Land reform top of the agenda at Area Committee
12th February 2014
The first item on yesterday's Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee was Land Reform with the meeting starting with a presentation by David Cameron, Convener of Community Land Scotland. Members then took the opportunity to discuss in particular the overview of land reform issues in Sutherland.
Since The Land Reform (Scotland) Act introduced rights for both Communities and Crofting Communities to proceed with land purchase under certain circumstances, six Council owned properties in Caithness and Sutherland have been handed over to local community groups.
The properties are:
. Helmsdale Community Centre
. Embo Community Centre
. Kyle Centre in Tongue
. Tongue Sub-depot
. Site for National Nuclear Archive, Wick
. as well as land at Helmsdale for a Housing project
In its Programme, Working Together for the Highlands, the Council highlights its commitment to promoting and assisting with land reform and to achieve this it has become an associated member of Community Land Scotland in order to further the cause of land reform across the Highlands.
The Community Land Scotland membership in Sutherland currently includes:
. Assynt Foundation - 44,400 acres in community ownership
. Durness Development Group - with interest in MOD lands at Cape Wrath
. Mackay Country Community Trust.
The Leader of Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee, Councillor Deirdre Mackay welcomed the opportunity today to raise awareness of the Community Right To Buy scheme and hear more about the impact land reform has had for local communities as well as looking at the work the Council and other organisations are doing to support communities achieve their goal.
She said: "It is important we understand the regeneration opportunities publicly-owned land might offer communities and encourage and assist any of our communities who are considering taking this step.
"I am keen to encourage more community ownership in our area and as such to share more widely with local people the benefits and developmental opportunities associated with land ownership."
"Here in Sutherland since 2010 the Council has over-seen the transfer of five properties to communities in Helmsdale, Embo and Tongue. Everyone can learn a lot from sharing experiences and hearing how successful community enterprises have managed the transition."
The committee noted that the Government's Land Reform Review Group will be publishing a report in April and decided today to invite the Group to come to present their findings to the Area Committee.
Last June the Council sponsored a Community Land Scotland Conference at Sabhal Mor Ostaig and this year it will be partnering Community Land Scotland to run a series of community seminars across the Highlands to promote the benefits of land ownership and provide technical advice and guidance. Details for these events are to be confirmed but they will be taking place from the end of March onwards in Portree, Durness, Helmsdale, Ullapool, Fort William and Aviemore.
Recent outcomes of Redesign work were noted by Members at yesterday's Highland Council meeting. In the first year of the programme, 8 redesign projects were undertaken using a "Lean" approach and 36 staff have been trained as facilitators.
Motorists are being advised that The Highland Council is currently preparing to carry out resurfacing works at the following locations: • B862 Fort Augustus - Whitebridge - Torness - Dores – Inverness Road; specifically at Errogie Village (North Gateway), Errogie Village (South Gateway), and Compass Farm; and • B851 Errogie – Strathnairn – Daviot Bridge – Culloden Moor Road; specifically at Aberarder House. Advanced works notification signage will be provided at various locations from Thursday 15 March 2018.
The Highland Council has agreed a capital programme of £482m over the next 5 years. The Highland Council serves the largest geographical area in Scotland (over 30%) and has just under £2bn of assets on its balance sheet comprising, amongst other things, 203 operational schools, over 6,700km of roads and over 2,000 properties.
The Highland Council's Enforcement Officers have stepped up patrols in Caithness in a move to tackle the problem of littering, fly tipping and dog fouling. A number of fixed penalty notices have been issued recently including an £80 fine for dog fouling in the Stafford Lane and Back Bridge area of Wick, a £200 fine for fly-tipping on Ackergill Street and another £80 fine for dog fouling in Lybster.
Speaking ahead of today's Council meeting to agree the Council's Capital Programme for 2018/19 to 2022/23, Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of the Highland Council said:- "This programme delivers significant investment in a range of key projects across the Highlands. We are investing in schools, roads, bridges, harbours and flood prevention schemes that will benefit our communities.
Highland Council is to make a special case for extra capital investment in the road infrastructure after a winter period which has seen the Highlands battered by some 57 days of severe weather. Highland Council area is particularly subject to severe winter weather, which has a significant impact on the roads and other infrastructure.
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.
The £48.5m Wick Community Campus built by Morrison Construction has been announced as a finalist at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2018. The project is entered in the category for "Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy" against eight other finalists from across the UK with the winner to be announced during a ceremony at Milton Court Concert Hall on 24 May 2018.
A Partnership for Procurement event was held in Inverness today (Thursday 6 March) to raise awareness and the capability of the third sector to successfully bid, supply and deliver services for the public sector. Partnership for Procurement (P4P) is a new initiative funded through the Scottish Government's 10 Year Social Enterprise Strategy; supporting social enterprises and third sector organisations to better access public contracts and build partnerships.
Across the Northern Alliance local authorities an exciting project has been rolled out to raise attainment in literacy, language and communication. The programme is being delivered in around 50% of primary schools across the Northern Alliance and is aimed at supporting practitioners to take a developmental approach to supporting early literacy development.
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