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The Highland Council’s Magazine                           Spring 2018
                                                             Issue 10

Sàr Phuingean

School rugby festival marks royal opening Pg3
                                y tourist sites How did we do? Pg22
                                ge funding
                                                How do we compare? Pg30
                                 boost Pg6

Highpoints Sàr Phuingean - School rugby festival marks royal opening Pg3 www.highland.gov.uk - Highland ...
3 Royal visit at Canal Park
4 LEADER funding for projects in the
6 Funding for improvements at top tourist
   sites in Skye.
8 On location in the Highlands
9 Highland schools star in FilmG Awards
9 Knoydart landslip
10 Modern apprenticeship programme            Welcome to the Spring 2018 edition of Highpoints.
11 Apprentice Day for Highland Youth          What a long winter it has been! It has been very challenging for
   Parliament Members
12 S’no problem for Syd!
                                              all our services, particularly winter maintenance, and we are now
12 Highland gritter driver to the rescue      faced with the enormous job of fixing the damage to the roads.
13 New marina planned at Corpach              It has however been a terrific season for winter tourism, especially
14 Times table chromebook craze sweeps        in our great snow sports resorts in Badenoch & Strathspey, and
                                              Lochaber. Our film tourism is also doing very well and you can
14 Sports Leadership Awards
15 Culloden Academy pupil is 1 in a 1,000     read more about this on page 8.
16 Thousands turn out to see Town House       This year, 2018, is the Year of Young People and this issue of
                                              Highpoints focuses on celebrating the successes involving a great
17 Funding for new homes across the
   Highlands                                  many young people across the Council. The rugby festival in which
17 Future bright with income from solar       nearly 500 children from local schools took part highlighted the
   energy                                     success of the new Highland Rugby Club and West Link project
18 More projects benefit from participatory   which provides opportunities for young people across the area.
   budget events
19 Budget 2018/19                             The Calcutta Cup was on display and also taken along to Kingussie
20 Trading Standards take delivery            for local children to see this historic piece of silver.
   surcharging to House of Commons            The Council employs 50 modern apprentices and it is great to
20 Help is available to reduce Council Tax
21 Internal Auditor appointment
                                              meet some of these young people with promising futures ahead
22 How did we do? Measuring our               of them in this issue. Well done also to Rachael Taylor of Culloden
   performance                                Academy who is one in 1000 girls to be selected for a Global
26 What did our survey tell us?               STEM Alliance!
29 How did we do: Local and National
   Statutory Performance Indicators           We are a forward looking Council and we seek to support young
   2016/17                                    people and provide the best possible opportunities here in
30 How do we compare: Benchmarking            Highland with nearly 96% of our young people going on to
Contact us                                    positive destinations after school. You can also read more about
                                              the Council’s performance in 2016/17 on pages 22 to 35.
Write to:
Corporate Communications
The Highland Council HQ
Glenurquhart Road
Inverness IV3 5NX
Email: corporate.communications
Phone: 01463 702020
Highpoints will be published online and
some hard copies will be made available in
service points and libraries. The magazine
is produced in-house by our Corporate
Communications Team and printing costs
are sponsored by advertising.
                                                             Bill Lobban Highland Council Convener
Listening ~ Open ~ Valuing ~ Improving ~ Supporting ~ Partnering ~ Delivering
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Royal visit and school rugby festival
                                                    mark the opening of Canal Park
                                                    Almost two years after a               new junior pitch partly floodlit to
                                                    turf cutting ceremony on               training standard and a new car
                                                                                           parking area.
                                                    10th May 2016 to mark
                                                    the start of the Canal Park            The Calcutta Cup, won by
                                                                                           Scotland 25-13 against England
                                                    Enhancement works, the
                                                                                           at BT Murrayfield in February,
                                                    Highland Rugby Club                    and presented to Scotland
                                                    celebrated its fabulous new            captain John Barclay on the day       Construction of the new
                                                    home with an official opening          by the Princess Royal, was also       clubhouse, artificial pitch and
                                                                                           on display at Canal Park for the      two new grass pitches at Canal
                                                    by Scottish Rugby’s Patron,
                                                                                           official opening. See our cover       Park began in the summer of
                                                    Her Royal Highness The                                                       2017 along with the building of
                                                                                           photo where pupils had the
                                                    Princess Royal on 19th March.                                                Stage 1 of the West Link road, and
                                                                                           unique chance to see the cup up
                                                    470 Primary 6 Pupils from local        close.                                was completed in October 2017.
                                                    schools took part in a Festival                                              Stage 1 of the West Link Road was
                                                                                           The West Link and associated          completed and opened to traffic
                                                    of Touch Rugby on the opening
                                                                                           sports facilities which include       in December 2017.
                                                    day which was blessed with
                                                                                           Canal Park, form part of the
                                                    fabulous sunshine. Balloch,                                                  The state of the art community
                                                                                           Council’s contribution to the
                                                    Balnain, Cauldeen, Central,                                                  facility is managed by High
                                                                                           City-Region Deal investment by
                                                    Cradlehall, Crown, Dalneigh,                                                 Life Highland in partnership
                                                                                           partners. In addition to £4.1m
                                                    Duncan Forbes, Hilton, Invergarry,                                           with Highland Rugby Club. The
                                                                                           from the Council to create the
                                                    Kirkhill, Merkinch, Milton of Leys                                           sporting facility for the use of the
                                                                                           Canal Park facility, sportscotland
                                                    and Muirtown were all involved                                               wider community boasts a superb
                                                                                           invested £0.5m in the project.
                                                    in adapted touch rugby games                                                 function space and spectators’
                                                                                           The project also benefited from
                                                    on Highland Rugby Club’s new                                                 balcony with catering facilities,
                                                                                           an award of £40,000 from Scottish
                                                    artificial surface.                                                          top class changing facilities and
                                                                                           Rugby’s Club Sustainability Fund
                                                    The artificial pitch is full rugby     which provides investment             pitches.
                                                    playing standard (World Rugby          to rugby clubs to develop             Andy Little, Chairman of
                                                    compliant) with floodlighting          their facilities and enhance          Highland Rugby Club which
                                                    also to playing standard. There        infrastructure.                       established in 1922 said:
                                                    is also a new full-size grass pitch,                                          “The completion of the Canal
                                                                                                                                  Park Redevelopment marks a new
                                                                                                                                  chapter in the history of Highland
                                                                                                                                  Rugby Club and provides our club
                                                                                                                                  and the wider rugby and sporting
                                                                                                                                  community with state of the art
                                                                                                                                  sporting facilities. When the club
                                                                                                                                  embarked on discussions with
                                                                                                                                  The Highland Council on the
Cover photo and rugby club photo by Alison Gibert

                                                                                                                                  way forward for the West Link
                                                                                                                                  Road I never thought that the
                                                                                                                                  outcome would be what we have
                                                                                                                                  today. The results are outstanding
                                                                                                                                  in terms of uptake in playing
                                                                                                                                  numbers at all age grades and
                                                                                                                                  increase in volunteers and new
                                                                                                                                  coaches coming forward to help
                                                                                                                                  at our club.”
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LEADER funding of
£4.9m available
for projects in the Highlands
With just under a year left to commit EU funds, potential applicants are encouraged to come
forward for a share of the £4.9million still available from the Highland LEADER Programme.
LEADER aims to promote economic and community development within rural areas and these awards
demonstrate the diverse range of projects that can be supported. With just over a year left to commit
LEADER funds and funding allocated on a first come, first served basis, we would encourage groups to
get in touch now to discuss any project ideas. Funding is available for projects benefiting communities in
mainland Highlands, the Small Isles and Skye, excluding Inverness and the Cairngorms National Park.
LEADER aims to promote economic and community development within rural areas. Individuals, groups,
organisations and businesses can apply for funding towards a wide range of projects.

