Agendas, reports and minutes

Highland Council

Date: Thursday, 27 October 2022

Agenda: Read the Supplementary Agenda

In relation to the agenda and papers circulated for the above Meeting of the Highland Council, please find the undernoted:-


*Education Committee 29 September                                                                                                                                                                                                 

*Starred Item 12 – Review of the statutory consultation exercise on the relocation of St Clement’s School, Dingwall – Agreed to recommend that St Clement’s School be re-located to the site off Dochcarty Brae

*Starred Item 13 - Review of the statutory consultation exercise on the establishment of a Gaelic Medium catchment area for Glenurquhart Primary School – Agreed to recommend that a Gaelic Medium catchment area be created for Glenurquhart Primary School on the basis set out at paragraph 1.2 of the report.

*Starred Item 14 - Review of the statutory consultation exercise on the closure of Roy Bridge Primary School – Agreed to recommend that it discontinue education at Roy Bridge Primary School, transferring its catchment to that of Spean Bridge Primary School.

*Starred Item 15 iii – Appointments to Other Bodies – Agreed to recommend that Mr G MacKenzie be appointed to the Highland Football Academy Trust.

AGENDA ITEM 4i                                                                                                      

Minutes of the Meeting of the Investment Sub-Committee – for approval – held on 21 October 2022.

*Starred Item 7ii – Duncraig Educational Trust Scheme 1999 – Agreed to recommend that trust funds to be invested with Adam & Co.


Membership of Committees, etc
Ballarachd Chomataidhean, msaa

  1. Housing and Property Committee - Mrs E McAllister to replace Mr J Grafton.


Question Time
Àm Ceiste

There are circulated Responses to the Questions on the Council Agenda which it was indicated would follow –

Public Questions

  1. Ms C MacRae

To the Leader

“Will Highland Council give the PVI sector a fair rate in line with funding they have received from The Scottish Government?

The report ‘Financial Crisis – Valuing Partners Through Collective Budget Strategies, Redesign and Co-production’ being considered at today’s meeting includes recommendations in relation to additional funding for the Early Learning and Childcare PVI (private, voluntary and independent) sector providers.

The recommendations reflect engagement with the Sector over recent weeks on options relating to ELC funding, balancing the case represented by the Sector for additional funding, with the financial crisis and affordability implications for the Council.

The report reinforces a number of key principles which, first and foremost, is that the Council values our partnerships and recognises how important they are for the delivery of public services in Highland.  Alongside this is the principle of equity – that the Council will be consistent and equitable in its approach to partner funding.  The report is also very clear about the funding that the Council receives from the Scottish Government and the additional funding that that Council puts towards the provision of Early Years over and above this. 

Whilst the funding recommendations proposed in the report are one-off and relating to the current financial year only, the report also makes clear the Council would intend to finalise funding arrangements for 2023/24 as part of the budget setting in March 2023.

  1.  Ms N Richards

To the Leader

“What analysis has Highland Council undertaken to assess the impact upon working parents and carers in Highland in the event that ELC partners exit the 1140 hours provision due to failure of Highland Council to agree a mutually acceptable partner rate?”

The Council is committed to working with it’s ELC partners to provide 1140 hours provision.  We are not aware of information to suggest that across the Highlands there is a significant likelihood of ELC partners exiting from funded ELC provision.

The recommendations contained within the report ‘Financial Crisis – Valuing Partners Through Collective Budget Strategies, Redesign and Co-production’ at item 8 on the Council agenda presents options to Members relating to additional funding for ELC partner providers, and a recognition of the important role they play in ELC delivery.  The report also makes clear that funding arrangements relating to 2023/24 will be considered as part of budget setting in March 2023.

Given this, I don’t believe the analysis referred to is currently required nor has this analysis been undertaken.

Member Questions

  1. Mr A Christie

To the Leader

“By vacant post please could you detail, explain and provide key statistics including the impact on service users for the Health and Social Care and Wellbeing Service as well as the Education Service for pupil support and specialist non-teaching staff in relation to the current situation on staff vacancies?”

The following data reflects a point in time and it must be acknowledged that there will always be some level of vacancy as part of normal staff turnover. The vacancies listed below represent a combination of posts, some of which are currently advertised for the first time; some that are being re-advertised due to unsuccessful previous recruitment attempts; and a minority that have not yet been advertised and are still subject to recruitment scrutiny processes.

It should further be noted that for Health and Social Care posts in particular, recruitment challenges are compounded by differentials in pay between Council and NHS posts, likely to be impacted further in the current pay negotiations which suggest the gap may widen even further. 

In relation to the Health and Social Care Service, the table below reflects all vacant posts within the service at the current point in time.

