Agendas, reports and minutes

Highland Council

Date: Thursday, 17 December 2020

Agenda: Read the Agenda

A meeting of the Highland Council will be held REMOTELY on Thursday, 17 December 2020 at 10.00am.

(Please note the earlier start time for this meeting)

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. By-Election – Ward 12 – Aird and Loch Ness – New Date
Fo-Thaghadh – Uàrd 12 – An Àird agus Loch Nis – Ceann-latha Ùr

Members are advised that a new date has been set for the By-Election for Ward 12 and it will now be held on Thursday, 11 March 2021.  
4. Confirmation of Minutes 
Daingneachadh a’ Gheàrr-chunntais

There are submitted for confirmation as correct records the Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Council held on 28 October and the Minutes of the scheduled Meeting held on 29 October 2020 (pp.6-35) 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:-
*Economy and Infrastructure Committee           4 November

*Starred Item - Compulsory Purchase Order - 

Agreed to recommend that the Council resolve to make a Compulsory Purchase Order to acquire the Struan House Hotel, Carrbridge under Sections 9 and 10 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987. 

Easter Ross Area Committee                              5 November
*Sutherland County Committee                           5 November

*Starred Item – Highland Council Capital Plan

Agreed to recommend the terms of the Notice of Motion as detailed below -

In view of the constraints imposed upon the Highland Council Capital Plan for years to come, and in view of the undeniable need for indoor sporting facilities to support the well-being of pupils attending the Dornoch 3-18 School Campus, the students attending the North Highland College Campus, and the local community in general, that Sutherland Members support in principle the construction of a low-cost Sports Barn, as per generic drawings, to be built on a suitable site located appropriately on the School premises.

Gaelic Committee                                                5 November
**Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee    10 November

*Starred Item – Heritage Horizons Bid

Agreed to recommend Council endorsement of the bid.

*Starred Item - 2019/20 Area Road Structures Annual Report

Agreed to recommend that the Council bring forward proposals to introduce temporary speed restrictions in all areas of Badenoch and Strathspey currently served by 30mph speed limits and that these proposals be considered at the next meeting of the Committee.

Corporate Resources Committee                       11 November    
Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee  12 November    
Education Committee                                         18 November    
City of Inverness Area Committee                      19 November    
**Communities and Place Committee                 25 November    

*Starred Item – Covid-19 Ward Funds

Agreed to recommend:-

(i)some level of Covid-19 Ward resource be retained for welfare and humanitarian needs and supporting joint working with community bodies;
(ii)the enhanced award be equalized up as set out in Appendix 2 costing £240k to be funded from the hardship fund that was currently set aside to reduce the budget gap in 2020/21; and 
(iii)increased flexibility in the fund be permitted by raising the maximum award for community groups from £500 to £1500, removing the restrictions on spend per month and any unspent fund could be carried forward into 2021/22; and

Also, Officers to draw up new criteria for Covid-19 hardship grants to ensure that community groups are encouraged to support community resilience activities, including provision of clear communication and defined rationale of reasons for declining applications, and a timely appeals process.

*Starred Item – Investing in Play Parks

Agreed to recommend that budgets for play park management be devolved to Area Committees in consultation with Wards.
Audit and Scrutiny Committee                              26 November    
Isle of Skye and Raasay Committee                    30 November    
Nairnshire Committee                                           2 December    
*Tourism Committee                                             3 December    

*Starred Item – Terms of Reference

Agreed to recommend the amended remit for inclusion within the Scheme of Delegation
Housing and Property Committee                         10 December    To Follow
Caithness Committee (Special Meeting)               11 December     To Follow
Lochaber Committee (Special Meeting)                11 December     To Follow
Sutherland County Committee (Special Meeting) 14 December    To Follow

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

There are circulated for noting Minutes of Meeting of the Valuation Joint Board held on 18 September 2020 (approved by the Board on 20 November 2020).

7. Community Planning Board
Bòrd Dealbhadh Coimhearsnachd

There are circulated for noting Minutes of Meeting of the Community Planning Board held on 21 August 2020 (approved by the Board on 5 November 2020).

