The Highland Council Backs An End To Tenants' Right To Buy
28th August 2012
The Highland Council is to support an option being considered by the Scottish Government to end the right that Council house tenants have to buy their homes. The Council believes that ending the right to buy will help it meet the growing demand for affordable rented accommodation as housing waiting lists grow.
In a submission to the Scottish Government's consultation "The Future of Right to Buy in Scotland", the Council highlights that 57% (15,244 houses) of its housing stock has been sold through right to buy since 1981.
Pressured Area Status, covering most of the Highlands apart from a few Caithness communities, was introduced in 2005 to stem the loss of Council homes. Last year, 79 Council houses were sold through the right to buy.
In its submission, the Council says: "The sale of social rented stock has contributed to the chronic housing shortage and increase in pressure on housing and homelessness across the Highlands. In rural communities, sales have seriously depleted the housing stock available to meet local housing need. Moreover, research indicates that ex-Council properties sold on the open market are often unaffordable to many local households.
Councillor Dave Fallows, Chairman of the Finance Housing and Resources Committee, said: "We very much welcome this consultation. Like the Scottish Government we recognise that many people want to own their own homes but we do not believe that this should be at the expense of homes in the social rented sector, particularly given the very great need for, and the serious and persistent shortage, of these houses and the limited availability of public funds. There is a chronic and persistent lack of social rented housing in Highland which is projected to persist in the future. Pressures are not diminishing and are expected to increase with the changes to homelessness duties and the effects of welfare reforms."
The Highland Council has agreed to use City-Region Deal funding to part fund new mid-market housing projects throughout the Highlands. The affordable housing projects will be developed by Albyn Housing Society and Highland Housing Alliance in Ullapool, Fort William, Alness, Inverness, Aviemore, Grantown, Drumnadrochit and Newtonmore and will deliver 61 new homes targeted at young people working in the area.
The Highland Council is set to make it easier for the public to report incidents of fly tipping and be advised when action is taken. As part of an evaluation of its street cleaning service an in-depth LEAN review of how the council deals with fly tipping has been carried out to look at ways of improving responsiveness and customer satisfaction.
Highland Councillors agreed a council tax increase of 3% which will mean an increase of £35.93 per annum on a Band D property. Overall, the budget gap of £15,146 million has been met by a package of savings which includes increasing Council Tax income by £3.448 million, increasing income by £3,059 million, setting a target of £2,250 million to be saved through Redesign and reducing expenditure by £5.1 million.
Redesign is about the Council being more open-minded to new ways of delivering services, more commercially-minded to raise income to support services and jobs across the region and being more community-minded, listening locally and supporting more community-run services. The Highland Council is seeking to release over £2.2 million in savings this year through redesign projects.
An election will take place for Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council on Wednesday 21 February 2018. The maximum permitted membership for the Community Council is 7 and as 8 nominations have been received, the 1349 electors in the community council area are being invited to cast their vote via a postal ballot.
Over three thousand people visited Inverness Town House last weekend to see for themselves the completion of interior works on the public historic Grade A listed building following recent renovations. Around 2,000 visitors passed through the Town House doors on Saturday 10th and another 1,200 people on Sunday 11th February.
Nomination packs for prospective candidates for the Caol and Mallaig Ward by-election are now available from The Highland Council's website. The by-election is being held following the sad death of Councillor Billy MacLachlan who was one of three Councillors representing Ward 11.
Maps of the Council's gritting routes by priority and policy are available online at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting The information provided is a summary of reports from operational staff and is intended to give a general indication of typical conditions in each area at a point in time. It is not intended to imply that any individual route is entirely snow and ice free and drivers must be aware that conditions can change rapidly and make their own assessment of conditions for travelling.
In recognition that roads are a high priority for communities in Highland the Administration at The Highland Council will be putting forward a budget on Thursday (15 February) that protects the budget for local roads. Chair of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson said: "We have nearly 7,000 kilometres of roads in the Highlands and this network is vital to our rural communities and lifeline services.
The Highland Council is asking stakeholders and members of the public for feedback on new draft guidance aimed at ensuring high quality designs for traditional, replacement and new shopfronts. Not only does the draft Shopfront Design Guide: Planning Guidance provide advice to help promote good quality applications but it encourages developers and applicants to consider design at the earliest stage in their proposals.
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