Agendas, reports and minutes

Highland Council

Date: Thursday, 12 March 2015

Minutes: Read the Minutes (Item 1-13)

Minutes of Meeting of the Highland Council held in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 10.35 am.

1. Calling of the Roll and Apologies for Absence
A’ Gairm a’ Chlàir agus Leisgeulan


Dr D Alston, Mr R Balfour, Mrs J Barclay, Mr A Baxter, Mr D Bremner, Mrs C Caddick, Mrs I Campbell, Miss J Campbell, Mrs H Carmichael, Mr A Christie, Mr B Clark, Dr I Cockburn, Mr J Crawford, Mrs M Davidson, Mr N Donald, Mr A Duffy, Mr D Fallows, Mr G Farlow, Mr B Fernie, Mr M Finlayson, Mr C Fraser, Mr L Fraser, Mr H Fraser, Mr J Gordon, Mr B Gormley, Mr K Gowans, Mr A Graham, Mr J Gray, Mr M Green, Mr R Greene, Mr A Henderson, Mr D Hendry, Mr D Kerr, Mr R Laird, Mr B Lobban, Mrs L MacDonald, Mr N MacDonald, Mr J McGillivray, Mrs D Mackay, Mr D Mackay, Mr W MacKay, Mr G MacKenzie, Mr A Mackinnon, Ms A MacLean, Mr T MacLennan, Mr K MacLeod, Mrs B McAllister, Mrs I McCallum, Mr D Millar, Mr H Morrison, Ms L Munro, Mr B Murphy, Mr F Parr, Mrs M Paterson, Mr G Phillips, Mr T Prag, Mr M Rattray, Mr M Reiss, Mr I Renwick, Mr G Rimell, Mr A Rhind, Mrs F Robertson, Mr J Rosie, Ms G Ross, Mr G Ross, Mr R Saxon, Dr A Sinclair, Ms M Smith, Ms K Stephen, Mr J Stone, Mr B Thompson, Mrs C Wilson, Mr H Wood

In Attendance:

Chief Executive 
Depute Chief Executive/Director of Corporate Development 
Director of Development & Infrastructure Director of Care and Learning 
Director of Finance 
Director of Community Services

Mr J Gray in the Chair

Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mr I Brown, Mrs G Coghill, Ms J Douglas, Mr J Ford, Mr C Macaulay, Mrs G Sinclair and Mrs J Slater.

2. Declarations of Interest
Foillseachaidhean Com-pàirt

The Council NOTED the following declarations of interest: 

Item 13 – Dr D Alston (non-financial) 
Item 14 – Mr A Christie, Mrs D MacKay, Mr W MacKay, Mrs A MacLean (all non-financial) 
Item 16 – Mr K Gowans (financial and non-financial) 
Item 17 – Mr K Gowans and Mr F Parr (both non-financial), Mr K Gowans (financial) 
Item 18 - Mr K Gowans, Mrs F Robertson, Mr G MacKenzie and Mrs M Paterson (all non-financial), Mr K Gowans (financial) 
Item 21 – Mr K Gowans (non-financial), Mr B Murphy and Mr K Gowans (both financial)
Item 25 – Mr K Gowans and Mr F Parr (both non-financial), Mr K Gowans (financial)

Also, and in terms of the general dispensation granted by the Standards Commission, Mr D Kerr declared a financial interest in any items which might arise during discussion in regard to Council housing on the grounds of being a Council House tenant.

3. Membership of the Council
Ballrachd na Comhairle

It was NOTED that Mr Colin Macaulay had tendered his resignation as a Member of the Council with effect from 15 March 2015. In this regard, a By-Election for Ward 19 (Nairn) had been arranged for 7 May 2015.

On behalf of the Council, the Convener paid tribute to Councillor Macaulay’s commitment to public life and to the people of Nairn and especially to his dedication to achieving fair decisions which had been particularly respected during his service on the South Planning Applications Committee.

