Local Authority News
Chair of Chair, Economy and Infrastructure Committee comments on Scottish Government's funding for Wick John O'Groats Airport Following representations made by The Highland Council, the Scottish Government has proposed that up to £4 million will be made available to the Council over the next four financial years to bring back scheduled services at Wick John O'Groats Airport. The Scottish Government have suggested that the Council be the lead partner in setting the specification for the services to be provided in consultation with local communities and businesses.
Members of The Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee have welcomed the opportunity to review progress of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal which continues to play a pivotal role in delivering significant investment through a variety of ground-breaking projects. The Inverness and Highland City Region deal is a joint initiative supported by up to £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and University of the Highlands and Islands, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth over a 10-year period.
Members of The Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee have approved a new discretionary grant scheme to mitigate some of the short-term financial challenges being experienced by businesses adversely impacted by restrictions and regulations introduced since October to control the spread of COVID-19. In recognition of the significant financial hardships and risks for businesses as a result of COVID-19 protective measures, the Scottish Government has made available a range of grants to businesses which are being delivered by The Highland Council, including a new discretionary grant of up to £1,525,924.
The Highland Council is providing all parent councils with a Gmail address to help establish a consistent approach to communication across parent councils in Highland. Cllr John Finlayson, Chair of Education Committee said: "I am delighted we have managed to pull this together, as consistent partnership working and communication with parents is essential, as we work together to support the education of all our young people.
On 4th February 2021 The Economy and Infrastructure committee of Highland Council will debate a wide ranging paper The Highland Labour Market on how to deal with the rising numbers of unemployed people in Highland. The meeting will be web cast at https://highland.public-i.tv/core/portal/home The paper covers many aspects of how to help people find and get back into work.
Households in the Highland who are on low income and experiencing fuel insecurities as a result of COVID-19 can apply for a Fuel Support Fund from The Highland Council. The £270,000 Fuel Support Fund has been set up by the Council using Scottish Government funding which can be used flexibly to alleviate financial insecurities.
Businesses throughout Highland will today start seeing Closure Grant payments in their bank accounts. The Business Closure Grant is a Scottish Government scheme, administered by The Highland Council, which gives grants of £2000 and £3000 to businesses who have had to close due to the COVID-19 protective measures introduced on Boxing Day.
As we continue to deal with Level 4 temporary lockdown restrictions, more and more people are experiencing an impact on their finances and wellbeing. The Highland Council Housing Tenant Participation team have produced a ‘Tenant Briefing' advising tenants what housing services are available, and where they can access help and support if they need it.
The Highland Council has begun detailed designs works on a major £2.5m energy project, part-funded by the Scottish Government through Salix Finance. At a site on the River Ness, near Whin Park in Inverness, the council is preparing to install a 92kW ‘Archimedes Screw' hydroelectric power turbine.
Members of The Highland Council's Caithness Committee have approved additional funding for a project to bring new life to the site of a former derelict building on Wick High Street. In September last year the Scottish Government announced extra funding through the Town Centre Fund as part of its national economic recovery stimulus package, particularly aimed at supporting construction activity across Scotland.
Inverness Councillors on The Highland Council's City and Area Recovery Group today discussed the importance of local businesses having an online digital presence for customer access during the pandemic and post-lockdown recovery. Good digital access via websites and social media was the common theme raised by two speakers from Business Gateway and the Highland Food and Drink Trail in presentations to Councillors.
The Council's ICT in Learning team have been working hard to continue to support our school communities as we deliver remote learning to all children and young people across Highland. Chair of Education committee, Cllr John Finlayson said: "I want to thank all of our staff in Education who have worked incredibly hard to ensure that our school communities are receiving support and a quality education experience.
Enrolment for all ELC providers, including local authority nurseries, partner settings and commissioned childminders, will take place online this year. Enrolment week for ELC places will take place on Monday 8 February to Friday 12 February 2021.
The Scottish Government has launched a £1,500 grant scheme to assist each individual licensed taxi or private hire driver with their fixed costs including licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road. The Highland Council's Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Trish Robertson said: "The Highland Council has been asked by the Scottish Government to deliver this grant scheme on their behalf.
Following discussions at the recent Council meeting, the Council Leader has formally written to the Local Government Boundary Commission on their proposals for councillor numbers and ward boundaries in the Highland Council area. She advised the Boundary Commission that the Council rejected the Commission's proposals in their entirety and formally requested that they halt this process immediately and review the whole issue of remote and rural area boundaries and councillor numbers in consultation with the Highland Council and other local authorities who have mainland councils with inhabited islands.
Applicants for the Scottish Government's Temporary Business Closure Grant can now apply even if they do not have a formal business bank account. Businesses will now be able to use a personal bank account as evidence, if the account is mainly used for their business banking.
A significant top-up to the grant support available for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses across Scotland closed by level 4 restrictions will be paid following an announcement by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. In addition to the grants businesses receive through the Strategic Business Framework Fund, eligible businesses will also get a one off grant of.
Members at yesterday's previously adjourned and re-scheduled meeting of Highland Council voted to carry a motion introduced to make adjustments to the agenda in light of the situation in relation to COVID-19 and Brexit. The urgent motion was proposed by Highland Council Leader Cllr Margaret Davidson and supported by the Leader of the official Opposition, Cllr Raymond Bremner.
The Highland Council today launched the Temporary Business Closure Grant. This grant is available for businesses who have had to close due to the COVID-19 protective measures introduced on Boxing Day.
The Council wishes to provide re-assurance to communities that it's Winter Gritting teams are continuing to work extremely hard throughout the area during the current lock-down, providing a road and pavement gritting service following the Council's policy on prioritisation of routes. Details of the council's highland wide and local area gritting policies and maps are on the Council’s website at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting.