Highland Council Agrees A Financial Plan
27th June 2021
A financial plan which will invest a further £10M across a range of projects in phase 2 of the investment strategy for Health and Prosperity and £54M of capital investment in schools.
The detailed designs and costings for the five schools identified for investment will be brought to Council in September for approval. Letters have been sent to parents regarding the decision made today, and arrangements will be made to keep parents informed of the plans.
The plans include medium term financial sustainability with £24.7M unearmarked reserves set aside to manage any future risk and uncertainty.
£9.8M funding was agreed in March for a range of projects in an economic prosperity fund, a Visitor Management Plan and place based investment.
An additional investment of £5.5M across a number of schemes will be made during 2021/22 in phase 2 of the Council's Health and Prosperity Plan.
Phase 2 will see £0.3M invested in addressing poverty, £0.4M for improvements in Burials and Cremations, £1.250M in match-funding for carbon reduction schemes, £0.8M for ICT to enable new ways of working and £0.050M towards Eden Court redevelopment.
A further £3.5M in a third phase in the autumn. The indicative proposals for Phase 3 of the investment will be followed by detailed bids to come forward to Council in October.
Phases 2 and 3 of the investment plan will see a further investment of £10.6M in roads and the Corran Ferry.
This will bring the total spend on roads infrastructure to over £20M per annum for a two year period.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson said: "I wish to thank senior officers for the tremendous work over the past year in bringing the Council, in the most challenging times, into a more resilient financial position which enables us to be able to make these substantial investments.
“We are well aware that we will need to make recurring savings in the years ahead. Our investment plans take into account the need for continuing medium term financial sustainability and ensuring we have sufficient non ear-marked Reserves to mitigate against future risks and uncertainty, whilst investing in Recovery."
Depute Leader, Cllr Alasdair Christie added: “We agreed a Health and Prosperity Plan to take us through recovery from the impacts of COVID on individuals, families, communities and businesses across the Highlands. The aim is to stimulate and breathe life into our economy.
“We agreed £9.8M of investment in March and today’s decision will see a further £10M invested in a second phase of schemes, and heralds investment ahead of almost £10M more in the autumn.
“This together with approved capital investment in schools will have a direct, positive and lasting impact on Highland communities.”
The Highland Climate Change Conference is taking place on Thursday 21 and Friday 21 October 2021. Chair of Highland Council's Climate Change Working Group, Cllr Trish Robertson, said: "The conference is a fantastic opportunity to bring people together from across and beyond Highland to discuss the climate and ecological emergency.
Members of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee (which took place yesterday, Thursday 23 September) were presented with a report outlining the areas of work which have been undertaken by Highland Council's Internal Audit section since the Committee’s previous meeting during June 2021. Of the five audit reports considered, three were given the audit opinions of significant assurance or full assurance.
The high point of the year for celebrating our heritage starts on Saturday 25 September. For three weeks, the Highland Archaeology Festival will offer a range of walks, talks, workshops, exhibitions, and activities for all ages.
Zero Waste Scotland has launched a digital recycling tool to help combat confusion and meet Scottish recycling targets. This Recycle Week (20-26 September 2021), Zero Waste Scotland is launching the first ever Recycling Sorter.
The Highland Council's resilient digital learning estate continues to connect and support learners and educators across Highland, including the creation of a new digital toolkit for teaching staff. Education Chair, Cllr John Finlayson said: "The extensive digital learning estate available across Highland for staff, pupils, parents and carers is an effective way to empower and develop digital opportunities across Highland schools.
Members of the public are being invited to comment on a Draft Gambling Policy Statement for the coming years 2022-25. The Highland Council is consulting on the draft policy statement on behalf of The Highland Licensing Board under the Gambling Act 2005.
At the meeting of The Highland Council Members supported a starred item put forward by Caithness Members. The Thurso and North West Caithness and the Wick and East Caithness Ward Councillors asked that the Council creates and implements a Council wide playground strategy that considers the needs and expectations of communities and supports the active play, well-being and social activity of children and their families.
Members at a meeting on 9 September 2021 of the Highland Council agreed the scope, budget, phasing and timescale for 5 priority school projects including Beauly Primary, Culloden Academy, Dunvegan Primary, Park Primary, and St Clements School. It was also agreed that these projects are to be incorporated into the Council's current capital programme.
Given the importance of tourism to the Highland economy and the need for the tourism experience to be positive for visitors and communities, members have agreed to extend the Visitor Management Plan funding into the 2022 season by a one-off investment of £1.5m. A one-off Visitor Management Plan investment of £2.4m agreed by the Council in March 2021 for this year's season has enabled a range of service improvements.
On behalf of The Highland Council, High Life Highland has this week advertised a tender and invitation to quote seeking creative filming and photography input to the Inverness Castle - Spirit of the Highlands project. The tender and invitation to quote will contribute to Spirit:Journeys, a natural and cultural heritage initiative that will deliver many benefits for local communities, helping to unlock economic potential and improve visitor experiences across the region.