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 Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has warned that the Scottish Government's Budget will hit vulnerable communities the hardest. COSLA has warned the Government that it has not considered successive years of cuts, or rising inflation and demand and have therefore put council services at risk.
Following a review taxi fares in Highland have been held at the same level by the Highland Council Licensing Committee held on 18 February 2019. The papers and the debate on this issue can be seen at items six on the webcast - https://highland.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/469655 There is a 14 Day period for appeal.
A study is underway into the feasibility of replacing Scotland's second busiest ferry service with a fixed link bridge or tunnel. The Highland Council, HITRANS and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) are joint funding the study at the Corran Narrows in Lochaber.
The standstill period under the Council's Trades Services Framework agreement was due to close with effect from Monday 17th February 2020, with the intention of a proposed go live date with the new arrangements and contracts of 24th February. The standstill period is a defined period of time between the notice of the contract award decision and the award of the contract.
On 14th February 2020 the Highland council place an advert in the Northern times newspaper regarding the Spaceport planning application as follows. - THE HIGHLAND COUNCIL TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (SCOTLAND) ACT 1997 TOWN and COUNTRY PLANNING (ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT) (SCOTLAND) REGULATIONS 2017.
Members today approved a modest 3% rent increase for residential rents and service charges following detailed consultation with tenants. The increase will result in a rise in the average weekly council house rent from £75.38 to £77.74 (£2.26), which means that Highland rents are still 8th lowest of the 26 councils which retain housing.
Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer's first annual report highlights successes and challenges.` Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer for Highland Council, Karen Ralston, has enjoyed a successful first year in her role. Members today noted the 2018/19 annual report at the meeting of the Health, Wellbeing and Social Care committee.
Highland Council Trading Standards are again warning unsuspecting residents of the emergence of a new Council Tax scam. Today a call was received by the Council from a Council Tax payer alerting to a Council Tax scam whereby scammers are now texting people and informing them that they are due a Council Tax rebate.
The Highland Council has published the Highland Common Good Asset Register following the completion of a consultation process required by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. The Register has been published on the Council's website and can be accessed from the download link on the page titled "Common Good Asset Register" or at the following link: https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/20010/community_planning/840/common_good_asset_register For ease of reference, the Register has been divided in the separate former Burghs having recorded Common Good Funds - Cromarty, Dingwall, Dornoch, Fortrose and Rosemarkie, Invergordon, Inverness, Nairn and Tain.
According to the draft Scottish Govenment budget, Highlands and Islands Enterprise will get £58.2 million in the upcoming financial year - down from £61.1 million last year. 2018/19 the budget was £71.7 million.
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