Agendas, reports and minutes

Highland Council

Date: Thursday, 10 March 2022

Agenda: Read the Agenda

A meeting of the Highland Council will be held in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday, 10 March 2022 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 provide some information on the nature of the interest and leave the meeting at the appropriate time.  Advice may be sought from officers prior to the meeting taking place.

3. Presentation - Director of Public Health – Annual Report
Taisbeanadh – Stiùiriche Slàinte Phoblaich – Aithisg Bhliadhnail

A Presentation of the Director of Public Health’s Annual Report (which has been circulated separately) will be provided at the meeting. 

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 10 December 2021 (pp.818-848) as contained in the Volume which has been circulated separately.

The Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Council which will be held on 3 March will follow.

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:-

Housing & Property Committee -20 January    
Corporate Resources Committee - 26 January    
Economy & Infrastructure Committee - 2 February    
Housing & Property Committee - 3 February    
Lochaber Area Committee - 7 February    
Dingwall & Seaforth Area Committee - 7 February    
Caithness Committee - 9 February
*Wester Ross, Strathpeffer & Lochalsh Committee    9 February

*Highland Coastal Community Fund – 

Due to the meeting being inquorate – agreed to recommend approval of the following application – High Life Highland – Ullapool Youth Space – £14,550.

Health, Social Care & Wellbeing Committee - 10 February
Pensions Committee    14 February
*Black Isle Committee    15 February

*Place Based Investment Funds – Proposed Funding Allocation - 

Due to the meeting being inquorate – agreed to recommend approval of the following application – Black Isle Partnership – Development of Local Based Plan - £30,000.

*Road Safety – 

Agreed to recommend approval of the following – 
Find required resources to increase the number of road safety officers from 2 to 6, so that the introduction of additional measures to make our roads safer can be undertaken as quickly as possible. It was noted that at present the 2-person team is dealing with 70 projects throughout the Highlands, and that Borders Council have a road safety team of 8.

In response to the Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council’s request, a survey of traffic speed in Rosemarkie is undertaken as soon as possible, with a view to introducing traffic calming measures, including a 20mph speed limit, as required.

Initiate surveys and other research involved in assessing whether a maximum 50mph limit on the Highland Council roads on the Black Isle would enhance road safety.

Make representations to the Scottish Government to speed up its planned legislation to make 20mph the default maximum speed in built up areas, emphasising support on the Black Isle for this measure to be law sooner than the proposed date of 2025.  
*Badenoch & Strathspey Area Committee - 15 - February

*Grantown Common Good Asset Register – 

Agreed to recommend the reclassification of the property included in the Asset Register and the reactivation of Grantown on Spey Common Good Fund. 

Also agreed to recommend that, due to the financial position of the Fund, Grantown on Spey Common Good property would continue to be maintained by Highland Council for the foreseeable future.

Audit & Scrutiny Committee - 16 February
Tourism Committee - 16 February
City of Inverness Area Committee - 17 February

*Easter Ross Area Committee - 17 February

*Invergordon Common Good Fund –

Agreed to recommend the disposal of Invergordon Town Hall by sale after considerable years of attempting to bring it into viable use to provide sufficient income for its continued use.

Isle of Skye & Raasay Committee - 21 February
Communities & Place Committee - 23 February
Education Committee - 24 February (To follow)
Sutherland County Committee - 28 February (To follow)
Gaelic Committee - 2 March (To follow)
Lochaber Area Committee (Special Meeting) 7 March (To follow)
Wester Ross, Strahtpeffer & Lochalsh Committee (Special Meeting) - 7 March (To follow)
City of Inverness Area Committee (Special Meeting) - 8 March (To follow)
Nairnshire Committee - 8 March (To follow)

Minutes of Meetings not included in the Volume are as follows -

(i)   Climate Change Working Group – for approval - held on 28 January 
(ii)  Redesign Board – for approval – held on 18 February 

(iii) Recovery, Improvement and Transformation Board – for approval – held on 28 February 

(iv)  Investment Sub Committee – for approval – held on 25 February (To follow)

Items 6 and 7 will be considered at 2.00pm

6. Question Time                                                                                        
Àm Ceiste

The following Questions have been received by the Head of Corporate Governance.

One supplementary question will be allowed in each case which will be answered by the recipient of the original question.

Questions (1) – (7) – and the responses in each case - have been carried forward from the 10 December 2021 meeting as requested by the Members concerned.

(1) Mr A Jarvie

To the Leader of the Council

Which member of Council Staff will be tasked with answering this question on your behalf?

I answer my own questions, however officers are asked to provide factual information when this is needed in order to provide a response.

(2) Mr A Jarvie

To the Leader of the Council,

As Leader of the Council, following my question at a previous Council meeting, can you assure me there is no coalition agreement with the SNP Group?

