Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Highland Council plans 3% council tax hike – and an extra £5.5m is going towards the region’s crumbling roads

Potholes are a common complaint in the north. Picture by Kenny Elrick
Potholes are a common complaint in the north. Picture by Kenny Elrick

Highland Council plans to invest an additional £10 million this year as it plots a budget to recover from the Covid pandemic.

A proposed collaborative budget for 2022-23 will be put forward to a meeting on March 3.

It includes £5.5m extra on roads, made up of a £3.5m one-off spend and £2m recurring revenue.

If agreed, it would mean £31m being spent over the period 2020 to 2023 on road improvements, machinery and staff.

Where else is the money going?

A further £500,000 is earmarked for rural transport, including on-demand services, new community transport groups, analysis of mobility deprivation and improved timetables.

Another £2m is proposed for climate action, green energy and jobs.

This is aimed at maximising opportunities from hydrogen projects, tree planting and peatland restoration, as well as flood management and coastal protection.

The proposed budget also includes £1m for both innovation in education and early interventions in children’s services.

Councillor Alasdair Christie.

This includes measures to prepare young people for life after school and community connected learning.

The investment is part of the council’s health and prosperity strategy for the Highlands.

It seeks to balance current financial pressures with the drivers for economic growth and recovery from Covid.

Depute council leader Alasdair Christie said: “We are proposing a budget which has been targeted to improve health and prosperity in our area and which will set a firm foundation of investment on which to build a sound, immediate and lasting recovery.”

Investment in key areas

He said the council has balanced its budget for this year and proposed a 3% council tax increase, which has allowed investment in key areas.

“We’ve made savings in other areas, we’ve looked at the priorities of the council and looked at realigning what we want to do.

“We’re doing that in a way that allows us to invest in these new areas.”

Roads are a major issue for the council.

In December it was revealed nearly four in 10 Highland roads need to be repaired.

Council leader Margaret Davidson.

Bringing them all up to standard would cost £195m.

Mr Christie said: “Everyone in the Highlands know how much we need to increase the roads spend.

“It is a primary concern, not just for residents, but for tourists and businesses, and we need to make sure we make a seismic change to get the roads maintained.”

He said the council also has to look at income generation opportunities, including greenport and hydrogen initiatives, to create jobs and support communities.

“The council needs to be at the forefront of inward investment into the area and to make sure the Highlands gets its share of financial reward for being such a big producer of energy.

“The council cannot be a bystander. It has to be in there making sure it helps sustain the Highland economy.”

Collaborative work

Council leader Margaret Davidson welcomed the collaborative work which has resulted in the proposals.

She said: “The additional £5.5m we are proposing to put into roads alone will result in a considerable investment of £31m in our road network over a three-year period.

“This will be really good news for people across the Highlands.”

Opposition leader Raymond Bremner

Leader of the opposition, councillor Raymond Bremner, said: “Our communities across the Highlands have been faced with challenging, unprecedented times over the past couple of years, with considerable uncertainty in respect of what lies ahead, especially with continual inflationary pressures.

“The council needs to continue its path of redesign and transformation in order to be sustainable into the future.”

A balance of investment and savings

Labour councillor Jimmy Gray added: “I am pleased that once again we have been able to develop a budget which protects jobs which are fundamental to the economy of the Highlands.

“Our budget proposals present a balance of investment and savings.”

Labour councillor Jimmy Gray.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]