Storm damage takes its toll on Highland roads
16th January 2020
Storm Brendan has taken its toll on roads and infrastructure across the Highlands.
Localised flooding, wind and ice has caused damage to roads, paths, car parks and walls in numerous areas including Applecross, Lochaber and Caithness and Sutherland. This week's storm follows recent severe weather causing two significant landslides which closed roads in South Skye and Rasaay, temporarily cutting off communities and costing thousands in debris clearance and road repairs.
The Highland Council has the longest road network in the UK with 4,000 miles of local roads, 1,000 miles of footpaths and 1,400 bridges spanning a region covering one third of Scotland. The extensive road infrastructure presents significant maintenance challenges to the Council and severe weather events result in significant additional costs which put more pressure on the limited roads budget.
Budget Leader Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: "Local roads are vital to connecting our communities and keeping them sustainable. The condition of roads is a high priority for local residents and this is very clear in all our engagement with communities.
"We have the most extensive network of roads in the UK and added to this, we are faced with some of the most severe weather conditions here in the Highlands. Flooding and freeze-thaw conditions, which we have seen in recent days causes immense damage to road surfaces and this adds to the already immense maintenance costs of our infrastructure. Climate change will only increase the impact of weather damage creating an additional burden on our resources.
Depute Leader Alasdair Christie set out the need for further investment. He added: "Our entire roads network is vital to our rural communities and lifeline services. Every penny invested in maintaining this critical network also helps to support our tourism and business economy as well as improve connectivity for everyone in the Highlands.
“We allocated an extra £1.5M to roads as part of last year's budget and we want to be in a position to invest more in such improvements. It would cost many millions to get the roads across our entire network into top condition. It is therefore vital that the Scottish Government recognises the real impact of climate change in the Highlands and the need for this investment when setting its budget next month."
Damage at Applecross
Council tax payers in Highland who have lost their jobs or are experiencing a drop in their income are being encouraged to apply as quickly as possible for a reduction in their council tax. This help, known as the ‘Council Tax Reduction Scheme', is available for lower income households, including home owners.
Around 19,000 business rate payers in Highland will not receive their annual rates bill this April. The Highland Council recognises the exceptional economic challenges for local business and has therefore decided to pause business rates bills in respect of financial year 2020/21.
What is 'shielding'? If you fall within one of the groups recommended to shield, you will have received a letter or text from the NHS. Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people by minimising contact between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.
During this time of restrictions it is important that we all stay active, for our physical health and mental well being. Recreation outside is an important element of this, but it is essential that each of us practice good social distancing while outside.
The Highland Council has launched a free helpline to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support during Covid19. The single line number - 0300 303 1362 - will connect callers to relevant Council specialist teams and will operate Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm.
Highland Council will be providing e-vouchers to families to support access to free school meals from week commencing 30 March 2020. This innovative and easy-to-use service will ensure over 4,000 school children will continue to receive support for school meals while schools are closed.
The Council has been working at pace to set up centres for the children of key workers. Anyone who has applied for a place at one of the key worker hubs in the Highland Council area will be contacted by the end of today (Wednesday 25th) with confirmation of the arrangements that have been put in place.
THE HELPLINE GOES LIVE TODAY FROM 2:00pm ONWARDS. The Highland Council has launched a free helpline to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support during Covid19.
Due to the COVID19 restrictions and the closure of Council Service Points, there has been a change in the way Highland Council provides its Homeless services. If you become Homeless, please contact the Council's Service Centre on 01349 886602 (during office hours) and 01349 886691 (out of hours) for further help and support.
As a landlord, the Council's priority is maintaining the welfare of our tenants and providing you with essential services at this difficult time. The situation is changing daily, but this bulletin contains the most up-to-date information about where you can seek advice if you have any concerns about your wellbeing, income or other tenancy matters.
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