Driving forward ‘greening' of compliant Council fleet
26th November 2020
Highland Councillors have noted the scale of achievement by Council staff in meeting the Traffic Commissioner's compliance requirements for the local authority's fleet and welcomed a phased approach to the ‘greening’ of its vehicles.
Cllr Allan Henderson, Chair of the Council’s Communities and Place Committee said: "Maintaining a legally safe and compliant fleet of vehicles is essential and is no mean feat for an organisation the size of Highland Council.
"This requires having over £1million funds available to maintain over 224 vehicles and also having suitably qualified staff to maintain and manage that fleet safely and effectively. I am very pleased that the Council has ‘grown its own’ mechanics with the successful qualification of 7 apprentice mechanics in the past 4 years at Wick, Brora, Fort William, Inverness and Aviemore providing a welcome addition to the Council’s in-house team."
The Council’s 224 vehicles are spread across the region at 45 licensed depots and maintained by over 40 staff at 8 workshops carrying out over 10,000 work orders each year on the fleet.
Councillor Henderson added: “I am also pleased to see the reductions in carbon emissions and fuel going in the right direction for Highland Council’s fleet which complements our climate emergency declaration. Carbon dioxide emissions from petrol, diesel and gas oil use have decreased over the past 8 years by around 8% and diesel consumption has also reduced by 10%."
He added: “The Council is also working hard to reduce emissions and the cost of vehicles used by staff to carry out Council business. I welcome that over £1million savings have been made in staff travel prior to COVID-19 which bodes well for the Council when we come out of the pandemic.”
Members of the Communities and Place Committee have today (24 November 2020) agreed a phased approach to greening Highland Council’s vehicle fleet. This approach will contribute towards the regional and national carbon reduction targets and ambitions with the first phase focusing on cars and light commercial fleet and the second phase covering heavy goods vehicles.
Members of The Highland Council's Caithness Committee have approved additional funding for a project to bring new life to the site of a former derelict building on Wick High Street. In September last year the Scottish Government announced extra funding through the Town Centre Fund as part of its national economic recovery stimulus package, particularly aimed at supporting construction activity across Scotland.
Inverness Councillors on The Highland Council's City and Area Recovery Group today discussed the importance of local businesses having an online digital presence for customer access during the pandemic and post-lockdown recovery. Good digital access via websites and social media was the common theme raised by two speakers from Business Gateway and the Highland Food and Drink Trail in presentations to Councillors.
The Highland Council has begun detailed designs works on a major £2.5m energy project, part-funded by the Scottish Government through Salix Finance. At a site on the River Ness, near Whin Park in Inverness, the council is preparing to install a 92kW ‘Archimedes Screw' hydroelectric power turbine.
The Council's ICT in Learning team have been working hard to continue to support our school communities as we deliver remote learning to all children and young people across Highland. Chair of Education committee, Cllr John Finlayson said: "I want to thank all of our staff in Education who have worked incredibly hard to ensure that our school communities are receiving support and a quality education experience.
Enrolment for all ELC providers, including local authority nurseries, partner settings and commissioned childminders, will take place online this year. Enrolment week for ELC places will take place on Monday 8 February to Friday 12 February 2021.
Following discussions at the recent Council meeting, the Council Leader has formally written to the Local Government Boundary Commission on their proposals for councillor numbers and ward boundaries in the Highland Council area. She advised the Boundary Commission that the Council rejected the Commission's proposals in their entirety and formally requested that they halt this process immediately and review the whole issue of remote and rural area boundaries and councillor numbers in consultation with the Highland Council and other local authorities who have mainland councils with inhabited islands.
The Scottish Government has launched a £1,500 grant scheme to assist each individual licensed taxi or private hire driver with their fixed costs including licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road. The Highland Council's Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Trish Robertson said: "The Highland Council has been asked by the Scottish Government to deliver this grant scheme on their behalf.
Applicants for the Scottish Government's Temporary Business Closure Grant can now apply even if they do not have a formal business bank account. Businesses will now be able to use a personal bank account as evidence, if the account is mainly used for their business banking.
A significant top-up to the grant support available for hospitality, retail and leisure businesses across Scotland closed by level 4 restrictions will be paid following an announcement by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes. In addition to the grants businesses receive through the Strategic Business Framework Fund, eligible businesses will also get a one off grant of.
Members at yesterday's previously adjourned and re-scheduled meeting of Highland Council voted to carry a motion introduced to make adjustments to the agenda in light of the situation in relation to COVID-19 and Brexit. The urgent motion was proposed by Highland Council Leader Cllr Margaret Davidson and supported by the Leader of the official Opposition, Cllr Raymond Bremner.