Local Authority News
Members have agreed six priority commitments in a revised Council Programme at today's council meeting. The six themes within the Programme are: A Council that Champions the Highlands; A Place to Live; A place to Thrive; A place to Prosper; A Welcoming Place; and Your Highland Council These themes and the actions which the council has agreed to, reflect priorities which have emerged through the round of public engagement during November.
The Highland Council is to carry out a public consultation on the implementation of a transient visitor levy in the New Year. During the Council's public engagement activity during November, a strong theme was support for raising income from tourism, including a tourist levy, which could support local infrastructure, as well as the tourism sector itself.
THROUGHOUT the month of November, The Highland Council's Chief Executive and members of the budget team have met with staff, groups and communities across the length and breadth of the Highlands. These sessions were part of a budget engagement exercise which also included facebook chats, survey, leaflet, video, and a budget challenge to raise awareness of budget challenges and gather views and priorities.
The Highland Council has today (Tuesday 11 December 2018) announced significant progress in the quality of collection and reporting on the performance of it's town centres through the release of new Town Centre Health Check "Story Maps". The maps contain a huge amount of data on many aspects.
A Highland Council employee, nominated by the tenants she works with, has scooped a national award. Lorna Simpson from Wick has been a Tenant Participation Officer with The Highland Council for the past ten years, covering Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.
Highland Council's work to continuously improve Tenant Participation in the region has been recognised by the Scottish Housing Regulator and the Tenant Participation Advisory Service. Members of the Council's Care, Learning and Housing Committee have welcomed the recognition received by Housing Staff and commended their ongoing engagement activities.
Members of The Highland Council's Care, Learning and Housing Committee have approved the first draft ‘Highland Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan' for 2019 - 2024 which will be submitted to the Scottish Government by the end of this year. The plan provides an analysis of homelessness in the region and the capacity to deliver rapid rehousing within the current patterns of housing need and demand.
Welfare staff within Highland Council's UK Award winning Benefits and Welfare Reform Team have decided to forego their office Secret Santa tradition and instead donate to Blythswood's Highland Foodbank this Christmas. Sheila McKandie, Highland Council's Benefits and Welfare Manager explained:"On a daily basis we work with the dedicated team at Blythswood Highland Foodbank directing people to them who are in urgent need.
The latest outlook for future housing delivery and school roll forecasts across Highland has been announced by the Highland Council today (Tuesday 4 December 2018). The joint publication of the Housing Land Audit and School Roll Forecast provides up to date forecasts for housing delivery and school rolls across the Highland Council area and will be used to monitor, implement and share details of the actions needed to support future housing growth.
Since the referendum decision to leave the European Union, The Highland Council has considered and made representations on a number of issues which have potential implications for the Highland economy and Highland communities. EU funding has brought hundreds of millions of pounds of assistance to the region over the past 40 years which has been critical to the region's growth.
Following the announcement on 28 November 2018 by Thai Union that they will close at the end of the year their Edinburgh Salmon plant in Dingwall, a multi-agency response to support the staff has commenced. Known as the PACE initiative (Partnership for Continuing Employment) The Highland Council, together with local public sector agencies provide free, impartial advice to staff on dealing with the practical and emotional sides of redundancy, including support to get a new job.
Last week's Resources Committee noted the positive movement in the Council's revenue budget from a projected year end overspend in quarter one of £5m down to £2.2 in quarter two. This has been assisted by concerted effort across services and enhanced control of vacancies and all expenditure.
Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of the Highland Council will be meeting with Scottish Government Ministers in Parliament today, 29 November 2018 to discuss a number of issues of importance to the Highlands. In the morning she will be meeting with Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands to discuss community benefit, and digital connectivity in the Highlands.
A proposed objection to a massive Moray Firth wind project by Highland Council did not take place as planned. Highland council planning officers had intimated that the council would lay an objection to the north planning applications committee and it was stated in the papers the week before but the objection was not put.
Highland Council's outstanding revenue and customer services team has won both the Scottish and UK IRRV awards for its excellent approach to reforming services. Teamwork and new online applications mean that the council consistently meets the challenging one-day national target for getting crisis payments into the hands of vulnerable customers which is crucial for many of the applicants and no mean feat when you consider that the council covers a geographical area which is a third of the land mass of Scotland and 20% larger than Wales.
Lochaber Area Committee at its meeting on 7th November, 2018 decided to introduce two hours free car parking in the six weeks running up to Christmas for Fort William. Cllr Allister Mackinnon Budget Leader said, "We are aware of the decision made by the Lochaber Area Committee to offer 2 hours free car parking in the run up to Christmas, however legal advice is that the decision has budgetary consequences and therefore it needs to be considered by the Highland Council when it next meets on 13th December 2018".
Local authorities and communities will have a stronger voice in the management of Scottish Crown Estate assets. Under reforms passed by Parliament , the Scottish Crown Estate Bill establishes a framework to deliver wider benefits and new opportunities for local control of these assets, while recognising that some may still need to be managed at the national level.
The Highland council wants to hear the views of the public in what is another very difficult period of difficulties in deciding how to spend a reducing amount of money. Events are taking place in Caithness and Sutherland at - Wed 21 Nov Caithness - 2.00pm - Market Square - Wick Precinct Wed 21 Nov Caithness - Wick 6pm to 7pm Caithness House Thur 22 Nov Caithness - 10am to 11pm Thurso Precinct Thursday 22 Sutherland - 2pm to 3pm The Kyle Centre Tongue Thursday 22 Sutherland - 7pm to 8pm Lochinver Village Hall See full details at - https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/670/consultations_complaints_and_compliments/668/our_budget.
UNISON, Unite and the GMB have urged Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, the Economy & Fair Work to attend talks to avert strike action across local government, in a letter sent today. The three trade unions representing local government workers have called for a tripartite meeting, involving Derek Mackay, COSLA and trade union representatives, to discuss local government finance and the urgent need to allocate additional funds to COSLA to fund a proper pay rise for local government workers and avert strike action across the local government workforce.
At his last official function The Highland Council's retiring CEX Steve Barron has paid tribute to two members of staff for their outstanding work. During The Highland Council's Quality Awards event, held last Thursday in Inverness Town House, he took the opportunity to present a special commendation award to the Council's Project Co-ordinator for War Memorials Alf Leslie.