4. Presentation – New Start Highland
Taisbeanadh – New Start Highland

A Presentation was undertaken at the meeting on the work of New Start Highland by its Chief Executive, Mr James Dunbar, during which it was confirmed that the aim of the third sector was to provide social value in addition to making money and in this regard it was noted that, for every £1 invested, £7-£10 of social value could be delivered. A key reason for the existence of New Start Highland was to transform the lives of those in crisis and this was achieved through partnership working with the Council and other organisations in the public, private or third sectors. The Christie Commission had recognised that Local Authorities should move away from being both the ‘architect’ and the ‘provider’of all services and in this respect the role of social enterprise companies had been acknowledged.

Following a summary of the current activities undertaken by New Start Highland, it was highlighted that the Procurement Reform Bill included reference to the usefulness of community benefit clauses and the Council was urged to consider implementing such clauses when putting services out for tender in future.

During discussion, Members expressed their appreciation of the work which was undertaken by New Start Highland and raised the following issues:-

  • more direct involvement in Community Planning Partnerships and District Partnerships would be beneficial in regard to empowering communities;
  • staff and volunteers from New Start Highland were always helpful and efficient and this was greatly appreciated;
  • there was a need for more consideration to be given to the value of social welfare in future, particularly when tenders were awarded, and it was hoped that this could perhaps be addressed through the Community Empowerment Bill;
  • complex tendering procedures (which sometimes held back implementation of local projects) caused frustration in smaller communities and it was suggested that this could perhaps be avoided if community representatives could participate in Community Planning Partnerships;
  • it was hoped that New Start Highland would continue with current activities across the Highlands and perhaps also expand into the provision of training wherever possible;
  • there was a need to provide longer-term grants and contracts to social enterprise companies; and
  • the value of public and third sector partnerships being based on shared understanding and respect was emphasised.

Having thanked Mr Dunbar for his extremely informative presentation, the Council otherwise NOTED the position.

5. Confirmation of Minutes
Daingneachadh a’ Gheàrr-chunntais

There had been submitted for confirmation as a correct record the Minutes of Meeting of the Council held on 18 December 2014 as contained in the Volume which had been circulated separately which were APPROVED.

6. Minutes of Meetings of Committees
Geàrr-chunntasan Choinneamhan Chomataidhean

There had been submitted for confirmation as correct records, for information as regards delegated business and for approval as appropriate, the Minutes of Meetings of Committees contained in Volume circulated separately as undernoted:

Education, Children and Adult Services Committee, 14 January 
Skye, Ross & Cromarty Area Committee, 4 February 
Community Services Committee, 5 February 
Caithness & Sutherland Area Committee, 10 February
Education, Children and Adult Services Committee, 11 February
Planning, Development & Infrastructure Committee, 18 February
Gaelic Implementation Group, 19 February
Pensions Committee, 19 February
Resources Committee, 25 February
Lochaber Area Committee, 26 February
City of Inverness Area Committee, 5 March

The Minutes, having been moved and seconded were, except as undernoted, APPROVED – matters arising having been dealt with as follows :–

Education, Children and Adult Services Committee, 14 January

*Starred Item* Item 8: Page 743: Sustainable School Estate Review – North Skye

It was NOTED that two additional representations (received since the meeting of the Committee on 14 January 2015) had been circulated.

Following discussion, the Council AGREED:

i. to discontinue education provision at the existing Dunvegan, Struan, Knockbreck and Edinbane Primary Schools; 
ii. to establish a new amalgamated community Primary School for North West Skye on a new site in the village of Dunvegan; 
iii. to combine the existing school catchments of Dunvegan, Struan, Knockbreck and Edinbane Schools to form the catchment of the new amalgamated Primary School; and 
iv. toinitiate a new consultation to consider dual zoning for any family who may wish to consider attending Carbost or MacDiarmid Primary Schools.

Community Services Committee, 5 February

*Starred Item* Item 2a: Page 761: Winter Maintenance

The Council AGREED that re-consideration of the Winter Maintenance Pre-Treatment Savings Proposal would be undertaken.

