Highlands & Islands

Highland Council service points cuts may 'damage communities'

Highland Council has been accused of damaging fragile rural communities through plans to reduce the number of council service points in the region.

It is understood the local authority is looking at closing 23 of its 35 offices.

These include the service points in remote locations like Durness, Acharachle and Gairloch.

It could leave some residents with a round trip of more than 100 miles to talk to someone about council services.

Staff will be briefed on the plans before they are presented to the Highland Council's finance committee next week.

'Vulnerable communities'

The council said a review of its services to customers had shown a fall in demand at service points.

It also said that almost a third of customers wanted to be able to access services online.

A spokesman added: "It would be wrong to go into the detail of the review until our staff have had the chance to be fully briefed.

"A report will be presented to the FHR (Finance, Housing and Resources) committee next week when our members will have a chance to have their say."

The leader of the independent opposition group at the council, Carolyn Wilson, said: "I think members of the independent group are completely shocked at the level of closures that are proposed for the service points.

"It is the most vulnerable small communities that are going to be affected. We are supposed to be strengthening and supporting rural communities and I can't see that this goes any way towards that at all.

"You are going to be looking at people who have to make big trips in order to do transactions with the council."

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