Agendas, reports and minutes

Highland Council

Date: Thursday, 7 March 2019

Agenda: Read the Agenda

A meeting of the Highland Council will be held in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday, 7 March 2019 at 10.35am.

Webcast Notice: This meeting will be filmed and broadcast over the Internet on the Highland Council website and will be archived and available for viewing for 12 months thereafter.

You are invited to attend the meeting and a note of the business to be considered is attached.

Yours faithfully,

Stewart Fraser 
Head of Corporate Governance


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

2. Declarations of Interest
Foillseachaidhean Com-pàirt

Members are asked to consider whether they have an interest to declare in relation to any item on the agenda for this meeting. Any Member making a declaration of interest should indicate whether it is a financial or non-financial interest and include some information on the nature of the interest. Advice may be sought from Officers prior to the meeting taking place.

3. Presentation – Drug & Alcohol Issues
Taisbeanadh – Cùisean Dhrugaichean & Deoch-làidir

4. Confirmation of Minutes
Daingneachadh a’ Gheàrr-chunntais

There are submitted for confirmation as a correct record the Minutes of Meeting of the Council held on 13 December 2018 (pp. 411-437) and of the Special Meetings held on 16 January and 14 February 2019 (pp. 438-440 and pp. 441-453 respectively) as contained in the Volume which has been circulated separately.

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

There are 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:-

Lochaber Area Committee, 23 January
Care, Learning and Housing Committee, 24 January
Ross and Cromarty Committee, 30 January 
Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, 31 January

*Starred Item as follows – 
Item 6 – Capital Expenditure Monitoring to 31 December 2018 – agreed to recommend the membership of a cross-party Options Selection Group to consider the recommendation of the preferred long term solution for a bypass at Stromeferry. Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee, 11 February

*Starred Item as follows – 
Item 5 – Cairngorm National Park Authority Proposed Local Development Plan – agreed to recommend that arrangements be made for Local Members and Ms C Caddick to meet with appropriate Officers to consider and respond to the consultation in tandem with the Highland Council’s response as the Local Authority.

Caithness Committee, 20 February
City of Inverness Area Committee, 21 February
Sutherland County Committee, 25 February
Corporate Resources Committee, 27 February
Pensions Committee, 28 February
Isle of Skye and Raasay Committee, 4 March

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

There are circulated for information Minutes of Meeting of the Valuation Joint Board held on 20 November 2018 (approved by the Board on 25 January 2018).

Items 7 and 8 (below) will be considered at 2.00pm.

7. Question Time                                                                                         
Àm Ceiste              

The following Questions have been received in accordance with Standing Order 11 -  

(i)    Mr A Baxter

To the Leader of the Council 

Will you publish the intended timetable of area consultations for the roll out of car parking charges across the Highland Council area, as stated in your press statement issued on 22nd November 2018, and what is the intended date for full implementation?

The response is circulated 

Mr Baxter will be entitled to ask a supplementary question which will be answered by the Leader.

(ii)   Mr A Baxter

To the Leader of the Council

Will you confirm how the £1.407m income target agreed in the 2018/19 Council budget (Item 4, Booklet B, Budget Template CS/5) is to be allocated to individual areas in future financial years?

The response is circulated 

Mr Baxter will be entitled to ask a supplementary question which will be answered by the Leader.

(iii)  Mr A Jarvie

To the Chair of the Care, Learning & Housing Committee

What is your timetable for assessing what staff training is required to support pupils with Additional Support Needs in schools and when would you anticipate for this to be in place?

The response is circulated 

Mr Jarvie will be entitled to ask a supplementary question which will be answered by the Chair of the Care, Learning & Housing Committee.

8. Notices of Motion 
Brathan Gluasaid    

The following Notices of Motion have been received in accordance with Standing Order 12 –

“We, the undersigned Members for Ward 5 (Wester Ross, Lochalsh & Strathpeffer), no longer wish to remain part of the Ross & Cromarty Area Committee.