Notice of Amendment – Corran Ferry
Brath Atharrachaidh – Aiseag a’ Chorrain

With reference to the Minutes of Meeting of the Community Services Committee of 5 February 2015 as contained in the Volume and circulated separately, the following Notice of Amendment had been received in accordance with Standing Order 10.3 –

“We, the undersigned, wish to challenge the Community Services Committee decision to defer any decision on Corran Ferry fare levels to the Highland Council meeting on 12 March 2015 to enable Officers to –

1) prepare a full business plan for the next five years, including an assessment of potential savings in operational costs and the impact this would have on passengers; 
2) bring forward options for the long-term sustainability of the ferry service and a plan for the assessment of alternative fixed crossing options; 
3) obtain independent legal opinion on the risk to Highland Council of breaking State Aid rules, the potential liability to the Council for breach of these rules and options for presenting a robust case that these rules should not apply to this lifeline service; and 
4) carry out an assessment that the Council is complying with all equalities legislation.

We seek to reverse the decision of the Community Services Committee and urge Council to agree the recommendations in the original paper as follows –

1) agree that the option to transfer the operation of the ferry to Transport Scotland is given no further consideration; 
2) approve a 4% per annum increase in Corran Ferry fares from 1 April 2015; 
3) note that annual increases of 4% are likely to be required for the following two years (2016/17 and 2017/18);
4) agree that any requirement to consider increases beyond 4% be brought back to the Committee for immediate consideration; and 
5) note the information provided on a long term strategy.

Signed: Mr G MacKenzie, Ms M Smith, Mr R Laird, Ms L Munro, Dr D Alston, Mr J Gray, Mr D Fallows, Mr T Prag

In this connection, there had been re-circulated Report No. COM/11/15 dated 26 January 2015 by the Director of Community Services.

There had also been circulated Letter from Councillor T Maclennan which proposed a way forward (following consultation between Local Members and community representatives) and Letter from the Chair of the Committee (in response) in which he welcomed the proposals to reduce fare increases on 1 April 2015 from 4% to 2%, suggested a timetable for activities associated with assessing alternative cost savings and supported the need for clarity and openness on a range of points.

Thereafter, and following discussion, the Council:

i. AGREED that the option to transfer the operation of the Ferry to Transport Scotland be given no further consideration; 
ii. APPROVED a 2% per annum increase in the Corran Ferry fares from 1 April 2015; 
iii. AGREED the following five actions – (a) clarity being received on what specifically was the State Aid block to this crossing being subsidised (by 31 May 2015), (b) the carrying out of a full analysis of the financial costs – in initially with the Lochaber Members (by 30 June 2015), (c) community consultation being undertaken on alternative ways to reduce costs (by 31 August 2015), (d) production of a robust Business Plan which in the short term focused on savings and efficiencies and in the longer term – 5 years plus – explored the potential of renewable energy in a fixed crossing (by 31 December 2015) and (e) completion of an Equalities Impact Assessment with independent confirmation that Highland Council was complying with European Equalities legislation 2010 (by 31 December 2015); and 
iv. AGREED that a report go back to the first Community Services Committee meeting in 2016 detailing the outcomes of these actions and recommending the fares to be applied for 2016/17.

Education, Children and Adult Services Committee, 11 February

*Starred Item* Item 7: Page 796: Sustainable School Estate Review – Tain

The Council AGREED to:

i. discontinue education provision at the following campuses – Craighill Primary School, Knockbreck Primary School and St Duthus Special School – and relocate provision to a new 3 to 18 campus to be established on the site of the existing Tain Royal Academy; 
ii. as an interim measure, until the proposed 3 to 18 campus was available, relocate current pre-school provision from St Duthus School campus (English medium) and Knockbreck Primary School campus (Gaelic medium) to temporary modular accommodation on the current Craighill Primary School campus; 
iii. establish a new 3 to 18 community campus on the site of the existing Tain Royal Academy comprising Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Additional Support Needs and Gaelic Medium provision to replace all other local authority education provision within Tain, including the existing Tain Royal Academy and Community Complex; and 
iv. combine the existing school catchment areas of Craighill Primary School and Knockbreck Primary School to become the catchment area of the new combined Primary School within the 3 to 18 campus.

