Agendas, reports and minutes

Highland Council

Date: Thursday, 8 December 2022

Agenda: Read the Agenda

Dear Member

A meeting of the Highland Council will be held in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday 8 December 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. Confirmation of Minutes  
Daingneachadh a’ Gheàrr-chunntais

There are submitted for confirmation as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 27 October 2022 (pp.218-242) as contained in the Volume which has been circulated separately.

4. 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:-

Isle of Skye and Raasay Committee-31 October 2022
Gaelic Committee-2 November 2022
Comataidh na Gaidhlig-2 November 2022
Climate Change Committee-3 November 2022
City of Inverness Area Committee (Special)-4 November 2022

Notice of Amendment: Item 3: Inverness Common Good Fund: Financial Monitoring and Budget Allocation Report

With reference to the Minutes of the Meeting of the City of Inverness Area Committee held on 4 November 2022, the following Notice of Amendment has been received in accordance with Standing Order 13 –

“We, the undersigned, give this Notice of Amendment to rescind the decision of the City of Inverness Area Committee, meeting on Friday, 4th November 2022 for deferring any decision on reallocating budgets to alleviate poverty.
And instead move that the Council:
Agree that the remaining uncommitted balance of £72,000 relating to Festive Lights be redesignated to be spend on poverty alleviation measures.”

Signed:    Mr A Christie, Mrs T Robertson, Mr C Aitken, Mrs I Mackenzie, Mr D Gregg, Mrs H Crawford, Mr A Graham, Mrs A MacLean, Mr A Mackintosh, Mr D Macpherson, Mrs B McAllister, Mr R Gale and Mr M Reiss.

In this connection, there is re-circulated Report No CIA/25/22 dated 20 October 2022 by the Executive Chief Officer, Communities and Place.
Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee-7 November 2022    
Lochaber Area Committee -7 November 2022
Sutherland Area Committee-7 November 2022
Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and  Lochalsh Committee-8 November 2022    
Easter Ross Area Committee-8 November 2022
Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee-9 November 2022    
Economy and Infrastructure Committee-10 November 2022
Dingwall and Seaforth Area Committee-14 November 2022
Black Isle Committee-15 November 2002    
Nairnshire Committee-16 November 2022    
Communities and Place Committee-16 November 2022
Housing and Property Committee-17 November 2022    
*Education Committee-23 November 2022 (To follow)
City of Inverness Area Committee-24 November 2022 (To follow)
Audit and Scrutiny Committee-30 November 2022 (To follow)
Corporate Resources Committee-1 December 2022 (To follow)

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

i.  Highland and Western Isles Valuation Joint Board – for noting – held on 23 September 2022 (approved by the Board on 25 November 2022).
ii. Redesign Board – for approval - held on 28 November 2022.

5. Membership of Committees, etc
Ballarachd Chomataidhean, msaa

The Council is asked to agree that Mr M Green replaces Mr B Lobban on the Communities and Place Committee.

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.

With the exception of the Public Question, one supplementary question will be allowed in each case which will be answered by the recipient of the original question.

(1) Member Questions

Mr A Christie

To the Leader of the Council
“Please could the Leader summarise the key findings and recommendations contained in the document  “Report of a joint inspection of services for children and young people at risk of harm in Highland” which was prepared by the Care Inspectorate in partnership with Education Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland and how any required improvements will be taken forward.”

The response will follow.

(2) Mr A Christie

To the Leader of the Council
“In light of the unprecedented projected 2023/24 budget gap of £40m+ please could the Leader detail as to what events are planned by the Administration in 2023 with regard to engaging with communities, Unions, Council staff, councillors, third sector organisations, parent councils, general public and vulnerable adult social care service users to receive observations on the budget in the lead up to the Special Budget Meeting of Council in March 2023?”

The response will follow.

(3) Mr A Jarvie

To the Leader of the Council
“With it becoming increasingly unlikely the Council will meet its agreement to reach net zero by 2025, will your Administration make a statement that it shall not be meeting the commitment you voted for in the last Council term?”

The response will follow.