As the largest Council Ward by area, which is also larger than 92% of Parliamentary constituencies in the UK and in Europe, Ward 5 has many diverse needs which largely differ from the other Wards which make up the Ross & Cromarty Area Committee. 

We, as elected Members, wish to establish a separate Area Committee serving Ward 5 which will be able, in line with the Scheme of Delegation, to determine the budget and service priorities for the unique area which we have been elected to serve.

Several examples of precedents exist for a similar arrangement elsewhere in the Council and we therefore seek Council’s support and request that Officers investigate the steps necessary to facilitate this change and bring a full report back to the June meeting of the full Council with details of any resource, staffing and other implications for deliberation and approval.”       

Signed:    Mr D MacLeod    Mrs I Campbell    Dr I Cockburn    Mr A MacInnes

“The Council expresses concern over the proposals set out in the UK Government’s White Paper on immigration, particularly that there will be no regional variation and that the salary threshold for skilled workers will remain at £30,000. This will have a significant detrimental impact on the Highlands.

To address the demographic challenges facing the area and to meet the employment and skills needs of businesses, we need to be able to attract people to live and work in the Highlands.

We therefore call on the UK Government to develop an effective and responsive migration policy that recognises and responds to regional disparity which would enable the region to achieve its potential and make a full contribution towards Scottish and UK economic growth.

In particular, such a migration policy needs to recognise that migration can benefit communities, particularly those in remote areas, by retaining community capacity and resilience as well as ensuring continued provision of vital local services, such as health and education”.

Signed:   Mrs M Davidson    Mr D Macpherson 

Nuclear-free Highlands - Highland Council notes that both civil and military nuclear programmes have burdened future generations with a legacy of toxic nuclear waste; opposes the development of new nuclear programmes for civil electric power, military submarine propulsion and submarine-launched ballistic missiles; recognises the ongoing threat to our environment and human health by the existence of nuclear waste; notes that current decommissioning work at Dounreay will continue until 2036 and necessitates the transportation of nuclear waste on Highland roads, sea and airspace followed by ongoing low-level waste management on site; believes that with investment and support the Highland Council area has the potential to generate significant renewable energy for both industry and export, and could lead the world in developing technologies for carbon-free energy solutions; considers that there will never be a business case that is either financially or environmentally competent for new nuclear energy plants in the Highlands and proposes that Highland Council joins the 40 other local authorities across the UK and Republic of Ireland as a member of the group Nuclear-free Local Authorities (NFLA)”.  

Signed:    Mr R MacWilliam    Mrs L MacDonald

“Council recognises the struggles that Council tenants are having with the new form of benefit, the Universal Credit, which is always paid in arrears and often the lead in time is significant, plunging tenants immediately into arrears.  Currently, tenants can seek advice from a team of two in the Highland Council or go to other advisory organisations, such as the CAB. The Council gives significant amounts of money annually to the CAB to help advise its tenants.  However, we do not feel this is sufficient to tackle the increasing housing debt within Highland Council.  It needs a different approach.

As Councillors, we are often approached by Council house tenants who would rather deal with someone in-house as opposed to going to sit at an outside organisation where some have said they feel stigmatised and embarrassed.  Several years ago the Council had a much larger in-house team that dealt with monetary advice and the staff were discreet and quick to attend to these matters. Often a satisfactory way forward was found for our tenants and the Council, allowing our constituents to reduce their debt.  With an in house-team, as councillors we can contact them instantly and have an inside track to getting them help when they need it quickly and discreetly.  

At the moment the housing management can also offer monetary advice, but officers on that level have many other calls upon their time.  We feel that there should be specialised administration assistant team set up to assist our tenants in dire need, a team of 4 would cost around £100,000 with on costs.  Given the increasing debt in the Housing Revenue Account, we contend that this would be a ‘spend to save’ model and that the Council and tenants would be greatly assisted with a bigger welfare team in-house within Highland Council”.