Projects already benefiting from LEADER funding
Funding for Rosemarkie                                   Conservation of
Rosemarkie Amenities Association is set to benefit       Dunbeath Broch
from LEADER funding to develop and improve
the area around the café and recreation area at          An award of £21,014 from LEADER is the last piece
Rosemarkie Beach. £37,985 was awarded towards            of the financial jigsaw required for a project which
the development of two tennis courts, one of which       aims to conserve Dunbeath Broch in Caithness.
will be used as a multi-sports facility.                 Dunbeath Broch is a Scheduled Monument and
Anne Philips, Chair of Rosemarkie Amenities              is the best preserved and most visited of several
Association said:                                        brochs in the Strath. However, the broch is in
                                                         need of conservation works to slow or prevent
 “We also secured funding from the LEADER                deterioration of the structure and assure safe access.
 programme in 2012 to develop the café. The café
 has proved to be popular with the community and         Neil Buchanan, Chair of Berriedale & Dunbeath
 visitors and has allowed us to raise income towards     Community Council said:
 developing the sports area. The new courts will be       “Dunbeath Strath provides a walk with a variety of
 available all year-round and in addition to tennis,      interest and is popular with local people, the wider
 we plan to offer activities such as walking football,    Caithness community and visitors to the area. The
 hockey and 5 aside football. We will also look to        Strath is sheltered, picturesque, has a long and
 introduce new activities to meet local demand.”          impressive history of human settlement and is rich
                                                                                                                  Photos from LEADER

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in archaeological sites. The best known of these are
                     brochs - tall imposing circular drystone towers built
                                                                               Projects in Sutherland
                     over 2000 years ago - some of the most remarkable         The Embo Trust, Strathnaver Museum and
                     structures ever built in Britain. Despite this richness   Sutherland Community Sports & Recreation Hub are
                     very few Caithness brochs have been subject to            among projects in Sutherland set to benefit from
                     modern excavation and dating and few are readily          funding from the Highland LEADER Programme.
                     accessible or adequately presented.”
                                                                               The Sutherland Local Area Partnership has approved
                                                                               funding of £247,578 to date and is encouraging
                    Accommodation for                                          potential applicants to come forward for a share of
                                                                               the remaining funds which must be committed by
                    Shieling Project                                           early 2019. The Local Area Partnership has recently
                                                                               increased the maximum grant available to £75,000
                    A social enterprise, based in Strathfarrar near Beauly,
                                                                               with applicants able to apply for up to 75% of
                    aims to engage people with the tradition of the
                                                                               project costs.
                    shieling. The Shieling Project offers school trips,
                    both day trips and residential, summer camps for           Sutherland Community Sports & Recreation Hub has
                    children and adults, volunteering opportunities for        been awarded LEADER funding of £31,217 towards
                    adults, and has recently opened an outdoor nursery         the development of a multi-use games area in
                    for 3 to 5 year olds.                                      Golspie.

                                                                                                                                             Photo from LEADER
                                                                                   An artist’s impression of the new community hub at Embo

                                                                               The Embo Trust is also set to benefit from LEADER
Photo from LEADER

                                                                               funding with an award of £30,534 to renovate
                                                                               the old school to create a village Community Hub
                    New cabins arriving at The Shieling Project
                                                                               with multi-purpose hall for activities and classes,
                                                                               community shop and outreach post office. The
                    The Shieling Project Community Interest Company            funding will help establish a commercial café/
                    was awarded £61,975 to support the creation of             restaurant unit within the new centre. As well as
                    accessible and sustainable accommodation at the            proving employment and training opportunities, the
                    project site, including six cabins and an accessible       income generated by the café will be essential for
                    compost toilet building. This will support an increase     the long term sustainability of operating the centre.
                    in bookings the creation of new jobs, enabling             Also benefiting from a funding boost of £29,349
                    longer term financial sustainability.                      is Strathnaver Museum. The Museum Trust is
                                                                               embarking on an ambitious project to redevelop
                                                                               the museum as a heritage hub for north west
                     For further information about the Highland                                    Volunteers outside Strathnaver Museum
                     LEADER Programme please visit:

                     contact the Highland LEADER team on:
                     01463 702 548
                                                                                                                                             Photo from LEADER

                     or email: EU.Leader@highland.gov.uk

Highpoints Sàr Phuingean - School rugby festival marks royal opening Pg3 www.highland.gov.uk - Highland ...
Funding for improvements at

                                                                                                                                       Photo by Andy Law
top tourist sites on Skye
The Fairy Pools, near the            support from the new Scottish                             The Highland Council will receive
village of Carbost, are an           Government Rural Tourism                                  up to £300,000 on behalf of
                                     Infrastructure Fund which was                             the Outdoor Access Trust for
increasingly popular tourist
                                     set up to address notable rises                           Scotland to develop visitor
attraction in Skye. The water in     in visitor numbers experienced                            facilities, including toilets, at the
the River Brittle running from       by some of the most popular                               Glenbrittle pools and waterfalls.
the Black Cuillins is crystal        destinations in the Scottish                              In early 2015 the Council
clear and its waterfalls and         countryside.                                              established a project group
pools provide a magical place                                                                  for the Fairy Pools, the core
to photograph and explore.                                                                     members of this group being the
                                                                                               Council, Forestry Commission
The pools are just over 2km walk
                                                                                               Scotland, representatives from
from the car park which has been
                                                                                               the Glenn Brittle residents,
struggling to accommodate the
                                                                                               Minginish Community Council
increasing visitor numbers over
                                                                                               and Minginish Community Hall
the past couple of seasons.
                                                                                               Association (MCHA). The Council
A total of £600K is to be invested                                                             has coordinated and chaired this
in the popular site of The Fairy                                                               group throughout. In addition
Pools. £200K of Highland LEADER                                                                to the £100k that the Council
funding together with £100K                                                                    has committed to the car park
from The Highland Council                                                                      construction, the Council has also
will go towards the first phase                                                                spent in excess of £50k towards
of improvement works at the                                                                    the cost of the options appraisal,
Fairy Pools to provide enhanced                                                                topographical survey, feasibility
infrastructure.                                                                                study, design stage, project
                                                                       Photo by Colin Leslie

The Fairy Pools is also one of                                                                 officer post for MCHA and path
two sites on Skye being given                                                                  improvements.