(4) Mr M Reiss

To the Chair of Corporate Resources

“What provisional financing arrangements are being considered for the replacement of “A” Block at Thurso High School, following the unexpected closure of the building on the receipt of an independent structural survey/assessment in October 2022?”

The response will follow.

(5) Mr D Gregg

To the Leader

“I have been contacted by local residents who have been waiting four years for ADHD and other neurodiversity assessments, and are now paying four figures for private assessments. Can the council provide the current number of children waiting for ADHD assessments and the average waiting time for assessment, by geographical area across the council?”

The response will follow.

(6) Janet McEwan

To the Leader of the Council

“With regards to Avonlea Children’s Centre, Wick and Thor House, Respite Centre, Thurso can the leader give us the true position in respect of both these facilities?  As I am receiving conflicting information from senior staff and residents”.

The response will follow.

(7) Alex Graham

To the Leader of the Council

“How many properties does Highland Council own in the City of Inverness, excluding schools and council houses?”

The response will follow.

(8) Angela MacLean

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

“Can the chair confirm that Highland Council have a suitable compliment of trained Practice Leads and social workers in each Highland Area to run an effective Service. If there are some vacancies that these will be advertised as soon as possible and not delayed by the job freeze?”     

The response will follow.

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

(i) Highland Council commits to urgently contacting the Scottish Government to call on them to implement a full review of the current situation in some remote and rural areas with Highland Council where Fire Stations are either effectively closed due to being unable to supply the minimum of four firefighters to crew an appliance or unavailable for lengthy periods.  This is resulting in no effective/timely response to incidents in areas as dispersed as Caithness, NW Sutherland, Skye and the Aird and Loch Ness Ward.

The review should include age, fitness requirements, training, Fire Brigade Union input, Commercial Buildings Insurance implications, joint RVP procedures, distance living from local stations and crewing levels.

The Review is called for in order to protect lives now.

Signed: Matthew Reiss     Richard Gale     Chris Ballance

(ii) This Council meeting notes that:

On 26 June 2014 Highland Council issued a Community Benefit Policy to enable Highland communities to benefit directly from the use of local resources associated with renewable energy sources. This built on the Scottish Government Good Practice Principles for Community Benefit from Onshore Renewable Developments, interpreting them for the Highland context. The policy was intended to support Highland communities to maximise the benefit they derive from Community Benefit by promoting the following four guiding principles. 

It sought a minimum payment to Community Benefit funds equivalent to £5,000 per Megawatt of installed capacity per year (Retail Price Index linked with 2011 as the baseline year). It also proposed the establishment of a Highland Trust Fund, with income from developers to be split between Local Funds and the Highland Trust Fund.

It is now evident that there have been major changes in the field of onshore wind energy, such as

  • The price of electricity has tripled
  • Turbine sizes are much bigger, often producing six times the power of older turbines.
  • Some communities have benefitted significantly from voluntary community benefit payments
  • Other neighbouring communities with equally pressing needs and impacted by development have had no benefit, due to the varying ways that areas of benefit are determined by developers, communities and other stakeholders.

It is evident that the people of the Highlands are deriving little benefit from the vast profits being generated by turbine owners developers, usually based outside Scotland and that the modest benefit voluntarily provided is not provided equitably to Highland communities.  

This Council therefore resolves to:

  1. Review the Highland Council Policy for Onshore Wind Turbine Development as a matter of urgency, including the proposed Highland Trust Fund which has not yet been established.
  2. Call upon the Scottish Government to legislate to allocate at least 5% of gross revenue from wind turbines (rather than £5,000+inflation per turbine) and to widen the areas in which funds are to be distributed.

Signed: Angus MacDonald    Michael Baird    Alex Graham    Molly Nolan    Janet McEwan    Ron Gunn

(iii) This council recognises the importance of Breast Screening in the early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer for women across the Highlands. It also recognises that to be truly effective it has to be available and accessible to all woman who meet the agreed criteria.

That being the case it is incumbent on the council to ensure that the breast screening mobile facility is available to all women within the appropriate times scales. 

However, it is known that in some areas access to the unit is difficult and indeed sometimes impossible for some women to access and this in particular refers to women who have restricted mobility or have no access to private or public transport. As an example, one such location is the village of Helmsdale on the East coast of Sutherland. Helmsdale shares a GP practice with the village of Brora which is located 12 miles south of Helmsdale. The Breast Screening unit that attends this area only operates from Brora and as such women from Helmsdale have to arrange personal travel or use public transport to access the unit. In some cases, neither of these options is available if an individual has poor mobility and no access to private transport. As a result, some women are denied access to the unit by virtue of geographical exclusion and in one known instance there has been a gap of 16 years since breast screening has been accessed.

This example highlights the inequity of this service in the remote and rural Highlands and as such the council calls upon the Leader to lobby NHS Highland and the Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, to ensure that the breast screening unit is available in villages and communities such as Helmsdale to ensure that every woman has access to this vital service.

Signed: Richard Gale    Michael Baird    Angela Maclean    Jim McGillivray    Trish Robertson

8. Appointment of Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Scrutiny Leads
Cur Ceannard Sgrùdaidh an Dreuchd airson Poileas Alba agus Seirbheis Smàlaidh agus Teasairginn na h-Alba

The Council is asked to agree the following appointments the:

Chair of Communities and Place be appointed as the Council Scrutiny Lead for Police Scotland; and
Vice Chair of Communities and Place be appointed as the Council Scrutiny Lead SFRS.

9. Appointment to Highland Opportunity (Investments) Limited 
Cur an Dreuchd gu Cothrom na Gàidhealtachd (Tasgaidhean) Earranta

The Council is advised that there is currently one vacant place on Highland Opportunity (Investments) Limited – a company which creates and sustains employment in the Highlands through investment in businesses and community enterprises. There are six meetings held during the year and the role of Directors is to consider individual investment proposals and decide on their merit and set out the strategic policy of the company. It is considered desirable for Directors to have appropriate business orientated experience and in this regard there is circulated (pp.) Role Profile and Skills Set (p.). 

The Council is asked to appoint one Members to Highland Opportunity (Investments) Limited as detailed.

10. Appointment to Highland Housing Alliance
Caidreachas Taigheadais na Gàidhealtachd

The Highland Housing Alliance was formed to help address the need for affordable housing in the Highlands with the objectives of operating a revolving landbanking fund to facilitate the construction of affordable housing, carrying out infrastructure works to enable sites to become available as feasible building sites, developing projects to provide housing (for sale and rent) at market or near market levels, organising, packaging and managing joint developments with housing associations and others and undertaking research, development and other work to improve the housing procurement process in the Highlands with specific reference to the sustainable use of locally sourced products.

The Council is asked to agree that Mrs A MacLean replace Mrs M Paterson on the Highland Housing Alliance.

11. Financial Crisis – Workforce Planning and Preparation
Èiginn Ionmhasail – Dealbhadh agus Deisealachadh Feachd-obrach

There is circulated Report No. HC/41/22 by the Head of Finance.

The Council is invited to note:

i.   the controls being undertaken to address the in-year budget pressures;
ii.  the work being done to identify a sustainable reduction in staffing levels to help address the anticipated budget gap in 2023/24; and
iii. that engagement with staff and unions is ongoing and will inform proposals that will be brought forward as part of the budget setting process in March 2023.

12. Chief Social Work Officer Annual Report 2021-2022
Aithisg Àrd-Oifigear Obrach Sòisealta 2021-2022

There is circulated Report No. HC/42/22 by the Executive Chief Officer Health and Social Care. 

The Council is invited to note and comment on the issues raised in the annual report and the implications for social work and social care services within Highland Council and NHS Highland.

13. Our Future Highland: The Highland Council Programme 2022 - 2027
Ar Gàidhealtachd Ri Teachd: Prògram Chomhairle na Gàidhealtachd 2022 – 2027 

There is circulated Report No. HC/43/22 by the Acting Depute Chief Executive.

The Council is asked to approve the Council Programme for 2022 – 2027.

14. Draft Corporate Plan 2022-27
Dreachd Phlana Corporra 2022-27

There is circulated Report No. HC/44/22 by the Chief Executive.

The Council is invited to consider the draft Corporate Plan for 2022-27 at Appendix 1 to the report and note that the:

i.   final version of the Corporate Plan will come forward for Member approval in March 2023;
ii.  Corporate Plan will support the delivery of the Highland Outcome Improvement Plan;
iii. Corporate Plan will be the subject of an Annual Performance Report in September each year; and
iv.  Plan is normally reviewed following the Annual Performance Report to Council and any changes will be submitted to Council for approval.

15. Contract Standing Orders 
Gnàth-riaghailtean Cùmhnaint

There is circulated Report No. HC/45/22 by the Head of Finance.

The Council is invited to approve the changes to the Contract Standing Orders and agree that these shall become effective from 1 January 2023.

16. Redesign of the Highland Council – Work Programme Update
Ath-dhealbhadh Chomhairle na Gàidhealtachd – Cunntas às Ùr mun Phrògram Obrach

There is circulated Report No HC/46/22 by the Acting Depute Chief Executive.

The Council is asked to note the Work Programme for the Redesign Board, comprising major projects and a programme of Lean and Rapid Reviews.

17. Inverness Business Improvement District (BID)
Sgìre Leasachadh Gnothachais Inbhir Nis

There is circulated Report No. HC/47/22 by the Executive Chief Officer Infrastructure, Environment and Economy.            

The Council is invited to approve the assessment made in Appendix 1 to the report relative to the Inverness BID Proposal and agree not to exercise the Council’s right of veto.

18. Inverness Business Improvement District Ballot for New Term from 1 April 2023 – 31 March 2028
Baileat Sgìre Leasachadh Gnothachais Inbhir Nis airson na Teirme Ùire bho 1 Giblean 2023 – 31 Màrt 2028 

There is circulated Report No. HC/48/22 by the Executive Chief Officer Communities and Place.            

The Council is invited to agree:

i.  the draft Business Plan (Appendix 1) from Inverness Bid; and
ii. to support the new 5-year term for the Inverness Business Improvement District in the forthcoming ballot on 23 March 2023.

19. Review of UK Parliamentary Constituencies: Revised Proposals
Ath-sgrùdadh de Roinnean-Pàrlamaid na RA: Molaidhean Ath-sgrùdaichte

There is circulated Report No. HC/49/22 by the Executive Chief Officer Performance and Governance.        

The Council is invited to:

i.   consider the initial and revised constituency maps at Appendices A-D to the report;
ii.  note the recommendations approved at the Communities and Place Committee; and
iii. agree to homologate the response to the Boundary Commission at Appendix E to the report.

20. Planning Review Body (PRB) 
Buidheann Ath-sgrùdaidh Dealbhaidh

There is circulated Report No. HC/50/22 by the Acting Depute Chief Executive and Executive Chief Officer Performance and Governance.

The Council is invited to agree:

i.  an increase in the PRB membership from 6 to 8 elected Members (an increase of 1 Member from each NPAC and SPAC), each PAC to appoint its additional PRB Member at its next meeting; and
ii. that Members of the PRB may determine Notices of Review in their ward (a removal of the automatic restriction currently in place).

21. Highland Armed Forces Community Covenant Update
Cunntas às Ùr mu Chùmhnant Coimhearsnachd Feachdan Armaichte na Gàidhealtachd

There is circulated Report No. HC/51/22 by the Executive Chief Officer Communities and Place.

The Council is invited to:

i.  note the considerable progress made with partners across a range of activities which support the Armed Forces Community Covenant; and
ii. agree to the appointment of Councillor Leslie-Anne Niven as Armed Forces and Veterans’ Champion on an interim basis.

22. Timetable of Meetings 2023
Clàr-ama Choinneamhan 2023

The Council is asked to agree that:

  • a Special Meeting of the Council be held on Wednesday 1 February 2023 at 10.00am to review the Capital Programme; and
  • the Planning Review Board commences at 2pm on Wednesday 1 February 2023 or following the conclusion of Council.

23. Deeds Executed
Sgrìobhainnean Lagha a Bhuilicheadh

There is circulated for noting a list of deeds and other documents executed on behalf of the Council since the meeting held on 27 October 2022.