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Highland Council action plan sets out priorities for recovery from coronavirus crisis

By Gregor White

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Councillor Alasdair Christie.
Councillor Alasdair Christie.

Highland Council has approved a recovery action plan including measures to address financial challenges, digital transformation and the reopening of schools.

Covid-19 has significantly impacted on the council’s resources, services and staff, as well as communities and businesses across the Highlands.

It recently reported that it was facing a budget shortfall potentially as high as £97 million through a combination of lost income and increasing demand on essential services.

A BBC investigation has today suggested it is the worst hit of all Scotland's 32 local authorities, and fourth worst off across the UK as a whole.

The council says its approach to recovery locally will be informed and guided by the Scottish Government’s route map which details measures that must be taken to move out of lockdown and the likely changes to restrictions at any given point.

Chairman of the council's recovery board, the council's depute leader, Alasdair Christie, said: "The council has a key role in Highland’s recovery from this crisis and as circumstances change, we will continue to work with partners and communities to support the wider economic recovery.

"It is also important to learn from the many examples of innovation and collaboration that have emerged throughout the response to the Covid-19 crisis.

"This includes developing and harnessing a more agile and flexible workforce and reducing the need to travel through increased digital engagement and enhanced partnership working."

Council convener Bill Lobban thanked everyone involved in the response to the pandemic.

He said: "The response from all staff has been tremendous during this entire period.

"I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of all members, to thank staff and to praise the positive, caring and 'can-do' approach which has been demonstrated throughout."

Related article: Council faces a shortfall of £96.9 million – £411 for every resident

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