Schools Budgets To Be Protected In Highland Budget Proposals
14th February 2017
In another challenging financial year, the Highland Council Administration has pledged to protect education services in the 2017/18 budget.
The Highland Council will consider next year's budget at its meeting on Thursday 16 February. School budgets, which fund teachers and school support services, have been protected by the Council Administration, and there are no proposals to make savings in these areas.
Having met the Scottish Government's teacher numbers target in 2016, Highland Council remains committed to maintaining teacher ratios in Primary and Secondary Schools. The Council has also developed a programme to enhance the support to Headteachers and to sustain rural education, which will ensure that all schools can be more effective, as well as more cost effective in future years.
In addition, while Additional Support Needs (ASN) budgets have been reduced by Councils across much of the country, Highland Council's Administration intends another successive year where there will be no cuts to ASN in this authority.
Councillor Drew Millar, Chair of the Education, Children & Adult Services Committee said: "This Administration has pledged to protect education, and I am delighted that we are delivering on this pledge. We will maintain funding for teachers and ASN services.
"This has not been easy, given that Education and Additional Support Needs make up over a third of the total spend of the Council. However, elected members understand how important these services are to our children and to our communities. By investing in education, we are investing in our young people and in the future of the Highlands. We have therefore been determined to protect these services.
"I am also especially pleased that we have committed to withdrawing one budget measure agreed by Council in December 2014. Instead of the planned 10p increase in school meal prices for 2017/18, we are proposing a price freeze this year. We are proud of the quality of our school meals, and we want to encourage full take up, and we believe that this decision needs to be reversed."
Cllr Bill Fernie, The council budget leader said "As both Chairman of Resources committee and as a former chairman covering Education I have tried in these very difficult times with cuts to our core budget to protect this important aspect of our spending plans. The Independent group who make up the present Administration of the council were in no doubt about our priorities and children were one of them. Children, Adult Service and Roads were our top three when we took over and we have tried hard to maintain that position even in the face of significant cuts in our funding from Scottish Goverment.
A Corporate Parenting Board is to be established which will have a duty of care for currently around 500 ‘Looked After' children and young people in Highland. Members of the Highland Community Planning Partnership’s, Community Planning Board have this week (21 March 2018) agreed to establish a Corporate Parenting Board the purpose of which will be to: • promote the corporate parenting role of statutory agencies and awareness of the duties towards care experienced young people in Highland.
The Highland Child Protection Committee has launched a Toolkit to assist individuals, volunteers and community groups working with children and young people understand their roles and responsibilities in relation to child protection. Over 60 people providing activities for children, young people and families in a paid and voluntary capacity came along to the launch event in Inverness yesterday.
Bill Alexander, Director of Care and Learning, has announced his intention to retire from The Highland Council. Bill commenced with the Council in 2000, in a joint post with NHS Highland as Head of Children's Services.
Beware of calls from scammers pretending to be the Telephone Preference Service warns Highland Council Trading Standards. Highland Council Trading Standards wish to warn consumers not to fall for a new telephone call scam in which fraudsters pretend to be calling from the Telephone Preference Service (or TPS).
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.
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