Agendas, reports and minutes

Highland Council

Date: Thursday, 25 June 2020

Agenda: Read the Agenda

A Special Meeting of the Highland Council will be held REMOTELY on Thursday, 25 June 2020 at 10.30am.

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. Membership of the Council/Committees, etc 
Ballrachd na Comhairle

The Council is asked to note that, following the By-Election held on 12 March 2020, Mr Calum Munro was elected as a Member of Ward 10 (Eilean a' Cheò).
Membership of the Council is therefore now as follows:-

Ind – 27/SNP- 21/Cons – 10/Lib Dem – 9/Labour – 3/Green –1/Sutherland Independent – 1/Non-Aligned – 1/Vacant - 1

The formula in respect of the number of places on Strategic Committees remains as 7/5/3/3.

The Council is also asked to agree the following:-

Economy & Infrastructure Committee – Mr C Munro to replace Mr J Gordon

Redesign Board – Mrs M Cockburn to replace Dr I Cockburn

In this regard, there are circulated Minutes of Meeting of the Redesign Board held on Wednesday, 10 June 2020.

Recovery Board (Membership) – Mr A Christie (Chair), Mr B Lobban, Mrs M Davidson, Mr A MacKinnon, Mr J Gray, Dr I Cockburn, Mr K Gowans, Mrs G Campbell-Sinclair, Mrs C Caddick, Mr A Jarvie and Mr P Saggers.

Non-Voting Staff Members – Mrs D Manson, Mr M MacLeod and Mr A Gunn.
Non-Voting Union Representative – Mr J Gibson (UNISON)

4. Decisions Made Using Delegated Powers 

There is circulated Report No. HC/11/20 dated 15 June 2020 by the Executive Chief Officer, Performance & Governance.

The Council is asked to:-

(i)     homologate the decisions set out in Appendix 1;
(ii)    note the progress that has been made in resuming the Council’s governance structures; and
(iii)   approve the resumption of Council approved policies and services to pre-Covid arrangements, in line with Government guidelines and Public Health advice.

5. Recovery Action Plan 

There is circulated Report No. HC/12/20 dated 15 June 2020 by the Executive Chief Officer, Transformation.

In this regard, there are circulated Minutes of Meetings of the Recovery Board held on Thursday, 4 June 2020.

The Council is asked to:-

(i) approve the Terms of Reference for the Highland Council’s Recovery Board (paragraph 5.2 below refers);
(ii) approve the Highland Council Recovery Action Plan (Appendix A);
(iii) note the programme approach to recovery (Appendix D);
(iv) note the work undertaken to align The Recovery Action Plan, the existing Change Programme, Transitions Programme, Service-specific Reviews, and Savings Programmes and Projects;
(v) note roles and responsibilities (Appendix C); and
(vi) note the composition of the Transformation team (Appendix F).

6. Revenue Budget 2020/21 Budget and Annual Accounts 2019/20 

There is circulated Report No. HC/13/20 dated 15 June 2020 by the Executive Chief Officer, Resources & Finance.

The Council is asked to:-

(i)     receive the unaudited Annual Accounts for the Highland Council, Highland Charities Trust, Highland Charitable Trust and the Highland Council Pension Fund for the year ended 31st March 2020 and note that these will be presented to the appointed auditor by the prescribed date of the 30th June 2020;
(ii)    note the assumptions used, the budget gap figures, and the potential mitigating actions for 2020/21;
(iii)   agree, in the light of (ii) above, that the budget set in March 2020 needs to be reviewed, with recommendations coming forward in June, July and August 2020;
(iv)   note the use of stringent budget controls, adopting a prudent approach to spend whilst recognising the need to deliver essential services and agree the continuation of these controls until a clear plan for addressing the budget gap is identified;
(v)   agree that the full value of planned investment fund for rural transport is repurposed in financial year 2020/21 to help reduce the sizeable budget deficit facing the Council;
(vi)   agree that in light of the current crisis the approved rebuilding of balances by £4.909m does not take place with that money instead used to mitigate the 2020/21 budget gap;
(vii)  agree to cease all additional Covid response services, unless directly funded by government, at the end of July;
(viii) agree to lobby UK and Scottish governments as appropriate for:

  • additional funding;
  • flexibility in the use of funding to help address the budget gap;
  • a relaxation of the restrictions around the income from second homes Council Tax with flexibility in 2020/21 to use this income to help reduce the pressure on the general revenue budget; and
  • to apply a holiday to interest payments for all PWLB loans.

(ix) approve that the DSM balances held at the end of 2019/20 are used to mitigate the financial gap.
(x)  request that the Scottish Government gives early notification on funding levels for 2021/22 and beyond to allow future years’ financial planning;
(xi) approve the award of contracts for the capital projects as outlined in Appendices 5 and 6; and
(xii) agree that a budget update is presented to every Council meeting in the financial year 2020/2021

7. Timetable of Meetings (Revised) 

There is circulated Revised Timetable of Meetings for the remainder of 2020 for approval.