Local Authority News
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.
To help meet the increasing demand for building warrants and completion certificates, The Highland Council's Resources Committee has agreed to create three additional posts of building standards officer. The new staff will be based in the Council's offices at Dingwall, Fort William and Kingussie.
Energy management measures are beginning to pay dividends for The Highland Council and further investments are proposed to meet targets set by the Council's Administration to reduce energy use and carbon emissions by 15% and increase renewable energy sources by a minimum of 4,000 kw by 2010. The Highland Council's Resources Committee was told this week that at the end of the first year of the Council's energy management performance plan, an overall decrease in energy consumption of 16% was achieved and almost £1 million of costs avoided.
A bid is to be made by The Highland Council to the Scottish Government for a further £1,668,000 of grant aid to fully fund the repairs to council properties/infrastructure and community assets caused by the storm damage of October last year. In March, the Council has received a grant of £4 million towards the repair bill.
A new section of website focusing on the regeneration efforts in Caithness and North Sutherland has been launched. The importance of the work now going on cannot be underestimated and a look at the bottom of this page shows the bodies involved in this new process to find a new future for the far north post Dounreay.
Highland Council's new leadership team visited Dounreay on July 20 to see how Scotland's biggest nuclear clean-up project is changing the face of the north Highlands. Recently-elected convener Councillor Sandy Park was accompanied by the authority's new chief executive Alistair Dodds on a tour of the £2.9 billion project to decommission the fast reactor experiment.
Trading Standards Officers at The Highland Council are calling on consumers to be on their guard when buying on the internet after a survey highlighted that 40% of on-line business failed to fully comply with the Law. A recent in-depth survey has uncovered a variety of problems for consumers such as hidden costs and denial of cancellation rights.
Public Urged To Be On Their Guard Against Romanian Street Traders Selling Fake Gold Jewellery The Highland Council's Trading Standards Unit and Northern Constabulary are urging the public to be on their guard against Romanian street traders who are operating in the Highlands. Trading Standards officers within the Council's TEC Services and Northern Constabulary have received complaints regarding street sellers approaching members of the public and businesses offering "fake" gold rings, chains and bracelets.
The process for the development of a new Highland Council office in Wick took a step further forward this week when members of the Council's Resources Committee agreed to ask four developers to submit outline solutions for the development to the Council. At the end of 2006 and early 2007 the Council advertised its requirements for a new office to provide accommodation for between 150 - 200 staff currently based in a number office buildings in Wick.
Highland councilors will be asked at a meeting of the Resources committee on 14th February 2007 in Inverness to approve the use of contractors who are registered with Constructionline, an Approved List register of assessed companies. See www.constructionline.co.uk Several councils and other public bodies in Scotland already require contractors and consultants in the construction industry to be registered with Constructionline as part of the pre-qualification requirements when applying for property-related construction tenders.
With only two weeks before Christmas Day, The Highland Council's Trading Standards Service is advising shoppers during this busy time to be aware of their consumer rights. Head of Trading Standards, Nigel MacKenzie said: "Some shoppers have taken the option to shop on-line this Christmas in order to beat the car park queues and crowds thronging around the busy towns throughout the Highlands.
Christmas could break the bank for the more than 6.6 million people already behind on payments, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) warned today launching its Christmas debt awareness campaign. The campaign asks shoppers to think of the debt they may be racking up ahead of January when the bills arrive.
An E-learning system developed by The Highland Council to train staff on Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit fraud awareness is such a success that it is now being used by 270 other local authorities across the UK. The training package entitled "Focus on Fraud Awareness" makes the process of delivering quality training to a large number of front-line staff spread across a large geographical area both effective and efficient.
The Highland Council's TEC Services has approved increased taxi fares following consultation with the trade and public and these will take effect from Monday 18 September. The Council undertook a review of the maximum level of charges for the hire of taxis or private hires cars fitted with taxi meters in accordance with the requirements of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.