8. Climate Change Working Group
Buidheann-Obrach Atharrachadh na Gnàth-shìde

There are circulated for approval Minutes of Meeting of the Climate Change Working Group held on 6 November 2020.

9. Brexit Working Group
Buidhean Obrach Brexit

There are circulated for approval Minutes of Meetings of the Brexit Working Group held on 28 October and 23 November 2020.

10. Redesign Board
Bòrd Ath-dhealbhaidh

There are circulated for approval Minutes of Meeting of the Redesign Board held on 27 November 2020.

11. Recovery Board
Bòrd Ath-shlànachaidh

There are circulated for approval Minutes of Meetings of the Recovery Board held on 23 November 2020.

12. Recruitment Panel – Executive Chief Officer (Health & Social Care) 
Pannal Fastaidh – Àrd-Oifigear Gnìomhach (Slàinte & Cùram Sòisealta)

There are circulated for noting Minutes of Meeting of the Recruitment Plan for the post of Executive Chief Officer (Health & Social Care) held on 23 October 2020.

13. Membership of Committees, etc
Ballarachd Chomataidhean, msaa

Members are asked to agree the following:-

Appointment of Vice Chairs (2) – Recovery Board

Education Committee – Mr A Jarvie to replace Mrs I MacKenzie
Tourism Committee – Mr J Bruce to replace Mr A Jarvie

Items 14 and 15 below will be considered at 2.00pm

14. Question Time                                                                                         
Àm Ceiste

Members are advised that the Questions/Responses will follow.

15. Notices of Motion 
Brathan Gluasaid          

The following Notices of Motion have been received by the Head of Corporate Governance – 

It has been confirmed that there are no financial or resource impacts arising from any of the following Notices of Motion.                                                                         

(i) Highland Council requests that the UK and Scottish Governments work together to provide complete transparency to Scottish Local Authorities – and the Scottish people – on all matters pertaining to Barnett consequentials.

Signed:    Mr D Rixson      Mr A Christie

(ii) As one of the four Councillors within Ward 5, I am reminded again that as a local Councillor I am responsible for making decisions on behalf of the Ward 5 constituents in ensuring the delivery of their local services. Having been elected some 19 months ago, I have now come to a decision that we are so far behind the curve with our Ward work plans that it will be impossible to catch up under the current budget strategy. Every day of every week the same complaints cascade down into our inboxes with requests for the transformation of services in respect of our schools estate, public rubbish bins, road resurfacing, electric car charging points, improvements to public toilets, proper facilities for campers, motorhomes and caravans, especially the safe disposal of their waste, enforcement on our overcrowded roads and so it goes on.
These are not large Capital item requests but many small and necessary day to day basic service requirements which we are being accused of failing in our duty to our constituents in providing.  
We are now in an emergency situation and we need to be really proactive and allocate the correct budget and resources to each service that is now at a tipping point. We owe this to our services staff, communities, visitors and the wider public in general, real change is needed and quickly.
My ask is that we get on with the task in hand, empower our communities, give them what they need and watch the transformation take hold.   
Signed:     Mr A MacInnes    Mr R Bremner    Dr I Cockburn

(iii) That Highland Council will host a summit of public and private sector partners to clarify the impact of Brexit on the Highlands early in 2021.

Signed:   Mr R MacWilliam    Mr D Louden

(iv)The Highland Council undertakes to achieve “Living Wage” designation status for the Highland Council Area to provide benefit and support for lower paid employees, while improving the reputation of businesses and the region. This will be prioritised to enhance our COVID-19 recovery and therefore agrees to bring a report to the next meeting of the Highland Council to take this forward. 

Signed:   Mr K Gowans    Mrs G Campbell-Sinclair         Ms E Knox       Mr B Boyd   
Mr R MacWilliam    Mr D Louden

(v)We propose that we prepare a case and speak with the Scottish Government about renewing efforts to help communities secure more of Scotland’s land, recognising this has huge national significance with the imperative of Climate Change.

We ask that a cross-Chamber meeting of interested Councillors is held to discuss how we as a Council can strengthen our support and use existing processes such as the Local Development Plans to make registration easier.

