Council clarifies concerns surrounding Export Health Certificates
8th February 2019
The Highland Council's Environmental Health team currently allocates significant resource to facilitate Highland based food manufacturer's trade with EU and non-EU countries. This work can be split into two categories; statutory and non-statutory. The statutory work is to undertake ‘official controls’ (audits, inspections, spot checks, sampling, investigation of complaints, etc.) and the focus of the non-statutory work is to facilitate the export of food into non-EU countries by issuing Export Health Certificates.
Being non-statutory there is no legal obligation to issue Export Health Certificates, however the Council do so to fulfill Council priorities linked with the broader agenda of promoting economic growth and assisting businesses to bring products to market.
A charge is made for this non-statutory service which has been benchmarked with other Councils. The Environmental Health team are working with national groups on possible changes. This includes considering a sliding scale of charges linked to tonnage and possible introduction of an electronic system of certification to improve the process.
Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair of the Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee said: "The Environmental Health team work extremely hard to meet the demands of local businesses for Export Health Certificates to facilitate international trade on top of their challenging statutory workload. The current charges were approved on 15/2/18 by Council, but we do recognise some industry concerns around this and are considering other charging models for possible introduction later in the year. We also recognise the considerable uncertainties around such implications of a Brexit no-deal scenario and are discussing this particular issue with the Scottish Government."
Food businesses exporting products of animal origin (e.g. fish, shellfish, meat products and dairy products) to Europe are encouraged to contact their local environmental health office if they wish to discuss concerns on Export Health Certificates and Brexit.
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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