Ross and Cromarty Councillors to liaise with communities over changes to festive lighting and decoration support
1st May 2019
Ross and Cromarty Councillors are to liaise with Community councils and local community groups wishing to provide festive Christmas lighting and decorations. It follows a new uniform policy that has come into place in order for the Highland Council to recover the costs associated with providing festive lighting and decoration assistance to communities.
As part of the Highland Council's budget savings £35,000 has been removed from the council's general lighting maintenance budget. This followed a review presented to the Corporate Redesign Board of the Street Lighting Service which highlighted inconsistencies of the approach taken with some communities paying for provision while others did not.
This removal of this funding means that in future the Council’s lighting service will not be able to undertake the erection and removal of Christmas lighting decorations to those communities which had previously received a free service. Communities are also being advised that the Council will also only be able to secure trees where communities can provide funding to cover the service costs.
In a paper presented to the Ross and Cromarty Committee today (Wednesday 1 May) it was stressed that as a result of positive discussions with communities over several years the majority of communities in Ross-shire already install their own lighting and in some instances the Council’s Lighting Electricians assist in their own time with free use of the Councils plant. In cases where this happens the Council will continue to provide the use of these vehicles at no cost.
Robin Pope, Policy and Programme Manager with Community Services said: "Those communities who have historically received a free service will need to find alternative ways to provide their Christmas lighting. This will include the cost of electrical connection, disconnection and safety checks and the erection and taking down of decorations. This uniform approach means that the resources of the Council’s lighting services will be able to be targeted at the maintenance of existing lighting stock and the roll-out of the delivery of the LED lighting programme which provides energy savings to the council."
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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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