Highland sets its sights on multi-million pound transport investment
24th April 2021
A bid to fund the design and delivery of over £55 Million of transport infrastructure in Highland was submitted to Transport Scotland today.
A partnership including The Highland Council, bus operators and other stakeholders has put together a package of measures to prioritise buses in congested parts of the network. Alongside walking, wheeling and cycling, public transport is a much more efficient use of road space and more environmentally friendly way of moving around. By making active travel and public transport safer, more convenient and more reliable, the region can deliver on its ambitions to become zero carbon and make a major step forward in tackling the climate and ecological emergency.
The bid includes proposals to create park and ride sites around Inverness and Fort William, supported by priority bus lanes and junctions, as well as mini park and ride sites across the strategic road network. Such interventions, coupled with improvements in Dingwall and specific measures associated with tourists in Skye, Invergordon and Fort William, set the ambition for the region to dramatically tackle its carbon footprint by reducing dependence on private car and ensuring people have fair access to healthy transport choices.
The Chair of The Highland Council's Economy, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Trish Robertson said: "The Bus Partnership Fund offers the Highlands the chance of significant investment towards a modern and multi-modal transport network. This funding would support our recovery from Covid-19 both through construction jobs and helping buses to become more efficient and recover from this sustained period of reduced patronage. If this bid is successful, it will give us a fantastic chance to work with partners to deliver major benefits for the region. We look forward to working closely with Transport Scotland on the various proposals for the trunk road network, which are assets within their control but make up a significant part of the transport network in our villages, towns and the city of Inverness."
Members at today's full meeting of Highland Council agreed a motion from the Leader and Chair of Corporate Resources, which would call for a fairer share of income derived from the development of the region’s natural resources to establish a Highland Renewable Fund. In the motion Highland Council Leader, Cllr Margaret Davidson, highlighted that at a time when private energy companies are making huge profits from the abundance of natural resources of wind and water in the Highlands the region’s roads were suffering.
At the Highland Council Gaelic committee to beheld on 18th May 2021 the committee will be asked to agree that the National Mòd for Inverness in 2021 should be given a further £80,000. The council has an agreement to pay £40,000 annually that aids the Mod to come to Highland every three years.
Anja Johnston from Thurso will take up the role of Highland Youth Convener early in May 2021 This full-time role is a bursary position that will run for 12 months. The 24-year-old, has previously worked as an Assistant Youth Worker, delivering the YOJO digital youth project with High Life Highland.
Since the launch of the Highland Employment Recruitment Offer (HERO) in March 2021, there has been a positive uptake of the grant scheme across Highland as 157 applications have been approved in principle, with 73 recruited/currently being recruited. HERO is funded by The Highland Council and the Scottish Government under the No One Left Behind and Young Person's Guarantee Funding Streams.
Members of the Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee have agreed to allocate up to £200k of the Council's Cycling, Walking and Safer Routes 2021/22 grant award to the delivery of a new Council 20mph programme, and 10% of this annual budget is to be used in future years. The introduction of more 20 mph speed limits on Highland roads will help the Council to meet the challenging road casualty reduction targets set out in the new Scottish Road Safety Framework launched in February this year.
With the majority of businesses re-opening this week, Highland Council's Environmental Health team with assistance from Police Scotland will be undertaking joint visits to premises throughout the Highlands. The visits aim to help raise public confidence that businesses are doing all they can to protect public safety as the lockdown restrictions are eased.
The Highland Council is inviting people to follow them on YouTube so that the local authority can broadcast live the Highland constituencies and the Highland and Islands Regional results. Please follow (subscribe to) Highland Council's YouTube at: www.youtube.com/user/TheHighlandCouncil (external link) Constituency and Regional Returning Officer, Donna Manson explained: "Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the need to provide a safe election we are facing new challenges and opportunities in delivering the Scottish Parliamentary Election count and declaration of results.
The Highland Council's Tourism Committee has approved a final draft Visitor Management Plan for 2021 yesterday (Wednesday 21 April) which aims to assist communities and the public during the anticipated busy summer months. Chair of the Tourism Committee, Cllr Gordon Adam said: "Welcoming visitors back to the Highlands from Monday 26 April is a positive sign that the road to recovery can finally commence.
Twelve successful projects have been awarded a share of £409,652 Highland Coastal Communities Fund (HCCF) yesterday (Thursday 22 April 2021) by The Highland Council's Caithness Committee. £98,803 was agreed to be invested in moving forward an economic development project that will benefit the whole of Caithness, with a view to securing match funding for local partners.
The largest leisure centre in the Highlands will temporarily suspend sporting activities in favour of regional democracy when it becomes one of the locations where votes in the Scottish Parliamentary Elections will be counted. Douglas Wilby, Director of Sport and Leisure with High Life Highland said, "We have been working closely with the Returning Officer and colleagues in The Highland Council to accommodate the substantial changes in the way this count is taking place, in order to offer those involved a COVID-safe environment.