*Starred item* Item 19: Page 805: Appointment of Representative to the Board of Partnerships for Wellbeing

The Council AGREED that Miss J Campbell be appointed to the Board of Partnerships for Wellbeing.

Resources Committee, 25 February

*Starred Item* Item 10: Page 850: Carbon CLEVER Community Grant Fund

The Council AGREED that decision making for all applications be delegated to Area Committees and that the Scheme of Delegation be amended accordingly at the next opportunity.

Item 18b: Page 857: Website Review Report

The Council NOTED clarification that, whilst the report for this item had contained an inaccuracy at Paragraph 2.2.2, the correct information had been included in the Appendix to the report.

City of Inverness Area Committee, 5 March

Item 9: Page 10: Draft Old Town Conservation Area Management Plan

The Council AGREED to amend the wording within the Minute as follows:

“A new designated area was being proposed for the west side of the River Ness which incorporated Merkinch,but due to capacity issues it was not being progressed in the immediate future, there being around 30 already designated areas which required review”.

Item 16: Page 16: Developing Inverness as a “Coach Friendly”City

The Council AGREED to amend the wording within the Minute as follows:

In view of the decision to promote a Permanent Traffic Order to designate the use of Ardross Street as the permanent coach drop-off /pick-up location for the City of Inverness being made on 2 December 2014, and because inaccurate information had been presented at that meeting regarding Traffic Orders, the Committee AGREED unanimously to suspend Standing Order 20 in order to reconsider the matter.”

7. Highland and Western Isles Valuation Joint Board
Co-Bhòrd Luachaidh na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean Siar

There had been circulated Minutes of Meeting of the Highlands and Western Isles Valuation Joint Board held on 13 November 2014 - which were NOTED.

8. Customer Services Board
Bòrd Sheirbheisean Luchd-ceannach

There had been circulated Minutes of Meetings of the Customer Services Board held on 17 February 2015 - which were NOTED – subject to the following addition –

“That a further report should be submitted to the Board on the potential for the outsourcing of work from Council Services to Service Points”.

9. Community Challenge Fund Applications Panel
Maoin Dùbhlain Coimhearsnachd – Geàrr-chunntas Coinneimh

There had been circulated Minutes of Meeting of the Community Challenge Fund Applications Panel held on 25 February 2015 - which were APPROVED.

10. Membership of Strategic Committees, etc
Ballrachd air Comataidhean Ro-innleachdail, msaa

It was NOTED that Mr D Millar had now been appointed as Leader of the Highland Alliance – with Mr T Maclennan as Depute Leader.

The Council also AGREED the following changes to membership of Committees –

Resources Committee – Mrs I McCallum to replace Mr N Donald

Pensions Committee – Mr M Green to replace Mr N Donald

Planning Review Body

It was NOTED that, following the resignation of Mr N Donald, nominations had been sought from the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey area for the vacant place and had been received as follows –

Mr R Balfour Mr B Lobban

At this point in the meeting, Mr R Balfour withdrew his nomination.

Thereafter, the Council AGREED to appoint Mr B Lobban to the Planning Review Body as detailed.

11. Question Time
Àm Ceiste

The following Questions had been received by the Depute Chief Executive/Director of Corporate Development in terms of Standing Order 42 –

(i) Mr A Henderson

To the Leader of the Council

“What communications have Highland Council had with the Scottish Government Transport Minister in the past six months regarding the missing summer link – the Mallaig to Lochboisdale ferry?”

The response had been circulated.

In terms of a supplementary question, Mr Henderson queried what work had been done in the last six months by the Highland Council, in conjunction with the Scottish Government, and namely the Transport Minister, over the request for a summer link.