Highpoints Sàr Phuingean - School rugby festival marks royal opening Pg3 www.highland.gov.uk - Highland ...
Land at the Fairy Pools transferred   Tourism Infrastructure Fund          season. Local councillors and
from Forest Enterprise Scotland       towards work to improve road         officers have been working
into local community ownership        access and parking at the Neist      in partnership with the local
last year, and is now managed by      Point lighthouse, a landmark and     Scottish Government Rural
the Minginish Community Hall          view point at the western tip of     Payments and Inspections
Association, who will be working      the island.                          Directorate (SGRPID) office since
with Outdoor Access Trust for         The Neist Point grant will           2016 to ease visitor management
Scotland to develop, build and        contribute towards road              issues at the site. £100k from
manage a substantially larger car     resurfacing and creating new         the (SGRPID) and £90K of
park to cater for the increased       parking spaces. Total costs will     Council funding will deliver
visitor numbers due to the            be £165,000 with the council         £190k to provide a significant
immense popularity of the site.       covering the remaining costs.        improvement to parking issues at
The site will be enhanced to                                               the site which attracts thousands
                                      The Quiraing is an area of           of visitors throughout the year.
provide increased parking for         spectacular landscape at the
approximately 130 cars, with          northernmost summit of the           Speaking on behalf of the local
additional space for camper vans      Trotternish Ridge on the Isle        members, Councillor John
and tour buses, helping to reduce     of Skye. The start of the walk       Finlayson said:
congestion in the area. Once          is accessed from either of the        “The positive outcomes that have
constructed, car park income          villages of Staffin or Uig, which     been achieved are due largely to
will sustain new jobs to manage,      are joined by a single track          the proactive and collaborative
service, maintain and provide         road. It is a popular destination     approaches of all involved, which
visitor information at the site.      for tourists due to the remote        clearly show that if agencies
A proportion of the revenue           location, stunning rugged             work together in an open and

                                                                                                                 © Donald Fisher
generated by the car park will        scenery and expansive views.          transparent manner and have
also be re-invested back into                                               shared goals that benefit both
other community projects.             Due to its increasing popularity,
                                      the single track roads and parking    the immediate local and also
The Highland Council will also        places are under significant          the wider Skye communities,
receive £100,000 from the             pressure in the height of the         successful outcomes will always
Scottish Government Rural                                                   be achieved.”

£129,970 for Glenelg Visitor Centre
Isle of Skye Ferry Community Interest                    hot spots and also the Ward as a whole.
Company (CIC) has successfully secured an                Skye is an increasingly popular and unique island
award of £129,970 LEADER funding towards a               and it is important, that we meet the needs of the
new visitor centre in Glenelg.                           increasing number of tourists who come here, while
                                                         at the same time also supporting the day to day life
The Ferry has been in community ownership for ten        styles of our residents.
years and carries approximately 33,000 passengers
a year between Glenelg and Kylerhea in the Isle
of Skye. It currently operates from the Glenelg
lighthouse, which has limited space. The new
facility will include office and retail space and
will allow the CIC to provide visitor information
on wildlife, heritage and local tourism
The Local Members and Highland Council
Officers are committed to working in
                                                                                                                    Photo by Cameron McMurdo

partnership with public agencies, land owners,
tourism groups and communities to identify
and support solutions that address tourism and
infrastructure issues for the benefit of the local
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On location in the Highlands
The Highland Council’s
film unit has been
extremely busy with
record enquiries about
filming in Highland.
This reflects the level
of appeal the region
now has as a location
for everything from
blockbuster movies to
online commercials.
Enquiries were already
19% ahead of the
previous financial year

                                                                                                                     Photo by Deva Smith
even before what is
traditionally the busiest
period of production
development in March.
Typically, around a
third of enquiries convert into actual shoots, but this year over 40% have already commenced or concluded
their production in Highland. This level of interest matches that from the 2008-2011 period which saw big
name features such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, and Prometheus
- all filmed in Highland.
As well as feature films including Edie, Mary Queen of Scots and Outlaw King being released in 2018, the
Council’s film unit has welcomed a range of projects that showcase travel and cuisine, such as Coastal
Railways with Julie Walters (UK) and Delicious Destinations (USA).
Film and television productions, and increasingly shoots for newer media, are a significant contributor
to the Highland economy. During a shoot, local businesses commonly benefit from cast and crew use of
services such as accommodation, catering and vehicle hire, as well as employing local people in film specific
roles. Those shoots that use the services of the Council’s film unit to find local locations or services bring an
estimated £2m to £4m per year, depending on the types and range of productions in a given year. Even long
after a shoot, the area continues to benefit from visitors attracted by movies filmed in Highland. Research
by Visit Scotland shows that, in key markets, as many as 16% of visitors were encouraged to visit after seeing
Scotland on screen.
                                                             Amy Morement, Location Manager for
                                                             LS Productions said:
                                                              “Shooting in the Highlands not only offers
                                                              dramatic, classic Scottish landscapes, but also
                                                              the most unique and varied locations. All of the
                                                              local communities we have worked in have been
                                                              incredibly receptive to filming and any visiting
                                                              teams are left with a positive experience of filming
                                                              in Scotland, from highly skilled local crews and
                                                              brilliant Scottish-based facilities companies, to
                                                              high-end accommodation and a breadth of
                                                              locations you would often struggle to believe are
                                                              in the UK, not to mention unforgettable memories!
                                                              The film office also offers an invaluable service,
                                                              offering in-depth local knowledge and support to
                                                              make our shoots happen.”
       Photo by Vikki McCraw
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Highland schools star in FilmG Awards
                                The annual National Gaelic short film                    from Gairloch
                                competition FilmG awards has celebrated                  High, who is
                                                                                         Anndra’s brother.
                                10 years of MG Alba’s Gaelic short film
                                                                                         Eòin took home
                                competition.                                             Best Mobile Short
                                The competition is open to all ages and aims to          Film. Portree High
                                encourage grassroots Gaelic storytelling through         School took the
                                film-making. More than 650 short films, including        Best Script award
                                animations and sports commentaries, have been            for their film
                                entered since FilmG was established.                     “Fuaim a’ Bhlàir”.
                                Due to the success Gairloch High School enjoyed in the   Millburn Academy
                                2017 FilmG competition, FilmG launched their 2018        took the prize for Most Creative Production.
                                call for entries at Gairloch High last June. The theme   Lana Beaton from the Isle of Skye, a previous student
                                chosen for FilmG 2018 was “fìrinn” meaning ‘truth’.      of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and now studying BA (Hons)
                                There were 75 submissions from schools across            Acting for Stage and Screen at Edinburgh Napier
                                Scotland of which 17 were from Highland schools:         University, had an exceptional evening winning 2
                                Alness Academy, Millburn Academy (2 entries),            awards – Best Performance and Best Student Film –
                                Mallaig High, Ardnamurchan High (2 entries), IRA,        for her film ‘Coig Puing a Trì’. She also made it onto
                                Gairloch High, Portree High (2 entries), Tain Royal      three short lists and won the People’s Choice award
                                Academy, Nairn Academy, Ullapool High, Lochaber          as voted by the public on the FilmG website.
                                High, Dingwall Academy, Plockton Primary, and            The Highland Council supported a major prize of the
                                Culloden Academy.                                        evening ‘Mar a Thachair do Dh’fhear a Sgur a Dhol
                                Anndra Cumming from Gairloch High scooped Best           dhan Eaglais’, by John Murdo MacAulay, Laura and
                                Sports Commentary Award. Eòin Cumming, also              Paul for their modern twist on a traditional tale.

