Bank closures will unfairly affect towns with poorest broadband
7th December 2017
The Highland Council expresses its deep disappointment at the news of further branch closures by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Leader of the Highland Council Margaret Davidson said: "This will cause real difficulties for many customers and small businesses.
"While acknowledging the changing nature of banking and the rapid growth of digital banking services, there are many for whom this is neither a practical option, nor one they are comfortable with. So it is vital that they have access to physical face-to-face banking services.
“The Council is therefore calling on the UK Government to ensure communities, particularly vulnerable customers and small businesses, have access to day to day banking services by establishing and enforcing a guaranteed minimum level of service provision for essential banking services, including access to free to use cash machines."
Yesterday, 5 December, the Press and Journal published a table of towns threatened by RBS bank closures showing that many of these have some of the worst broadband speeds, the majority of them being in Highland. It reveals that Aviemore, Grantown on Spey, Tain, and Mallaig are in the worst 20% of speeds, while Kyle, Tongue, and Beauly are amongst the worst 10%.
Internet speeds this low makes access to online banking and other services extremely difficult if not impossible. Without high speed and quality, it results in frustration and failure to complete specific online tasks.
Cllr Davidson continued: “The excellent article in the Press and Journal yesterday clearly illustrated the fact that many communities losing their local bank branches, have the poorest levels of broadband coverage. So to tell people they can bank on line is just not practical. Nor is it practical for businesses to travel for miles on a daily basis to bank their cash and access change.
“I intend to raise this matter at the next Highland Council meeting."
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.
[Printer Friendly Version]