The local authority serves the largest geographical area in Scotland (over 30%) and has just under £2bn of assets on its balance sheet comprising, amongst other things, 203 operational schools, over 6,700km of roads and over 2,000 properties.
Given the continuing squeeze on the capital and revenue funding it receives from the Scottish Government, 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.
Earlier this week the council revealed 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.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, leader of the Highland Council, said: “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.
“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.
“All these projects are vital to the economy of the Highlands. Of course we all want to do more. We have to watch every opportunity and work with everyone to get all the support that we can. We also need to listen to our communities to hear what ideas they have and to work with us to direct their support to our campaign for better funding for our roads and our schools. We have a hard task ahead and we need to work together.”
Budget leader of the Highland Council, Councillor Alister MacKinnon, said: “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.”