Lochaber Committee reviews priorities
Lochaber is an attractive place to live and work and do business, renowned for its beautiful scenery and wealth of outdoor activities.
Lochaber is currently experiencing a significant number of economic opportunities and growth is reported in a number of sectors including tourism and manufacturing. The purchase of the aluminium smelter by Liberty Simec GFG will potentially create a significant number of jobs, but this will also bring challenges in ensuring the appropriate infrastructure is in place to deliver this.
Lochaber Members originally agreed local priorities for the area in 2015. Members have reviewed the priorities and agreed that these should be further refined and supported by a local action plan with measurable targets.
Chair of Lochaber Committee Councillor Andrew Baxter said: “It is very important that Lochaber’s priorities are reflected in the Council’s Programme and that we have a measurable plan to take these forward.
“We are well placed to take advantage of the many opportunities, such as airline issues, improved cruise liner infrastructure and the current exchange rates to further develop our tourism economy.
“Housing is very high up in our priorities, but it must be the right mix of housing and we are in particular need of affordable housing for families. We plan to develop a specific housing strategy for Lochaber which addresses local needs, as well as ensuring the appropriate supporting infrastructure.”
Leader of the Council, Margaret Davidson attended the committee meeting to discuss the draft Council Programme and how this can support local priorities. She said: “If we don’t get housing right we won’t get our economic development right and economic development is a priority for Highland. We have real impetus and excellent support in Highland for achieving ambitious housing development and we are investing in infrastructure and exploring land options.
“We are also working positively with the Scottish Government as a model of best practice for developing affordable housing and Highland is leading on that.”
She added: “Decent Broadband connectivity is fundamental to our economic development in Highland and we need to make the best advantage of all the opportunities that are there and move this forward at a much faster pace.”
Lochaber Members originally set out their priorities for the area in November 2015. These priorities were identified through community consultation and discussion with community planning partners. They were endorsed again at the Lochaber Committee held in October 2016.
Following the Local Authority elections in May 2017, 4 new Members were elected to serve the Lochaber Wards 11 and 21.
Members have taken the opportunity over the first few months in office to meet with a number of services and partners responsible for progressing some of the key priorities identified, including Tourism, Infrastructure, Education, Housing, Community Works and Health.
The Local Priorities for Lochaber can be found at: https://www.highland.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/3885/lochaber_committee item 4