New Administration agreed to lead Highland Council

New Administration
Members of the Highland Council's new Administration
A special meeting of the Council was held this morning to form a new Administration and elect a Leader and senior officer bearers.

It was agreed that a Minority Administration of the Independent Group would lead the Council with Cllr Margaret Davidson as elected Leader. The Convener of the Council will be Cllr Isobel McCallum.

The following Strategic Committee Chairs were appointed:

Chair of Resources Committee: Cllr Bill Fernie
Chair of Education, Children and Adult Services Committee: Cllr Drew Millar
Chair of Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee and Planning Review Body: Cllr Audrey Sinclair
Chair of Community Services Committee: Cllr Allan Henderson

The following Senior member posts were also agreed:

Chair of Community Safety, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee: Cllr Hamish Fraser
Chair of Highland Licensing Committee: Cllr Ian Cockburn.

Chair of Audit and Scrutiny Committee: Cllr Richard Laird

Vice Chair of Audit and Scrutiny Committee: Cllr Graham Phillips

Leader of the Opposition: Cllr Maxine Smith

Other member appointments will be made at the Council meeting on 25th June.

New Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson said, “We are on the brink of an exciting time for the Highlands. We are an Independent Administration and whilst we may be a minority Administration, this is not unusual across Scotland. Our aim is to work collaboratively with other Members to achieve the best outcomes for the Highlands.

“Without being bound by party politics, we intend to take a fresh look at community planning with a renewed emphasis on empowerment. We want to work in partnership with our communities and provide them with real local decision making powers.

“We will take time to review the Programme and consider where we want to focus our efforts and resources. This is a particularly challenging time for Local Authority budgets and we will take a fresh look at where we can best deliver value for money. However, I would like to emphasise that, contrary to what has been reported this week in the press, we will continue to maintain the Council’s commitment to avoiding any compulsory redundancies, wherever possible.

“Our strategic priorities include a programme of investment in our roads, which I believe will be widely welcomed across the Highlands.

“We will work with our partners in NHS Highland to review of the Partnership agreement and place a renewed emphasis on Shifting the Balance of Care into the community.

“We will have a much more ambitious commitment to work with partners towards enhanced Broadband and improved mobile connectivity for across Highland. This will help form the basis for a strong economy and empowered communities.

“The Council has a good record of performance, but we need to improve our scrutiny. We will transform our Audit, Scrutiny Committee, and form and Audit, Scrutiny and Performance Board with enhanced powers and responsibilities.”

Cllr Davidson added: “Those who know me will know that I will do my very best to promote the interests of the Highlands and I am committed to leading an Administration that serves our communities and delivers real local power across the region.”

New Chair of Resources Committee, Cllr Bill Fernie said: “We will be taking a team approach around budget and finance matters, making the best of all the expertise that we have within the Independent Administration Group.”

He added: “The Council's Programme states that we will do all we can to avoid compulsory redundancies and we fully intend to continue to with that approach. Despite the fact that we have considerable financial pressures to manage, we will take a fresh look at all options available to us and this includes managing turnover and vacancies, without the need for compulsory redundancies.”

11 Jun 2015
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