In response, the Leader of the Council confirmed that the Council had worked with the Scottish Government on the Ferries Plans. He had followed up on issues raised by Councillor Henderson and there had been no specific requests made on this matter over the last six months. He was more than happy, as were others involved in this subject, to take forward any matters Mr Henderson felt important in terms of ferry issues. There had been no specific actions undertaken outside the Ferries Plan.

(ii) Mr A Mackinnon

To the Leader of the Council

“In light of the recent announcement of the Scottish Government to enforce teacher number levels and pupil/teacher ratios on Local Authorities and the acceptance of Highland Council of this stance, there would appear to be uncertainty over£1.68 million of savings that were agreed in December that cannot be taken for 2015/16 because they would negatively impact on teacher numbers. Scottish Government have agreed approx. £460,000 to offset this however there is still a gap in 2015/16 of approx. £1.2 million.

So, can the Leader confirm that, in line with the Highland Council core values of listening, openness, valuing, improving, supporting, partnering and delivering, there will be a clear and transparent debate and decisions in public around how to close this gap for 2015/16. Decisions on such a large budget gap cannot be taken in isolation or private and it is the right of the public to expect transparency over £1 million of alternative savings that will have to be found”.

The response had been circulated.

In terms of a supplementary question, Mr Mackinnon queried what assurances the Council could have that the Service could manage Teacher numbers whilst achieving the agreed savings.

In response, the Leader of the Council confirmed that all 32 Scottish Councils had signed up to the agreement on Teacher numbers and it was absolutely correct to protect the financial position of the Council. As outlined in the original response, in the meantime there was no budget gap. The Council would continue to work to protect Teacher numbers and protect the services within the Council; Officers would keep a close eye on what was needed to maintain this position. The fact that the Council was getting additional money to help to support this was welcomed, as was the fact that the Council would not be penalised by the failure of other Councils to maintain Teacher numbers.

(iii) Mrs H Carmichael

To the Leader of the Council

“The role of a Councillor is wide ranging, demanding and time consuming if they are to properly and effectively represent the views and voices of their constituents and also fully play their part in the smooth and efficient running of the business of the Council.

Does the Leader agree that any Councillor who is elected to another office such as MP or MSP or MEP should immediately resign from their Council post to ensure their constituents have equal and effective representation and that the business of the Council continues efficiently?”

The response had been circulated.

In terms of a supplementary question, Mrs Carmichael queried as to whether consideration had been given to how, at this time of austerity and when the Administration had cut budgets in every department, employees who were under the threat of compulsory redundancy or who had already been made redundant would feel about any Elected Member of the Council taking two salaries under any circumstances.

In response, the Leader of the Council confirmed that it was his opinion that all politicians should consider the job as a vocation and as such any decisions should be to the benefit of the public and constituents.

(iv) Mr H Morrison

To the Chair of the Community Services Committee

“During periods of recent snowfall, the hard work of our local staff on the frontline has been hampered by the breakdown of equipment from pavement ploughs to gritter lorries. This has led to delays in clearing snow from our vital local routes and resulting in some places of residents being housebound and unable to venture out of their homes, due to pavements/roads not being treated. The breakdowns appear to be the result of a lack of preparatory work to ensure the vehicles and machinery are winter ready.

Can I please have details of the maintenance schedule in advance of winter, of all relative machinery and plant, details of all breakdowns in the Highland area for December and January, and the time it took to get vehicles/equipment back in service”

The response had been circulated.

In terms of a supplementary question, Mr Morrison queried why, given that so many workshops and depots were not running to their full staffing levels, the Council could not recruit apprentices into these workshops and fill vacancies at depots.

In response, the Chair of the Community Services Committee confirmed that, as part of the ongoing work in regard to the Workforce Action Plan for Community Services, it had been agreed to review staffing levels and the skills required to deliver services and responsibilities and to develop competent and well trained staff at all times.

(v) Mrs I McCallum

To the Leader of the Council

“Is it not misleading to state that “Carbon Clever projects have spent one million of Capital and brought in two million?”

The response had been circulated.

