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Local authority to hold special meeting to discuss way forward once lockdown is over

By Philip Murray

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The local authority has been continuing to discharge its various responsibilities through strategic committee chairs during the lockdown.

Highland Council news.
Highland Council news.

But it has also been using video conferencing technology to keep in touch and will hold a special remote meeting in June to discuss the urgent measures taken during the emergency.

The meeting will also focus on Highland Council's "recovery", understanding the impact of the pandemic, and "planning for the future" as and when the lockdown eventually eases.

The announcement comes in the same week that council leaders warned of an £80 million black hole in the local authority's finances, caused by the lockdown, plummeting business revenues, planning applications and other sources of funding.

Council convener Bill Lobban who will chair the full council meeting on Thursday, June 25, said: “It is important that even at a time of crisis such as we are currently experiencing that our elected members have the opportunity to meet, to be informed and to influence our future direction.”

In terms of planning, the council’s current scheme of delegation has been suspended on a temporary basis during the duration of the current outbreak.

These revisions were agreed by the Scottish Government for the determination of planning applications, and are currently being reviewed with a view to holding north and south planning application committee meetings "as quickly as circumstances will allow". It will probably be a virtual meeting. The council’s planning review body will also be meeting, using video conferencing technology, on May 5.

In other news, the council said its staff had been "working hard, often in roles different to their normal jobs, to ensure a proactive, well organised and co-ordinated approach is taken" in response to the lockdown.

It added that all council business has been carried out in line with physical distancing guidelines, including officer meetings. Meetings have used telephone and video conferencing to prevent the need for travel.

A council spokesman added: "All of the council’s strategic committee chairs and vice chairs are meeting regularly with their respective executive chief officers to consider ongoing service issues, local requirements and changes in national policy.

"If the strategic chair and vice chair believe it necessary special meetings will be called to consider urgent business requiring member decision. The council’s calendar of meetings will be adjusted accordingly."

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