Operational Management Areas Agreed

The Highland Council has agreed the boundaries for three new operational management areas, which take account of the creation of 22 new multi-member wards being created from the Council elections in May next year.

The areas are:-

• North Highland (Caithness; Sutherland; Tain; Cromarty Firth, which includes Alness, Invergordon and Evanton and Easter Ross);
• Mid and West Highland (Skye, Lochaber, Wester and Mid Ross and Black Isle);
• East Highland (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey).

The three operational management areas are being created for those services best delivered strategically rather than via the 14 four-member and eight three-member  wards.

Council Services will reorganise their management arrangements to reflect these new area boundaries and proposals for the management and staffing arrangements of each Service will be submitted to the relevant  strategic committees in the cycle leading up to the Council meeting on 14 December.

Decision making on policy and resource allocation will continue to be made by the council at Highland level and operational service delivery will focus primarily at multi-member ward level.

The Council agreed in June that multi-member wards will be administered by Ward Managers, who will report to a Corporate Manager serving each of the three new operational management areas.

The Council also considered a report considering how the forthcoming election, changes to member remuneration, housing transfer, as well as changes to planning and licensing legislation would impact on member and committee arrangements.

It was agreed to consider in the next term of the council that each multi-member ward should have one member on each committee and that committees should be made up of 22 members, plus the Convener and Vice-Convener.

It was also agreed that  the strong civic tradition within the Highlands, particularly in Inverness, Nairn, Lochaber and Caithness, should be retained.

A further report is to be prepared looking at the implications of the Planning Bill, currently before the Scottish Parliament, which will significantly reduce the number of planning applications that come before councillors, who will deal with more complex applications and appeals against officer decisions.

More information is also to be provided in dealing with licensing applications in the period between the establishment of the new council in May next year and the introduction of the new licensing regime in 2008, when the Licensing Board will be a separate statutory body from the Council.

Members decided to defer taking a decision on the future of its Area Committees and the future structure of its network of strategic committees.

26 Sep 2006