Your Voice, Your Council, Your Future - engagement continues with Highland Council
29th November 2018
Last week's Resources Committee noted the positive movement in the Council's revenue budget from a projected year end overspend in quarter one of £5m down to £2.2 in quarter two. This has been assisted by concerted effort across services and enhanced control of vacancies and all expenditure.
The Highland Council's month of public engagement activity is well underway with public and staff engagements across the Highlands.
Hundreds of people have watched the budget video, and have completed an online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/YourvoiceYourCouncil and have attempted the Budget Challenge, an online budget simulator, to see for themselves how they would make choices to balance the budget.
Members of the budget team and the Chief Executive have been meeting staff, groups and communities across the Highlands during November.
Budget Leader, Councillor Alister Mackinnon thanks those for taking part so far and calls for everyone to get involved and make their views known. He said: "It is vital that we understand what is important to communities to help us make the right decisions as we plan ahead for the next three years.
"We are working with staff to identify all opportunities for efficiencies. Income generation is also a fundamental part of our strategy to protect essential services. Our focus will be on directing our reducing resources to those areas which will deliver the best outcomes and provide value for money. This is Your Council and Your future."
Chief Executive Donna Manson said: "The progress on our budget position is very positive, however there is a considerable amount of work still required, and the Council faces a number of risks in the coming months from pay awards, winter conditions, and out of authority placements. The Council’s Executive Leadership Team remains committed to further reduce the forecast overspend to ensure a balanced budget is delivered by year end and no draw down from reserves is required."
She added: “I have enjoyed being out meeting communities and staff across the Highlands and look forward to meeting many more of you in the coming days and weeks. Your feedback is essential to the future shape and sustainability of Highland Council, so please continue to engage with us as we are listening and value your ideas."
The Council also held facebook chats on income generation and education which received many responses and some very positive suggestions.
You can get more information and find out how to complete the survey or take the budget challenge at: www.highland.gov.uk/yourvoice
Themes emerging from the engagement activity will be reported to Council in December 2018.
Donna Manson the new Chief Executive of Highland Council who replaced Steve Barron recently.
The Highland Council's Environmental Health Team is advising users of private water supplies to take preventative steps to preserve their drinking water. Following a mild Winter and Spring, there is increasing pressures on water supplies.
There will be minimal impact on PSA posts due to extensive work done to protect staff through the holding back over 50 vacant posts and identifying other opportunities within the council. We have committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies.
The Highland Council, in partnership with Under One Roof Scotland, are inviting all private landlords to a special seminar specifically to look at issues surrounding common repairs and building maintenance in flats and how to deal with any problems that may arise. Under One Roof Scotland www.underoneroof.scot is an impartial online information site for flat owners and their advisers.
A greatly improved financial position is to be reported to the council's Corporate Resources Committee meeting next week for the financial year 2018/19. The position reflects the overspend reducing by £3M due to management actions in recent months.
Already leading the way when it comes to providing nutritional school meals, The Highland Council has reaffirmed its commitment to put more local fresh seasonal food on school dinner plates. Catherine Pendreigh, Food for Life Partnerships Manager at the Soil Association gave a presentation at today's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee on the accreditation already awarded to Highland Council's school meals and how this could be further developed in the future.
Members of The Highland Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee have welcomed new funding to stimulate economic investments in Highland town centres to help them diversify and flourish. In partnership with COSLA The Scottish Government have provided £50m capital to set up the Town Centre Fund 2019-2020.
The Highland Council is warning anyone considering buying a puppy to ensure they buy from reputable sources. Concerns have been raised that people are illegally importing dogs from Europe to sell without the correct health checks or paperwork.
Parking Enforcement is coming to a street near you. With the Decriminalisation of Parking Enforcement, and establishment of the Highland Council Parking Services in 2016, the local authority has committed to the roll-out of enforcement activities across all population centres in Highland.
Progress in the transformation of Inverness Castle to become a new visitor attraction for the city was marked today with the announcement of contracts awarded to the architect and the creative director for the project. The Inverness Castle project forms part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region deal.
The Chief Executive and Budget Leader are meeting with all budget holders this week to set out the need for tight budget controls to continue throughout the year. The Council approved the Council's change programme "A Sustainable Highland" in February, which is set to deliver £37.456m savings over the next three years.
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