More Pain For Highland As HIE Budget Gets Second Year Of Cuts
10th February 2020
According to the draft Scottish Govenment budget, Highlands and Islands Enterprise will get £58.2 million in the upcoming financial year - down from £61.1 million last year.
2018/19 the budget was £71.7 million. This means a cut of £13.5 million over just two years.
Highlands and Islands MSP, Rhoda Grant, who is also Labour's Shadow Finance Secretary, said: "The fact that HIE has suffered another cut in its funding rings alarm bells that the Scottish Government still has the organisation’s merger within its sights.
“This seems to be the death by a thousand cuts.
“When the Government did a U turn and retained the board of HIE three years ago, I suspected this would not be the end of the fight.
“It would appear, that money is being taken away from this region to fund the creation of South of Scotland Enterprise. This is ludicrous as HIE never covered the south of Scotland.
“It is stealing from Peter to pay Paul.
“Kate Forbes, in her new role, needs to get a grip. She of all people should understand the challenges that the Highlands and Islands economy faces.
These cuts will create further damage."
Added to this there are likely ot be further cuts to the Highland council services. Although a further half billion of funding is being added it does not close the funding gap for councils. COSLA estimated that a full one billion pounds was required to stand still. Hal that amount almost certainly means a further squeeze in Highland only mitigated if other income can be found from thing like increased charge and expanding parking charges.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has warned that the Scottish Government's Budget will hit vulnerable communities the hardest. COSLA has warned the Government that it has not considered successive years of cuts, or rising inflation and demand and have therefore put council services at risk.
Following a review taxi fares in Highland have been held at the same level by the Highland Council Licensing Committee held on 18 February 2019. The papers and the debate on this issue can be seen at items six on the webcast - https://highland.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/469655 There is a 14 Day period for appeal.
A study is underway into the feasibility of replacing Scotland's second busiest ferry service with a fixed link bridge or tunnel. The Highland Council, HITRANS and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) are joint funding the study at the Corran Narrows in Lochaber.
The standstill period under the Council's Trades Services Framework agreement was due to close with effect from Monday 17th February 2020, with the intention of a proposed go live date with the new arrangements and contracts of 24th February. The standstill period is a defined period of time between the notice of the contract award decision and the award of the contract.
The latest generation of small communications satellites could be launched into Earth orbit from the northern Highlands of Scotland within the next two years. Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has submitted a planning application for a vertical launch site, Space Hub Sutherland, that it plans to construct on the A' Mhoine peninsula, Melness, near Tongue.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has contracted marketing and business development company, Business and Tourism Solutions (BTS), who will work with Lochaber Chamber of Commerce to deliver the programme. It will provide intensive engagement, support and interventions for around 50 businesses and providers in the sector across the Highland Council area.
On 14th February 2020 the Highland council place an advert in the Northern times newspaper regarding the Spaceport planning application as follows. - THE HIGHLAND COUNCIL TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (SCOTLAND) ACT 1997 TOWN and COUNTRY PLANNING (ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT) (SCOTLAND) REGULATIONS 2017.
Members today approved a modest 3% rent increase for residential rents and service charges following detailed consultation with tenants. The increase will result in a rise in the average weekly council house rent from £75.38 to £77.74 (£2.26), which means that Highland rents are still 8th lowest of the 26 councils which retain housing.
Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer's first annual report highlights successes and challenges.` Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer for Highland Council, Karen Ralston, has enjoyed a successful first year in her role. Members today noted the 2018/19 annual report at the meeting of the Health, Wellbeing and Social Care committee.
Highland Council Trading Standards are again warning unsuspecting residents of the emergence of a new Council Tax scam. Today a call was received by the Council from a Council Tax payer alerting to a Council Tax scam whereby scammers are now texting people and informing them that they are due a Council Tax rebate.
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