Signed:   Ms M Smith    Mrs G Campbell-Sinclair    Mrs P Munro 

9. Redesign of Highland Council: Update from the Board and Outcomes from the Service Income Peer Review     
Ath-dhealbhadh Chomhairle na Gàidhealtachd: Cunntas às Ùr bhon Bhòrd agus toraidhean bho Cho-Mheasadh Teachd-a-steach Seirbheis              

There is circulated Report No. HC/3/19 dated 25 February 2019 by the Chief Executive.

In this regard, there are also circulated Minutes of Meeting of the Redesign Board held on 12 February 2019. 

Members are asked to approve the Minutes of the Redesign Board meeting and note progress on Council redesign work.

Members are also asked to approve the recommendations of the Service Income Review, notably (i) that the de minimis for issuing an invoice be increased from £10 to £12.50, (ii) where alternative payment methods exist, an invoicing surcharge of £15 (including VAT) be implemented and (iii) statutory interest and late penalties be applied to overdue commercial accounts. 

10. Local and National Statutory Performance Indicators 2017-18
Comharran Coileanaidh agus Comharra-mheasadh Reachdail Ionadail agus Nàiseanta 2017/18 

There is circulated Report No. HC/4/19 dated 27 February 2019 by the Chief Executive. 

The Council is asked to scrutinise and comment on the performance of Statutory Performance Indicators for 2017/18 and where relevant their national benchmark position.

The Council is also asked to note that Service Plans will be presented to Strategic Committee meetings early in the new financial year and that Members should expect the opportunity to scrutinise plans in response to the information contained in this report at that time.  

11. Corporate Plan 2019-22                                    
Plana Corporra na Comhairle 2019-22

There is circulated Report No. HC/5/19 dated 18 February 2019 by the Chief Executive.

 Members are asked to:-

(i)    approve the Council Programme, Local Choices: Highland Voices;
(ii)   approve the Corporate Plan for 2019-22;
(iii)  note that the Corporate Plan will be updated to take account of the Council’s Governance Review along with finalising the Change Programme and the Council’s approach to performance management and any organisational restructure. Revisions will be submitted to the Council in May 2019 and any subsequent meetings as required;
(iv)   note that the Plan will support the delivery of the Highland Outcome Improvement Plan;
(v)    note that the Corporate Plan will be the subject of an Annual Performance Report in September each year and the first report for this plan is due in September 2020; and
(vi)   note that the Plan is normally reviewed following the Annual Performance Report to Council and any changes will be submitted to the Council for approval.      

12. A Connected Highland: Striving to be an ambitious, high performing and sustainable Council
Gàidhealtachd Cheangailte: A’ strì airson Comhairle adhartach, àrddèanadach agus seasmhach 

There is circulated Report No. HC/6/19 dated 25 February 2019 by the Chief Executive.

 Members are asked to agree:-

(i)    the strategic improvement priorities for the Council that require particular corporate attention and support, drawing on the 22 priorities proposed in Appendix 1;
(ii)   that targets for the agreed strategic improvement priorities are developed in consultation with Members and finalised for the May meeting of the Council;
(iii)  that a focus on improving performance consistently across the Council is developed. This can be described as a Highland Improving Performance Programme (HIPP) for the Council. It should reflect the key aspects of performance improvement listed in Paragraph 5.1, draw on the range of methods and tools as listed in Paragraph 5.2 and organise support as described in Paragraphs 5.4 to 5.6;
(iv)   that the Chief Executive initiates consultation to review our senior management organisational structures to support and deliver our ambition to be a high performing Council, with formal proposals to be brought back to the Council in May 2019; and
(v)    that a survey of Members’ views be carried out into their perspective on performance management in the Council at this time using the Audit Scotland checklist in Appendix 2. The outcomes from the feedback will be included in the report to Council in May which will detail the targets being set for ongoing review.

