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North counties committee to focus on economy

By SPP Reporter

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Councillor Deirdre Mackay
Councillor Deirdre Mackay

THE newly formed Caithness and Sutherland area committee is scheduled to hold its second meeting, in Wick, on Monday.

The committee, which meets quarterly, was established earlier this year to address mounting concerns over the centralisation of local authority affairs.

It was felt that decisions affecting outlying Highland council areas such as Caithness and Sutherland were being made in Inverness rather than in the area itself.

The situation came about as a result of local government reorganisation in 2007, which saw the demise of area committees.

The inaugural meeting of the new area committee took place at Drummuie, Golspie, on August 20th, when East Sutherland and Edderton ward councillor Deirdre Mackay was appointed as its “leader”.

Monday’s meeting opens with a presentation from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) on the work being done to promote energy, broadband, regeneration and tourism in the area.

Councillors will then be given an update on the North Highland Onshore Vision – the council’s growth strategy for the marine renewables sector.

Councillor Mackay said: “The agenda is a full one, stretching across the breadth of services, and reflects some of the raft of new powers decentralised from Inverness to the two north counties.

“The economy is our priority and this is reflected in the business of the day.”

Also under discussion will be an important performance and monitoring report on Golspie High School and its feeder primary schools.

Councillor Mackay added: “This report provides us with very detailed information on the performance of our local schools and will be of great interest to the community.

“I am pleased that Golspie Associated School Group (ASG) is the first group to come before the committee, as the high school is such a good example of a school which has positively addressed a range of challenges.

“In addition to academic information the report covers sport, citizenship and employability factors.

“The area committee will consider one ASG at each meeting. I am pleased with the level of information contained in the report as it gives councillors the opportunity to really drill down and scrutinise performance and development.”

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