I refer you to my answer at the Council on 9 September 2021.

(3) Mr A Jarvie

To the Leader of the Council,

As Leader of the Council, do you find it acceptable that an artwork which cost the public purse nearly £400,000 is not ‘fully accessible’ to disabled people as was promised?

The total sum allocated to the Gathering Place project was £367,159 which includes the abortive costs of the Tilting as agreed at CIAC on 1st July 2016.  The cost of constructing the existing Gathering Place was £263,000.

The specification and design of the increased disabled access was reported and agreed by CIAC on 21 November 2019. The specification agreed was:

BS8300.  Part 1 (External Environment) Paragraph: 10.4 (p.48) Make the piece accessible as much as possible. (Note this wording is taken from the British Standard)
Annex C: Table C1 - Self-propelled wheelchair Turning Circle 1500mm

Following CIAC on 18 November 2021, it has been confirmed by the Project Management team and Clerk of Works that it has been built to the specification agreed by CIAC. The Project has delivered enhanced access within the resources approved.

(4) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Leader of the Council 

Which Highland Council budget will meet the additional costs arising as a result of unauthorised spending beyond the agreed Inverness City Arts budget?

There has been no unauthorised additional spend to the ICArts programme budget.

(5) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Leader of the Council 

When will a detailed breakdown of the ICArts programme expenditure become available for public scrutiny?

ICArts Working Group Minutes were presented for approval, in public, at meetings of the City Area Committee. The minutes are published on the Council’s Website along with a series of annual reports to CIAC on the progress of the project programme and press releases. This has included financial updates on the projects.   The total costs of all the projects are in the public domain as discussed at the last meeting of the City Committee on 18 November 2021. 

(6) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Leader of the Council  

What measures are Highland Council taking to support the community food growing strategy?

The Council appointed a Community Food Growing Co-ordinator to support the development of a food growing strategy and progress and co-ordinate the actions within the strategy.  An update on this was provided at the last Communities and Place Committee and is reported as part of the Transformation Board.  The Council’s draft food growing strategy – Growing Our Future – is due to be discussed at the next Climate Change Working Group (which has been rescheduled for January 2022) and then to be considered and agreed at the Communities and Place Committee on 24 February 2022.  The draft strategy contains a series of proposed actions to support food growing across the Highlands.  

(7) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Leader of the Council

What measures are in place to consult communities on the sale of ‘common good’ assets?

The process for considering the sale of common good assets, including public consultation, is set out under the Community Empowerment Act.  Details of the process, past and current consultations are detailed at the following link: 

For Questions 8 to 24 below - responses will follow.

(8) Mr J Gordon

To the Chair of the Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee

An Adult support and protection/ large scale investigation involving Highland Council, NHS Highland and Police Scotland was commissioned after the Covid-19 outbreak at Home Farm in Portree in 2020. 

Has this report been completed, and can you provide the Council with a copy?

(9) Mr A Jarvie

To the Leader of the Council

Why are the fees paid with public money to the artists of the Gathering Place not disclosed to the public?

(10) Mr A Jarvie

To the Chair of the Corporate Resources Committee

Following the disclosure of multiple bullying allegations against staff of this Council, why was the Union’s request for establishment of a panel, including Councillors, to resolve the matter not taken forward?

(11) Mr A Jarvie

To the Chair of the Education Committee

Have you read the report from the inquiry into abuse of Children in Scottish Borders schools?

(12) Mr A Jarvie

To the Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee

Do you think the current division of roads funding is fair for all areas of the Highlands?

(13) Mr A Jarvie

To the Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee

Are you confident the forthcoming Short Term Lets Licensing regime will resolve both the concerns many Highland communities have, but also not harm such an important sector for our economy?

(14) Mr P Saggers

To the Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee

Can you explain what steps will be put in place to ensure the roads budget is spent in full this coming year, and who will be responsible for ensuring that?

(15) Mr P Saggers

To the Leader of the Council

What lessons have been learned from the saga of the Gathering Place and measure put in place to ensure something like that can’t happen again?

(16) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Leader of the Council  

Do you agree that Prince Andrew has proven himself unfit to hold the title ‘Earl of Inverness’?

(17) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Leader of the Council 

Have you had any recent discussions with senior managers with intention to deploy further Highland Council resources in the fabrication of vexatious complaints to the Standards Commission for Scotland about the conduct of her political opponents? 

(18) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Leader of the Council

In considering the damning contents of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman report of 10th Feb.2022 into the handling of Town Centre Fund allocations and the sole award to the Citizens Advice Bureau project in Nairn, including that Highland Council had “not followed appropriate processes”, that “the decision-making process has been lacking in transparency”; and agreeing with the complainant that a statement from Highland Council which claimed that this project had been the “most compelling bid” when in reality your Administration had secretly resolved to make this project the sole bid, do you accept that there are benefits to allocating public funds through democratic and inclusive process rather than by simply following what can only be described as the ‘pet project’ model? 

