Highland Council to undertake a redesign

Highland Council has unanimously agreed to undertake a complete redesign of the council over the coming months. 

Following difficult budget decisions on 25 February, there will be significant reductions in staff and service budgets which will take effect from the end of this month. The impacts of these reductions are yet to be felt but it is clear that former levels of service and performance cannot be sustained.

Further year on year budget reductions are anticipated and there is uncertainty about future grant settlements.

The Redesign will be an inclusive process led by a Board of Members. At their first meeting they will determine the terms of reference. It is anticipated that the purpose of the redesign will include:

  • Renew the Council’s purpose and ambition
  • Renew the Council’s priorities
  • Develop proposals for affordable services and delivery options
  • Explore the best options for public participation
  • To take on board the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including the public, staff and partners

Chief Executive Steve Barron said: “The purpose of redesign gives us an opportunity to lead positive change for the future. We have in the past few days seen an immense milestone achievement for the Highlands in the signing of the City-Region Deal. We need to consider how we can best use this investment and also how we can lever further investment into the Highlands.

“We are also having to become a more commercial organisation and we need to be more aware of our opportunities to create income and to focus on the cost and the value of initiatives and to understand the benefit of any investments we make.

 “A reduced workforce will require us to change our focus and ways of working. We need to listen to and value our staff who are our greatest assets.

“There are still significant public resources being invested in the region and we have real assets in our staff, our partners and our communities. Our programme of redesign needs to be positive about what can be achieved by refocusing these assets and using them to the best effect.”

Leader of the Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson added: “This is indeed a unique and timely opportunity to reshape our council with consensus across the Council. We need to get much smarter at using and generating income. We urgently need to shift the balance of care and tackle the growing demands on adult and childrens’ care services. This redesign also needs to address these important issues.

“We will  rebuild energy and enthusiasm for the future. We have the opportunity to redevelop a fresh design for a Highland Council. The new Commission for Local Democracy will engage people from across every community to better understand how they want to be involved in local democracy.

"We need to retain the Highland identity and to also look outward as an organisation. That is how we have achieved big successes like the City-Region Deal.

“We will at the same time continue the move towards greater localism. I really look forward to this important work getting underway.”

24 Mar 2016