The Council is asked to note that:-

(i)    additional Member scrutiny of progress with the improvement priorities will be introduced through a cross-Member Resources and Improvement Governance Board to meet monthly;
(ii)   a Resources and Improvement Implementation Board, led by the Chief Executive, will meet weekly and report to the Governance Board. It will have managerial oversight and will escalate matters and provide assurance to the Governance Board on delivery;
(iii)  work is planned with the senior leadership team of staff to assess progress with performance management based on an Audit Scotland checklist. This, along with the Member feedback, will drive a new corporate approach to performance improvement with the ambition of becoming a whole system learning and improving organisation;
(iv)   all staff have a role to play in performance improvement. Evidence from staff engagement sessions, feedback from high performing teams and staff participating in redesign and lean reviews shows willingness across all staff groups and locations. A range of supports including a targeted training programme will build capability and capacity and accelerate progress; and
(v)    Member involvement in the approach to driving improvement will be reflected in the Corporate Plan.               

13. Governance Review – Feedback from Members’ Seminar and Next Steps 
Ath-sgrùdadh Riaghlaidh – Fios Air Ais bho Sheiminear Bhall agus na h-Ath Cheumannan

There is circulated Report No. HC/7/19 dated 22 February 2019 by the Chief Executive.

Members are asked to agree:-

(i)    the draft Terms of Reference for the Members’ Governance Review Steering Group;
(ii)   the Draft Work Plan;
(iii)  that a Members’ Seminar should take place in May 2019 to consider emerging findings from the Steering Group; and
(iv)   draft proposals to be submitted to the Council in June 2019 for approval.   

14. Change Fund Approach and Priorities       
Dòigh-obrach agus Prìomhachasan Maoin Atharrachaidh

There is circulated Report No. HC/8/19 dated 22 February by the Chief Executive.

 Members are asked to agree that:-

(i)    the six priority projects for the first Phase of the Change Fund will be Education Transformation, Care Placement Services Programme, Trades Review, Transport and Grey Fleet, Waste Strategy and Income Generation;
(ii)   all phases of the Change Programme will be underpinned by enhanced resources for HR, performance management, financial governance and communications;
(iii)  additional facilities time will be provided to support engagement with Trade Unions;
(iv)   support for these projects will be provided through a combination of Change Fund and the re-prioritisation of existing in-house resources;
(v)    a month cross-Member Resources and Improvement Briefing will be established to provide Members with information on the use and effectiveness of the Change Fund and to provide Member oversight of the budget more generally and the Capital Programme;
(vi)   two high level senior officer boards – the Resources and Improvement Implementation Board and the Change Strategy Board – will be established to report to the Member Resources and Improvement Governance Board; and
(vii)  the new arrangements will be in place by 1 April 2019.      

15. Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places 2018-19                                        
Ath-sgrùdadh air Sgìrean Bhòtaidh agus Àiteachan Bhòtaidh 2018-19   

There is circulated Report No. HC/9/19 dated 22 February 2019 by the Chief Executive.

The Council is asked to:-

(i)    note the representations received as detailed in Appendix 1;
(ii)   consider the suggestions to amend Polling Places as detailed in Appendix 2; and
(iii)  approve the final Scheme of Polling Districts and Polling Places for the period 2019-2023. 

16. Council Preparations for EU Exit                                                      
Ullachaidhean na Comhairle airson an t-Aonadh Eòrpach fhàgail

There is circulated Report No. HC/10/19 dated 28 February 2019 by the Chief Executive.

The Council is asked to note:-

(i)    that the four lobbying priorities identified in September 2018 were supported through stakeholder engagement in November 2018 and remain pertinent. There are ongoing opportunities for engaging on the Shared Prosperity Fund and the UK Government’s White Paper on immigration with further reports to be brought back to Members on these issues;
(ii)   Council engagement continues through a range of networks and partnerships at local, regional, national and European levels including COHI, CoSLA and the H&I Leaders Group; and
(iii)  that Council staff are participating in the planning for a No Deal EU exit. This is focused on mitigating against disruption and is organised through the national framework for resilience planning. Some potential impacts are clearer than others and advice and guidance are evolving at pace.