(19) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Leader of the Council 

Do you believe the process of Town Centre funding allocations in Inverness have been immune to your Administration’s ‘pet project’ model of resource allocation?

(20) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Leader of the Council 

What process is currently in place to ensure that members of staff, Elected Members and the public can report suspected violations of the code of conduct for Local Government employees?

(21) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Leader of the Council 

What safeguards are in place currently to ensure that concerns raised by either family or staff members about the provision of services for children in the care of Highland Council are dealt with promptly and professionally?

(22) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Chair of the Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee 

Why there has there been no statement, either public or in private, to Members of Highland Council on the serious allegations of service failure which she announced would be reported to Police Scotland during the Committee meeting in November?

(23) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Chair of the Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee 

Are there any whistle-blowing concerns currently being processed in relation to services for children in the care of Highland Council? 

(24) Mr R MacWilliam

To the Chair of the Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee 

What actions have been taken to ensure that Highland Council staff are encouraged to report concerns over deficiencies in residential care services? 

7. Notices of Motion 
Brathan Gluasaid          
The following Notices of Motion have been received by the Head of Corporate Governance – 

(i)This Council recognises we live in rapidly changing times, with ever increasing challenges shaping the roles Councillors have, along with the challenges that are faced in performing this role. There is an increasing awareness of the inherent personal risk that is attached to a public position, but there has been little ongoing discussion on how this risk presents and how it can be minimised considering existing and emerging threats.

As a Council we perform best when we have a broad and diverse representation elected to position, and with recognition of the need to ensure that the role is open to a broad a range of candidates for this role as possible to achieve this fair balance, resolves to address the personal safety issue on a timescale of delivery to work with the election of new members this coming May.

Following the elections, Council pledges to undertake a personal safety audit, with regard to the personal safety of the new Elected Members, and to taking an individual based approach to supporting/achieving this in a practical fashion – alongside delivery of an educational Council wide programme giving information, practical advice and current best practice in both preventing and dealing with threat, plus to ensure a working communication system is in place and is connected to Police Scotland’s current system of high profile/vulnerable persons alert.

Signed:    Ms P Hadley    Mr B Lobban

(ii)The Council recognises the right of the public to understand how decisions are made and by whom; further recognises that Ward Business Meetings have evolved from simply forums of discussion to decision-making bodies which determine applications for considerable amounts of money and take decisions on issues of importance to local areas; and, therefore, agrees to publish minutes of Ward Business Meetings going forward, including records of votes taken and decisions made, to ensure the level of accountability and transparency the public expects of its elected representatives.

Signed:   Ms E Roddick      Mr D Louden

8. Levelling Up Fund and Shared Prosperity Fund Update
Cunntas às Ùr mu Mhaoin an Àrd-ìreachaidh agus Maoin an t-Soirbheachais Cho-roinnte

There is circulated Report No. HC/1/22 dated 27 February 2022 by the Executive Chief Officer Infrastructure Environment & Economy.

The Council is invited to:-

i.   note progress and agree the proposals for the Levelling Up Fund bid resubmissions for Round 2 (expected to be submitted by end June 2022);
ii.  agree that any additional resources required to submit the applications are funded from the Regional Economic Development element of the Economic Prosperity Fund; and
iii. agree that further lobbying on the Council’s future share of the Shared Prosperity Fund remains a top priority for the Council, with a report being brought back to an early Council meeting following the local government elections in May 2022.

9. Future Highlands Strategic Partnership Priority 3: People – Living Healthy, Thriving and Inclusive Lives 
Prìomhachas 3 Com-pàirteachas Ro-innleachdail Gàidhealtachd an Ama ri Teachd: Daoine – Beathannan Slàn, Soirbheachail is Ion-ghabhaltach

There is circulated Report No. HC/2/22 dated 1 March 2022 by the Executive Chief Officer Resources and Finance.

The Council is invited to note:-

i.  the progress on the direction of travel for key strands of the ‘People – Living Healthy, Thriving and Inclusive Lives’ Strategy; and
ii. further updates will be brought to committee.

10. Climate Action, Green Energy and Jobs
Gnìomh air Gnàth-shìde, Lùth Uaine agus Obraichean

There is circulated Report No. HC/3/22 dated 28 February 2022 by the Chief Executive.  

The Council is invited to:-

i.   agree the scope of the study being undertaken in respect of Renewable Energy income opportunities; 
ii.  note the many encouraging developments being pursued by the Council and the work with partners to learn from best practice;
iii. agree to restate the Council’s commitment to work with Opportunity Cromarty Firth on the development opportunities that will arise from a Green Freeport bid; 
iv.  agree to seek the involvement and backing of the Scottish Government to provide a legislative and regulatory framework that supports the Council’s ambitions for Highland communities and people; and
v.   agree that officers should continue to pursue investment opportunities in hydrogen and other renewable energy schemes.

