Retiring Highland Council Chief Steve Barron pays tribute to staff
13th November 2018
At his last official function The Highland Council's retiring CEX Steve Barron has paid tribute to two members of staff for their outstanding work.
During The Highland Council's Quality Awards event, held last Thursday in Inverness Town House, he took the opportunity to present a special commendation award to the Council's Project Co-ordinator for War Memorials Alf Leslie.
Before inviting Alf onto the stage to collect his certificate Steve Barron said: "The timing of our event is ideal to allow us to pay tribute to some brilliant work done in a 3 year project to restore 121 war memorials across the Highlands in a mark of respect for those who lost their lives serving their country in the Great War.
"Alf Leslie and Hugh Gardner have worked tirelessly to ensure that these powerful symbols of the past have been restored to their original condition. The work has been challenging both technically and in terms of funding. It has required patience, determination and sensitivity but the results are truly amazing. Alf has given his heart to this work and is a worthy recipient of this special award. As Hugh says these memorials were built out of love and have stood for the last 100 years. This project will ensure they are standing for the next 100 years."
He then went on to give a personal tribute to the Council’s Head of Development and Regeneration Allan Maguire who, over a long career has improved the lives and circumstances of at least 20,000 families.
Since joining Highland Council in 2001 Allan has developed the Estates section and the Housing Development team and taken the lead on forging strong partnerships including setting up Housing Development Forums, the Housing HUB and Apprentice Schemes.
He has also lead on the establishment of the Landbank Fund and secured grants to establish Infrastructure Loan Fund. In Allan’s tenure the Highlands have secured over £400m of Scottish Government grant delivering over 5,500 new affordable homes including over 1,000 new Council Houses.
Steve then went on to highlight some of the recent Highland housing projects Allan has worked on including;
the Blar Mor site in Fort William - a major site up to 250 homes + Hospital and STEM centre
Midmills - 31 Council flats; 53 flats by McCarthy and Stone ; 40 studios for artists
Stratton - securing site for 150 houses + primary School and enabling improvements to Barn Church Road
Raining’s Stairs – 10 flats for mid market rent and 6 for Council rent.
Before presenting a very surprised Allan with a special Lifetime Achievement Award, Steve said: "In a career starting in London, for the last 17 years Allan has worked in the Highlands and shown true professionalism, ingenuity, creativity and dedication. The quality and volume of his work in delivering housing projects which have transformed the lives and opportunities of young families is quite incredible."
Photo - CEX Steve Barron pictured presenting Alf Leslie with his special commendation certificate - right STV News Presenter Norman MacLeod who compered the evening.
Anyone thinking of a career change and becoming a Primary or Secondary school teacher is being invited by The Highland Council to an information session to find out how they might become one of the next generation of teachers in Highland. The information event takes place on Saturday 9th March 2019, at Doorways, Central Primary School, Kenneth Street, Inverness, IV3 5DW from 11am - 1pm.
Investment of an additional £1.5m for roads maintenance was approved as a priority area for the Council's revenue budget. The additional money will help to boost the annual budget for pothole repairs, clearing culverts, and bridge maintenance.
Tighter controls on what can be taken to the public recycling centres are set to save £300,000 over the next two financial years. This proposal introduces restrictions on construction and demolition waste brought to our Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC), limiting quantities to small amounts generated through minor DIY activities.
The main activities that the social enterprise groups currently carry out directly for Highland Council waste management are the servicing of re-use containers on our household waste recycling centres (HWRCs). These currently divert around 150 tonnes from 11 HWRCs.
Newstart Highland that took over Home Aid in Caithness is set to lose a £75,000 grant from 2019/20. The Highland council agreed the reduction at its budget meeting on 14th February 2019.
Planning and building warrant income is to be increased over 3 years as part of the Highland council 3 year budget plan. 2019/20 - £600,000 2020/21 - £328,000 2021/22 - £182,000 Total - £110,000,000 The current income target for planning and building control fees is £4.867m.
Savings of £610,000 are being asked from Highland Highlife in addition to inflationary pressures of £900,000 to be absorbed by the organisation. The arms length organisation has proved to be an outstanding success in the few years since it was floated by the council.
Highland councillors reluctantly agreed to range of increase charges under the community services part of the budget. Many of the charges reflect inflationary increases The total of £2.063 million will be rolled out as follows - 2019/20 - £771,000 2020/21 - £.636,000 2021/22 - £656,000 The split is as follows - Export licences for fish were included in the above figures but a change was agreed at the meeting that should make the saving in total.
Additional Income projected £216k of is projected for thenext three years - 2019/20 - £118,000 2020/21 - £58,000 2021/22 - £40,000 Through a proactive approach to lease extensions (with premiums) and increases in rental income the council will seek to maximise the performance of the industrial and investment portfolio, including selling off poor performing industrial sites and focusing investment on high performing, high rental sites and properties. Net income £2.776m - excludes income for the Housing Revenue Account and Inverness Common Good Fund.
The Highland council agrred to slash £258,000 from the budget for Early Years organisations for 2019/20 The current budget for Early Years' Grants is £458k per annum. This is primarily an area-based budget where partners are able to apply for funding for one-off grants.
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