Local Authority News
The Highland Council is assessing the implications of the First Minister's announcements made on the 21st May about the first stage relaxation of lockdown, concerning teachers and other education staff returning to the workplace during June to prepare for the return to school and settings on 11th August. Highland Council's Education Committee Chair, Cllr John Finlayson said: "The return to workplace and Highland schools for our Education staff will have to be undertaken carefully and gradually.
The Highland Council can now confirm which of the Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC) across the region will re-open from Monday 1st June 2020. A phased approach to re-opening the sites will be adopted with strict controls in place to help manage social distancing and to ensure the anticipated high number of visitors and volume of waste can be handled safely and efficiently.
The Highland Council's Housing Service currently operates an annual garden aid scheme, cutting grass in approximately 1,300 council house gardens. The Garden Aid service is for older or disabled tenants who don't have anyone to help them cut their grass.
Following an ambitious bid by Highland Council supported by NHS Highland, to deliver rapid active travel interventions in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, The Highland Council has been awarded £752,954 from the Scottish Government's Spaces for People fund, which is administered by Sustrans. Over the coming weeks towns across Highland and the City of Inverness will see a roll-out of temporary walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure along priority routes.
Public assurance is being provided by Highland Council that the organisation is fully transparent and accountable during the COVID-19 emergency response as it publishes decisions made by its group of senior officers - or Gold Group* - under emergency procedures. The list of decisions made since 19 March 2020 is on the Council's website at the following link and will continue to the added to and updated as further decisions are made using emergency procedures.
The COVID-19 small business and self-catering grant scheme, set up to help companies stay in business during the coronavirus crisis, has now paid out £56,286,250 million to 5135 Highland businesses. The Highland Council's Head of Development and Regeneration, Allan Maguire, said: "We now are processing applications and approving payment within days of a business submitting a complete online application form and its accompanying evidence.
Highland Council's Recovery Board Chair, Cllr Alasdair Christie has welcomed the publication of the Scottish Government's road map phasing the way out of lockdown, which was published earlier today. The First Minister revealed that Phase 1 of the Government's new four phase plan, could come into effect on 28 May, however the advice remains stay home, protect the NHS and save lives for now.
The Highland Council is pleased to announce that preparations are well underway for re-opening many of the Household Waste Recycling Centres across the region to the public from Monday 1 June 2020. The sites in Highland, along with all other Scottish Local Authorities, have been closed since the end of March due to the government's Covid-19 restrictions on non-essential travel.
The Highland Council has noted the outcomes at Inverness Sherriff Court this morning regarding Home Farm Care Home on the Isle of Skye. The Sheriff made no decision on the Care Inspectorate's application to suspend registration but has adjourned the matter until 10 June 2020 on the basis that the collaborative approach being taken will continue to be monitored.
The Highland Council would like to remind Garden Waste Collection Service permit holders that the service resumed last Monday (11th May 2020) after being suspended due to the impact of COVID-19 on staff resources. Carron McDiarmid, Executive Chief Officer for Communities and Place said: "Feedback from our crews from the first week of collections is that the quality of the material collected from the brown bins was excellent with very little contamination which is really positive and I would like to thank the public for making a concerted effort to ensure that only the correct material was put into their bins.
The COVID-19 small business and self-catering grant scheme, set up to help companies stay in business during the coronavirus crisis, has now paid out £48.9m million to 4359 Highland businesses. This now includes payments to owners of multiple premises following the expansion of the scheme on 5th May 2020.
A Highland Council Recovery Board has been established to lead and plan the Council's emergence from lockdown and provide strategic coordination for a Recovery Action Plan for Council services. The Board will also provide oversight and direction for the Council's partnership with communities and partners to support the Highland Region’s return to wellbeing, prosperity and economic success.
Highland Council has announced it is to begin a restricted grass cutting service across the region. Despite significant challenges in terms of staffing, the local authority is pleased it is in a position to deliver a limited service at this time.
The Highland Council has, along with other Scottish Local Authorities, submitted details to COSLA of the potential impact of COVID 19 on its revenue and capital budgets. The Council has estimated potential income losses and additional costs up to £87.5 M which would be off-set in part by savings across a variety of service areas.
Help is at hand for bereaved families in Highland who may find the unexpected cost of funerals out of their reach during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Highland Council has provided funeral directors in the region with information leaflets to ensure that they are aware of the financial support that is available to relatives for some funeral costs in specific circumstances.
The Highland Council's COVID helpline 0300 303 1362 which has been up and running since 25th March has now handled over 5000 calls. The helpline provides support for those needing urgent help including those shielding or otherwise vulnerable and anyone interested in volunteering.
The UK Government has mobilised the army to set up Corona Virus Test Centres In Scotland. Mobile testing units travel around the UK to increase access to coronavirus testing.
The Highland Council is now accepting applications for the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund for 2021-2022. The fund, which is delivered in partnership with the Scottish Government, supports locally developed regeneration projects for communities, helping with job creation and support, and in building sustainable communities.
The Members, staff and resources of Highland Council continue to be focussed on responding to the COVID-19 emergency. Staff across all services and areas are working hard, often in roles different to their normal jobs, to ensure a proactive, well organised and co-ordinated approach is taken across Highland.
From today, newly self-employed individuals who have not been able to access support through other schemes will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £2,000. Following the launch of the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund by Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, Fiona Hyslop MSP, Highland Council has been asked to administer the fund for Newly Self-Employed businesses within the Highland Council area.