                                                                                         There has been close liaison between the Council
                                 Knoydart landslip                                       and the community, with every effort to minimise
                                                                                         the disruption caused by this loss of essential road.
                                                                                         Following the failure, immediate steps were taken
                                                                                         to re-establish pedestrian and quad bike access, and
                                                                                         this has been maintained throughout the works.
                                                                                         An early action was also to reinstate the power lines
                                                                                         that were severed during the landslip.
Photo by The Highland Council

                                                                                         There were specific challenges to carry out the
                                                                                         necessary survey work safely and find the best
                                                                                         engineering solution, as well as working in the
                                                                                         winter conditions, and getting materials to site in
                                                                                         this remote part of the Highlands.
                                There are nearly 7,000km of regional roads               The rock faces had to be stabilised, and the slope
                                across the Highlands and many of these are life          excavated with foundations prepared at the toe
                                line routes connecting local communities with            of the slope
                                essential services.                                      to allow the
                                One such route is a lifeline road for the communities    of the
                                of Airor, Doune and Sandaig on the Knoydart
                                                                                                                                                  Photo by The Highland Council

                                                                                         embankment and
                                Peninsula. The road is on a very steep hillside with     reinstatement of
                                a sheer drop below. Following a landslip in the          the road.
                                Autumn, every effort was made to get this affected
                                section of single track road open to traffic for the
                                Easter weekend.
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Modern apprenticeship programme
The Highland Council’s Modern Apprenticeship Programme
currently provides employment and training for over 50
apprentices. Offering opportunities for new and existing
employees in a wide range of occupations, the programme
includes Graduate Apprenticeships as well as Modern
Apprenticeships over 2 to 4 years, using the very best training
provision locally and across Scotland.
                                                     Scottish Living Wage .

                                                                                                                           Photos by The Highland Council
                                                     Significant work
                                                     continues towards
                                                     the expansion of the
                                                     Modern Apprenticeships
                                                                                      Lauren Ubych and Bryony McDiarmid
                                                     Programme in the coming
                                                     2018/19 financial year.
L-R Mechanic apprentices Scott Matheson
                                                      Ally, an apprentice joiner,   Modern apprentices in Business
(22) based in Inverness, Michael Black (20)                                         and Admin Support, Lauren
based in Dingwall and Jon Hutchinson (26)             who hails from Skye, said:
also based in Inverness, and apprentice
                                                                                    Ubych (18) from Tain and Bryony
                                                     “We are working in general
joiners Ally Macleod (24) and Cameron                                               McDiarmid (18) from Cawdor.
                                                     building and maintenance
Davidson (18) both based in Inverness.                                              Lauren and Bryony both started
                                                     and some of the work is
                                                                                    18-month apprenticeships in
Working in partnership with                          quite specialist which gives
                                                                                    October 2017, based at HQ in
Service managers throughout the                      us the opportunity to get
Council, opportunities are being                     these specialist skills.”
developed all the time across the                                                   Lauren, who is based in
Highlands and in a wide range of              Apprentice mechanic Scott             Operational Support, said:
occupations to support service                added:                                 “I am looking to get experience in
delivery.                                      “It is really good to get valuable    different sectors. I enjoy learning
                                               skills and licenses, like forklift    new skills and working at the
By the end of April, apprentices
                                               driving and I’m working towards       same time and the office hours
will be employed in Business
                                               an HGV license.”                      are good. My work is mainly
Administration, Civil Engineering,
Early Years Child Care, Painting                                                     dealing with Council tax and
                                              Michael Black, from Alness             benefits forms.”
and Decorating, Carpentry                     started in October 2016 as a
and Joinery, Plumbing,                        4-year apprentice mechanic.           Bryony says:
Electricals, Mechanics, and                   He said:
Information Technology. These                                                        “I am based in E-Planning, dealing
                                               “The Council is a great employer      with processing building warrants
apprenticeships are provided
                                               with good pay and good                and planning applications
in Dingwall, Inverness, Fort
                                               opportunities.”                       and some minute-taking. We
William, Golspie, Alness, Wick,
Thurso, Dornoch and Portree.                                                         are doing SVQs as part of the
                                              The apprentices are all hoping for     apprenticeship as well as gaining
All apprentices in The Highland               permanent job opportunities at
Council are paid a minimum of                                                        valuable experience.”
                                              the end of their apprenticeships.
                                                                                    Reflecting on ambitions for the
 If you are interested in an apprenticeship with The Highland Council,              future, Bryony added:
 keep an eye on:
                                                                                     “I am going for the Chief
 MyJobScotland:                       and Hi-Hope:                                   Executive’s job – you may as well
 www.myjobscotland.gov.uk                     www.hi-hope.org                        aim for the highest.”
 Apprenticeships.Scot:                        The team can be contacted on
 www.apprenticeships.scot                     email at:
Apprentice Day for Highland Youth
Parliament Members
The 12th annual Highland Youth Parliament               Natural Heritage, HM Prison Service and Highland
(HYP) Apprentice Day was held on 20th March.            Third Sector Interface.
                                                        Highland Youth Parliament Chair, Joanna Shillaker
On this day, members of HYP shadow Senior
Managers and Elected Members across public
sector services. Apprentice Day provides an              “Apprentice Day is a great opportunity for young
                                                         people to gain insight into how services in Highland
opportunity to give young people a better                operate. In the Year of Young People, it also gives
understanding of the services provided for               the apprentices, young people, the opportunity to
them and how services impact on and consult              raise their voices on what they like about services
with young people.                                       and how they can be improved and connect more
                                                         with young people. I’m sure the day will also inspire
This year 26 young people from across Highland
                                                         young people about their future careers. I am looking
‘shadowed’ 29 representatives from a wide range
                                                         forward to shadowing the HM Prison Governor,
of public sector organisations including; High Life
                                                         Stephen Coyle to find out what happens in a prison
Highland, The Highland Council, NHS Highland,
                                                         and how prisoners are supported.
Police Scotland, Fire and Rescue Service Scotland,
                                                         I hope everyone has a great day!”
the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scottish

 The day is organised by High Life Highland’s Youth Services team.
 Photo L-R: Chief Executive Steve Barron with young apprentices, Rowan Henderson and Rachel Hatfield,
 Convener, Bill Lobban and Leader, Margaret Davidson.

S'no problem for Syd!
                             A former Youth Trainee from Gairloch has been busy
                             behind the wheel of a snow plough keeping routes across
                             Wester Ross open this winter.
                             Syd Tippett (aged 19) joined The Highland Council’s Roads
                             Maintenance Team at the Gairloch depot in June last year as
                             a Youth Trainee. As part of Syd’s development the Council’s
                             Employability team funded him to attend a Cat C driving course
                             (HGV) which has led him to take up a full-time position with the
                             local Roads Team.
                             Staff from the Council’s Employability team, and his Community
                             Services colleagues, have also supported Syd to attend
                             Highlands and Islands fire training so he now also has a role as a
                             retained trainee fire fighter and is on stand-by for call outs within
                             his own community.

