Home   News   Article

Stark impact of coronavirus laid bare in Highland Council video


By Alan Hendry

Get a digital copy of the Northern Times delivered straight to your inbox every week



A video has been created to highlight the impact of the coronavirus crisis on Highland Council and communities across the region.

Council leader Margaret Davidson said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on many individuals, businesses and communities across Highland. There have been tragic losses in so many ways – loss of loved ones, loss of the company and contact of family and friends, loss of income or jobs and loss of a way of life.

“Many people have found themselves vulnerable, perhaps for the first time ever, and in need of financial assistance, advice and even basic necessities such as food.

“Our staff, our partners, the voluntary sector and communities have been providing a tremendous response to some of the immediate challenges, providing support to the most vulnerable. We have all had to adapt to different ways of working and indeed socialising and learning new skills.”

She added: “The pandemic has highlighted our complete reliance on good broadband across the Highlands. Our ICT staff have worked tirelessly to extend our internal network to meet demand. However, it is the inadequate quality of the external infrastructure across the Highlands that is holding back our remoter communities and businesses.

Council leader Margaret Davidson says local authority staff, partners, the voluntary sector and communities 'have been providing a tremendous response'.
Council leader Margaret Davidson says local authority staff, partners, the voluntary sector and communities 'have been providing a tremendous response'.

"This will require to be a key focus, along with UK and Scottish Government, going forward in the new world we find ourselves in.”

Budget leader Alister Mackinnon said: “Covid-19 has impacted significantly on the council. In our response to the needs of our communities, we have had to quickly adapt to provide new services, including the humanitarian assistance centres, the helpline, food projects, hardship and welfare projects, business grants, childcare for key workers and virtual education.

"All of this comes at a cost and there is a continued need for many of these new services to be provided, such as childcare for key workers over the summer period.

“At the same time, our income has been decimated, and in recent years we have had to adapt to a reducing budget by a greater reliance on income. One example alone is that the income fell from £200,000 to just £75 in one month for a single car park. Other examples include loss of planning fees, harbour dues and marine fuel sales.

“We have established a budget recovery group to look at ways to mitigate the financial impact, and we have proved that the council is capable of delivering substantial savings. However, the scale of this challenge is huge and the timescale is short.”

The depute leader and chairman of the recovery board, Councillor Alasdair Christie, said: “It is clear that the impact of Covid-19 will be with us for a very long time. The devastation caused to lives and businesses is still being quantified.

"We have a long journey to embark upon to repair the damage caused and our work on recovery has begun. This will run in parallel to a continued response to ensure that we continue to support Highland folk and local businesses as best we can.

"The council cannot do everything alone and we working with partners, businesses and communities to protect and grow the economy and ensure individuals and families of the Highlands remain safe and protected.”

Click here for more news



Having trouble getting out to pick up your weekly newspaper?

Get a digital copy of the Northern Times delivered straight to your inbox every week and read the full newspaper on your desktop, phone or laptop.

SUBSCRIBE NOW


This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More