Leader thanks Citizens' Panel for their views
2nd November 2017
Resident's from across the Highlands have provided positive feedback to the council's latest Citizen's Panel survey. Each year the panel of just over 2300 adults are asked for their views on the performance of the council and to provide information on their attitudes to a range of issues affecting them, their families and their neighbourhoods.
With nearly a thousand responses, it provides important information, which helps councillors set priorities and assists with the current programme of Council redesign - aimed at providing better services, more efficiently.
Leader of the Council Margaret Davidson said: "I would like to thank members of the Citizens’ Panel for their participation and their views. This is extremely useful and valuable information. We want to provide the best possible services for residents, tailored to their priorities. This information helps us make sure we are responding to those priorities.
"For example, the Council continues to work hard to bring decision-making closer to communities and help support people to become more involved in decisions that affect them. This style of localism is a key priority in our Council Programme. It is a response to people, particularly the young, telling us they feel disengaged from decision-making in their own communities."
She continued, "I am delighted the panel members believe the Council meets or exceeds their general expectations, with a significant increasing thinking this compared to the previous year. The majority of respondents reported that the Council maintains local services, listens to local people and provides value for money."
The top three most important services for the public are; road and pothole repairs, winter road maintenance and refuse bin collections. Primary and secondary education was high on the list of important services with the 16 to 34-year age group.
Chairman of the Corporate Resources Committee, Councillor Alister Mackinnon, responding to the survey findings said, "All councillors recognise the challenge of reducing budgets. However, there has been excellent work which has been done to achieve the continued good performance across the Council and I wish to thank staff for the important part they play in delivering these services.
“In previous years we’ve responded to the panel feedback by making sure that repairing our roads and investing in our schools remain budget priorities. Unsurprisingly, reducing budgets and an increased pressure on services has seen a decline in satisfaction levels in some areas. It is clear that with further cuts projected for the next three years, current service provision is unaffordable. This means we need to place emphasis on redesign and involving the public in how we do things differently in the future."
The full 2017 survey report, provided by the UHI Centre for Remote and Rural Studies, can be accessed on our the performance web pages at:
This provides further details on trends over time and graphics, including tables and pie charts. As this is a long report, running to 103 pages, a summary including highlights and areas for improvement is provided below. This year we also asked new questions on involving and developing communities and the full report also provides analysis of the short survey of those under 35 years of age using social media.
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.
The Highland Council Budget team have agreed their final budget proposals which will go to Council for agreement on 15 February 2018. Budget Leader Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: "We have done everything we can to protect frontline services and jobs in a good budget.
The timetable for the election for the return of a councillor for the Caol and Mallaig ward of The Highland Council has been announced today (Monday 5 February) The by-election is being held following the sad death of Councillor Billy MacLachlan who was one of three Councillors representing Ward 11. The other Ward members are Councillors Allan Henderson (Independent) and Ben Thompson (Independent) The Notice of Election and Nomination Form will be published on the Council's website www.highland.gov.uk (external link) on Tuesday 13 February.
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