Changes to weekend gritting on Highland Roads - are you ready for winter?
29th October 2018
The Highland Council is ready for winter and prepared to grit council roads as the council's winter maintenance programme started on 14 October 2018.
Trunk roads in Highland are the responsibility of Transport Scotland and their operators Bear Scotland.
Changes to this year's winter maintenance policy include an equalisation of the gritting service at weekends. The service will now commence at 6am on both Saturday and Sunday (previously 7am on a Sunday), with the same length of network treated on both days. This will include treatment of all the Primary routes, strategic Secondary routes and difficult ‘Other’ routes as resources permit.
The council can confirm it has adequate salt stocks for the region of 45,000 tonnes for the start of the main winter season and that there are no concerns about future provision of deliveries from the council’s supplier.
The total salt usage for last winter 2017/18 was 81,000 tonnes, which was around 32% (£2.3m) of the overall cost of the service last year.
The winter fleet mobilisation programme is complete and includes vehicle servicing and calibration of salt spreading equipment. The fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and over 200 staff providing winter maintenance services.
Following extreme freezing conditions on pavements last winter - this season, assurance has given by the Director of Community Services that a formal escalation procedure will be adopted when severe conditions are forecast or experienced with immediate mobilisation of all available manual staff across Community Services to assist.
This year (2018/19) the Council has made provision for the replacement of 18 vehicles in its heavy fleet; ten of which have arrived with the remainder to be delivered bu Christmas. On completion of this latest order the Council will have invested in excess of £9 million in its heavy winter fleet over the last 5 years.
Staff involved in winter services provision at area level are trained in using the Council’s weather forecasting service. The forecasts are used each year to assist local decision-making on daily and longer term winter services actions.
Chair of the Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Allan Henderson said:
"We have the supplies and resources in place to provide a winter service this year in the Highlands according to the Council’s policy. Council roads and pavements are gritted as specified within the council’s agreed winter maintenance policy with the added assurance of mobilisation of extra staff this year. Details of the council’s highland wide and local area gritting policies and maps are on the council’s website at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting.
"The Council will continue to do what it can within its resources and policy however, I would encourage communities to come forward and apply for winter resilience assistance from the Council that will provide them with salt in grit bins or heaps and other equipment to take action in their local areas that are important to them."
Within its winter roads maintenance budget of £5 million for 2018/19, the Council is ready to salt - according to its policy - the 6,744km of roads for which the Council has responsibility.
Area Winter Maintenance Plans are set by Area Committees within Council strategy and budget allocated by the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee. The Ross and Cromarty, and Caithness Winter Maintenance Plans for 2018/19 will be set at the next Area Committee meetings on 1st and 20th November respectively.
Until those dates, the existing 2017/18 Winter Maintenance Plans for each area will be in place.
For further information visit www.highland.gov.uk/gritting
Police in Lochaber can confirm that a 27-year-old man has been arrested in connection with alleged consumer protection offences in Fort William. It follows an investigation by Police Scotland and Highland Council Trading Standards, after a report was received this week of "bogus workmen" in Fort William and alleged fraudulent activity relating to charges for work carried out on a house in the town.
DETAILED analysis of the Scottish Government's funding settlement, which makes up the vast proportion of the Council's budget, has been carried out and the net result is that the Highland Council will see a reduction in its grant funding to provide the current level of services. This, together with the additional pressures equates to a £31.2M budget gap for 2019-20.
Highland Council Trading Standards have produced guidance on how to spot the signs of scams that target businesses and also remind businesses to inform their employees on what to look out for when dealing with unsolicited telephone calls, emails and texts. All businesses as well as non-profit organisations (such as charitable organisations) may spend a lot of time dealing with potential scammers.
The Highland Council has written to parents and carers of school transport pupils to inform them that D&E Coaches have recently transferred a number of Highland Council contracts to Stagecoach and some school transport routes are included. These changes are to take effect from the first day back after the school holidays, Monday 7th January 2019 and timetables have been supplied for the routes affected.
Twenty nine members of The Highland Council's Care and Learning team have celebrated their success in completing the Council's 15 month ‘Lead On’ programme. ‘Lead On’, is a programme designed to develop practitioners’ understanding of change leadership and apply this through a change initiative in their place of work.
Highland Councillors are looking forward beyond the current Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal and asking: "What next and where?". Following publication of the Deal's annual report, Leader of The Highland Council Cllr Margaret Davidson said: "A meeting will be convened in the New Year with Councillors who have a particular interest in the City-Region Deal to talk about where we can go next and what we can do.".
Work underway to determine Highland's Budget allocation. Commenting after the news received last night of Councils' individual allocations, from the Scottish Government’s draft Budget, Budget Leader Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: "Having received the details of our allocation just last night, it will take some time to work through the proposed settlement and do a detailed analysis.
THROUGHOUT the month of November, The Highland Council's Chief Executive and members of the budget team have met with staff, groups and communities across the length and breadth of the Highlands. These sessions were part of a budget engagement exercise which also included facebook chats, survey, leaflet, video, and a budget challenge to raise awareness of budget challenges and gather views and priorities.
The Highland Council is to carry out a public consultation on the implementation of a transient visitor levy in the New Year. During the Council's public engagement activity during November, a strong theme was support for raising income from tourism, including a tourist levy, which could support local infrastructure, as well as the tourism sector itself.
Members have agreed six priority commitments in a revised Council Programme at today's council meeting. The six themes within the Programme are: A Council that Champions the Highlands; A Place to Live; A place to Thrive; A place to Prosper; A Welcoming Place; and Your Highland Council These themes and the actions which the council has agreed to, reflect priorities which have emerged through the round of public engagement during November.
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