The Highland Council Budget is to be set on 15 February 2018
11th February 2018
The Highland Council Budget team have agreed their final budget proposals which will go to Council for agreement on 15 February 2018.
Budget Leader Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: "We have done everything we can to protect frontline services and jobs in a good budget. Our approach has been to explore commercial and income generating opportunities, to identify efficiencies and to use redesign methodology to streamline our processes and make savings.
"It has not helped that we have had to wait until the 11th hour on 31 January for the outcome of our grant settlement. We had always anticipated a significantly larger budget gap and we have been planning for that. We have left no stone unturned in looking for ways to make savings with the least possible impact, but have had to consider some unpalatable but necessary cuts. This has caused a great deal of undue uncertainty and concern for communities and our staff for many weeks until additional funding materialised in the Scottish Government's last minute deal with the Green Party to agree their budget.
"This has meant that we, thankfully, do not have to cut as deeply this year as we had feared. We are able to protect education, additional support needs and roads maintenance completely and avoid deeper cuts considered on a range of other services. We do however still have to agree a range of savings to meet the pressures on our budget.
“Funding cuts to some organisations would also have been much higher if we had not had the additional funding and this, I hope will be welcomed. Our proposals for savings mainly focus on efficiencies and raising additional income where people can pay a bit more for non-essential services such as garden waste and parking."
Leader of the Council Margaret Davidson added: “It is unacceptable to be expected to plan our finances strategically when we are working in the dark with our hands tied behind our back. An announcement of a one year budget and local authority grants on 31 January gives us just 8 weeks to deliver a balanced budget for 18-19 and still no idea of what our situation will be in future years. This is not the way for the country to do business. We will continue to lobby for fair and transparent funding with a vastly improved process which allows Scotland to plan ahead."
The full details of the budget proposals can be found at -
The public is being asked for its views on proposals by The Highland Council to review the maximum level of charges for the hire of taxis or private hire cars fitted with taxi meters operating under licence of The Highland Council. The Council has a statutory duty in terms of Section 17 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 to review its scales for the fares and other taxi related charges every 18 months.
A report published today by the local authority spending watchdog looks at how councils are using the estimated 130 ALEOs (arms-length external organisations) in Scotland, which have an annual spend of more than £1.3 billion, and the impact they are making. ALEOs can take many forms - such as companies, community organisations or charities.
Members of The Highland Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee have given their backing to new shop front guidance aimed at ensuring high quality designs for traditional, replacement and new shopfronts throughout the Highlands. The Guidance sets out general principles for repair, reinstatement and replacement of shopfronts, as well as general principles for new shopfronts in new development.
Councillor Matthew Reiss, who represents the Thurso and Northwest Caithness Ward, has been elected as Chairman of The Highland Council's Caithness Committee. He takes over from Councillor Donnie Mackay who has held the role since June 2017.
Members of the Caithness Committee have on Wednesday 16th May 2018 approved the Council's 2018/19 structural maintenance programmes for roads in the area for the coming year which reflects both the strategic network and the importance attached to local roads by rural communities. The revenue budget for road maintenance activities in Caithness for 18/19 is £1.214M of which £0.539M is allocated for winter maintenance with a further capital budget of £0.785M The Highland Council's allocation to areas for structural road maintenance is based on the results of the annual Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey, safety inspections, service inspections and input from local members.
The Highland Council remains on track to deliver much-needed affordable homes across the Highlands as recent figures produced show all new home completions in Highland are on the up. In its Strategic Housing Plan 2018-2023 the Council has a pledge to approve a minimum of 500 units each year of which 70% will be for affordable rent and 30% for low cost home ownership.
AVIEMORE now has access to free WIFI in and around the centre of the town thanks to a project led by the Highland Council and funded by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal. The free WiFi, called "High-Fi", is aimed at stimulating economic growth and will increase digital inclusion across the Highlands.
The Highland Council has considered Audit Scotland's report on Local Government in Scotland, Challenges & Performance 2018. Audit Scotland recognises that councils will continue to face difficult decisions with limited resources.
The work of the Redesign Board has been considered by Council today. The Redesign Board is fundamentally changing the way the council does things.
The annual Local Scrutiny Plan (LSP) 2018/19 for Highland Council was considered by Council today (10 May 2018). The plan is based on a shared risk assessment undertaken by representatives of all the scrutiny bodies who engage with the council and shows no additional scrutiny is required of the Council during 2018/19.
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