September start for new High Life Highland Chief Executive
13th June 2019
Steve Walsh OBE has been appointed as the Chief Executive designate for High Life Highland, it was announced today by Donald McLachlan, the Chair of the charity's Board. Mr Walsh will take up post in early September 2019, following the retirement of current Chief Executive, Ian Murray.
Steve Walsh is currently Head of People and ICT at The Highland Council and has held this position since 2016. He has had extensive experience of successful financial and people management in a number of high-profile appointments throughout his career. Prior to The Highland Council, Steve's experience included various roles in the private sector and a distinguished career in the Royal Air Force. Having worked as a business development executive, Steve also has wide experience in stakeholder relationship management in the Private Sector.
While in the RAF, Steve held senior roles in the Ministry of Defence and Permanent Joint Headquarters. He was transformation director for the closure of RAF Kinloss, leading through a period of exceptional change. Steve amassed over 4,500 flying hours on the Nimrod and his RAF career also included command appointments and several operational tours overseas, including Afghanistan and Iraq. His last role was at HQ Air Command, where he led strategic resourcing during a period of unprecedented, concurrent change. Steve was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2013.
As a member of The Highland Council’s executive leadership team, Steve understands the challenges and opportunities currently facing public service delivery in the Highlands, and the need to prioritise solutions that allow local voices to be heard. A keen weightlifter, Steve lives in Inverness with his wife and three daughters, he is a non-executive Board member of Inverness College UHI and holds a number of roles in the voluntary sector.
Steve Walsh said:"It is a huge honour and privilege to join the fantastic team at High Life Highland. The work of High Life Highland encompasses much of what inspires and motivates me as a person. Providing equal access to culture, learning, sport, leisure, health and wellbeing has never been more important in our society. Moreover, as a current member of The Highland Council’s executive leadership team, I understand the community challenges and opportunities against an increasingly challenging financial backdrop facing The Highland Council. Across the Highlands, those challenges and opportunities vary greatly and therefore a priority must be to develop solutions that allow local voices to be heard in terms of shaping the services offered by HLH for the future."
Chair of the High Life Highland Board, Donald McLachlan said:"On behalf of the High Life Highland Board of Directors, I am delighted to welcome Steve Walsh to the Chief Executive role for the charity.
Mr McLachlan continued: “Within the ongoing context of challenging public sector finances, the Board of High Life Highland welcomes the extensive experience in leadership and change management that Steve will bring to the organisation’s future development.
Mr Walsh will take up the position of Chief Executive of the charity on 2 September 2019.
Following the freezing of some charges and suspension of enforcement for others during the lockdown period, The Highland Council has been following a phased return to normal operations since the 26th of June. Further details are given below.
Many Highland Council tenants may be missing out on help towards their rent from Universal Credit because they have not notified the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of their annual rent increase which came into effect on the 30th March 2020. Those tenants who have not yet reported their rent increase could be facing a shortfall in the help they receive towards their rent, putting them at risk of rent arrears.
The Highland Council is updating parents and carers of its position on early learning and childcare (ELC). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Scottish Government removed the statutory requirement for Local Authorities to deliver 1140 hours of ELC from August.
Following on from the recent publication of Highland Council's Supporting Economic Recovery in Highland - A Guide for Businesses - the Council is announcing relaxation of some controls that will assist tourist accommodation providers have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In recognition of this where there are specific planning and licensing controls in relation to occupancy, for example: a restriction on the occupancy of any caravan for a continuous 12 month period; or where conditions restrict occupancy for specific periods of time, ...these will be relaxed by the Council up to and including April 2021.
The Caithness Committee met virtual today for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic and it's agenda focused on the actions taken by the Council and the third sector to deal with the effects of Coronavirus in Caithness. The Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning, Paul Senior, gave members an update on the plans and preparations underway to prepare for the return of pupils and staff to Caithness schools in August.
Margaret Davidson, the Leader of the Highland Council has given her strong support to the efforts of the Scottish Government to obtain greater fiscal flexibility from the UK Government. The Scottish Government have sought flexibility to offset capital underspend against resource expenditure, more flexibility over resource borrowing and greater flexibility over the use of the reserve for capital.
The Highland Council is planning to re-open play areas across the region throughout summer. Advice was provided by the Scottish Government on 28 June as to the safety measures that should be applied.
The Highland Council was one of the first local authorities in Scotland recognised to develop a Schools Digital Learning Hub, which provides a resource for staff, parents and pupils to support home learning. Prior to Covid-19, we had an estate of 27,000 Chromebooks that were already a part of our ICT in Learning Strategy.
Earlier today (Wednesday 1 July 2020) members of The Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee had the opportunity to discuss (by video conference) progress made with the Corran Ferry Project which is reviewing the options for securing a replacement ferry and considering the way forward for the future operation and management of the service. The Corran ferry service has reached a critical point and strategic decisions need to be made.
As Scotland prepares for the easing of lockdown and the re-opening of the tourism and hospitality sector, The Highland Council's Environmental Health are advising holiday accommodation providers to make sure their private water supplies are safe to drink. A large number of self-catering and tourist accommodation in the Highlands are served by private water supplies and with these being closed during the lockdown period, the water supply system may not have been maintained and could create a risk to the quality and safety of the drinking water.