Local Authority News
The Highland Council has agreed proposals for consulting with the public over options to identify major savings in 2011/12 and 2012/13. At its meeting on 11 February, the Council identified more than £12 million of savings in 2010/11 and more than £11 million of savings in 2011/12 and 2012/13.
The Highland Council has this week written to a random sample of 14,000 Highland households, with the aim of securing agreement from 2,300 volunteers to serve on a Citizens' Panel. The Panel will be used on an ongoing basis by the Council as one method of consultation with the public.
An enhanced online system enabling people to submit planning applications, appeals against decisions, and track progress of proposals in the Highlands goes live on Tuesday 23rd February. Applications will be processed electronically by a team of seven staff based at the Council's electronic processing centre in Inverness.
In its response to the UK Government's review of the management of the Crown Estate in Scotland, The Highland Council has highlighted its eagerness to achieve substantial change which will result in greater local community benefit from marine developments, such as renewable energy projects. The Council has warmly welcomed the inquiry by the Treasury Sub-Committee because it has campaigned for major reform of the Crown Estate in Scotland for many years, seeking a strategic shift in the ownership of marine resources away from the Crown Estate.
- Highland Council Trading Standards "Scam Watch" Campaign launched Throughout February 2010, Highland Council Trading Standards are taking part in the 'Scamnesty 2010' national campaign in a bid to end the scourge of mass marketed scams mailings targeting UK consumers. The 'Scamnesty' national campaign, organised by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), is entering its third year.
Council pleased with call on companies to register for Framework Agreement An open invitation for consultants, contractors and skilled trades businesses to submit an application to work for The Highland Council on contracts with an individual value of up to £25,000 and consultancy work for projects of all values has received a considerable response. Over 700 (476 contractors and 242 consultants) submitted an application by the deadline of Friday 22 January for the Council's framework agreement which will begin in April 2010 and will last for two years, with the option of a one-year extension.
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.