Committee gives go-ahead for future Timber Transport funding opportunities
3rd February 2019
Members of The Highland Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee have agreed that up to £0.5m go towards the 2019/20 round of Timber Transport schemes that will bring future benefits to communities and rural roads in Highlands.
The money will come from the Council's road structural (capital) fund and be used as match funding for the Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF) operated by Forestry Commission Scotland.
Last year the Council was successful in applying for £1,534,600 from STTF and a further £136,000 from Forestry Partners. This, along with £0.5m match funding from its 2018/19 Roads Capital Budget has allowed the Council to implement six schemes and to carry out preparatory work so to be in a position to bring forward bids for 2019/20.
The schemes included improvements to the B873 Altnaharra - Syre route in Sutherland, the Strathconon road in Ross and Cromarty, and the C1223 Sheil Bridge to Glenelg Road - a fragile lifeline route leading to the remote and fragile community of Glenelg.
Members were advised that since today's committee report was written the Highlands have secured an additional £240,000 of STTS grant funding for 2018/19 which the council has added £100,000 of match funding from the capital programme to enable a further £340,000 to be invested in improvements.
The Forestry Commission Scotland has once again contacted local authorities and forestry operators asking them to indicate the level of match funding to support STTS bids that they may have available. Bids are likely to be invited in March or April 2019
Chair of the Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson said: "I certainly commend this scheme as last year half a million from the Council resulted in over £2m worth of improvement work being carried out in areas where there was not much possibility of getting this work done without having the support of the Scheme."
"If Highland Council is once again successful in getting funding in the 2019/20 round of bids the money will be used for more projects to improve rural infrastructure in and reduce the impact of timber haulage on local communities."
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.
Councillors today 14th February 2019 agreed to increase the price of school meals despite some councillors pointing out that previous increase last year resulted in reduced number taking the meals. Councillors have little room to help as they did in the past to basically subsidise meals.
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