11. Annual Report – Statutory Performance Indicators, Benchmarking and Best Value 2020/21
Aithisg Bhliadhnail – Taisbeanairean Coileanaidh Reachdail, Tomhas-mheasaidh agus an Luach an Fheàrr 2020/21

There is circulated Report No. HC/4/22 dated 25 February 2022 by the Chief Executive. 

The Council is invited to:-

i.   scrutinise the performance of the Council’s SPIs for 2020/21 in the context of COVID as outlined in Appendices 1, 2 & 3 of the report;
ii.  scrutinise the analysis of COVID impacts on SPIs in Appendix 4 of the report;
iii. note the changing Audit Direction on public performance reporting and the Council’s approach to compliance in Appendix 5 of the report;
iv.  scrutinise the Best Value Qualitative Report summarised in Appendix 6 of the report and the full detail via the hyperlink provided;
v.   note the External Audit opinion on the Council’s delivery of Best Value in relation to the Council’s Best Value Assurance Report (BVAR) and associated BVAR Improvement Plan as outlined at section 7 of this report.
vi.  note that Members should expect the opportunity to scrutinise plans for performance recovery in response to the information contained in this report through the development of the Council’s new Corporate Plan for 2022-27 and through Strategic Committees; and
vii. note that Service Plans will be presented to Strategic Committees in the second cycle of meetings in new financial year to allow for the development of a new Corporate Plan following Local Government elections in May 2022.

12. Scheme of Delegation
Sgeama Tiomnaidh

There is circulated Report No. HC/5/22 dated 2 March 2022 by Executive Chief Officer, Performance and Governance. 

The Council is invited to agree:- 

1. the changes to the Scheme of Delegation as detailed in Appendix 1 of the report. and
2. amendments to the Scheme of Delegation in relation to planning matters as set out in detail at Appendix 2 and summarised as follows:-

i.   retain the reduction in the number for objections from 8 to 5.
ii.  retain the ability of 2 ward Members to call-in any application validated from 1 Jan 2021 onwards and subsequently recommended for approval.
iii. delete the automatic referral of all planning applications for major developments (including housing developments of 30 or more houses) contained in (c) of the Scheme of Delegation and replace with:

‘planning applications for “major developments” (this definition to include housing applications of 30 or more dwellings) that are recommended for approval where at least 2 Members of the Highland Council for the Ward (or at least 2 Members for each Ward in the case of cross boundary applications) in which the development is proposed, having been given prior notification of the recommendation of approval, request in writing within 5 working days of such notification that the application be referred to the relevant Planning Applications Committee [report to PAC];. 

If recommendation (iii) is agreed, exceptions (e) and (f) will be expanded to apply to applications for both local and major developments.

13. Timetable of Meetings 2022
Clàr-ama Choinneamhan 2022

The Council is asked to agree the following:-

Special Council (Planning) - June (date to be confirmed)
Highland Licensing Committee and Board – to move from 7 to 13 June 

14. Highland Opportunity (Investments) Limited – Appointment of Single Interim Director
Cothrom na Gàidhealtachd Earranta – Cur an Dreuchd Stiùiriche Singilte 

In terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, Councillors appointed (by the Council) to be members of a company, board, etc. cease to be members of that body on polling day.

In this regard, the Board of Highland Opportunity (Investments) Limited (and its subsidiary companies) is comprised solely of Council Directors. 

It is therefore proposed that from 5 May 2022 and until the Council formally appoints (or re-appoints) Councillors, the Executive Chief Officer, Infrastructure, Environment & Economy, should be appointed as the Single Interim Director for Highland Opportunity (Investments) Limited (and its subsidiary companies).

15. Clerk to the Highland Licensing Board    
Clèireach do Bhòrd Cheadachd na Gàidhealtachd

The Council is asked to note that Mrs Claire MacArthur has now returned to her position as Clerk to the Licensing Board following her maternity leave.  

16. Recess Powers
Cumhachdan Fosaidh

The Council is asked to agree that during the period from 11 March to 4 May 2022 inclusive, powers should be delegated to the Chief Executive, Interim Depute Chief Executive and Executive Chief Officers, in consultation with the Convener, Leader of the Council, Depute Leader of the Council, Leader of the Opposition and relevant Strategic Committee Chairs, to deal with business arising during that time.

The Council is also asked to agree that during the period from 5 May to 25 May 2022 inclusive, powers should be delegated to the Chief Executive to deal with business arising during that time.

In this regard, a report will be prepared for the first meeting of the Council or the relevant Committee(s) following these periods where the powers have been exercised.

17. 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 10 December 2021 is available on the Council’s Website.