Highlands & Islands

Highland Council set for 'complete redesign'

Ullapool in Wester Ross Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Highland Council covers a large geographic area which includes Wester Ross

Councillors have unanimously agreed to begin a process to change the structure of Highland Council and how it delivers services.

The local authority has said a "complete redesign" was needed to help it better cope with cuts to its budget and its workforce.

Highland Council oversees an area of 10,225 sq miles (26,484 sq km) - which represents 11.4% of Great Britain.

It covers large geographic areas such as Caithness, Wester Ross and Skye.

Councillors have been debating whether the make up of the authority was best suited to delivering local democracy, and providing services at a time of massive cost savings.

Officers have recommended that the process towards changing the council's structure be inclusive and closely involve trade unions and the wider public.

"Citizens juries" could be set up across the region and used as "sounding boards" for controversial proposals, the officials have suggested.

An outline timescale for the re-design would see councillors agreeing to proposals by the end of this year and changes taking effect early next year.

Last month, Highland Council set its latest budget after councillors agreed to a package of savings.

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