First full meeting of Recovery Board meets
4th June 2020
The first full meeting of the Highland Council Recovery Board met (virtually) today (4 June 2020). The full membership reflects political balance with 11 Members and 3 senior officers. A representative from the staff Unions will be joining the Board at its next meeting.
The Board today agreed a revised timetable of committee meetings to go to Council for approval in June. The draft calendar will be published on the Council website.
The meeting was held online as a result of a huge amount of work which has enabled greatly increased digital capacity and a secure and stable platform to be provided for online meetings.
Members discussed at length the impact of Covid-19 on the economy of the Highlands and the need for a Highland wide approach to economic recovery and attracting new businesses to the region. The Board also committed to work in Partnership with other Agencies and the wider business community.
Alasdair Christie, Chair of the Board and senior officers of the Council have been meeting with key partners to discuss high level principles of how to work together in a co-ordinated way on issues affecting various sectors of the economy.
Members considered the approach to be taken to creating a Recovery Action Plan that recognises the need for flexibility, maintaining a state of readiness for response and resilience, while taking action to reinstate Services, governance and the wider Highland economy.
Chair of the Recovery Board, Cllr Alasdair Christie welcomed new members of the Board to the online meeting. He said: "The Council has a pivotal role in assisting all sectors with economic recovery and developing a collaborative plan for economic recovery."
Progress on Recovery will be reported to the full meeting of Council in June.
Membership of the Recovery Board is as follows:
Depute Leader, Cllr Alasdair Christie (Chair)
Cllr Glynis Campbell-Sinclair
Cllr Carolyn Caddick
Joint Leader of the Opposition, Dr Ian Cockburn
Leader, Cllr Margaret Davidson
Cllr Ken Gowans
Cllr Jimmy Gray
Cllr Andrew Jarvie
Convener, Cllr Bill Lobban
Budget Leader, Cllr Alister Mackinnon
Cllr Peter Saggers
Senior Officers are:
Chief Executive Donna Manson
Executive Chief Officer Malcolm MacLeod
Interim Executive Chief officer (Transformation) Allan Gunn
The Highland Council is updating parents and carers of its position on early learning and childcare (ELC). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Scottish Government removed the statutory requirement for Local Authorities to deliver 1140 hours of ELC from August.
Following on from the recent publication of Highland Council's Supporting Economic Recovery in Highland - A Guide for Businesses - the Council is announcing relaxation of some controls that will assist tourist accommodation providers have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In recognition of this where there are specific planning and licensing controls in relation to occupancy, for example: a restriction on the occupancy of any caravan for a continuous 12 month period; or where conditions restrict occupancy for specific periods of time, ...these will be relaxed by the Council up to and including April 2021.
The Caithness Committee met virtual today for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic and it's agenda focused on the actions taken by the Council and the third sector to deal with the effects of Coronavirus in Caithness. The Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning, Paul Senior, gave members an update on the plans and preparations underway to prepare for the return of pupils and staff to Caithness schools in August.
Margaret Davidson, the Leader of the Highland Council has given her strong support to the efforts of the Scottish Government to obtain greater fiscal flexibility from the UK Government. The Scottish Government have sought flexibility to offset capital underspend against resource expenditure, more flexibility over resource borrowing and greater flexibility over the use of the reserve for capital.
The Highland Council is planning to re-open play areas across the region throughout summer. Advice was provided by the Scottish Government on 28 June as to the safety measures that should be applied.
The Highland Council was one of the first local authorities in Scotland recognised to develop a Schools Digital Learning Hub, which provides a resource for staff, parents and pupils to support home learning. Prior to Covid-19, we had an estate of 27,000 Chromebooks that were already a part of our ICT in Learning Strategy.
Earlier today (Wednesday 1 July 2020) members of The Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee had the opportunity to discuss (by video conference) progress made with the Corran Ferry Project which is reviewing the options for securing a replacement ferry and considering the way forward for the future operation and management of the service. The Corran ferry service has reached a critical point and strategic decisions need to be made.
As Scotland prepares for the easing of lockdown and the re-opening of the tourism and hospitality sector, The Highland Council's Environmental Health are advising holiday accommodation providers to make sure their private water supplies are safe to drink. A large number of self-catering and tourist accommodation in the Highlands are served by private water supplies and with these being closed during the lockdown period, the water supply system may not have been maintained and could create a risk to the quality and safety of the drinking water.
Lesley, who previously worked for Hackney Local Authority in London, expressed how much she has enjoyed working for the Council. Lelsey started with highland council on 13 August 2019.
Following Scottish Government guidance on returning to construction sites across Scotland, works will be restarting on the EES:ABS scheme across the Highlands. In line with the guidance, contractors will be undertaking phased restarts and adhering to social distancing to allow workers to return to construction sites gradually while using measures such as hand hygiene.