Letter to Transport Minister meets with disappointing response
5th February 2018
Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, has expressed his disappointment in the lack of promised support for local authorities struggling to fund the extra pressures caused by the winter weather.
He said: "The Highland Council has the largest roadwork of any local authority in the UK, with nearly 7,000km of regional roads and over 1,700km of footways. We have a commitment to keep the Highlands moving, ensure emergency services can operate and provide a safer environment for communities. We prioritise our winter budget accordingly and do the best we can within our policy. It has however been an exceptionally severe winter with snow and ice affecting our road network and the knock on effect of this will be significant damage to road surfaces throughout the region.
"Although we currently have adequate supplies of grit, there has been a considerable cost in manpower, meaning our winter budget is considerably overspent, and we can expect to be left facing a huge repair bill to fix the pothole damage exacerbated by the icy and fluctuating conditions.
“It is therefore, extremely disappointing that the Transport Minister's generous offer of help to local authorities like ours, on 17th January, has come to no financial benefit. The goodwill, it seems, disappears as quickly as the snow!"
Tributes have been paid to The Highland Council's Director of Care and Learning, Bill Alexander who retires on 19 October after eighteen years leading the council's Care and Learning Services. At the Council's Care and Learning meeting held on Thursday 18 October 2018, Chair of the Committee, Cllr Andrew Baxter; and Leader of the Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson praised Mr Alexander for his long service to the Council.
The Highland Council has paid tribute to Mr Des Devine, former Surveyor at the Council who died earlier this week. Steve Barron, Chief Executive said: "It is with great sadness that we heard that Des Devine passed away this week after a long and brave battle with cancer.
Following a pre-planning drop-in session at the end of September 2018, The Highland Council has given the public a further 28 days to share their views and comment on the proposal for a new Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at the Longman landfill site in Inverness. The public can now visit the Council's website to find out more about the MRF and to share their views on the proposal.
Dr James Vance, Head Teacher at Culloden Academy has been appointed as interim Head of Education Services with The Highland Council's Care and Learning Service. Dr Vance, who starts his new employment in January 2019, will be based at the Council's headquarters on Glenurquhart Road, Inverness.
The Highland Council has submitted a planning application for a low head hydroelectric development at the Torvean Weir on the River Ness at land 430m south west of Highland Rugby Club, on Bught Road, Inverness Using an Archimedes screw the hydroelectric scheme will have a generating capacity of up to 100kW and an average annual renewable energy output of approximately 600,000 kWh per annum. The renewable energy generated will return an income to the Council through the Feed in Tariff mechanism and be connected to the local Archive Centre and leisure centre.
The Highland Council is carrying out the formal review of its Polling Districts and Places. This review is required in terms of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 as all polling districts and polling places should be reviewed at least every four years.
Joint operation identifies poor standards of food safety and staff living accommodation. Highland Council Environmental Health Officers were required to take formal enforcement action regarding poor standards of food safety during a recent multi-agency operation led by Immigration Enforcement.
The Scottish Government's announcement of a consultation on the introduction of a visitor levy ("tourist tax") has been welcomed by The Highland Council. Convener Bill Lobban recently gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, where he emphasised the importance of tourism to the Highlands.
The Highland Council has appointed a new Chief Executive. The successful candidate is Donna Manson, currently Service Director for Children and Young People in the Scottish Borders.
Local services throughout Scotland could be plunged into crisis after - UNISON, Unite and the GMB - wrote to COSLA to say they will recommend their members reject their revised pay offer when they consult them in the coming weeks. The revised pay offer, made by COSLA on 6th September 2018, was a 3% increase for all local government workers earning up to £80,000, but the trade unions are angry that this is below inflation and does not improve low pay.
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