In terms of a supplementary question, Mrs McCallum referred to the £2m which it was claimed had been brought in and specifically the UHI Low Carbon Institute Project of £1.2m which was not a Council project. In this regard, she queried whether the figure of £2m would be revised to £792,000, with costs of £750,000.

In response, the Leader of the Council confirmed that the Council had worked very closely with UHI on the Science Skills Academy project and this had been the subject of reports to Committees on several occasions. He absolutely stood by the work which had been undertaken by the very effective and hard-working Carbon CLEVER Team who had brought in additional money to the Council to ensure that the facilities across the Highlands were moved forward exponentially with the investment received.

(vi) Mrs I McCallum

To the Leader of the Council

“The Smith Commission agreement states that "Responsibility for the management of the Crown Estate's economic assets in Scotland, and the revenue generated from these assets, will be transferred to the Scottish Parliament." It further states that "Following this transfer, responsibility for the management of those assets will be further devolved to local authority areas such as Orkney Shetland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar or other areas who seek such responsibilities."

Can you confirm that those responsibilities will also be devolved to Highland?”

The response had been circulated.

In terms of a supplementary question, Mrs McCallum referred to the number of years over which a case had been made for the Crown Estate to be devolved to communities and queried whether, based on this information, it was ironic that Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles were a step ahead of Highland Council and how had this happened.

In response, the Leader of the Council confirmed that the Council had worked in tandem with all of the Highlands and Islands Authorities both at the Convention of the Highlands and Islands and at meetings with the Scottish Government in terms of the representations they’ve taken forward. At the moment no powers had been transferred and nothing had been devolved, either to the Scottish Government or to communities.

(vii) Mrs C Wilson

To the Leader of the Council

“In the light of budget pressures and possible job losses what actions will Highland Council be taking to protect fragile communities and rural jobs in relation to the Council's current Policy on Compulsory Redundancy?”

The response had been circulated.

There was no Supplementary Question.

(viii) Mr M Reiss

To the Leader of the Council

“The establishment of Police Scotland in April 2013 has resulted in the centralisation of services and now we have widespread and ongoing concerns regarding the routine arming of Police officers, stop and search of minors, the significant loss of data and overall damage to the morale of hard working Highland officers (of all ranks including civilian Police Support Staff). This has created an ebbing of public confidence in the leadership of Police Scotland by the people of the Highlands.

In light of these concerns, will the Leader of Highland Council accept that the decision to relocate call handling for Highland (and the three Island Authorities, the former Grampian Police and Tayside Police areas) from the existing Inverness Control Room to Glasgow and/or Bilston scheduled to be implemented later in 2014 should be reviewed urgently given the crucial nature of this front line emergency service; the risks of geographical errors in emergency call handling and the escalating costs of centralisation including I.T. provision recently graded by the SPA as being at “maximum” for both likelihood and impact. And, will he lobby Scottish Government on behalf of the Highlands for a reversal in the centralisation agenda and bring local policing back”.

The response had been circulated.

In terms of a supplementary question, Mr Reiss expressed the view that there was more to measuring public confidence than simple statistics and the broader evidence from the media and the public pointed to a different conclusion. In this regard, he queried whether the Leader still had full confidence in Sir Stephen House.

In response, the Leader of the Council confirmed that the statistics for the region were particularly impressive and this had been evidenced through Ward Forums, particularly in relation to detection and reported crime rates. He had limited experience of working directly with Sir Stephen House and as such was not in position to provide a view in this regard.

(ix) Mrs I McCallum

To the Chair of the Education, Children and Adult Services Committee

“There are areas within the Public Sector in Highland where it is difficult to recruit staff. In the Council within Education over a number of years there has been a worrying shortage of candidates coming forward for Headteacher Posts in Primary Schools. Would the Chair take a report to this Council exploring why this is the case and hopefully recommend solutions to the situation?”

The response had been circulated.

In terms of a supplementary question, Mrs McCallum queried whether it would be possible to have a timescale for a report to be presented to the Education, Children & Adult Services Committee on this matter.

