A capital programme of £482 million has just been agreed by the Highland Council for the next five years. The council also revealed that it is seeking to review new build techniques and introduce greater scrutiny of spending as the local authority struggles to meet the demands for capital investment in the region’s schools.
The local authority serves the largest geographical area in Scotland (over 30%) and has just under £2 billion of assets on its balance sheet consisting of 203 operational schools, over 6,700km of roads and over 2,000 properties. The Council said its current capital programme, a ten year programme covering the period from 2015/16 to 2024/25 approved in December 2015, is no longer affordable and requires to be reduced.
“This programme delivers significant investment in a range of key projects across the Highlands. We are investing in schools, roads, bridges, harbours and flood prevention schemes that will benefit our communities over the coming years,” said Councillor Margaret Davidson, leader of the Highland Council. “We recognise the need to invest in our infrastructure and we want to do more. Our capital programme has been significantly reduced due to the financial constraints imposed on us by the Scottish Government, but we intend to campaign hard for more capital funding for the Highlands and I am today calling on all our councillors, MSPs and MPs to publicly support us.”
Budget leader of the Highland Council, Councillor Alister MacKinnon also commented on the announcement: “It was good to see the consensus across the chamber today. We all want the best for our communities. We intend to push hard for more capital funding for our schools and infrastructure and we will ensure that we deliver the very best value for what we spend. We are determined to ensure that the Highlands has the investment it needs and deserves and that we are not disadvantaged by our geography.”