Policy priorities for Highland in post BREXIT
1st December 2018
Since the referendum decision to leave the European Union, The Highland Council has considered and made representations on a number of issues which have potential implications for the Highland economy and Highland communities.
EU funding has brought hundreds of millions of pounds of assistance to the region over the past 40 years which has been critical to the region's growth. The Council has taken every opportunity to work with partners to identify to the Scottish and UK Governments, the potential implications in Highland arising from BREXIT to ensure we have the right support in place to allow Highland to continue to thrive.
The Highland Council agreed key policy areas on which to lobby post BREXIT at its meeting in September. There is a need to ensure that Scottish and UK policy addresses the economic circumstances of Highland, to ensure that the challenges of living and working in the region are identified, and that the case for investment and support is made to enable the region to realise its full potential. In this context, the Council has agreed that regional policy; inward migration, access to markets and agriculture crofting and land management, are priority issues to be progressed.
In order to support the Council's continued engagement and ensure the needs of our businesses and communities are recognised, a Brexit seminar is to be held on Friday 30 November at Council Headquarters. This will see discussion on potential impacts but also how these might be addressed with speakers from The University of Strathclyde, SCDI, SRUC, the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and Scotland Europa.
Councillor Jimmy Gray, Administration lead for European matters, said:
"Discussions depend on good will between all parties and governments. This is a very complex subject which needs us all working together. There are a lot of partners involved, all with different priorities and we need to find some common ground. If we can have a clear voice on priorities across the Highlands and Islands, we have a better chance of success."
Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson added: "The risks are clear and the opportunities and positives are a lot less clear. My duty is to represent the Highlands, including those who voted for Brexit.
“We need to talk about a common regional policy and we need to be asking very clearly what we want to be devolved to a regional level. Since the administration of EU funding was centralised, this has been a disaster with funding unspent and long delays in distributing the funding. This illustrates the importance of devolving powers to regional level."
Brexit activity including Committee reports and consultation responses can be found on our website - https://www.highland.gov.uk/brexit
The Highland Council has today (Tuesday 11 December 2018) announced significant progress in the quality of collection and reporting on the performance of it's town centres through the release of new Town Centre Health Check "Story Maps". The maps contain a huge amount of data on many aspects.
A Highland Council employee, nominated by the tenants she works with, has scooped a national award. Lorna Simpson from Wick has been a Tenant Participation Officer with The Highland Council for the past ten years, covering Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.
Highland Council's work to continuously improve Tenant Participation in the region has been recognised by the Scottish Housing Regulator and the Tenant Participation Advisory Service. Members of the Council's Care, Learning and Housing Committee have welcomed the recognition received by Housing Staff and commended their ongoing engagement activities.
Members of The Highland Council's Care, Learning and Housing Committee have approved the first draft ‘Highland Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan' for 2019 - 2024 which will be submitted to the Scottish Government by the end of this year. The plan provides an analysis of homelessness in the region and the capacity to deliver rapid rehousing within the current patterns of housing need and demand.
Welfare staff within Highland Council's UK Award winning Benefits and Welfare Reform Team have decided to forego their office Secret Santa tradition and instead donate to Blythswood's Highland Foodbank this Christmas. Sheila McKandie, Highland Council's Benefits and Welfare Manager explained:"On a daily basis we work with the dedicated team at Blythswood Highland Foodbank directing people to them who are in urgent need.
The latest outlook for future housing delivery and school roll forecasts across Highland has been announced by the Highland Council today (Tuesday 4 December 2018). The joint publication of the Housing Land Audit and School Roll Forecast provides up to date forecasts for housing delivery and school rolls across the Highland Council area and will be used to monitor, implement and share details of the actions needed to support future housing growth.
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.
Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of the Highland Council will be meeting with Scottish Government Ministers in Parliament today, 29 November 2018 to discuss a number of issues of importance to the Highlands. In the morning she will be meeting with Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands to discuss community benefit, and digital connectivity in the Highlands.
Following the announcement on 28 November 2018 by Thai Union that they will close at the end of the year their Edinburgh Salmon plant in Dingwall, a multi-agency response to support the staff has commenced. Known as the PACE initiative (Partnership for Continuing Employment) The Highland Council, together with local public sector agencies provide free, impartial advice to staff on dealing with the practical and emotional sides of redundancy, including support to get a new job.
A proposed objection to a massive Moray Firth wind project by Highland Council did not take place as planned. Highland council planning officers had intimated that the council would lay an objection to the north planning applications committee and it was stated in the papers the week before but the objection was not put.
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