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Caithness News Bulletins February 2005

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Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors will be carrying out a blitz of construction sites across east Scotland and the Highlands & Islands in March as part of a UK-wide initiative to tackle serious work-related ill health.  Healthy Handling 2005 is aimed at clients, designers, planning supervisors and contractors in the construction industry, and is targeting poor work practices that can cause long-term disability and could end careers.  The visits will cover from the Borders, through the Lothians, Fife and the central belt to Dundee, Aberdeen and the Highlands.


NHS Highland is bucking the national trend by reducing the number of people on NHS Waiting Lists. The publication today by the Scottish Executive of National figures on waiting times, showed that numbers on waiting lists had risen to record levels.  Roger Gibbins, Chief Executive of NHS Highland says that it is a question of continuous improvement:  "We are running evening operating sessions in Orthopaedics, Saturday lists in Ophthalmology, and additional Outpatient clinics in a number of specialties to reduce the waiting list. This is now starting to pay off as the numbers of people on the inpatient waiting list in Highland has now fallen over 2004 by almost 6%, from 5420 to 5098 at the end of December 2004. "


Scottish Natural Heritage has awarded a grant of £850,750 to The Highland Council to support the continued employment of their countryside rangers for the next three years.  The rangers make a significant contribution to the delivery of SNH's functions for conserving, for promoting public enjoyment and fostering understanding of the natural heritage as well as playing a key role in encouraging and managing access and recreation. The SNH grant secures the 26 full time and four seasonal posts who provide a ranger service throughout the local authority area. Scottish Natural Heritage is the Scottish Executive's statutory advisor in respect to the conservation, enhancement, enjoyment, understanding and sustainable use of the natural heritage.

Maureen MacMillan MSP Congratulates Community Service Volunteers
1,640 years of full-time 'gap-year' volunteering showcased to Scottish Ministers and MSPs
The impact of full-time volunteers on public services and on the lives of the people they support is being showcased to MSPs and Ministers at the Scottish Parliament today Wednesday 23rd February.  It comes with the publication of a report by CSV, the UK's largest volunteering and training charity, that demonstrates how an army of full time volunteers support homeless young people, young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties, and people with learning and physical disabilities.  1,500 young Scots have volunteered the equivalent of 1,640 years of their time on placements all over the UK over the last ten years. This year alone, full-time volunteers on CSV placements in Scotland will contribute the equivalent of 16 years of their time.

Despite bad weather causing a few transport difficulties, an exceptionally good turn-out was experienced for the clubs annual childrens tournament on Saturday 19th February 2005. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were awarded in a total number of 14 events. Senior members and Instructors also gave various demonstrations throughout the course of the day.

The annual cost to The Highland Council of imposing a ban on smoking in public places from the spring of 2006 is likely to exceed £200,000, members of Resources Committee were told. The main spending will be on the appointment of four environmental health officers, two covering the North and two covering the South, to ~police~ the areas 1,500 public houses, restaurants and hotels and also deal with complaints and queries from all types of premises. The environmental health officers will take the lead role in serving fixed penalty notices to individuals whom they find smoking in enclosed public places.  The cost of engaging four officers is estimated at £184,000 per year.

Big hearted pupils at Highland schools have been praised for their magnificent efforts in raising £58,000 for the Tsunami Earthquake Appeal.  A total of 163 schools have contacted The Highland Council to advise of their fund raising exploits on Big Heart Day Highland on Wednesday 9 February, and some more have still to get in touch.  A final total will be announced at the next Education Culture and Sport Committee on 17 March.  Bruce Robertson, Director of Education Culture and Sport, has written to head teachers to thank them for the great success of Big Heart Day Highland, when pupils were invited to donate £1 to the appeal.

Jacobite Quest
An event aimed at people who enjoy local history and the great outdoors has been organised in Fort Augustus area, taking place on Saturday 12th March starting at 12.30pm  Following a Jacobite theme, participants will go on a quest to make or gather supplies for the fleeing Prince Charles Edward Stewart. If they are successful and avoid capture by the Red Coats they will be rewarded by becoming custodians of certain parts of the Highland culture.  A joint collaboration between The Highland Council's Planning and Development Service Rangers, Forestry Commission Scotland, and Cill Chuimein Heritage Scociety, the event has been funded by the Partnership for Rural Inverness and Nairn (PRIN).

A package of improvements worth almost £1million is about to get underway which will bring huge environmental benefits to the communities of Papigoe, Broadhaven and Bower and people living in the Scalesburn and Victoria Place areas of Wick.  Approximately £212,000 is being invested in a new septic tank and reed bed at Thura Place in Bower.  At Papigoe and Broadhaven a project worth around £402,000 will see improved sewage treatment for the two villages.  And in Wick new screening is to be installed to help the storm overflows in Victoria Place and Scalesburn cope better during adverse weather. The work is worth approximately £295,000.

Mount Pleasant School, Thurso Raises £524
For Tsanami Appeal
Mount Pleasant school staff and pupils in Thurso after their fundraising efforts for Highland Council's Big Heart Day to raise funds for the Tsunami Appeal. They had a variety of activities ranging from a Burns lunch for staff to a mini fair for the children. In total we raised £524.88.

A major recruitment drive was launched in the Highlands this week for foster carers for young people.  The Highland Council's Fostering and Adoption Service is seeking people who have room in their lives as well as in their homes who could consider becoming foster carers and changing the lives of young people.  The Council's fostering campaign is appealing to a widespread audience in local adverts on TV, radio and newspapers. Although the campaign focuses upon fostering young people aged 13 and over, the Council would also like to hear from those interested in helping younger children and sibling groups.

This week Highland Council's Education, Culture and Sport Service receives delivery of the first of four new mobile libraries that will soon be serving the communities of Nairn, Lochcarron, Invergordon and Caithness areas.  These specially commissioned mobiles have been designed largely by Highland Libraries' knowledgeable and experienced mobile library drivers and were built by Nu-track of Northern Ireland, on Mercedes chassis.  The purpose-built vehicles will replace existing mobiles that have serviced the communities of Nairn, Lochcarron, Invergordon and Caithness for over ten years covering many hundreds of thousands of miles. During this period, the retiring vans will have issued approximately 1.6million items and served nearly 2,000 people on a regular basis each year.

For the first time people living in Caithness will have a real opportunity to benefit the environment by recycling significant amounts of waste with the opening of two new recycling centres in Wick and Thurso which will create 6 new jobs.  Work has already begun on the Wick site which is situated next to the existing refuse depot on the Airport Industrial Estate.  J Gunn and Sons from Lybster are the contractors for the work which should be completed by the beginning of April. The Thurso site, for which planning permission is currently being sought, is scheduled to open in the summer.

Boiling A Frog
7:84 Theatre's latest production.  Nearest venue to Caithness is Inverness but this popular theatre group with many targeted political plays under its belt may be of interest as it tours Scotland.  They included North Action Group in their last play "Private Agenda".  Here they get to grips with the real "Holyrood" parliament.

4th Wick Guides Raise Funds For The Tsunami Appeal
4th Wick guides recently held a sale to raise funds for the DEC Tsunami Appeal.  The guides are seen here with their cheque for £272 at their weekly meeting in the Parish church hall in wick.


Council House Sales In Scotland Pass 100,000
But Mary Scanlon MSP Questions why It Takes More than Six months To Process Many applications

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