In response, the Chair of the Education, Children and Adult Services Committee confirmed that an update would be presented to the next meeting of the Committee and that a more detailed report would be submitted to the following meeting.

(x) Mr M Reiss

To the Chair of the Community Services Committee

“Can I have clarity on how the gap will be filled that was created after the £120,000 pre gritting saving was rightly removed from the 2015/16 budget after a huge public outcry?”

The response had been circulated.

There was no Supplementary Question.

(xi) Mrs M Davidson

To the Leader of the Council

“I was pleased to see that Cllr Hendry was meeting with the secretary of State for Scotland to discuss Tugs in the Minch, did he take the opportunity to discuss Highland Council’s Housing debt and the possibility of a scheme such as that agreed for Shetland. Could he also tell us what other meetings or correspondence he has had with UK or Scottish Government in the past 6 months to discuss housing debt?”

The response had been circulated.

In terms of a supplementary question, Mrs Davidson queried whether the Leader would seek to ensure that the write-off of housing debt would be in his Party’s manifesto for the Westminster Elections.

In response, the Leader of the Council confirmed that there was a necessary degree of separation between his personal view and his view as Leader of the Council. In this regard, the policy of the Council was absolutely consistent in terms of seeking the write-off of housing debt and in going forward, in any role he would occupy, he would remain committed to pursuing the write-off of the housing debt for the Local Authority.

(xii) Mrs M Davidson

To the Chair of the Education, Children and Adult Services Committee

“There have been several sources of new funding to NHS Highland over recent weeks, many of which will be targeted at adult services. Can Cllr Christie give us a full list of those funds plus how much will be allocated to integrated adult services and also how Highland Council intends to improve the public scrutiny and governance of the finance that we delegate to NHS Highland for adult services?”

The response had been circulated.

In terms of a supplementary question, Mrs Davidson queried as to whether the Chair of the Education, Children and Adult Services Committee would ask for a clear plan on how NHS Highland intended to move its money into community services over the next year in addition to recent additional financial allocations.

In response, the Chair of the Education, Children and Adult Services Committee undertook to take this issue on board and confirmed that it was his intention to track money holistically across both services in order to meet the needs of communities.


The Council NOTED the position.

12. Notices of Motion

Brathan Gluasaid

The following Notices of Motion had been received in accordance with Standing Order 10.1 –

i. Notice of Motion

“This Council congratulates the electricity providers in our area for the prompt and efficient restoration of power to the areas affected by the storms in the period of inclement weather we have had but, considering the cost of carrying out this work and the losses occasioned by commercial enterprises and the general public by that loss of power, urges the electricity providers to consider a planned programme of undergrounding transmission cabling over a sensible period where it is practical to do so”.

Signed: Mr K MacLeod Mr R Balfour

During discussion, Members raised the following issues:-

  • in terms of the recent prolonged electricity outages caused by extreme weather conditions, the impact on householders, schools and commercial activity in the Highlands would be considerably lessened if ageing electricity infrastructure could be upgraded;
  • prolonged loss of electricity for rural communities (where the water supply was pumped by electricity) had been particularly dangerous for residents;
  • whilst it was recognised that it was significantly more expensive to provide underground cables, there was now less of a cost differential than at the time when the overhead lines had been installed in the 1940s and 1950s when it would have been prohibitively un-economic;
  • whilst welcoming the effort which had been put into restoring electricity after the recent severe weather conditions, electricity providers should have a planned programme of undergrounding cables and it was hoped that there could be support for such a programme from other areas outwith the Highlands which were similarly affected by prolonged electricity outages, such as Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles and Argyll;
  • undergrounding was possible over large areas as had been carried out in protected landscapes owned by the National Trust;
  • removal of overhead lines would add to the tourist experience in Highland; and
  • additional maintenance was required to prevent trees being blown over onto electricity lines during severe gales as this was the main cause of power loss and in this regard it was suggested that representatives from Scottish and Southern Electricity should be invited to make a presentation on transmission and community resilience issues to the full Council or an appropriate Committee.


