Last week for public input as council prepare for cuts of £64 million

Residents throughout the Highlands and Islands have until 14th November to make their feelings known on the public services they want to see shielded from swingeing cuts.

The council are to make £64 million worth of budgetary cuts over the next four years, covering all services across the organisation.

The local authority are currently carrying out an online survey — gauging opinion about what services should be prioritised amid the cuts.

Proposals under scrutiny contain a mix of savings with plans to increase charges in order to bring in extra revenue. Schools seem set to bear a heavy burden — and views are being sought on potential closures and amalgamations. There are plans to reduce the primary school week from 25, to 22.5 hours.

Cuts to music tuition are also on the agenda, as is a plan to teach some secondary subjects on a distance learning basis. Limiting the options available on school meal menus is seen as another potential way of saving cash.

Aside from schools the proposals include reducing winter road gritting services, abolishing weekly bin collections, withdrawing support for some leisure facilities and encouraging volunteer groups to fill the void in grass-cutting.

In order to take money back in the council are considering introducing a tax on B&B and hotel guests, charging extra for burials and cremations and increasing fees for car parking.

The survey is on the Highland Council website at http://www.highland.gov.uk/info/777/consultation/365/budget_consultations