Budget Consultation Timetable Agreed
The Highland Council has agreed to embark on a four-month public consultation over budget savings needed in 2013/14 and 2014/15. The Council estimates the savings targets will be £11.5 million in 2013/14 and £18.2 million in 2014/15.
Having run a successful budget consultation exercise in 2010/11, the Council will repeat the exercise by posting the budget consultation document on its web site: www.highland.gov.uk in early August and holding public meetings in August, September and October through ward forums and stakeholder discussions.
Analysis of the consultation exercise will take place in October/November and budgets considered in December before the two-year budget is finalised in February of next year.
Councillor Dave Fallows, Chairman of the Finance Housing and Resources Committee, said it was important to consult fully with the public over the budget savings.
He said: "A longer-term financial planning process offers a number of advantages to the Council, allowing us to forward plan our budget and identify any savings required. At the same time, it allows improved links between the revenue budget, the capital programme and the Council programme priorities. It is therefore proposed that following agreement of a two-year budget in February 2013, work will commence on developing a longer-term plan, covering a five-year period up to and including 2017/18."
Later, the Council was advised that it had achieved £13.162 million of efficiency savings in 2011/12 - £562K more than the target set by the Scottish Government. This had been the sixth year in succession that the Council has met its efficiency savings target.
It was also reported that the Council's statement of accounts for the year to 31 March 2012 had been published - ahead of the 30 June deadline. The statement had shown an underspend of £5.5 million - only 1% of the overall annual Council spending - which was mainly attributable to savings on financing charges.
Following feedback from Highland food and drink producers and providers The Highland Council is to run a workshop on social media networking and launch a Think Local Facebook page to build business contacts and to promote local food and drink. Over the last few months crofters, caterers, hoteliers and shop owners have attended meetings throughout the Highlands as part of the councilās Think Local Highland Food and Drink project aimed at enabling better collaboration in this sector.
The public is being urged to comment on The Highland Councilās first green transport strategy. The deadline for responses is 30 April.
The Highland Council has welcomed funding to enable people living in fuel poverty to make their homes warmer, more environmentally friendly and cheaper to heat. The amount of Ā£2,055,346 from The Scottish Government for the Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland is the fourth highest allocation in Scotland.
Trading Standards officers with The Highland Council are warning consumers to be wary of paying upfront fees to companies claiming to be offering services connected with the Governmentās āGreen Dealā scheme. Problems with one particular company have highlighted the dangers of upfront fees.
Work will start at the end of April on the year-long second phase of the River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme, Inverness. The council has confirmed the award of the Ā£9.3 million contract to McLaughlin and Harvey Ltd, the company that recently built the new ferry terminal extension at Sconser, Skye.
`Social Enterpriseā is an increasingly fundamental part of what makes the Highland tick and The Highland Council is looking for input to its strategy. Link To Draft Strategy A draft Social Enterprise Strategy for the Highlands covering the years 2014-2017 has been published for consultation by the Council and all interested parties are being asked to take part and help shape the future of this sector.
The Local Government Boundary Commission For Scotland have issued the following statem,ent regarding the latest review of boundaries and councillor numbers. We started our Fifth Reviews of Electoral Arrangements on 21 February 2014.
The Highland Councilās recycling team is reviewing the operation of its network of 21 recycling centres to encourage the public to make a bigger effort to separate waste that can be recycled from waste that cannot. The Council wants to increase the amount of material recycled and at the same time reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.
Seven new projects totalling Ā£800,000 of expenditure on repair and replacement works in seven Highland primary schools have been approved by members of The Highland Councilās Adult and Childrenās Services Committee. The new projects, which will be funded from the Councilās Education, Culture and Sport capital programme will be completed in the financial year 1 April 2014 ā 31 March 2015.
Members of the licensed trade in the Highlands are being reminded of the need to undergo refresher training to ensure they retain their personal licences - and the authority to sell alcohol on their premises. Personal Licences are issued for a period of 10 years.
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