland Council Trading Standards executed a warrant on Russell in May 2019 The fake tobacco products found by the use of a tobacco detection dog and its handler in Mr Russell's property included a significant number of ‘Richmond Blue’ cigarettes, pouches of ‘Golden Virginia’ tobacco (50g); and pouches of Amber Leaf tobacco (50g).
Discussions have taken place this week on what the Council's role in respect of the emerging hydrogen economy should be and how best to advance hydrogen opportunities across the Highlands. The Leader of The Highland Council met with representatives from Scottish Power to focus on hydrogen generation and this was followed by a meeting, arranged with officers from across Council services, that included a presentation by Fiona Landy from the Hydrogen Accelerator.
The Highland Council has started to consult with their tenants about proposals for a rent increase in council owned homes for 2021 - 2022. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the traditional forms of consultation cannot safely take place.
The Leader of the Council and Provost of Inverness today welcomed recent history graduate Sophie Gartshore to her role of Data Curation Graduate Placement in the Spirit of the Highlands project team. Sophie was attending her first virtual meeting of the Spirit of the Highlands Delivery Group, a group co-chaired by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism Fergus Ewing and Cllr Helen Carmichael, Provost of Inverness and Area.
The Highland Council has confirmed that a new date has been set for the Ward 12 - Aird and Loch Ness By-Election The original date of poll was Thursday 5 November but given the current public health advice applying in Scotland, the Returning Officer made the decision to postpone the by-election. Under normal circumstances a by-election must be held within three months of the vacancy arising, however under the provisions of Section 70 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 the filling of the vacancy can be postponed where it is reasonable and appropriate to do so and a date should be fixed for the poll to be held as soon as it reasonably practicable.
Highland Housing Register Allocation Policy - Public Consultation There is still time to tell the Highland Housing Register landlords what you think about changes to the way that their houses are let and who gets priority. The consultation has been extended to Monday 7 December The landlords contacted everyone who is on the Highland Housing Register re-housing list.
A pricing regime has been agreed in Highland for the provision of Export Health Certificates which will be required by UK businesses from 1 January 2021 to export products of animal origin to the EU. Chair of The Highland Council's Communities and Place Committee Cllr Allan Henderson welcomed the work carried out to date by Council officers in supporting exporting businesses to the EU, he said: "The Environmental Health Team has a very important role in providing certification for Highland businesses exporting animal products to the EU.
Highland Councillors have noted the scale of achievement by Council staff in meeting the Traffic Commissioner's compliance requirements for the local authority's fleet and welcomed a phased approach to the ‘greening’ of its vehicles. Cllr Allan Henderson, Chair of the Council’s Communities and Place Committee said: "Maintaining a legally safe and compliant fleet of vehicles is essential and is no mean feat for an organisation the size of Highland Council.
New fees for residential caravan site licence applications have been approved by The Highland Council's Communities and Place Committee. The new fees are estimated to affect around 20 residential caravan sites in Highland region.
The Highland Council is to consult on draft management rules for its 268 burial grounds across the region and crematorium located at Kilvean in Inverness. The Council has a statutory duty to manage burials, oversee memorial safety and cremations for around 1500 burials and 1200 cremations each year.
The Highland Council has welcomed clarification from the Scottish Government that hotels are eligible for the Business Restriction Grant. As hotel restaurants and bars follow the same rules as other restaurants and bars with last entry at 21:30 and closure by 22:30, they have now been included as eligible businesses to receive grant from this scheme.