Council Revenue Budget Set For 2011/12
The Highland Council has confirmed a freeze on the Council Tax for a fourth year in succession. The tax for 2011-12 is: Band A: £775.33; Band B: £904.56; C: £1,033.78; Band D: £1,163; Band E: £1,421.44; Band F: £1,679.89; Band G: £1,938.33; Band H: £2,326.
It has also confirmed a balanced revenue budget of £598.8 million for 2011-12. Spending includes £235 million on Education Culture and Sport; £23 million on Children and Young People; £106.55 million on Social Work; £62.8 million on Transport Environmental and Community Services; £9.25 million on Housing and Property.
The total savings now made and identified by the Council (2010-2013) is £55.763 million, leaving a gap of an estimated £3 million - £4 million to be agreed by February 2012.
Councillor David Alston, Budget Leader, said that as a result of recent budget announcements by the UK and Scottish Governments, the Council faced a 2.5% reduction in grant in the new financial year, equivalent to a cut of about 6% in real terms.
He said: "We have been faced with an enormously difficult situation. I think we have dealt with this as best we can. One just needs to look across Scotland, where many other councils are facing much worse decisions than us today.
"This is because we have prepared a three year budget plan and have been prepared to take some tough decisions. My thanks go to everyone in this Chamber who has been prepared to face up to difficult decisions. We have listened to the public through consultation and protected community centre, swimming pools and leisure centres and grants to voluntary organisations.
"I would like to pay tribute to a number of organisations, which have engaged with the council to agree different ways of doing things in a more cost effective way."
He said it was inevitable that there would be fewer jobs in the council in future. "By planning ahead, we have a much better chance of managing any reduction in posts through natural turnover we have in our staff."
The Council also pegged council house rents for 2011-12 to 3% - an average weekly increase of £1.92 per week. The increase will see the average council house rent increasing from £64.15 to £66.07 per week (over 48 weekly charges).
Currently firms are contacting businesses asking for support for an educational programme on cyber bullying. The line is that councils have cut back on their funding and they can offer help to classes in your local school if you donate to the programme.
Mr Neil Gillies, The Highland Council’s Director of Transport Environmental and Community Services, has announced his decision to retire from the Council, with effect from the end of January, next year. Mr Gillies joined the former Highland Regional Council in 1978 and worked on a wide range of civil engineering projects including roads, bridges, harbours and coast protection works, and road maintenance.
The by-election for a councillor to represent the Landward Caithness Ward (No 4) on The Highland Council has been won by Matthew Reiss, who will join the Independent Group on the Council Mr Reiss was one of five candidates who contested the vacancy, created by the resignation of Alex MacLeod. He joins Councillors David Bremner (Independent), Willie Mackay (Independent) and Gillian Coghill (Independent) in representing the Landward Caithness Ward.
The Highland Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) has been successful in securing further funding to support coastal communities as part of the European Fisheries Fund Axis 4 programme. There is now over £200,000 still available to assist projects which contribute to the sustainable development of fisheries areas around the Highlands.
A key piece of work to maximise the onshore benefits in Caithness and North Sutherland from the anticipated upsurge of marine renewables has been updated to highlight progress already made and to set new targets for the year ahead. The North Highland Onshore Vision was produced by The Highland Council in 2011 to support the development of marine renewable energy developments.
“The North Highlands are ready for winter” was the message given at the Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee yesterday (18 November 2014) with staff, vehicles and a plentiful supply of salt in place to treat roads and footpaths over the coming winter months. The Highland Council has increased its winter maintenance budget to £5.6 million this year and has introducing an improved service with 45,500 tonnes of salt in storage in readiness for winter.
At yesterday’s (Monday 18 November 2014) Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee, members heard about the work been done by the North Highland Initiative to develop tourism in the Area with Tom Campbell, Chief Executive outlining some of the exciting destination development projects planned over the next 12 months. The North Highland Initiative (NHI) was launched in August 2005 to promote and develop the economy and to support the rural communities of the North Highlands bringing together the farming community, local businesses and the tourism industry to try to address some of the challenges facing rural communities in the far north of Scotland by creating a powerful regional identity for the area through marketing.
The Highland Council has re-launched its Deprived Area Fund to help create employment opportunities and tackle poverty, with £100,000 of funding is available for parts of Caithness over the next three years. The Deprived Area Fund has disbursed a total of £1.248m to deprived areas across the Highlands over the last 3 years.
This week is the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) and this year The Highland Council’s Waste Aware Team are getting involved. Staff will be on hand at various Recycling Centres across the region, raising the profile of the furniture re-use skips at the sites, and encouraging householders to think before they throw away, and consider whether an item can be reused.
Tomorrow (15 November 2013) The Highland Council launches a public consultation on the Dounreay Planning Framework 2: Draft Supplementary Guidance. The Highland Council approved the existing Dounreay Planning Framework in January 2006, as a land use development brief against which to regulate and control future decommissioning and restoration works proposed at the former nuclear power research site at Dounreay, near Thurso in Caithness.
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