Proposals for 5 priority school projects agreed at Council
9th September 2021
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.
At the last meeting of the Council on 24 June 2021, significant capital funding of £54m was identified for investment in the five Highland schools. Since this meeting, initial briefing and design work, and some engagement with internal and external stakeholders, has continued in line with the Council’s commitment to deliver these priorities.
Education Chair, Cllr John Finlayson added: "Providing the best possible school learning environment and facilities continues to be one of our key priorities. To help us to achieve this goal, we will be engaging and working closely with each of the five schools and their stakeholders. This will make sure that communities are provided the opportunity to help shape the proposals which will improve the learning environment for many children in Highland and allow us to look at the next key projects we need to move forward."
Design and build contractors have now been selected for all the projects to ensure that early engagement can take place with the Council’s internal project teams in order that key delivery dates can be achieved.
Housing and Property Chair, Cllr Ben Thompson said: "A great amount of work has taken place by Highland Council Officers to prepare detailed plans for each of the five schools previously identified for investment in the Council’s capital plan. These plans set out the work that has been taking place to identify the improved buildings and learning environments for the children and young people in each of the five schools, along with the amount of money that will be invested, the timelines involved and the anticipated completion dates."
Each project will have a Stakeholder Group comprising of parents, staff, local elected members, representatives of local community councils, and any other community partners that may be affected by the proposals. In addition, a strategy will also be developed for consulting with pupils to capture their feedback.
More information on the proposals and on the Communication and Engagement Strategy can be found at section 9 of the report (agenda item 12), available on the Council’s website.
Additionally, it was agreed the Council’s bid to the next phase of the Scottish Government’s Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP) will support the need for new secondary and primary provision in East Inverness.
The Medium Term Financial Plan report, presented to Council in June, noted that development in East Inverness would be required by either 2027/28 or 2028/29 to deliver approximately 500 primary school places and approximately 1,000 secondary school places.
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.
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.
Artists and craft makers across the Highlands, Moray and the Western Isles can apply for bursaries of up to £750 for their creative development. The Visual Artist and Craft Makers Awards (VACMA) are funded by Creative Scotland in partnership with Inverness Museum and Art Gallery (IMAG) and can support artists at all stages of their career.