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.

Public to have say in reshaping Highland Council

Senior Highland councillors meet to begin the process of redesigning the authority
Senior Highland councillors meet to begin the process of redesigning the authority

The public, staff, trade unions and young people across the region will be guaranteed a say in reshaping a slimmed down Highland Council.

The tough task of “redesigning” the authority to prepare it for yet more budget cuts began in earnest yesterday with the creation of a new working group to oversee the process.

Slashed funding meant £50million of savings this year alone to avoid a heavy penalty from the Scottish Government.

Further punishing grant cuts are envisaged over the next two years.

Council chief executive Steve Barron confirmed that the overall workforce was now “around 8,000” following his voluntary redundancy initiative to help balance the books. That is a 20% reduction in two years.

Council convener Isobel McCallum has been appointed chairwoman of the new 16-member “Redesign Board.”

It comprises six independent councillors, four SNP members, three Liberal Democrats, two from the Labour group and Thomas MacLennan of the Highland Alliance group and will meet every fortnight or so from next month.

The group will consult staff, the public, unions and service providers each step of the way, holding workshops as and when necessary.

Research by the authority’s budget team is already underway to try to pinpoint how councils elsewhere in the UK have reviewed their service structures.

Council leader Margaret Davidson: “We’re here because we’ve just taken 10% out of the council and we’re going to be taking more out next year and the year after, and I think we’ve got to have an organisation fit for delivery of what the community is actually paying its taxes for us to deliver.”

Opposition SNP councillor Bill Lobban, who was appointed vice chairman of the group, agreed.

“We need to concentrate our minds on getting this job done,” he said.

Labour group leader Jimmy Gray mooted the idea of asking stakeholders what services they felt the council might stop providing.

Mr Barron was quick to intervene.

He said: “I think that asking that question gets you into the same vicious circle that we were in at budget time and that’s entirely the wrong question.

“Sorry to be so blunt, but I think that in order to make this a positive exercise for all concerned we’re asking people to make positive choices about positive outcomes not negative choices about what to stop.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]