Data as at 13-10-2022

Full Time Equivalent




Practice Lead/Team Manager


Social Worker


Mental Health Officer


Support Worker


Specialist Business Support


Health posts





In relation to the Education and Learning Service, the table below provides data on vacancies in the posts referred to. 

Data as at 13-10-2022

Full Time Equivalent


Pupil Support Assistants



Other Specialist Non-Teaching Staff


For context, the points below are particularly relevant to the specific Education and Learning post types referred to in the question.

  • The currently applied ASL allocation approach is based on the established needs-led approach with specific needs being taken into account.
  • For the start of the current academic session any vacancies are being advertised and appointed to.  There are inevitably some scenarios where posts are difficult to appoint to. The availability of supply staff to provide cover is another area that is challenging, however efforts are on-going to address supply shortages across the most affected areas.
  • Overall, the same level of resource for ASL has been carried over from last year to the current. Within that overall total, in specific areas and specific schools the level of resource will have altered, both increasing and decreasing according to need/altered circumstance.

The level of vacancies reflected in the tables above are at a level which is considered no more than normal staff turnover, and which is part of the normal management of the workforce and ongoing service delivery.  As such it is not considered there is an ‘impact on service users’ which would require comment.  Any assessment of any impacts that could arise as a result of vacancy, are managed at a local level.

Relevant to any vacancy across the Council workforce, the Council, approved a report titled ‘Financial Crisis – Our Council and Our Communities’ at its meeting on 27 September 2022, which included agreement of a number of strategies, including a ‘People Strategy - reduce, reshape, reprioritise’.  That report was clear that a reduction in overall Council headcount was a key part of that strategy.  This means that vacancies in Health and Social Care and Education & Learning, alongside all other Council Directorates, are being considered in line with revised recruitment controls.  Impact on service delivery is one of the core criteria for moving a vacancy to recruitment so that minimising the consequences for service users is at the forefront of the decision-making process.

  1.  Mr A Christie

To the Leader

“With regard to the new Council Programme, at the September Council meeting we were informed that the final Programme would come back to Councill for approval on 27th October following engagement with Members, staff and communities. The report to the September Council meeting defined this engagement as sessions with community groups and local engagement visits across Highland localities following September Council and into the first week of October. As at the 13th October I am not aware of any engagement sessions being in place, could the Leader update as to what is actually happening?”

I listened to your helpful comments at the Council meeting in September and agree that we should not rush the process of developing the Council’s Programme. Therefore, the report being considered today is a draft Programme which sets out the planned engagement activity, prior to bringing a final Programme to the Council meeting in December.

  1. Ms J McEwan

To the Leader

“With regard to expenditure on road maintenance could the Leader detail the amounts spent versus original budget differentiating between capital and revenue whilst using the Area Committees as geographic boundaries?”

In the time available, it has not been possible to provide the level of detail requested, as the operational areas are different from the Area Committee geographic boundaries.  The revenue and capital spend is progressing well across all areas, and the overall position as at the end of Quarter 2 will be reported to the Economy and Infrastructure Committee on 10th November 2022. 

  1. Ms K Willis

To the Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee

“The EV charging network in Highland, although growing, continues to experience operational problems with many EV chargers, both old and new, regularly breaking down and often remaining out of service for extended periods.  How does Council plan to improve maintenance and repair of EV chargers to increase confidence in the EV charging network in Highland?”

The Highland Council now owns and operates a network of 85 charge points across the Region.  We are currently in the last phase of installation funded in conjunction with Transport Scotland which will extend the network to over 100 charge points.

Under the current agreement throughout the build out phase the maintenance contract has been dealt with through an agreement between Transport Scotland and Swarco. This agreement will end in 2023 with responsibility for future maintenance passing to The Highland Council. This is likely to be administered through a tendered agreement with an external contractor.

While Swarco have experienced both labour and cupply chain issues with electronic parts which has impacted on service at a small number of sites I can confirm the following data:

  • 71% of all reported faults identified are resolved the same day.
  • 8% of the faults are outstanding longer than 7days.
  • 1% remain outstanding at 30 days.

Data is supplied to the Highland Council on a regular basis which provides us with minute-by-minute data on each individual charger.  Whilst most issues are resolved on a first visit, (the majority of cases have been identified as user error)  the small percentage of remaining issues for delay in rectifying problems are due to lack of skilled labour, material shortages and technical interface issues between charger and car.

  1.  Mr R MacKintosh

To the Chair of the Communities and Place Committee

“In 2019, Council agreed to ban glyphosate use in certain areas (all sports and recreation facilities) and to develop a business case for a complete ban on the use of glyphosate-containing products. Please can you provide an update on progress regarding development of the business case for a complete ban, including data on the quantity of glyphosate containing weed killers purchased and used by Council since January 2020?”

