Highland Council Announces Biggest Ever Single Investment In Roads
27th February 2020
Highland Council today announced its biggest ever single investment in roads with an extra £20million capital announced in its budget proposals for the year 2020/21.
The budget proposals were announced by Budget Leader Alister MacKinnon at a press conference at Highland Council headquarters.
To support the investment in roads there are proposals to increase Council Tax by 4.84% (just over £1 per week for those households on Band D) - which is broken down to 3% to balance the budget and 1.84% for investing in roads.
Council Tax Reduction recipients will continue to be protected (generally Bands A-C).
The increase would enable a fund of £20million for capital schemes and an additional £1.3million of annual revenue for road maintenance.
Leader of the Council Margaret Davidson said: "This budget is a road to recovery for the Council. We need to build our Reserves for a sustainable future; invest in Redesign in order to transform the Council; and make substantial improvement to our Roads."
Budget Leader Alister MacKinnon added: "These are ambitious budget proposals which also seek to invest in people, skills, plant and places. It also provides a platform to invest in local economies and seek match funding opportunities.
"The budget has also been shaped to deliver sustainability for local communities, to fund work to achieve efficiency and improvement, to restructure our services to enable change and address climate change, storm damage and future resilience."
Depute Leader Alasdair Christie said: "The investment in our roads network helps keep our communities connected, it is essential for business and crucial for emergency services in the delivery of care. We have listened to our communities and our staff and roads are an area they want investment in."
Budget proposals will be discussed at the Council's special meeting on 5 March 2020.
Photo- Left to right: Council Leader Cllr Margaret Davidson, Highland Council Deputy Leader Alasdair Christie, Budget Leader Alister MacKinnon and HC Chief Executive Donna Manson.
From Monday, a number of changes have been made in line with national guidance, to how we collect waste in order to protect staff, during the Coronavirus emergency. To protect our staff, and prevent the spread of Coronavirus on our waste collection routes we have improved social distancing measures in line with guidance and in discussion with union reps.
Highland Council will continue to provide school meals through e-vouchers to families throughout the school Easter break. This is to recognise the particular difficulties many families will be experiencing due to the Coronavirus emergency.
Learning and childcare hubs for the children of key workers will remain open across Scotland over the Easter holidays. The move will help support key workers in the NHS and other key sectors on the frontline of the response to coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Highland Council is working hard to release business grants to eligible local businesses as quickly as possible. The Council has received over 2,000 applications since the scheme was introduced last week and has set up systems to process these applications quickly while ensuring the necessary information is received.
Since The Highland Council's dedicated helpline went live last Wednesday afternoon staff have dealt with over 1,600 calls. The helpline has been set to give assistance and to collect details of individuals and community groups looking to provide volunteering support.
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.
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