Supporting Highland Council Winter Gritting and COVID Response Efforts
7th January 2021
The Council wishes to provide re-assurance to communities that it's Winter Gritting teams are continuing to work extremely hard throughout the area during the current lock-down, providing a road and pavement gritting service following the Council's policy on prioritisation of routes. Details of the council's highland wide and local area gritting policies and maps are on the Council’s website at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting.
The Council has recently invested in 10 new winter gritting vehicles to replace some of the aging fleet and brings the Council’s winter fleet to 105 Gritters, 42 Footpath tractors, and 1 snowblower with over 200 staff who spread around 50,000 tonnes of salt on Highlands roads and pavements in a typical winter.
With the current COVID pandemic, the Council is committed to doing everything it can to reduce the pressure on the NHS from those suffering from falls or slips due to winter weather. The Council is extending coverage where possible by bringing in additional council resources to enhance services related to pavement gritting. In addition, and as in previous years, the Council is offering assistance to communities who wish to take action in their own area to help clear snow and ice from footpaths by providing salt in either bins or heaps, snow shovels and pushers, gloves and hi-vis vests, health and safety advice to volunteers and public liability insurance. Full guidance and an application form can be found on the [url=https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/20005/roads_and_pavements/99/roads_information/7]Council’s website here[/url]
Communities are asked to help identify the most suitable locations for these by either completion of the form on the web-site, or by contacting the following addresses:
Trish Robertson, Chair of the Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee said: "The Council is working hard to deliver our winter gritting services despite the challenges that the COVID pandemic is putting in front of us. Recognising the challenges being faced by the NHS, we want to do as much as possible to avoid the risk of slips and falls, and allow people to be able to get out and about as much as possible. If communities are able to assist in providing enhanced or more localised services, there is an opportunity for salt to be delivered to locations along with equipment to assist in spreading.
The link on the Council’s web-site gives further information, and I would urge any community or resilience groups who have capacity to help to get in touch and our local teams will help advise on appropriate locations for salt storage."
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.