                                                                                                                                                 Photo by The Highland Council
                             Syd’s Supervisor Laura MacAllister said:
                              “Syd has become a valuable addition to the staff and the injection
                              of youth has portrayed a need to attract a younger generation
                              into the workforce.”

                             Highland gritter driver to the rescue
                                                                                        Although he was able to contact emergency
                                                                                        services to tell them about the accident he was not
                                                                                        able to give them details of his location.
                                                                                        Luckily for him, gritter driver Derek Reid from
                                                                                        Nairn spotted the car skid tracks and stopped to
                                                                                        investigate. He was able to scramble down the
                                                                                        slope and reach the man who was trapped in his car,
                                                                                        then confirmed the location of the accident to the
                                                                                        emergency services and stayed with him until they
                                                                                        Derek Reid was presented with a Quaich at the
Photo by Ewen Weatherspoon

                                                                                        Environment, Development and Infrastructure
                                                                                        Committee and thanked for his quick actions in
                                                                                        coming to the aid of the motorist.
                                                                                        Chair of the Committee, Councillor Allan
                                                                                        Henderson said:

                             A member of The Highland Council’s winter                   “Derek demonstrated above and beyond public
                                                                                         service when he came to the rescue and we wanted
                             roads maintenance team has been praised for
                                                                                         to thank him for his quick actions.”
                             his quick actions in rescuing a driver whose
                             car had plunged down an embankment and                     A modest Derek said:
                             landed in a stream.                                         “I only did what any of my colleagues would have
                                                                                         done. Coming to the assistance of drivers, especially
                             A motorist from Newcastle was driving along the
                                                                                         in the winter, is something we all do, so I see this
                             B9007 near Ferness, south of Nairn on the
                                                                                         presentation and thanks not just for me but all my
                             28th December in snowy conditions, when his car
                             went off the road and down a steep embankment.
Double success brings new marina at
Corpach closer to fruition
The Highland Council has been awarded a                  The aims of the project are to stimulate regeneration
£1,465,000 Regeneration Capital Grant Fund               within the communities of Caol and Corpach,
                                                         neighbouring Fort William, and the wider Lochaber
grant for a new marina on Loch Linnhe at the
                                                         area, and generate significant economic and social
entrance to the Caledonian Canal at Corpach.             benefits.
The grant is awarded to The Highland Council
                                                         The marina will be owned by the community,
on behalf of the Caol Regeneration Company,              through the Caol Regeneration Company, a
who are developing the Thomas Telford                    registered charity, and will be run as a community
Corpach Marina as a community project.                   enterprise, with other 3rd sector organisations
Thomas Telford Corpach Marina secured the                operating the café/shop/visitor centre and providing
Marine Licences in January for the dredging and          some of the marina services.
construction works necessary to construct the new        Working in partnership with The Highland
marina. The project will deliver a high quality and      Council, Scottish Canals and Highlands and Islands
sustainable all-year round marina facility at the        Enterprise, the project is expected to start on site
Western gateway to the Caledonian Canal, including       this summer and will be complete in the spring of
40 yacht berths; comprehensive marina services           2019.
and facilities such as fuel bunkering, waste disposal,
laundry, toilets and showers; a public slipway; car
parking; and a café/shop/visitor centre.

Times table chromebook craze sweeps schools
Such is the pupil enthusiasm
for using Chromebooks, that
a craze for learning times
tables (with the use of an
App) has swept through the
2 associated primary school
groups of Millburn and
Dingwall Academies.
The craze sweeping the Primary

                                                                                                                           Photo by The Highland Council
4 to 7 pupils is directly improving
the speed that children know
their times tables. And pupils
and teachers are delighted that                              Photo: (Left to right) Digital Leaders (pupils) from Inshes
                                                             Primary Riley MacKintosh, Krisha Aryal and Raigmore
they can monitor their learning                              Primary Anna Watson and Mackenzie Smith with their
progress.                                                    Teachers – give their presentation to The Highland Council.
The Chromebook rollout is leading
                                       made learning fun. Their use of         assess their progress in learning
the way in Scotland and creating
                                       various Apps helped them with           and highlight, with help from their
great leadership opportunities
                                       their classwork; allowed them to        teachers, where they could make
for pupils through the creation of
                                       communicate between schools;            improvements.
digital leaders.
                                       improved their spelling, numeracy       The rollout of around 22,000
Digital Leaders (pupils) from Inshes   and literacy; and saved them time       Chromebooks is on a phased
Primary Riley MacKintosh, Krisha       by not having to “put their hands       basis over 2 years, across the
Aryal and Raigmore Primary Anna        up to ask” and wait for help, when      Council’s 29 associated school
Watson and Mackenzie Smith             assistance from spell checkers          groups. To date, Chromebooks
gave an impressive presentation        and voice typing provides               have been rolled out to Millburn
to councillors at a recent             independent learning support.           and Dingwall Academies ASGs,
committee on their experiences
                                       Pupils and teachers are now able        with the rollout to Portree ASG
of using Chromebooks while
                                       to track their learning attainment,     currently underway. The next
demonstrating their skills of using
                                       and they are improving their            phase of schools starts with
Google Slides.
                                       awareness of e-safety.                  Kinlochleven ASG.
The pupils explained how using         Colour-coded reports help pupils

Sports Leadership Awards
The Highland Council Gaelic Team in partnership with High Life Highland secured funding from
Bòrd na Gàidhlig to deliver a week long Gaelic Medium Residential Sports Leadership Award
course which took place at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic College in Skye.
                                               Daniel Steele Active Schools Co-ordinator for High Life
                                               Highland delivered the week long course though the medium
                                               of Gaelic, which gave the young people a total coaching
                                               immersion experience in Gaelic and supported an ethos of
                                               peer learning.
                                               Fifteen young people in Secondary schools from Mallaig,
                                               Ardnamurchan, Plockton, Portree, Dingwall and Inverness
                                               completed the SCQS Level 4 in Sports Leadership Award
                                               Course in Gaelic.
                                               The Leadership Award initiative is one of the enabling actions
                                               within the Council’s Gaelic Language Plan.
Culloden Academy pupil is 1 in a 1,000
A fourth year pupil at              participating in workshops and           The programme is for girls
Culloden Academy in                 unique STEM-related experiences.         aged 13 -18 years old currently
                                    Tracey Lomas, Depute Head                enrolled in high school who are
Inverness has been selected
                                    Teacher of Culloden Academy said:        enthusiastic about STEM subjects
to be one of only 1,000 girls                                                and links them up with women
worldwide to take part in a          “Well done to Rachael, we are           working in STEM, across all
Global STEM Alliance.                very proud, and absolutely thrilled     disciplines and sectors, who are
                                     that she has been selected onto         willing to act as mentors, coaches,
The “1000 Girls, 1000 Futures”       the 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures
initiative is designed to engage                                             and role models.
                                     programme by the New York
young women interested in            Academy of Sciences.”
science, technology, engineering,
and maths (STEM), and advance       For further information on the 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures programme
their pursuit of STEM careers
                                    visit: www.nyas.org/1000girls
through mentoring and
skills development.
                                               Photo: Culloden Academy S4 pupil Rachael Taylor in her Chemistry class.
Rachael Taylor will
be assigned a female
international mentor
who is dedicated
to supporting her
development in
STEM subjects. She
will be offered the
chance to engage
in online courses
and activities that
develop her leadership,
communication, and
critical thinking skills.
The program also
includes a college-
to encourage mentees
to pursue higher
education. All work is
done through a virtual
platform, facilitating
interaction among
students and mentors
across the globe.
In the summer of 2019,
Rachael will be invited
to go to New York City
for the annual Global
STEM Alliance summit,
                                                                                                                         Photo by The Highland Council