Members are asked to agree that we quantify and seek Government support to meet any appropriate additional costs arising from EU withdrawal for the Council.           

17. Caithness Horizons                                                                                         
Caithness Horizons          

There will follow Report No. HC/11/19 by the Interim Director of Care & Learning. 

18. Highland Council Common Good Funds – Asset Register and Community Empowerment Polices, Common Good Officer
Maoinean Maitheas Coitcheann Chomhairle na Gàidhealtachd – Clàr Somhaoin agus Poileasaidhean Cumhachdachadh Choimhearsnachdan, Oifigear Maitheas Coitcheann

There is circulated Report No. HC/12/19 dated 22 February 2019 by the Depute Chief Executive/Director of Corporate Resources.

The Council is asked to:-

(i)    note the contents of the list of property proposed to be included in the Highland Council Common Good Asset Register (Appendix 1) together with the document for uploading on the Council Website entitled Common Good Property Asset Register – Process and Reviewing Common Good Property Asset Register – Process (Appendix 2);
(ii)   agree the commencement of the public consultation on the list of proposed property in accordance with the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 and to delegate the decisions on the outcome of any representations to Inverness – the City of Inverness Area Committee and Outwith Inverness – the relevant Area Committee;
(iii)  consider and agree the contents of the document entitled Disposal of or Change of Use of Common Good Property – Process (Appendix 3) uploaded to the Council Website on 20 December 2018 and to amend Paragraph 2.9 of the Scheme of Delegation (for City of Inverness Area Committee and Local Area Committees) to include ‘change the use of’ after the word ‘dispose’;
(iv)   consider and agree the contents of the policies entitled Common Good Fund Policy (Appendix 4) and Policy for Disposal or Lease of Common Good Property for less than Market Value (Appendix 5); and
(v)    agree to the permanent establishment of the Common Good Fund Officer post as detailed in Section 7 of the report.      

19. Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) - Membership
Co-chruinneachadh Ùghdarrasan Ionadail na h-Alba 

The Council is asked to agree the following change from the SNP Group -

Dr I Cockburn to replace Mr R Laird
20. High Life Highland – Appointment of Independent Directors 
High Life na Gaidhealtachd – Comataidh Ainmeachaidh

The Council is advised that recommendations have been received from the High Life Highland Nominations Committee in relation to the appointment of Independent Director as follows –

Mr M Golding
Mr J Murray

The Council is asked to agree these recommendations as detailed. 

21. Timetable of Meetings 
Clàr-ama Choinneamhan 

Members are asked to agree the following changes to the timetable of meetings - 

(i)    North Planning Applications Committee – to be held on 31 July (instead of 1 August)
(ii)   North Planning Applications Committee – to be held on 8 October  (instead of 15 October)
(iii)  Care, Learning and Housing Committee – to be held on 10 October  (instead of 17 October)
(iv)   South Planning Applications Committee – to be held on 29 October  (instead of 22 October)
(v)    Highland Council – to now be held on 31 October (instead of 24 October)
(vi)   Ross and Cromarty Committee - to be held on 6 November (instead of 31 October).

22. Member Attendance at Meetings
Làthaireachd Bhall aig Coinneamhan

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 requires that if a Member of a Local Authority fails, throughout a period of six consecutive months, to attend any meeting of the Authority, they shall, unless the failure was due to some reason approved by the Authority, cease to be a Member of that Authority.

Further to the December meeting, Members are asked to approve Mr Blair Allan’s ongoing absence as a result of illness on the basis that the position will continue to be reviewed and an update provided for the Council meeting on 5 September 2019.   

23. Deeds Executed
Sgrìobhainnean Lagha a Bhuilicheadh

Members are asked to note that a list of deeds and other documents executed on behalf of the Council since the meeting held on 13 December 2018 is available in the Members’ Library and on the Council’s Website.