Local Authority News
Following the recent spell of severe winter weather The Highland Council is encouraging landowners to check trees and vegetation near to public roads which have been damaged by the weight of snow. Landowners are being asked to check that there are no weakened, damaged, bent or broken boughs suspended at height which may subsequently fall onto roads or footways and should make arrangements to have boughs removed and obstructions cleared without undue delay.
Highland Councillors have confirmed that emergency measures to conserve road salt supplies will remain in place until the Council has built up a stock of at least 10,500 tonnes - seven days of treatment. Emergency measures were taken by the Chief Executive on Friday 15 January when supplies fell to 6,900 tonnes and the Transport Environmental and Community Services Committee agreed today (Thursday) that these should remain in place to conserve stocks.
A local Blind Persons Companion Travel Scheme is to be implemented in the Highlands by The Highland Council in conjunction with First Scotrail from from 23 May 2010. Members of The Highland Council's Transport, Environmental and Community Service Committee this week approved the scheme which will allow one companion to travel with a blind travel card holder on each journey for a flat fare of 50p.
From 8th January the Highland Council is advertising its vacancies on a new Scottish Local Government Jobs Portal. Teachers jobs that previously were advertised on TES will no longer be found there.
The Highland Council's Education Culture and Sport Committee has agreed to review its school estate, which includes 183 primary schools; 29 secondary schools and 3 special schools. The review aims to improve education provision for Highland pupils by:- • maximising opportunities for moving pupils from poor to better quality school buildings; • making most efficient use of available funding; and • addressing issues relating to demographic change.
At a meeting of The Highland Council's Transport, Environmental and Community (TEC) Services on Thursday 21 January Highland Councillors will be asked to approve revised management rules for burial grounds that will include arrangements for burial lairs to be sold in perpetuity. The Council approved the current management rules for burial grounds in 1999.
Highland Councillors are being asked to review the Council's waste collection strategy to ensure a reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill and to increase the amount of waste recycled. At the same time, the review is aimed at improving the effectiveness of the service and providing the best value for money.
Caithness Heat and Power is a joint project supported by The Highland Council since its inception in 2004 because of its potential to provide renewable energy in an area of fuel poverty via an innovative biomass district heating system at Pulteneytown, Wick. The project has, to date, failed to achieve its objective due to problems relating to technology, and an internal audit report by The Highland Council's Head of Audit and Risk Management into the enterprise has highlighted that the Council's and the company's governance arrangements covering the project should have been stronger .
The Highland Council is responding to the high number of enquiries received from the public about the bad weather to open its Customers Service Centre this weekend. The Centre will be operational between 9 am - 5 pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
The Highland Council's Convener Councillor Sandy Park is calling for patience when it comes to clearing Highland roads and pavements. Since the recent wintry conditions have started the Council's entire fleet of 114 road, and 54 pavement gritters and over 200 winter maintenance staff have been working flat out within the Council's gritting policy to keep roads clear.
Do you have an electrical item that's lost its spark? By the end of January 2010 facilities will be in place at Recycling Centres across Highland to recycle all waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Householders in Highland will be able to recycle any electrical item with a plug attached, or items operated by a battery.
Consultants, contractors and skilled trades businesses are being advised they have until noon on Friday 22 January next year to submit an application to The Highland Council to be included on frameworks for construction work up to a value of £25,000, and for design consultancy services for projects of all values. The deadline is important because if companies miss it, there will be no opportunity for them to be considered for Council contracts/consultancy for at least another two years.
More than 200 temporary jobs for young jobless people are to be created in the Highlands as a result of a successful bid by The Highland Council to the UK Government's Future Jobs Fund. Of the 313 Scottish jobs approved by the Department of Work and Pensions in a fifth round of funding, 203 are to be created in the Highlands at a cost of £1.3 million.
The Highland Council is to form a Highland Citzens' Panel to gauge representative views of the Highland population on Council services and spending priorities. The Council will switch the current spending on externally commissioning its public performance survey each year to funding the panel and surveying it instead.
In the Highland Council area over the festive period, there will be changes to the collection schedule for kerbside refuse and blue recycling boxes/bins. There will be no refuse collections on Christmas Day and New Year's Day and all waste and recycling centres will be closed on Christmas Day and 1/2 January.
The Highland Council is urging parents and carers in the Highlands not to waste their cash but to take advantage of the fact that more people are now entitled to free school meals. Chairman of The Highland Council's Education, Culture and Sport Committee, Councillor Bill Fernie said: "The eligibility criteria for free school meals and school clothing has been extended, and this means that some people who were previously not entitled may now be.
The Highland Council has appointed Bill Alexander to the temporary post of Chief Operating Officer in the Social Work Service. Over the next six months, Mr Alexander will step aside from his substantive role as Head of Children's Services to work directly to Harriet Dempster, Director of Social Work, to lead the modernisation of social work services for adults.
The Highland Council calls on building construction and consultancy companies to register interest Consultants, contractors and skilled trades businesses are being advised they have until Friday 8 January next year to register an interest in working for The Highland Council on future contracts with an individual value of up to £25,000. The Council is also urging consultants to register an interest by this deadline for future consultancy work for projects of all values.
Guidance on tackling bullying via the Internet and mobile phones is soon to be distributed to all staff in education, culture and sport establishments throughout The Highland Council's area. Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of the Council's Education, Culture and Sport Committee said: "Members have given their full endorsement to new Cyberbullying Guidance which was created by a multi-agency/organisation working group.
Highland Council Trading Standards Service is warning householders to be on their guard if they receive a phone call informing them that they have won a free house alarm. Unsuspecting consumers are being 'cold called' by phone with the news that they have won a 'free' alarm and that a representative will be round to fit it for them.