where she’ll have the
chance to network
with STEM experts,
their mentors, and their
peers, in addition to
Thousands turn out to see Town House
                     Around 2,000 visitors passed through the Town
transformation       House doors on Saturday 10th and another 1,200
                     people on Sunday 11 February.                           th

Over three thousand people visited Inverness         For many years the Town House has participated
Town House over a weekend in February to see for     in the annual national Doors Open Days scheme,
themselves the completion of interior works on the   but this was the first time the public had a chance
historic Grade A listed building following recent    to see the Town House in all its glory following an
renovations.                                         extensive £3.9m refurbishment.
                                                     The Town House renovation works carried out by
                                                     Laing Traditional Masonry were on time and £300k
                                                     under budget. The cost for Phase 1 and 2 was
                                                     £3.9m, funded by the Inverness Common Good
                                                     Fund and Historic Environment Scotland.
                                                     Phase 3 of the works will include full stone repairs
                                                     and replacement, mortar re-pointing, guttering and
                                                     window repairs and replacement. This final phase
                                                     will deliver the completion of the Town House at a
                                                     total cost to the Common Good Fund in the region
                                                     of £5.4 million.
                                                     Plans are in place to open the Town House for
                                                     tours during the tourist season, through High Life
                                                          All Town House photos by Walter Geddes Pastime Photography

Funding for new homes
across the Highlands
The Highland Council has             All 61 new homes are expected to       Further projects in
agreed to use City-Region            be completed by the end of 2019.       other areas of the
                                     They include 8 units in Alness,        Highlands are planned and the
Deal funding to part fund new
                                     4 in Aviemore, 25 in Inverness,        Council and our partners are on
mid-market housing projects          6 in Fort William, 8 in Grantown, 4    target to deliver 750 new mid-
throughout the Highlands.            in Newtonmore, and 6 in Ullapool.      market homes over the next 10
The affordable housing               They follow on from the 5              year period.
projects will be developed by        homes already underway in              Six houses suitable for wheelchair
Albyn Housing Society and            Drumnadrochit which are also           users have been completed in
Highland Housing Alliance in         funded by the Highland city-           Inverness. This development on
Ullapool, Fort William, Alness,      region deal. Work on site started      Old Edinburgh Road comprises
Inverness, Aviemore, Grantown,       in November last year with the         4 semi-detached single storey
Drumnadrochit and Newtonmore         5 homes forming the first phase        houses and two bungalows,
and will deliver 61 new affordable   of an overall wider housing            each designed to incorporate
homes for young people to help       development which includes 23          maximum accessibility and cater
retain a young workforce in the      homes for social rent, including       for individual needs. The project
area.                                community care housing), and 4         was commissioned, designed
The new homes will be let at         for low cost home ownership.           and managed in house by The
mid-market rates - approximately                                            Highland Council’s Development
80% of the average rate charged                                             and Infrastructure Service.
by private landlords in the area.                                           O’Brien Properties carried out
Those being developed by                                                    the construction. Tenants have
Albyn Housing Society will be                                               settled into all the homes and are
leased by its subsidiary, Highland                                          finding the excellent facilities are
Residential, which specialises in                                           making a real difference to their
providing mid-market tenancies.                                             lives.

                                                                            for maintenance, insurance, fees
Future bright with income                                                   and charges.
                                                                            The Council is committed to
from solar energy                                                           looking at new ways to generate
                                                                            income, make savings and
The Highland Council is              year for the anticipated 20-year       become more commercial. It is
to progress with plans to            lifespan of the panels. It will also   hoped that this will be the first
                                     reduce the organisation’s annual       of multiple projects to generate
generate over £4 million profit                                             income by from renewable
                                     carbon footprint by an estimated
and significantly reduce its         1,000 tonnes per year.                 energy on the Council estate.
carbon emissions by installing       The self-financing project using       Solar has been selected for
solar panels across its estate.      £2.3 million of capital will install   the first project as it is
                                     2.5 megawatts of solar panels on       most efficient for
Solar Photovoltaics, or Solar PV
                                     sites across the Council estate.       the desired time
for short, is a technology that
                                     The portfolio is estimated to          scales, relatively
converts daylight into electrical
                                     generate net profit of                 straightforward
power. Energy generated will be
                                     £4.01 million over the course of       to deploy,
‘sold’ to power Council buildings
                                     20 years. This is after repayments     reliable, and
in close proximity.
                                     for the £2.3 million investment        market proven.
Net profit can be achieved each      have been made, and accounting
More projects benefit from participatory
budget events
People in communities across the Highlands have been putting their votes to good use in
awarding funding to local groups. Participatory budgeting is a process of allocating funding by
empowering local people to decide how funding should be spent.

Tain and Easter Ross                                    £10,000 awarded in Kyle
projects share £15,000                                  Let's Decide
11,out of the 32 projects bidding, won a share          Kyle Community Council area locals had the chance
of £15,000 community funding in the Tain and            to cast their votes in March 2018 at the first ever
Easter Ross Ward.                                       ‘Kyle Let’s Decide’ participatory budgeting event
Members of the public voted after listening to          held in the Lighthouse Centre, and as a result a wide
the all the applicants who were given a 4 minute        range of community projects are now set to benefit.
slot to talk about their projects and their plans for   Around 60 people took part in deciding which
using the funding.                                      projects should be supported from the £10,000
                                                        funding pot. £4,000 was made available by the
The successful bids voted for by the audience are       Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh Councillors
as follows:                                             from their Ward Discretionary Budget and this was
 • Tain & District Development Trust -                  boosted by £6,000 from the Scottish Government
   Community Market for Tain and District -             Community Choices fund.
   £1,500                                               A total of 5 out of the 9 projects put forward by
                                                        community groups have been successful and will
 • Tain Task Force for floral displays - £1,500
                                                        now receive funding to help them put their ideas
 • Tain Amateur Swimming Club - £1,500                  into action.
                                                        The successful bids were:
 • Tain & District Museum for flyers and signs -
                                                         • Kyle Parent Council - Talking, Learning and
                                                           Leisure Playground Upgrade - £2,000
 • Tain Gala Association for the purchase and
                                                         • Lochalsh Youth Community Trust - Just a Habit?
   renovation of portacabins into toilets -
                                                           Diversionary Youth Work - £1,940
                                                         • Lochalsh Leisure Centre - Family Fun Hour -
 • St Duthus Special School for outdoor
   improvements - £1,500
                                                         • Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band - LJPB Succession
 • Tain and Easter Ross Civic Trust for Tain
                                                           Band - £2,000
   Picture House Regeneration Project - £1,500
                                                         • Kyle Public Hall - A Hall Fit for All Accessibility
 • 1st St Duthus Scout Group for Scout Hall
                                                           Improvements - £2,000
   makeover - £1,500

