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Caithness News Bulletins February 2005

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COUNCIL SEEKS EXECUTIVE ASSISTANCE IN MEETING STORM DAMAGE BILL
Report To Highland Council Resources Committee On 16 February 2005 -
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Highland Councillors are eager to lobby the Scottish Executive for help with the 5 million cost of repairing damage caused to Council property during the storms of 11/12 January, this year and to urge the Executive to devise a mechanism for assistance with future incidence of severe weather. Members of the Resources Committee were advised on Wednesday 16 February 2005 that the Council would not be able to take advantage of the Bellwin Discretionary Grant Scheme, which dates from 1983.

The Council has estimated it has spent 930,000 as an immediate response to the storm damage, leaving more than 4.1 mlllion worth of repairs to be carried out on a priority basis between now and April, next year. The threshold for triggering the Bellwin Scheme is 520,000, but Council finance officials report that of the 930,000 costs, only 263,000 can be considered as eligible spending under the terms of the scheme.

Councillor John Matheson, Chairman of the Resources Committee, said: "The terms for qualifying for assistance under the Bellwin Scheme are restrictive, which means we must talk with the Executive and establish if there is any other way they can help to cushion the impact on our budget."

Convener Councillor Alison Magee suggested that the Council liaise with council counterparts in the Western Isles and Orkney to present a united case to the Executive for assistance in responding to the most recent storm damage. The issue has been selected for debate in the Scottish Parliament at the end of business on Wednesday 23 February and the Council will be briefing local MSPs on the key issues.

Damage in Highland to roads is estimated at 2.7 million; major harbours, 690,000; property, 300,000; quarries, 250,000; landfill sites, 237,000; housing, 150,000; piers and jetties, 78,000; coast defences, 76,000 and car parks, 67,000.