During this period the Council purchased 1895 litres of Glyphosate products and used 1181 litres. The Council has been trialing alternatives to glyphosate products and these include:

  • Pelargonic Acid
  • Acetic acid
  • Electrical weed control
  • Foam steam
  • Weed burners

Work in respect of the alternative methods of weed control is being reviewed at the Council’s Redesign Board and reported to Council. Minutes detailing the progress are available to review on the Council’s website.

The use of glyphosate in Great Britain is approved until December 2025. 

  1. Mr R Gale

To the Chair of the Corporate Resources Committee

“Following the Council’s decision on the 22nd of September to prevent Members from having access to printed copies of the papers, can you give details on when a full Display Screen Equipment assessment will be carried out on the desks, chairs, workspace, and lighting in the chamber to ensure that Members’ health does not suffer as a result of prolonged DSE use?”

The response will follow.

  1. Mr A Graham

To the Leader

“What percentage of all Highland premises have access to the fibre network and what percentage are able to order superfast broadband speeds of 30mbps and above?”

The Council does not hold detailed information on this as it is not responsible for the provision of this infrastructure.  The latest information from the website indicates that 83.2% of properties in Highland have access to superfast and fibre coverage.

  1. Mr M Baird

To the Leader

"Can the Leader confirm that the planned North West Sutherland Care Facility will receive a funding allocation by the Administration for building works to start in line with original projected dates?"

The North Coast Care Facility is a funded project within the Council’s current capital programme agreed by the Council in December 2021.

The project is shortly due to progress to submission of a formal planning application, representing a key milestone in project progress.

The Council continues to work positively in partnership with NHS Highland and Wildland Limited to progress delivery of the project.

  1. Mr C Aitken

To the Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee

"Given the current roll pressures at existing secondary schools in Inverness, can the Chair give the Council a fixed timeline for construction of a new secondary school in the east of Inverness?"

I do not feel able to provide an answer to this question as this is not within my strategic remit.  The question is more appropriately directed to the Chair of the Housing and Property Committee.

  1.  Ms H Crawford

To the Chair of the Education Committee

“During the Early Years Briefing on 6th October 2022 in Chambers, a slide was presented entitled ELC Budget/Funding. It discloses the ScotGov ringfenced funding for ELC and it discloses the funding allocated to ELC from the Council’s General Budget.

Why has Highland Council reduced the allocation for ELC provision from the General Budget from £15.6 million in 2017/18 to £6.8 million in 2022/23?”

The recent briefing on ELC to elected members set out clearly the ELC budget and funding position over time.  That same information has also been included within the report ‘Financial Crisis – Valuing Partners Through Collective Budget Strategies, Redesign and Co-production’ being considered at this Council meeting.

Only one aspect of the funding for ELC is ring-fenced Scottish Government funding, the remainder represents the Council’s own funding (ultimately funded from General Grant, Council tax income, other income) which it has complete discretion over.

The movement in the net ELC budget (being the Council’s own funding) is part of the normal annual process where budgets are adjusted to reflect Council budget decisions and local priorities including, for example, Road Maintenance. 

Context is important, and the ‘reduction’ referred to in the question needs to be seen in the context of the overall ELC gross budget increasing from £17.991m in 2017/18 to £31.599m in 2022/23, to reflect the expansion of funded ELC and 1140 hours rollout.  The fact remains that the full amount of Scottish Government funding ring fenced for ELC is used for this purpose and the Council adds further funding from its core budget in order to supplement this amount to meet the costs of delivering the service.

  1. Mrs I MacKenzie

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

“It has been UK Malnutrition Awareness Week recently.  Malnutrition is a key public health problem that has a significant impact on individuals' health and wellbeing and costs the NHS billions per year. It is often a silent and hidden issue, with low awareness amongst the public and health professionals.  There are 1 in 10 older people who are at risk or have malnutrition in Scotland.  Although we need less food/energy as we age, older people still need a nutrient rich diet. Since the onset of the pandemic this will have had a huge impact on health and social care services and third sector organisations.  What measures can you take to improve this situation?”

The Council works closely with NHS Highland, and they are a key partner, and this issue is one that is principally led by Public Health.  There are overlaps with Council business in terms of issues in relation to poverty insofar as that has an impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing and officers are mindful of that in terms of service delivery for those who may be impacted by malnutrition and associated issues.

The Highland Community Planning Partnership has a Poverty Reduction Delivery Group. The multiagency group’s current delivery plan has a priority relating to Food Insecurity containing a number of actions to address food insecurity by increasing equity of access to good quality food.