Also, that we discuss this with some of our many successful community landowners and ask how both we, and the Scottish Government, can make this process simpler. 
Finally, we propose that we present our findings to the Scottish Government along with suggestions to enable an increase in community land ownership.

Signed:    Mrs M Davidson     Mr A Henderson  

16. Revenue Budget Update Report
 Buidseat Teachd-a-steach 

There is circulated Report No. HC/42/20 dated 4 December 2020 by the Executive Chief Officer, Resources and Finance. 

The Council is asked to:-

(i)    note this revenue budget update report;
(ii)    agree to allocate £0.5m to meet the increased requirements for cleaning services within schools during Quarter 1 of 2021/22; and 
(iii)    agree to allocate £0.135m for the establishment of a 2-year fixed term Employability team leader post to meet the unemployment challenges facing the region in these challenging times.

17. Highland Council Capital Plan 2018/19 to 2022/23 – Update Report   
Ath-sgrùdadh Prògram Calpa

There will follow Report No. HC/43/20 by the Executive Chief Officer, Resources and Finance.

18. Proposals for Covid-19 Ward Funds and Investing in Play Areas
Molaidhean airson Maoinean Uàird Covid-19 agus Tasgadh ann Àiteachan-cluiche

There is circulated Report No. HC/44/20 dated 3 December 2020 by Executive Chief Officer, Communities and Place.

The Council is asked to note:-

(i)    the decision made at Council on 1.10.20 sought the view of the strategic Committee in the first instance on investing in play parks for conclusion by the December Council meeting.  The Communities and Place Committee considered options at its meeting on 25th November 2020 and this has informed the recommendations in this report.
(ii)    that for Covid Ward Funds:
a.    the initial enhanced allocation to Covid Ward Funds was distributed based on vulnerability to Covid, which took into account ill health and old age indicators, and that this needs to be re-visited given the Council decision on 1.10.20 and the socio-economic impacts now affecting more communities;
b.    that a review of the Covid Ward Funds was already planned to adapt to changing circumstances and respond to learning from the process;
c.    that Ward Members need to identify and agree through Area Committees what proportion of their fund, if any, they want to set aside for projects to assist children and adults post Covid, such as contributing to Play Park equipment alongside funding for food and humanitarian assistance so that Ward Managers can administer the fund, with decisions on awards of £10k and over made at Area Committees in keeping with the Scheme of Delegation;
(iii)    that for the management of the play areas estate that:
a.    the Council has a large play estate, with 339 play areas with 2043 individual units of play equipment;
b.    that the annual budget for play areas is £187,600 and the estimated backlog of repairs and maintenance amounts to £3.436m;
c.    the options for investing £100k of additional investment and that given the scale of the backlog this investment alone will not make a significant impact on the estate;

The Council is asked to agree for the Covid Ward Fund that:-

(i)    some level of Covid Ward resource is retained for welfare and humanitarian needs and supporting our joint working with community bodies in recognition that the needs of individuals as a result of the impact of covid persist;
(ii)    the enhanced award is equalized up as set out in Appendix 2 costing £240k to be funded from the hardship fund, which means it would add to the current budget gap in 2020/21;
(iii)    increased flexibility in the fund is permitted by raising the maximum award for community groups from £500 to £1500, removing the restrictions on spend per month and for any unspent fund to be carried forward into 2020/21;
(iv)    that the criteria and arrangements for the grant fund are amended to reflect the learning and feedback with the revised criteria set out at appendix 3;
(v)    where awards are declined that an appeals process is put in place which is set out in the grant guidance and criteria found at appendix 3.

The Council is asked to agree that:-

(i)    Member views on the options for £100k additional investment are gathered initially in Ward /Area meetings, supported by relevant staff, to enable debate at Area Committees and to inform the budget setting process for 2021/22 onwards; and
(ii)    budget and decision-making are devolved to Area Committees to enable a place-based approach that uses local knowledge, community effort and resources alongside Member views and staff advice to solve problems together and to identify possibilities for a more sustainable approach to the play estate. 

