Thursday, March 06, 2014

Council service point closures in the Highlands - Glenurquhart Road Administration and Opposition state their case directly to Community Councils

Cllr Drew Hendry of the Highland Council Administration and his Opposition opposite number Carolyn Wilson are communicating directly to the area's Community Councils over the thorny subject of Service Point Closures. E-mails went out directly from both councillours this afternoon Gurnites will recall that Nairn service point is safe but Ardersier was set to lose theirs. Click the read more tab to see what both Drew and Carolyn have to say to the many Community Councils that serve the Highlands.

Drew Hendry
"Please see below a news release that we will be issuing later today, setting out a change of approach to the Customer Services Review.

Thank you to all Councils which contacted us with comments, this has helped shape our forward thinking. 

Drew Hendry
Leader, The Highland Council
Thursday 6 March 2014 

Council to adopt new approach to Customer Services review

The Highland Council is responding to concerns raised by customers and community groups regarding proposed changes to Service Points by clarifying its approach to its Customer Service Review.  At its meeting on Thursday 13 March, Council Leader Drew Hendry will propose that over the next 15 months the Council gives communities a direct input into the process through a rolling consultation. A cross-party working group will be established to consider the future of each Service Point on a location-by-location basis. 

Councillor Drew Hendry, Council Leader, said: “We have spoken with community councils and local groups and it is clear that the benefits of the changes could have been communicated better. I believe the review will not only achieve its savings target but will create a more sustainable network and a better service for customers. 

“There are concerns that communities have not been able to feed into the process and have not been given the chance to see how the changes will work out. They need to have confidence that the 21st century solution we are proposing is suitable and effective for their communities. We are listening and will provide a mechanism built into the review to ensure local involvement.” 

Councillor Dave Fallows, Chairman of the Finance, Housing & Resources Committee, added: “The Customer Service Review is intended to create services which are fit for purpose and we recognise that some communities haven’t felt included. It is essential that, where communities have concerns, they are able to work with the Council to overcome those concerns. The mechanism we are proposing for the review will make that happen.” 

The Council has also reiterated its three pledges: 

that there will be no compulsory redundancies;
that there will be no change to local services until the alternative provision is in place; and
that every resident who wants or needs a face-to-face appointment will have one.


Carolyn Wilson
"To all Community Councils:-  An update on the Service Point Closures 

I understand a Press Release has been issued to Service Point staff.  The information is not clear and is contradictory, but we think it does not change any of the initial decisions about Service Point closures nor the negative effect and uncertainty about services and the future of our staff.

The decision of the previous FHR Committee still stands and we understand that the Administration will be submitting an Amendment to the Highland Council Meeting on 13th March, which we will not be entitled to see prior to the meeting.

We do not wish this latest step to be merely a fudge, or be a subject of political spin when so much is at stake for our communities.  We are looking for the Administration to change the closures decision, and be absolutely clear about what they intend to do on this issue.

We are talking about £80k per annum to save the Service Points.  It will cost far more to administer a face to face facility via the proposed outreach service. 

Carolyn Wilson
Leader, Independent Group
Highland Council"


Someone's got a red face? said...

Perhaps they should have 'consulted' first rather than ending up in a pretty embarrassing position!

Anonymous said...

It's easy to be critical of council cuts, after all in most cases they're removing what was a useful service or it wouldn't have been there in the first place

My council tax bill arrived this week, the amount still seems eye wateringly huge but at least in hasn't gone up in years; I for one am grateful for that but I know I have to accept the council cuts as they come along, and it's not just through the freeze on the council tax. Money we get from Westminster is drying up.
I'll be voting Yes in September. I know an independent Scotland won't be able to wave a magic financial wand but I live in hope that it will be a better place, and if not at least we tried