 • Inver Toddler Group - £1,500

 • Seaboard Memorial Hal for Gopak Go -
                                                                                                                 Photo by The Highland Council


 • Tain and District Youth Café YMCA for
   Holiday Meals project - £1,250

Budget 2018/19
The Revenue Budget for 2018/19 was agreed                The Council will seek to increase advertising income
at Council on 15th February 2018.                        from its assets such as roundabouts and lamppost
                                                         banners. Find out more about how to advertise your
The Administration prioritised education, roads and      business with us at the link below. There is also a
winter maintenance, protecting these areas from          plan to set up a new MOT test centre for Council
savings cuts. Impact assessments were carried out        vehicles and taxis.
for all proposals to ensure savings chosen had the
least possible impact on service users.                  www.highland.gov.uk/advertising
Overall, the budget gap of £15.146 million has
been met by a package of savings which includes          Reducing expenditure
increasing Council Tax income by £3.448 million,
increasing income by £3.059 million, reducing            There will be a continued reduction in management
expenditure by making savings of £5.1 million,           posts across the Council and streamlining of services
and setting a target of £2.250 million to be saved       and administration costs where possible, such as
through Redesign. Read the budget papers at:             out of hours call handling. We have also reduced our
                                                         travel and subsistence costs, training budgets and
www.highland.gov.uk/meetings/                            insurance premiums.
meeting/3934/highland_council                            Ward discretionary budgets have been halved, still
                                                         allowing money for local initiatives and Community
                                                         Council grants have been cut by around 50%.
Council Tax                                              A number of Community Councils have access
Council Tax will increase by 3% in 2018/19 which         to other sources of income and some also have
will mean an increase of £35.93 per annum on a           significant reserves. There will also be a reduction in
Band D property. Find out more about Council             funding to other organisations.
Tax; fact sheets; and help that is available to reduce   The Council has 435 play areas and rationalising
your council tax if you are on a low income on our       the number and maintenance of these will save
website:                                                 over £200,000. There will be opportunities for
www.highland.gov.uk/counciltax                           communities to have an increased role in managing
                                                         Savings will be made to flood risk work and
Increasing income                                        flood alleviation. Any works identified through
To avoid making cuts to some services, the Council       watercourse inspections will need to be funded
agreed to increase income by charging more for           through Area Roads budgets, or if significant,
some services or fees, or charging for things which      through the capital programme.
previously were free, such as parking and garden         Around 50 posts have been deleted to help make
waste charges.                                           the savings, without the need for redundancies.
Fees and Charges for Waste and other Services will       This is around 0.5% of the total staff numbers. Many
increase and a minimum fee of £1 for first period        of these posts are vacant posts which have been
of parking will be introduced at all locations and       deleted and redeployment is possible for others.
there will be an uplift of all Parking Permits Fees
by 5%. Parking charges will be introduced in more
council car parks over the coming year. The Council      Redesign
operates 96 public conveniences and 28 comfort           The Council’s Redesign Programme aims to make
schemes across the Highlands. A charge of 50p will       improvements and find efficiencies by finding
be introduced at a further 10 of these sites and a       different or better ways of doing things. Thousands
widening of the comfort scheme. Details are on our       of pounds have already been saved in redesigning
website.                                                 some services. Find out more about Redesign:

Trading Standards                                         Help is available to
take delivery                                             reduce Council Tax
surcharging to                                            charges
House of Commons                                          Help is available for low income households,
                                                          including home-owners, to apply for help to
Internet delivery surcharging is one of the               reduce their Council Tax. Eligible households
biggest problems facing Highland consumers                can receive up to 100% reduction from
and the Council’s Trading Standards team                  their Council Tax which means that those
receive a number of new complaints every                  households who receive the full reduction
week.                                                     will only have to pay their Scottish Water and
Typical issues are the unfairness of high surcharges,     wastewater charges. Currently around 17,135
false claims like “free mainland delivery” and refusals   households in the Highlands are in receipt of
to deliver to the more remote areas.                      Council Tax Reduction.
Trading Standards’ approach is to combine taking          For a Band D property, 100% reduction is equivalent
action to change the practices of website operators       to £1,233.82 for 2018/19. Households can quickly
with an ongoing campaign in the media and                 check whether they are eligible for these reductions
with policy-makers to improve the situation for           by completing the Council’s innovative ‘Apply Once’
Highlanders.                                              online application form which is available at the
                                                          following link:
The latest development is an investigation by the
House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee and
the Council’s Trading Standards Manager David
MacKenzie gave evidence at a public meeting to put        This form will automatically identify any other
the Highland case.                                        entitlements that are administered by the Council
                                                          based on the individual circumstances of the
                                                          applicant. Applicants supply their details only
                                                          once and the Council will put into payment all
                                                          entitlements that are legitimately payable. There are
                                                          Council Tax Fact Sheets on our website that provide
                                                          more information about Council Tax and the various
                                                          reductions that are available for many people
                                                          including home owners.

                                                          The Welfare Support Team can be contacted
                                                          by phoning: 0800 090 1004 or
                                                          by emailing: welfare.support@highland.gov.uk
Consumers can report unfair delivery issues:
www.highland.gov.uk/info/20000/trading_                   Alternatively, customers can visit our Service Points
                                                          where staff can also provide assistance or local
standards/196/buying_goods_online                         Citizens Advice Bureaux can provide support and
View the evidence session on Parliament TV:               advice regarding benefits, housing and money.
Find the written evidence supplied:

Council commends Internal Auditor
                                Josh Gallimore has been appointed to the post of Assistant Auditor with The Highland Council
                                following his successful completion of final exams to become a Chartered Internal Auditor
                                                                                        (CMIIA) with the Chartered Institute of
                                                                                        Internal Auditors.
                                                                                        Josh was a Trainee Auditor with the Council
                                                                                        prior to this appointment.
                                                                                        Cllr Richard Laird, Chair of the Council’s
                                                                                        Audit and Scrutiny Committee
                                                                                        congratulated Josh while presenting him
                                                                                        with his CMIIA certificate at a meeting of
                                                                                        the Audit and Scrutiny Committee
                                                                                        (on 28th March 2018), he said:
                                                                                        “I have the pleasure of presenting Mr Gallimore
                                                                                        with his certificate; this is excellent news that
Photo by The Highland Council

                                                                                        the Council has been able to support the
                                                                                        professional development of staff enabling
                                                                                        Josh to complete his professional qualifications.
                                                                                        This is a win-win-situation both for Josh and
                                                                                        the Council.”

