Saturday, 23 October 2010

It is all too much admit it...

Hands up how many of us have diligently started to write our response to the numerous documents that comprise the consultation on the Highland-wide Local Development Plan. APTSec has yet to put pen to paper and the clock is ticking.

It seems to me, and forgive me for being personal here, I am suffering from not consultation fatigue but the gradual brain numbing effects of keeping track of the huge volume of the documents arising from the numbers of major planning applications (with all their various assessment), volumes of supplementary guidance and new development plan (again with various assessments and other reports in support).

Just how are we supposed to stand any chance of presenting what may be equally valid cases in planning terms? Weren't the changes in the planning system supposed to make things easier?

Friday, 22 October 2010

Action Packed Highland Council Agenda

A meeting of The Highland Council will take place in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 10.30am.

Full Agenda here

Items include:
  • an update in regard to the current status of the Council’s ICT Transformation Programme.
  • There is circulated Report No. HC-41-10 dated 12 October 2010 by the Chief Executive which provides an assessment of Council performance against the Corporate Plan and the ‘Strengthening the Highlands’ Programme and covers the period from April 2009 to the end of March 2010.
  • There is circulated Report No.HC-42-10 dated 7 October 2010 by the Chief Executive which confirms that the Annual Performance Survey carried out in June/July 2010 was sent to the new Citizens Panel of 2354 people, designed to be representative of the adult population. With 1586 responses (67% response rate), the results can be generalised to the adult population of the Highlands.
  • There is circulated Report No.HC-44-10 dated 18 October 2010 by the Director of Planning and Development which provides commentary on the current economic situation and details progress with the implementation of the Council’s Economic Downturn Action Plan.
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise – Potential Future Governance and Operations HC-45-10 dated 20 October 2010 See also Press Release here
  • University of the Highlands and Islands: Application for University Title There is circulated Joint Report No.HC-46-10 dated 18 October 2010 by the Directors of Planning and Development and Education, Culture and Sport which asks Members to consider a response (attached as Appendix 1 to the report) to a Scottish Government invitation to comment on the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institutes’ (UHIMI) application for University title.
Other items of interest on this agenda are covered by separate posts

Latest on Community Council review

Extract from THC Agenda for Thursday 28 October

There is circulated Report No.HC-49-10 dated 6 October 2010 by the Corporate Manager (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) which is the second of three reports to Members regarding the Community Council Review process and summarises the second consultation exercise which invited views on the Draft Scheme documentation and further comments on Community Council boundaries.

One big happy family; Strong Corporate Governance


There is circulated Report No.
HC-50-10 dated 15 October 2010 by the Assistant Chief Executive which confirms that the Accounts Commission has published a report, prepared by Audit Scotland, entitled “Roles and Working Relationships: Are You Getting it Right?”(External link), which is part of an improvement series for Councillors and Officers. This report provides a summary of the key issues highlighted within the Accounts Commission report and makes recommendations for actions that the Council should take to ensure that it learns from good practice and achieves continuous improvements in maintaining and continuing to develop strong corporate governance

Role Descriptions for Elected Members

A meeting of The Highland Council will take place in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Thursday, 28 October 2010 at 10.30am.

Full Agenda here

Agenda item 23 will discuss the circulated Report No. HC-51-10 dated 14 October 2010 by the Assistant Chief Executive which reviews the Role Descriptions for Elected Members in line with the guidance issued by the Scottish Government.

Members are asked to agree the continuation of the current Role Descriptions as detailed in Appendix 1 to the report.

Members are also asked to agree the additional Role Descriptions as detailed in Appendix 2.


"Members were advised, in March 2009, that the Scottish Government had issued guidance stating that, within a reasonable timescale, each Elected Member should have a role description, have participated in a training needs assessment and received a personal development plan."


To represent the views and interests of your Ward and its individual
constituents and to deal with all enquiries and representations fairly and
without prejudice;

To contribute actively, within the Council’s Strategic Committee structures,
to the formation and scrutiny of the Council’s policies, budgets, strategies
and service delivery; and

To promote the best interests of the Council and the community as they
relate to the improvement of the quality of life of the community and its
citizens in terms of social, economic and environmental wellbeing.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Property Factors (Scotland) Bill - (SP Bill 51)

Property Factors (Scotland) Bill (SP Bill 51)

A Bill to establish a register of property factors and require property factors to be registered; to make provision in relation to the resolution of disputes between homeowners and property factors; and for connected purposes. More hear

Understanding Bills more here

A call for written evidence was issued by the Local Government and Communities Committee for interested parties to submit their views on the Bill. The call for evidence is now closed.

A selection of the comments made in the first session on 08/09/10 include:

"The SFHA welcomes the bill. We are fairly content that, by and large, the services that are provided by housing associations are more than up to the standards that are set out in the bill—particularly in the light of the fact that lately we have been doing a lot of work on the matter."

"Thank you for the opportunity to contribute. The question is an excellent one. In effect, it covered the whole issue. The bill recognises the need for registration, regulation and resolution—which are all good things for the industry, as they are for any industry.

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The bigger picture, so to speak, is that there is a lack of the three Rs in property management. I therefore welcome the opportunity that the bill or some other mechanism will allow to make that happen.

We are confused about some of the drafting of the bill. We understand that it applies to property factors. In our submission to the consultation, we made it clear that Greenbelt is not a property factor; indeed, we have been making that clear for a number of years. We have an interest in the bill, but it does not apply to us. That may sound like a pretentious thing to say, but that is our position. At the end of the day, we support a means or mechanism that would allow the introduction of the three Rs."

"(Property Managers Association Scotland): My short answer is that, yes—the bill as introduced would improve standards in property management for the consumer, which is ultimately what we are trying to achieve. The PMAS supported the proposal that was made before, and supports the current proposal for accreditation. We have worked very hard and been involved with the working party during the past 18 months in support of accreditation. The bill would be another option for raising standards in property management."

"Hanover Housing Association's view broadly echoes that of the SFHA. We provide a factoring service to 1,000 or so retired self-funding owner occupiers in 30 to 31 developments across Scotland. Our practice is to adhere to the "Private Retirement Housing: Code of Practice", which the Minister for Housing and Communities launched last year. I have the document in my hand; I think

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that the committee is familiar with it. We expect the standards in that document to be reflected broadly in the proposed code of conduct under the bill, as well as in the voluntary accreditation core standards, on which the Scottish Government is consulting. The prospect of a statutory code does not therefore present us with any difficulties. We believe that they are standards to which we should be working."

More information can be found here

There were three
other sessions which can be found on the links at this page here,

At its meeting on 15 September 2010, the Committee took evidence from the Office of Fair Trading, Consumer Focus Scotland, Greenbelt Group Action and Stonelaw Court Owners' Association.

At its meeting on 22 September 2010, the Committee took evidence from the Minister for Housing and Communities and Scottish Government officials.

At its meeting on 29 September 2010, the Committee took evidence from Patricia Ferguson MSP and Mike Dailly, Govan Law Centre.

In order to get a balanced view of the proceedings readers are advised to read the reports of the oral evidence sessions in full.

Major Inverness ‘gateway’ scheme

The consortium building a new town east of Inverness is now planning a gateway development beside the A9, overlooking the city.

Read more: