Agendas, reports and minutes

Highland Council

Date: Thursday, 11 May 2023

Agenda: Read the Agenda

A meeting of the Highland Council will be held in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday 11 May 2023 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 Legal and Governance


1. Calling of the Roll and Apologies for Absence
Gairm a’ Chlàir agus Leisgeulan

2. Declarations of Interest/Transparency Statement
Foillseachaidhean Com-pàirt/ Aithris Fhollaiseachd

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 Meeting of the Council held on 9 March 2023 (pp.564-590) 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:-

Easter Ross Area Committee (Special Meeting) 13 March 2023
Climate Change Committee 16 March 2023
Nairnshire Committee 21 March 2023
Audit and Scrutiny Committee 23 March 2023
City of Inverness and Area Committee (Special Meeting) 23 March 2023
Gaelic Committee 30 March 2023
Comataidh na Gaidhlig 30 Màrt 2023
Housing and Property Committee 27 April 2023 (to follow)
Economy and Infrastructure Committee 4 May 2023 (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  25 November 2022 (approved by the Board on 21 March 2023); and
ii. Redesign Board – for approval – held on 30 March 2023

5. Question Time
Àm Ceiste

The following Questions have been received by the Head of Legal and 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.    
Member Questions

(1) Mr A Christie

To the Leader of the Council

Please could the leader of the Council list and give details of what he regards as the top five achievements of the Administration to date including the benefit to Highland residents (except for Opportunity Cromarty Firth)?

(2) Mr A Christie

To the Leader of the Council

In the Budget the following two savings referred to Council officers working with the organisations to identify alternative sources of funding.

5.1 Review of the Early Years grants budget for non-statutory services with the view to full removal by the beginning of 2024/25. This is a legacy budget which does not provide funding equitably for all EY organisations across Highland and the organisations do not provide commissioned services provided through an SLA with the Council via this grant funding.

Organisations currently in receipt of grant funding from this budget are: SNAP £65k, Toybox Gairloch £10k, Pultneytown Peoples Project £25k, CSS £60k, Fas Mor £10k, Allsorts £10k.

To mitigate the financial impact of the removal of these grants, a 6 month notice period will be given from 01/04/23 – effectively providing a 50% reduction in year one. From the next financial year the full year saving total will be £0.180m.
Officers will work with the organisations involved to identify alternative sources of funding to offset the reduction in the Early Years budget. There are a range of Council funds that can be applied to - the most likely, but not only, source being the Council’s Coastal Communities strategic fund, where Members will be able to consider and approve applications on a bid by bid basis.

5.2 Remove legacy funding provided to a number of arts, culture, sports, music and community organisations. Where Service Level Agreements are in place, notice per the terms of those agreements will be given. From the next financial year the full year saving total will be £0.107m.The organisations and savings are as follows: Aros (skye) £7k, Highland Print Studio £7k, Lochaber Music School £9k, Village Hall grants scheme (£50k pan Highland) and Sports Council funding (£34k pan-Highland). The grant schemes for the final two funding streams have been under subscribed in recent years.

As with 5.1 above, to mitigate the financial impact of the removal of these grants, organisations will be supported by the Council to identify and apply for alternative funding options.

Please could the Leader of the Council detail for each organisation the engagement that has been carried out to date by Council officers together with the financial outcome resourced for each organisations for 2023/24 and 2024/25 including the budget area any funding has come from?

(3) Mr M Reiss

To the Leader of the Council

Please could you explain, in reasonable detail, why the publication by Highland Council of the annual SRCMS results have been delayed by several months past the expected or customary date, despite having been received by the Council at approximately the expected time. (The previous two surveys were published by the Council in November and December of the two preceding years).

(4) Mr R Gale

To the Leader of the Council

Following on from the Motion that was agreed at the Full Council on the 8th of December can you provide details of what actions were taken by you to lobby the NHS and the Minister for Women’s Health 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.

(5) Mrs H Crawford

To the Leader of the Council

In relation to the implementation of the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in March 2024, to ask the Leader to please provide a comprehensive projected financial impact assessment of the DRS on Highland Council, including potential savings or net losses to Highland Council, the anticipated impact to sales revenue for glass, aluminium and plastic and the impact upon the current level of staffing for Highland Council’s waste and recycling services. 

(6) Ms K Willis
To the Chair of Education Committee

The Soil Association’s Food For Life programme supports local authorities to serve healthier, sustainable, and locally sourced food for school meals that have a positive impact on health, the environment, and the local economy.

Please can the chair provide information on how many nurseries, primary schools, and secondary schools in Highland currently have bronze, silver and gold Food For Life awards for their school meals service?

(7) Mr A Baldrey
To the Chair of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee

Bike Racks on Buses

In pursuit of net zero targets and to facilitate greater use of ‘wheeling opportunities’ it would be highly desirable to see bike racks placed on all buses.
As Highland Council now operates a number of buses, can action be taken to progress the installation of bike racks on its own bus fleet to act as a ‘leading example’ to other bus operators?

(8) Mr C Balance
To the Leader of the Council 

Youth Highland

To ask the Leader if he would be prepared to meet with Youth Highland, its funders and other key stakeholders to review the approach that has been trialled by the Voluntary Youth Network and to consider how this work could help inform decisions around shaping and delivering services in the future?

(9) Mr P Logue
To the Leader of the Council

To ask for an update on progress towards reinstating weekend opening hours at Ullapool and Gairloch recycling centres.

(10) Mr A Graham

To the Leader of the Council

With reference to the Council’s response to the Scottish Government’s consultation paper on “Highly Protected Marine Areas", which Elected Members were involved in or consulted during the preparation of this submission?    
(11) Mr A Jarvie 

To the Chair of Corporate Resources Committee

Will the Highland Council be following the Scottish Government’s Public Sector Pay Strategy?

(12) Mrs I MacKenzie

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

With Mental Health services for young people within schools and the local NHSH CAMHS can the Chair give an update with regards to any vacancies to any gaps to the services?

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

(i) It is well known that voluntary, charitable and youth organisations are struggling with the reduction in funding that they are all experiencing, and this is made significantly more difficult with the level of letting fees for council premises that are being levied on such organisations.
Many of these organisations make a significant contribution to the mental welfare of our young people and this is particularly important in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

In addition, other such organisations provide vital childcare and after school clubs and activities for the children of working parents. 

The level of letting fees is threatening the very existence of such organisations and if they have to close and withdraw their services the knock-on effect for children’s mental health and the ability for working parents to continue to work is considerable, with the added impact on the local economies that will ensue.

That being the case this Council will review the letting charges for all such organisations and introduce a reduction in letting fees of 50% for all charitable and voluntary organisations.

By doing this we will ensure that the invaluable services that they provide across Highland will continue to the benefit of all communities. 

Signed:  Mr R Gale      Mr J McGillivray       Mr A Graham     Ms J McEwan

(ii)Wave Trust
Highland Council supports the Wave Trust's 70/30 campaign to reduce child abuse, neglect and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) by at least 70% by the year 2030. Council asks officers to bring a report to a future meeting of this Council on how the ambitions of this campaign can best be achieved in Highland.

Further Highland Council considers that;-

Increased awareness of the impact of ACEs is key to driving investment in initiatives that promote safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments which can have a positive impact on a broad range of challenges and on the development of skills that will help children and young people reach their full potential and it urges all concerned to use ACE awareness to have a positive impact on both individuals and society as a whole and it supports all teaching staff, pupils support assistants and early years practitioners to be encouraged to take up opportunities for continued professional learning sessions on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Signed     Mr A Baldrey       Mr R MacKintosh

(iii) The Council Agrees that the creation of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) will have a devastating impact on our island and coastal communities, which rely heavily on fishing and other marine-related activities for their livelihoods. Notes its strong opposition to the creation of HPMAs and urges the Scottish Government not to impose them where it is against the stated will of these communities. Notes that Local engagement and collaboration should be the way forward to Enhance the management of marine areas calling on the wealth of valuable local knowledge and inherited expertise of island and coastal stakeholders.  Therefore, this Council agrees that a letter is to be sent to the Scottish Government expressing our opposition to the introduction of this HPMA scheme and urging them to work with our local communities to find alternative solutions that protect our marine environment without compromising the livelihood, language, and culture of our remote, rural, island, and coastal communities and avoid the depopulation of rural areas via job loss & irreversible damage to the local economy.

Signed       Mr R Stewart       Mrs B Jarvie

(iv) The positive impact of the NC500 around the Highlands has been manyfold, however, with the positive impact on the economy of the Highlands comes the negative impact on services and amenities across the area.
Last year the Council waste collection services innovatively introduced a flexible and additional bin collection scheme which made a significant difference to the levels of waste that was abandoned in some of the most scenic parts of the Highlands.

Local communities have commented on what a positive difference this initiative made around the NC500 route.

That being the case this Council will put a similar project in place for the coming season to ensure that we make the NC500 route memorable for all the right reasons for the traveling visitors. In addition, this will also be welcomed by the local communities along the route who do not want to be faced with uncontrolled waste abandoned indiscriminately by the roadside.

Signed   Mr R Gale    Mr M Baird       Mrs McEwan       Mrs A MacLean 

(v) Voting rights of religious representatives on the Education Committee

New research shows a sharp decline in religious identity. Around 1 million less Scots now identify with Christian groups compared to 2011, when 53% of Scots identified with a Christian religion. That figure has now dropped to 33%. 

Given these findings it seems bewildering that we allow unelected religious representatives the ability to vote on the education committee. Fundamentally no one who is unaccountable to the electorate should be able to vote on public policy and it’s clear that decisions relating to education should be done on a democratic basis by people who are held to account by the electorate. Faith groups who wish to participate in discussions relating to local education may still do so in the same manner as any other interested local community group. 

Currently the Council is required under the terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 to have three religious representatives on any committee established by the Council to discharge their responsibilities as an education authority. 

There is no legal requirement however for these representatives to have a vote. The Scottish Government has clarified that “voting rights on committees are a matter for each authority.”

In line with the above clarification statement by the Scottish Government, Highland Council agrees that only elected members of the Council with a mandate from the electorate should have a vote on the Education Committee. 

Signed     Mr R MacKintosh       Ms K Willis

(vi) Disposable Vapes
Around 1.3million disposable vapes are thrown away in the UK each week, representing around 10 tonnes of lithium, the valuable resource crucial for electric car batteries, creating a new litter hazard across our streets and countryside, and contributing to extra plastic and toxic chemical pollution in land and sea. The Fire Brigade suggests that disposable vape batteries could have been responsible for the fire at the recycling depot in Aberdeenshire recently, and they have also been implicated in fires in bin lorries. E-cigarette use among teenagers doubled last year, creating a whole new generation of young people hooked on nicotine, with no societal benefit.

Highland Council therefore agrees to support the campaign by the Marine Conservation Society, Ash Scotland and Keep Scotland Beautiful to ban the manufacture and sale of disposable vapes in Scotland, and asks the Leader to join with other Councils in Scotland in writing to the First Minister welcoming the review into disposable vapes and to note Highland Council’s support for a ban.

Signed     Mr C Ballance       Mr A Baldrey       Mr C Birt       Mr A MacDonald       Ms L Johnston

7. Carer Positive Policy
Poileasaidh Cùramaiche Dheimhinnich 

There is circulated Report No. HC/11/23 dated 27 April 2023 by the Interim Chief Executive.

The Council is invited to:-

i.   approve the introduction of a Carer Positive policy; 
ii.  approve the introduction of up to 5 days paid carers’ leave per year: and
iii. agree the policy and guidance will be reviewed in approximately 6 months by the HR Sub Group, with any significant changes brought back to Corporate Resources Committee for consideration.

8. Member Survey Results and Learning and Development Programme 
Toraidhean Suirbhidh nam Ball agus Prògram Ionnsachaidh is Leasachaidh

There is circulated Report No. HC/12/23 dated 27 April 2023 by the Interim Chief Executive.

The Council is invited to:-

i.    note the findings of the Members’ Survey; 

and agree:-

ii.  to establish a short life Members’ Working Group to scope future requirements, with a view to bringing forward a Members’ Learning and Development programme for Council approval in June 2023; 
iii. to implement a range of evaluation metrics to assess the effectiveness of learning outcomes; and
iv.  to re-establish the Governance Review Steering Group with refreshed membership, to take forward a review of governance arrangements, supported by the ECO for Performance and Governance.

9. Corran Ferry and Levelling Up Fund Update
Cunntas às Ùr mu Aiseag a’ Chorrain is mun Mhaoin Àrd-ìreachaidh

There is circulated Joint Report No. HC/13/23 dated 26 April 2023 by the Interim  Depute Chief Executive and Executive Chief officer Infrastructure and Environment.

The Council is invited to:-

i.   note the current position in respect of the Corran Ferry service;
ii.  note progress on delivering the Corran Ferry replacement project;
iii. note the outcome of Levelling Up Fund submissions for 2022;
iv.  agree that the Corran Ferry replacement forms the basis of a submission to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund for 2023; and
v.   agree that a future report is brought to Council providing further details of the prospectus for Levelling Up Fund Round 3, with an appraisal of the other constituency bids for agreement.

10. Highland Health & Social Care Partnership: Strategic Plan 
Com-pàirteachas Slàinte is Cùraim Shòisealta na Gàidhealtachd: Plana Ro-innleachdail

There is circulated Report No. HC/14/23 dated 25 April 2023 by the Executive Chief Officer Health and Social Care

The Council is invited to:-

i.  note the work undertaken by the Strategic Planning Group in producing a draft of the Strategic Plan 2023–2026; and
ii. provide comment on the proposed draft of the Plan prior to sign off by the Joint Monitoring Committee of a final consultation draft.

11. Update on Outline Business Case for Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport
Dreachd Chùis-gnothachais airson Saor-phort Uaine Inbhir Nis agus Chaolas Chromba

There is circulated Report No. HC/15/23 dated 25 April 2023 by the Interim Depute Chief Executive.    

The Council is invited to:-

i.   note the Council’s role and responsibilities in the preparing the Outline Business Case, including as Accountable Body, as summarised in Section 4 of the report;
ii.  agree to the proposals set out in relation to governance and particularly the establishment and Terms of Reference for the Member’s Monitoring Group as set out in section 5.3 of the report; and
iii. note the intention to report the Outline Business Case to a future Council meeting prior to submission to UK and Scottish Governments.

12. Public Sector Reform 
Ath-leasachadh Roinn Poblaich

There is circulated Report No. HC/16/23 dated 24 April 2023 by the Interim Chief Executive.

The Council is invited to:

i.  note the update and agree to homologate the Council’s submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Public Administration Committee’s enquiry into Public Sector Reform; and
ii. agree that work is progressed through the Redesign Board.

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

The Council is asked to approve the appointment of Mr Iain Meredith as Clerk to the Licensing Board on a temporary basis until Ms Claire MacArthur returns from maternity leave.

14. Timetable of Meetings 
Clàr-ama Choinneamhan 

The Council is asked to agree the following changes to the current timetable:

Easter Ross Area Committee – from 15 May to 22 May 2023

15. 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 9 March 2023.