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 -
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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