Local Voices, Highland Choices
1st September 2017
The Highland Council's ruling coalition Administration will be presenting its five-year Programme at the Council meeting next week (7 September). The Programme sets out a number of strategic goals delivered through 5 themes: a place to live, a place to learn, a place to thrive, a welcoming place and a redesigned council.
Council Leader, Margaret Davidson said:"We are taking a new approach to the development of the Council's Programme. Next week, I will be asking the Council to agree our high level strategic priorities for the Highlands. Once approved, I will be going on the road and engaging locally to ensure that we deliver the programme on the ground in a way that is responsive to local circumstances. This is not a document that will grow dusty on a shelf somewhere. It is the catalyst for the delivery of locally responsive and democratically accountable services. It takes both a revolutionary and evolutionary approach to ensure we reflect the many and diverse voices of the Highlands to deliver what is right for them."
The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Depute Leader of the Council, Alasdair Christie said:"I hope the public will appreciate the new approach we have taken. Our Programme is simple and accessible and shows great clarity of purpose. It sets out a vision for the Highlands that I believe everyone can get behind, as well as highlighting the critical role of the Council in representing and protecting Highland interests on the national stage."
The Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Jimmy Gray added:"The Council needs to listen to local voices and deliver collaboratively. By working with our staff, our communities and our partners I am confident we can deliver our Programmes' strategic goals and priorities in a way that puts democracy at the heart of our local communities."
The Convener of the Council, Bill Lobban said: “The public sector in Scotland is facing unprecedented financial challenges and local government perhaps most of all. We cannot afford to continue to deliver the same services in the same way as we’ve always done. It is absolutely right that the choices about where to prioritise and direct our scarce resources are made as locally as possible. We trust our communities to have mature conversations about the decisions which affect them.”
Council will be asked to agree the draft Programme at its meeting on 7 September. The agreed priorities will form the basis of the Council’s corporate and service plans.
Highland Council Meeting Agenda and papers for 7 September 2017
The Highland Council and its Commercial and Procurement Shared Services partners Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils are running a series of events to help businesses supply to the public sector. Some of the events are hosted by other organisations and we will be signposting suppliers to these as well.
Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson has moved to reassure communities about forthcoming budget decisions. She said: "No decisions will be made until the Council meets on 15 February.
At Highland Council work has been ongoing for some months to prepare a Revenue and Capital Budget for 2018/19 and beyond, with the anticipation of a significant cut to available funds. The Scottish Government's proposed grant settlement was announced on 14 December 2017.
Around £3 million of funding has been agreed for a ground-breaking Highland project that could transform the lives of people with complex health needs as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal. The business case for the ‘FitHome' assisted living project was approved in November last year with £3m funding from the Scottish Government.
An article in the Press and Journal today 9th January 2018 highlights the cuts in staffing levels across Scottish councils with Highland being one of the highest. In 2009 Highland had 9953 Full-time Equivalent Staff and in 2017 it had dropped by 21% to 7838.
Highland Council Trading Standards team has recently seen an increase in scams targeting Highland businesses. The most common scams reported by businesses relate to marketing and publishing but other frauds such as those involving demands for payment for unsolicited goods sent to businesses (such as ink cartridges which were never ordered) are also on the rise.
Cognitive improvements to be included in Blue Badge scheme The disabled person's parking badge pilot, which was launched in April 2016, has been made permanent by the Scottish Government. The eligibility criteria were revised and extended under a pilot to allow carers and relatives of people who pose a risk to themselves or others in traffic to apply for a disabled person's parking badge, provided they meet the criteria.
People looking to pick up a New Year bargain in the sales on the internet, by mail order or on the high street are being encouraged by The Highland Council's Trading Standards team to be aware of their consumer rights and to stay safe online from scams and fake websites that try to dupe inexperienced online shoppers trying to buy a bargain. Consumers have extra protection when they shop online.
The British Hospitality Association secured a major victory today (21 December2017) as the Scottish Government confirmed that any plans for a ‘tourist tax' in Edinburgh - or any other Scottish cities - are firmly off the table. The BHA has been campaigning consistently for over six years against the implementation of any such additional and uncompetitive tax and is delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised our reservations.
Chief Executive of The Highland Council, Steve Barron said: "The Council is continuing to do all it can to support employees who lost their jobs following the change in contract for the processing of recycled waste. Evanton-based William Munro Construction laid off the staff after Highland Council transferred a recycling contract.
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