Discover more from Paul Oldham’s Newsletter
Year 2, Week 18
Capital programme, road closures, Local Place Plan, new chief executive ...
We are agreeing the Capital Programme at full council this Thursday. This is the council’s plan for what it’s going to buy - so everything from new schools to road sweeping machines - over the next five years. Agreement on this has been long delayed because the Scottish Government has not confirmed the third round of LEIP funding, on which the building of five new schools in Highland depended but we need to make decisions so we can move forward.
You can find details in the paper. Appendices A and B detail what we’re agreeing but it’s Appendix D, which lays out the changes, which is the most depressing.
Nairnshire gets off relatively lightly. Most importantly Nairn Academy is still in there although the expected cost has risen from £37,920,000 to £54,771,000 and that despite the saving made in the revised design which was on display last week. Construction inflation really is completely out of hand at the moment, especially in the Highlands.
The bad news for the ward is that the proposal is to axe funding for all new flood prevention schemes which will save a total of £4.5M … and that includes £377,000 which was allocated to the River Nairn & Auldearn Burn flood prevention scheme.
I will of course make the case to retain this but when I look at what other wards are being asked to accept it’s going to be difficult. Culloden Academy for example needs £10M of work over the next five years … it’s getting funding for £3.5M. Similarly Charleston Academy in Inverness needs £14.5M, it’s getting £1.5M. Inshes roundabout in Inverness (a nightmare of a junction) was budgeted for a £5M rework, that’s been dropped completely. Most of the new primary schools promised in LEIP 3 have been put on the back burner. It goes on and on.
These are difficult decisions which the council is taking, but you only have to look to England and the financial crisis some of their councils have got into recently, to see that we must live within our means and that’s increasingly difficult with the rise in inflation and interest rates.
Road closure: Leopold Street
Leopold Street will be closed overnight from 8pm to 5am each night from Monday, 18th September to the morning of Saturday, 23rd September while BT dig up the road. Hopefully this won’t inconvenience you too much as there are obvious local diversion routes.
Road closure: B9090, Cawdor Road
The more serious closure is on the B9090 Cawdor Road. This will be closed for eight weeks from this Monday, 11th September until Friday, 3rd November and the closure is from the Howford Bridge south for about a kilometre as shown on the map below.
Light traffic will be diverted via the parallel road to the east. HGVs will be diverted via the A939.
This route is used by timber lorries and the closure is being imposed to allow essential road improvement works as part of the Strategic Timber Transport Scheme and will include tree cutting, road widening and resurfacing.
I’ve had complaints in the past from residents about near misses on this road with those timber lorries. Hopefully this work will alleviate that but it is a surprisingly long closure and my apologies for the late notice on this one but I was only told about it on Wednesday.
Local Place Plan
Some good news this week with £27,000 being awarded towards the costs of preparing the Plan from Community Regeneration Funding at the recommendation of your ward councillors. We also recommended two other local projects get funded but I’ve yet to hear from them whether they were successful.
New Chief Executive
The council’s new chief executive, Derek Brown, started work on Monday. He was previously deputy chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council. I did meet him during the interview process but I only saw him very briefly this week as he came out of a meeting and didn’t have a chance to say hello.