Thereafter, the Council AGREED the Notice of Motion as detailed and that an invitation should be extended to Scottish and Southern Energy to undertake a presentation to either the full Council or an appropriate Committee.

ii. Notice of Motion

The Equalities Act 2010 places a Public Sector Equality Duty on Councils to give due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct that is prohibited by the Equality Act;
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not; and
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

Elected Members have a responsibility to ensure that their conduct reflects the requirements of this Duty at all times. The Council therefore agrees that all Members must attend Equalities & Diversity training before the end of 2015 and annually thereafter and that Seminars will be arranged to enable Members to meet this requirement. Completion of the training will be necessary for Members to continue to sit on a Strategic Committee.

Signed: Mr D Hendry Dr D Alston Mr J Gray Mrs C Wilson Mr D Millar

During discussion, Members raised the following issues:-

  • this Motion would send a strong signal to challenge inequalities and support continual education;
  • the Council should be an exemplar of equalities;
  • the Community Safety, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee had received presentations from groups and individuals who had been affected by equalities issues in their everyday lives and these had been extremely informative and helpful;
  • training seminars should be held as soon as possible and should be supported and attended by all Members of the Council; and
  • the Disabled Access Panel should be invited to review access arrangements for the Council Chamber.


The Council AGREED the Notice of Motion as detailed.

13. Integration Scheme – Public Bodies (Joint Working)(Scotland) Act 2014
Sgeama Amalachais – Achd Bhuidhnean Poblach (Co-obrachadh) (Alba) 2014

Declaration of Interest - Dr D Alston declared a non-financial interest in this item as a Board Member of NHS Highland but, in terms of the dispensation granted by the Standards Commission, remained to participate in discussion.

There had been circulated Report No. HC/1/15 by the Chief Executive which introduced the Integration Scheme which was required to meet the new statutory duties in accordance with the Public Bodies (Joint Working)(Scotland) Act 2014 and in this regard it was confirmed that the Scheme would supersede the Partnership Agreement which had been signed in 2012.

During discussion, Members raised the following issues:-

  • the Partnership Agreement had worked well to date and it was hoped that the new Scheme would allow progression and the flexibility to remain current and focused in meeting the needs of services. The inclusion of a wide-range of Members and Officers, as well as NHS Board members, was also welcomed, with emphasis being placed on the need to commence the governance review without delay. With all Scottish Local Authorities moving towards integration, Highland should push ahead with their lead agency model, having had the advantage of the Partnership Agreement for the last 3 years, including the increased opportunities it had created for community engagement and empowerment;
  • the subtle changes in the tone of the new Scheme were praised and any further minor changes made by the Chief Executives should be reported to Members in due course. Specifically, the inclusion of a meaningful Strategic Plan, with an appropriate balance of resources to meet community based needs, was welcomed and should be correctly maintained. There was also a need to acknowledge the strength and potency of improvements at a local level with regard to health and social care services;
  • with regard to the governance review, it was vital that Members from across the political spectrum were involved on the basis of their qualifications and knowledge;
  • since the transfer of Social Services to the NHS, the Council’s Housing Service had been providing a notable level of health-related support to tenants and this required to be addressed, particularly in relation to adult social care;
  • barriers to local residents remaining within their communities should be investigated and Local Members kept informed of any difficult cases;
  • much of the information in the report was technical in nature and concerned fitting the existing Partnership Agreement into a new framework which was more succinct and it was stressed that the valuable work that had been undertaken prior to and during the partnership would remain in place, with the agreement still available for guidance; and
  • the governance review had been driven by the need to clarify strategic requirements and as such the importance of communities and the partnership element had been emphasised, with both the NHS and the Council scrutinising on behalf of the common interest.


The Council AGREED:

(i) the draft Integration Scheme, subsequent to any necessary final changes which were delegated to the Chief Executives of Highland Council and NHS Highland; 
(ii) to a review of governance arrangements, involving Members from across the Council; and 
(iii) to work with NHS Highland to determine a timescale and process.