Co-location Improves Local Access To Services In Wick And Fort William
30th November 2017
The Highland Council and Department for Work and Pensions are implementing plans to improve accessibility to their services. This joint venture will see the jobcentre staff co-locating with the Council and other services in the council's new modern office developments in both Fort William and Wick.
The services will be available in the new council offices at the Charles Kennedy Building, Achintore Road, Fort William from 4 December and in the new council offices at Caithness House, Market Place, Wick from 11 December 2017.
Chair of the Lochaber Committee, Councillor Andrew Baxter and Chair of the Caithness Committee, Councillor Donnie Mackay have welcomed the plans. They said: "This is really good news for service users in Lochaber and Caithness. Customers visit Council offices in Fort William and Wick to access a range of services including registering births, helping with Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction enquiries & Council entitlements, such as School Clothing Grants, signing council house tenancies, viewing planning information and to enquire about other services. This latest development means that customers can also receive services from the DWP from the same building, such as maintain their welfare benefit claims and receive support from their job centre work coach to find a job or to increase their hours while also accessing other services."
Councillor Alasdair Christie, Depute Leader and Chair of the Council's People Committee, said: "This is a fresh and exciting approach to delivering services that places customers at the heart of design and provides modern and accessible facilities for residents. This joint venture will enable staff from both organisations to work alongside each other, improving how the building is used, whilst at the same time reducing the overall property costs of the public estate and greatly improving the way in which our customers access services."
The North of Scotland Jobcentre Plus District Manager, Carol Dutch commented:"I am delighted to be working in partnership with The Highland Council to deliver an enhanced and improved customer service in the newly developed local authority premises located in Fort William and Wick. This one stop shop will allow claimants to access a wide range of services, while providing value for money for taxpayers."
The Highland Council has agreed to use City-Region Deal funding to part fund new mid-market housing projects throughout the Highlands. The affordable housing projects will be developed by Albyn Housing Society and Highland Housing Alliance in Ullapool, Fort William, Alness, Inverness, Aviemore, Grantown, Drumnadrochit and Newtonmore and will deliver 61 new homes targeted at young people working in the area.
The Highland Council is set to make it easier for the public to report incidents of fly tipping and be advised when action is taken. As part of an evaluation of its street cleaning service an in-depth LEAN review of how the council deals with fly tipping has been carried out to look at ways of improving responsiveness and customer satisfaction.
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.
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