19. Highland Labour Market
Dùbhlain Margaidh Obrach na Gàidhealtachd

There is circulated Report No. HC/45/20 dated 27 November 2020 by Executive Chief Officer, Infrastructure and Environment. 

The Council is asked to:- 

(i)    note the labour market challenges facing the Highland economy and in particular the impact this will have on young people;
(ii)    agree that the Council adopts a pro-active and leadership role with partners through the Highland Employability Partnership, to ensure clients receive a cross agency service that is responsive to their needs and enables them to progress towards and into employment;
(iii)    agree that the Council as an employer and service provider, provides the proposed work experience and job creation opportunities and, through its management of external funding, enables others to also do so; and
(iv)    agree to the proposed staffing changes to ensure that the Council has capacity to effectively undertake its employability function during this challenging time.

20. 2020 Review of Electoral Arrangements – Highland Council

There is circulated Report No. HC/46/20 dated 4 December 2020 by Executive Chief Officer, Performance and Governance.

The Council is asked to:-

(i)    agree to write formally to the Boundary Commission as set out in paragraph 6.3; and
(ii)    note the actions that have been taken and those that are underway to lobby for a change in the Boundary Commission’s approach.

21. Annual Review of Standing Orders Relating to the Conduct of Meetings
Ath-sgrùdadh Òrdughan Seasmhach

There is circulated Report No. HC/47/20 dated 1 December 2020 by the Executive Chief Officer, Performance and Governance.

The Council is asked to:-

(i)     note the points about the general conduct of meetings set out in section 4 and agree the proposals around procedures and protocols, including the introduction of regular breaks and the role of Chairs, Vice Chairs and committee clerks in managing meetings; and
(ii)    agree the proposed revisions to Standing Orders Relating to the Conduct of Meetings set out in section 5 of this report.  

22. Annual Review of the Scheme of Delegation
Ath-sgrùdadh dhen Sgeama Riochdachaidh

There is circulated Report No. HC/48/20 dated 3 December 2020 by the Executive Chief Officer, Performance and Governance.

The Council is asked to agree:-

(i)    the changes to the Scheme of Delegation as detailed in Appendix 1 and 2 to this report; 
(ii)    the Gaelic Committee to report to the Council instead of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee;
(iii)    that amendments to post titles can be made without recourse to Council as long as the level of delegation remains unchanged;
(iv)    that a further report will come back to Council in March once there is clarity around the changes required to the Scheme of Delegation as a consequence of leaving the European Union, and any other changes required as a consequence of possible further changes in the Council’s management structure; and
(v)    amendments to the Scheme of Delegation in relation to planning matters as set out in detail at Appendix 3 and summarised as follows:
    i.   No change to development size;
    ii.  Reduction of number for objections from 8 to 5 across Highland;
    iii. Implement power of 2 ward Members to call-in any application validated from 1 Jan 2021 onwards and subsequently recommended for approval; and
    iv.  Review impact of changes after 6 months.

23. Timetable of Meetings for 2021                                                   
Clàr-ama Choinneamhan airson 2021

The Council is asked to agree the following changes to the Timetable of Meetings for 2021:-

City of Inverness Area Committee – Additional Meeting – 18 January
Easter Ross Area Committee – Additional Meeting – 20 January
Isle of Skye & Raasay Committee – Additional Meeting – 25 January
Audit & Scrutiny Committee – Additional Meeting – 28 January
Sutherland County Committee – to move from 22 February to 1 March 
24. 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 29 October 2020 are available on the Council’s Website.

25. Exclusion of the Public
Às-dùnadh a’ Phobaill

The Council is asked to resolve that, under Section 50A(4) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, the public should be excluded from the meeting for the following items on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 6, 8 & 9 of Part 1 of Schedule 7A of the Act.

26. School and Public Bus Contracts
Cùmhnantan Bhusaichean Sgoile is Poblach

There is circulated to Members only Report No. HC/49/20 dated 4 December 2020 by the Executive Chief Officer, Infrastructure and Environment.

The Council is asked to agree the recommendations as circulated. 

27. North Coast Care Facility                                                                                 
Goireas Cùraim a’ Chosta a Tuath

There will follow Members only Report No. HC/50/20.