Council Programme agreed - Local Voices, Highland Choices
7th September 2017
The Highland Council has agreed a five-year Programme which sets out a number of strategic goals across 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: "Our Programme builds on the foundations of localism that we have been establishing over recent months. We are committed to devolving more power to areas to make democracy work better for communities.
"This is an exciting and energetic region full of entrepreneurs and we need to build on the undoubted strengths in our communities. Workforce planning is crucial for our future and we must plan to grow our own skilled workforce to meet the needs of tomorrow, with early years provision, support for schools, modern apprenticeships, and supporting and growing job creation and opportunities across the region.
"In tandem with growing jobs and opportunities we need to ensure we have places for people to live and thrive. We have an acute housing need and we will be ambitious with our targets for new homes and encouraging the private sector to join with us in our ambition."
She continued: "There are many risks, mostly fiscal, to the successful outcome of our Programme, but never better opportunities. This programme must have cross-chamber support and the next step is to discuss the detail in a seminar with members and thereafter to engage with our communities and partners in order to deliver the best we can for Highland."
The agreed priorities will form the basis of the Council's corporate and service plans.
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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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