  1. Mr P Logue

To the Chair of the Education Committee

“Highland Council receives ringfenced funding from the Scottish Government to enable it to fully fund the provision of the Scottish Government’s 1140 early learning and childcare policy. Is it your understanding that this ring-fenced funding is intended to cover the full cost of the implementation of said policy or is it intended to cover the cost of the additional 540 hours element?”

The Scottish Government funding to support ELC 1140 hours expansion was confirmed in May 2018, and states that “We will provide local authorities with total recurring revenue funding of £567 million per annum by 2021-22 to deliver the expansion in entitlement to funded ELC to 1140 hours from August 2020.”

The funding referred to in that letter, being the ring-fenced Scottish Government grant for ELC, therefore refers to the ‘expansion’ element.  It is this funding, plus Council budgets for ELC provision which represents the totality of funding for ELC delivery.

  1. Ms M Nolan

To the Leader

“Will the Leader of the Council confirm that a new campus for Park Primary School will remain a priority in the Administration's Capital Programme in the event that the Highland Council's LEIP bid is unsuccessful?”

The funding model for the LEIP is based on the local authority providing the capital funding for the projects, with revenue funding released by the Scottish Government over a 25-year period on evidence of the achievement of several agreed outcomes.

The capital budget for the new school building at Park Primary is included in the capital programme that was approved by Council in December 2021 but requires to be increased given the construction industry inflation seen since the programme was approved.

The Council will have flexibility on how the revenue funding from a successful LEIP Phase 3 bid would be allocated, and any funding will be built into the Council’s medium term financial plan alongside additional expenditure requirements arising from the projects. The timing of the new build will therefore be dependent on the outcome of the LEIP bid and also the review of the Council’s capital programme that is underway.

  1. Mr A Jarvie

To the Chair of the Education Committee

“What would the budget shortfall be, or how would the Council deliver 1140 hours of childcare on a budget of £5.43 per child an hour?”

£5.43 per hour represents funding paid to ELC partner providers and commissioned childminders for funded ELC delivery.  It does not represent the internal cost of Council ELC delivery, nor is it intended to, nor has it been presented as such. It is therefore purely hypothetical to speculate as to what the impact would be, were the Council to fund its own settings on the basis of £5.43 per hour.

  1.  Mrs A MacLean

To the Chair of the Communities and Place Committee

“At a meeting of The Highland Council on 22 September 2022, Councillors approved the creation of a Highland-wide grant fund of up to £450,000 to help alleviate the cost-of-living crisis for vulnerable households through community-led initiatives.

Third Sector voluntary and community organisations are invited to apply for grants under the value of £10,000.

The Council launched this fund on World Health Day as we recognise the marked impact that the cost-of-living crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and wider global factors are having on everyone’s health. In addition to the provision of food, we are encouraging community groups to use this funding to provide practical solutions that will help protect our vulnerable residents’ physical and mental health. The supports being provided by voluntary and community groups with this grant funding must complete before the end of June 2023 where practicable. Applicants must demonstrate that they will achieve one or more of the following:

  • provide community support initiatives that provide food/activities;
  • enhance existing provision through extending local hours or introducing/increasing food provision;
  • adapt existing provision to meet identified local needs;
  • strengthen or establish food larders or food table provision.

Application forms are available from and should be submitted by email to with applicants encouraged to contact their Ward Manager for advice and guidance in advance of applying as this could help progress applications quickly.

I welcome the introduction of this grant funding as it will make a huge difference to our local communities. However, since its launch there have been a number of questions raised with me that I would seek clarification on which I am unable to find in the online guidelines. Given that Highland Council is committed to the Community Empowerment Act and that decisions should be taken as close as possible to the communities that are affected and that the application is an amended ward discretionary budget form –

What role with local Councillors have in deciding which of their local community groups are successful in receiving funding?”

Local Councillors will be consulted on any applications received for their ward as part of the decision-making process.

  1. Mr J Bruce

To the Chair of the Education Committee

“In the event that the Highland Council is unable to agree a mutually acceptable rate with our ELC partners, what third party dispute resolution provision exists to enable independent, third party arbitration in this matter?”

The service agreement that exists between the Council and its ELC partner providers is in the form of a Service Level Agreement.  That SLA stipulates the following in relation to arbitration.

‘If any dispute cannot be resolved within a reasonable time either party may refer it to a single arbiter agreed by both parties or, failing agreement, by an arbiter nominated by the Sheriff of Grampian, Highland and Islands at Inverness on the application of either party.’

Yours faithfully

Stewart Fraser
Head of Corporate Governance