How did we do?
Measuring our performance
An annual report of Corporate Performance is prepared each autumn for the previous financial
year. This is an assessment of Council performance against the commitments set out in the
Council’s Programme and its performance framework.
You can find the report at:
The period 1st April 2016 to 31st March 2017 shows good progress with 89% of the commitments (64 out of
72) being completed, on target or where performance is being maintained, the same as the previous year.

Community Engagement and Empowerment                                            Participatory budgeting
                                                                                (PB), where communities
                                                                                are involved in allocating
 The Commission on Highland Democracy spoke with communities                    public money, has
 across Highland about how to improve local democracy.                          continued to develop
 The final report published in December 2017 is on our website:                 across Highland. In
 www.highlanddemocracy.wordpress.com                                            2016/17, these events
                                                                                were held in seven
                                                                                areas, 2,496 people
 Community Partnerships have been established in nine communities
                                                                                participated and
 across Highland, developing local plans for children’s and adult
 health and social care services, and for communities facing the                £155,200 was allocated
 greatest disadvantage. The Council is one of five partners leading on          to local groups. You can
 community planning with Police, Fire, NHS Highland and Highlands               read about recent events
 and Islands Enterprise.                                                        on page 18.

A Fairer Highland
 In 2016/17, 15,248 customers
 accessed money and welfare
                                      To support independent living in 2016/17 we developed a “one
 benefits advice, an increase of
                                      stop” delivery model, using the Handyperson Service to deliver
 35.7% from 11,240 customers
                                      Repairs and Adaptations, along with Telecare installations and
 in the previous year. We
                                      maintenance (on the behalf of NHS Highland). This speeds up the
 increased the financial benefit
                                      process, minimising duplication and ensuring that clients get the
 to customers from the advice
                                      benefit of a suite of services from a single Handyperson visit. We
 given by the Council from
                                      are looking to include adaptation stores management within the
 £4.0m in 2015/16 to £4.65m in
                                      service, better integrating the range of services on offer.
 2016/17. The Citizen’s Advice
                                      We received a COSLA Quality Award for this service.
 Bureau (CAB) receives funding
 from the Council to provide
 money advice on our behalf.

 The most recent data for             The Highland LEADER programme was launched in May 2016 with
 Highland tourism shows               EU funding and the first projects were approved in November.
 growth of almost 7% from             There are currently 14 projects with grants committed of £463,694
 2015 to 2016. Other tourism          (total project costs just under £1.1m). Read more about Leader
 data such as “visitor attraction     funded projects on page 4.
 visits” indicates that the
 rate of growth in Highland
 is exceeding the national            The Inverness Castle Viewing
 rate. Two major international        platform was completed and
 events were supported                opened during April 2017
 in 2016/17 – The World               and has had a very successful
 Orienteering Championships           first year with nearly 30,000
 which brought around £9m to          visitors.
 Highland and Moray, and the
 Fort William Mountain Bike
 World Cup which generated
 £2.8m. Our film tourism is also
 growing significantly – see
 page 8.

                                                                                                                  Photo by Ewen Weatherspoon
Digital and Connectivity

                                      The first part of the Wi-Fi project in Inverness was successfully
                                      implemented with the roll-out across Inverness in the summer of
                                      2017. The free service is being expanded to a further 14 towns in
                                      Highland this spring.

 We welcomed the               Our Digital First programme      Supported by Citizens Online, we led
 Scottish Government           provides an increasing           the Digital Highland project between
 commitment to                 range of services online         September 2015 and November 2016.
 ensure that 100%              with 42% of Council services     This focused on digital skills and digital
 of premises across            being available online by        participation across the Highlands,
 Scotland will have            March 2017, ahead of a           giving training to 850 people and
 superfast broadband           target of 40%. We have           thousands of other people were
 (>30MB/s) by the end          successfully moved the           supported informally at drop in events
 of 2021. We continue          majority of our customer         and through partner organisations.
 to work closely with all      contact to on-line via the       The project also recruited 144 digital
 partners to ensure that       website which has delivered      champions across the Highlands,
 this objective is met in      savings and been positively      surpassing the target of 30.
 the Highlands.                received by customers.

Infrastructure                        Extensive engagement by the Council with the Marine Coastguard
                                      Agency secured the retention of a single Emergency Towing Vehicle
                                      (ETV). This will travel throughout the waters of the Highlands and
 We published our Local Flood         Islands in response to assessments of risk arising from the types
 Risk Management Plans in             of vessels and cargoes transiting the waters and also predicted
 June 2016. These prioritise          weather patterns.
 the actions we will take up to
 2022. This plan includes the
 progression of three flood           779 new homes were constructed in            We administer the
 schemes at Caol, Smithton            Highland in 2016/17, out of a total          Scottish Government
 and Culloden, and the River          of 4,308 new homes built between             Home Energy
 Enrick at Drumnadrochit.             2012/13 and 2016/17, less than our           Efficiency Programme
 Scottish Government grant            target of 5,000. We continue to provide      (HEEPS-ABS) in
 funding (at an intervention          a generous supply of viable housing          Highland for home
 rate of 80%), has been secured       land across Highland, identified within      insulation. We receive
 for these.                           the three local development plans.           the relevant funds
                                                                                   as an annual award,
                                                                                   and use this to lever
 During 2016/17 a further                                                          in additional funding
 435 council houses were          An aim of the Inverness Townscape
                                  Heritage Project (2015-2020) is to bring         from the energy
 built, bringing the total                                                         supplier through the
 to 1,028 against a target        vacant floor space back into use. Our team
                                  continue to work with owners to explore          Energy Company
 to achieve 688 by March                                                           Obligations (ECO).
 2017. We are developing,         possible uses for properties on Academy
                                  Street and encourage building repair grant       The programme for
 along with Albyn Housing                                                          2016/17 focused
 Society, NHS Highland,           applications.
                                                                                   on Caithness, Fort
 The Highland Hospice             We have also been successful in securing a       William, Aird & Loch
 and the private sector,          £1.2m grant from the Scottish Government         Ness, Gairloch,
 a pilot project in Alness        for the Midmills Creative Hub.                   Mallaig and
 which will deliver a             A Market Manager has been recruited as           Applecross and a
 cluster of sustainable and       a result of the action plan prepared by the      total of 344 homes
 digitally enabled homes.         Victorian Market Stakeholder Group.              received insulation.

Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal
 Our Winter issue of Highpoints covered
 the completion and opening of the
 Inverness West Link and Canal Parks
 Enhancement Stage 1 which was started
                                                                                                            Photo by Alison Gibert

 in May 2016. This issue of Highpoints
 celebrates the Royal opening of the
 Highland Rugby Club in March 2018.
 Stage 2 will provide the second
 swing bridge across the canal, a new           Due to existing traffic issues, works were undertaken on
 roundabout and relocated tie in to             two of the approaches to Inshes Roundabout to improve
 General Booth Road. This is on target          the flow of traffic, completed in April 2016.
 and due to commence in Spring 2019.            Transport Scotland is currently developing proposals for
 The new 18 hole Torvean Golf Course,           the East Link (A9-A96 link road), with three routes and
 clubhouse and maintenance buildings            options still under consideration.
 are being built in two phases, which
 commenced in August 2016.                      For more information on upcoming projects please visit:
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