Local Authority News
The credit crunch may be biting but The Highland Council has cash grants available to assist with home improvements, adaptations and repairs. Home improvement and repair grants are available to help people living in owner-occupied or privately-rented housing to meet the costs of having their homes improved, repaired or adapted.
The Highland Council is to step up its campaign to persuade HM Revenue and Customs and the UK Government to reverse their decision to close the HMRC Office in Wick in 2012. The Wick office, which employs 23 staff, is scheduled to be closed as part of a national restructure which will see the closure of 20 sites across Scotland.
Kate Birch, The Highland Council's Children's Services Manager for Inverness, Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey, has been chosen at the Council's Employee of the year. She received her prize at the Council's annual Quality Awards, held at the North Highland College, Thurso, on Monday night.
The Highland Council has invested in a new vehicle and crew to expand the recycling routes in the far north. Caithness will be the first area in the Highlands to receive the Council's new kerbside recycling collection for rural areas.
As of 1 July 2008 The Highland Council will be changing its policy for the bulky uplift service for certain household wastes, by removing bagged or other contained excess household waste from the list of approved items. This amendment to the service is designed to help improve the environment by reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.
Part time 20mph speed limits have been introduced at another four Highland schools. The new speed limits operate when pupils are arriving and departing from Ullapool High, and Ullapool, Bower and Crossroads Primaries during term times.
People in Caithness are benefiting from further expansion of The Highland Council's kerbside recycling collection service for paper, cans and garden waste. Mr William Nicolson from Battery Road in Castletown is one of 500 households benefiting from the roll out of the scheme, bringing the total number of households in Caithness to 8,000 and around 70,000 in total throughout Highland.
Trading Standards officers of The Highland Council are advising the public to show the door to itinerant traders, who offer to carry out a range of work on the home. And residents should not hesitate to report to the police any trader who is menacing and threatening in trying to secure a contract and cash payment.
Tenants of The Highland Council are being urged to consider insuring the contents of their homes to avoid the cost of having to replace furnishings and equipment lost by a major incident, such as flooding, burglary or fire. With its insurance partner Allianz, the Council is providing low cost home contents insurance for tenants.
In a move to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill sites, The Highland Council has altered its free Bulky Uplift policy so that from the beginning of July 2008 black bag waste will be removed from the list of approved items for these pre-arranged collections. Currently the free uplifting service can be booked to remove any article of household waste which cannot fit into a normal domestic bin, any item which weighs over 25kg and up to 10 black bags.
The Highland Council has been awarded the Charter Mark Standard for excellence in customer service delivery for its network of 37 Service Points and its Service Centre at Alness. After first achieving Charter Mark status in 1999, this is the fifth time that the Cabinet Office has presented the Council with this UK Government award which recognises top quality service delivery.
Funding for local tourism projects in the Highlands has received a welcome boost from The Highland Council. The Council has revealed that it contributed over £84,000 to community tourism projects around the Highlands during 2007/08 and that it intends raising the upper limit on individual grants available in the new financial year.
Young people from across the Highlands recently got the chance for the third year running to play the "Apprentice" by shadowing senior officials within The Highland Council's Glenurquhart offices in Inverness and partner agencies. The executive of Highland Youth Voice, the youth parliament for the Highlands, have found this event to be the best way of developing their links with policy makers and decision-takers.
The Highland Council has agreed to form a working group to review the political arrangements that have been in place since the new council was elected in May, last year. The group of 15 members of the Independent/Scottish National Party Administration will examine:- ~ the strategic committee structure; ~ the Planning Applications and Review Committees, Licensing Committees and Licensing Board, currently set up in each of the three operational areas; ~ the operation of the wards and ward forums; and ~ the potential for technological solutions to secure improved access to the democratic process for elected members and the public.
Highland Councillors are calling on the Boundary Commission for Scotland to reconsider proposals for new Scottish Parliamentary boundaries in the Highlands so that the area is represented by four directly elected constituency MSPs instead of the current three. The Commission is consulting on a proposal to establish three constituencies, called North Highland, West Highland and East Highland.
Trading Standards Officers of The Highland Council are taking part in a national campaign ~ Scams Awareness Month - to crack down on the misery and heartache caused by unscrupulous scammers, whose sole aim is to persuade consumers to part with their money. Working jointly with the Office of Fair Trading, they are focusing on consumer education to help the public spot a scam and are encouraging the public to hand in to designated Council offices scam literature received this month.
The Highland Council is set to spend an additional £1 million in the new financial year in keeping Highland communities cleaner and tidier. The commitment to community works is a priority of the Council Administration and, subject to confirmation by the full Council on 14 February, communities will see:- - Increased levels of education and enforcement in littering and dog fouling by employing three enforcement officers (£90,000); - Increased standards of litter picking and street cleaning by employing an additional 17 street cleansing staff (£500,000); - Increased standards of grounds maintenance by employing the equivalent of 34 additional seasonal grounds maintenance operatives (£410,000).
Pulteney House, Wick, a care home for 18 older people, was officially reopened today (Friday 1st February) following a £431,000 refurbishment. This is the sixth Highland run care home to be refurbished under the Council's programme of improvements at a total cost so far of £2.3 million.
A footbridge, which forms an important pedestrian link to Thurso Cemetery, is to be replaced by The Highland Council at a cost of £400,000. The bridge was lost in the floods of October 2006 - and with it went one of the town's most popular walks.
The first Ward Forum for The Highland Council electoral ward of Wick will take place in the Norseman Hotel, Wick on Tuesday 11 September from 7.00 pm - 9.00 pm. The meeting will be held in public and there will be a 20 minute session at the close of the meeting for the public to ask questions.