Members of The Highland Council’s People Committee have approved the Council’s Local Housing Strategy for 2017 – 2022.

The strategy indicates that over 6,000 new houses (of which 2,500 will be social rented houses) will be needed over the next 5 years. Forty-five percent of these new homes will be required as a high priority in Inverness and the surrounding area.

Other communities that have also been identified in the strategy as a high priority for housing development include Portree, Broadford, Plockton and Dornie.

Chair of the Council’s People Committee Cllr Alasdair Christie said: “I welcome this strategy which will help to deliver the Council’s Programme priorities to provide homes across the Highlands so that both young and old have a secure roof over their heads; that the Council and its partners will aim to build 500 new affordable homes every year for the next 5 years; and improve the quality and condition of the housing stock and minimise fuel poverty.”

Kate Forbes MSP will today (Wednesday 6 December) urge her constituents to name and shame delivery firms who add on astronomical costs for sending parcels and packages to the Highlands.

In a speech in the Scottish Parliament chamber, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch will tell her parliamentary colleagues that safeguards should be introduced to stop Highlands and Islands consumers being ripped off by delivery firms.

The debate is being led by Richard Lochhead MSP, who is heading up the campaign for fairer delivery charges across remote and rural parts of Scotland.

In tomorrow's debate Kate Forbes MSP is expected to say: "Some online retailers charge more or refuse delivery because they classify the Highlands and Islands as 'overseas'.

"I go home to Dingwall from Edinburgh every week and I've never needed a passport. I've never needed a boat either.

The recent spate of bank closures across rural areas was raised in the Scottish Parliament chamber today (5 December) by Kate Forbes MSP.

In a Topical Question, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch highlighted the impact this will have on communities across Scotland and also asked the Scottish Government to raise the matter with the UK Government.

The prospect of RBS closures in Aviemore, Beauly, Kyle and Mallaig come less than a year after the Bank of Scotland shut its premises in Beauly, Broadford, Fortrose and Kingussie.

Speaking afterwards, Kate Forbes MSP said: “In light of the news that Royal Bank of Scotland intends to close 62 branches across Scotland, I thought it was vital that constituents’ concerns were raised in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament.

Local author, Liz MacRae Shaw, signed copies of her latest work in Inverness.

The writer gave a reading from her new historical novel, "No Safe Anchorage", at a meeting of the Highland Literary Society at the Sunset Café.

Liz also signed copies of her book at Waterstones on 29 November.

The very first Health Walk was held in Staffin late last month.

Five local residents gave up half an hour one afternoon to get out in the cold air and socialise with each other.

They took a route from Columba 1400 to An Coille Beag and back.  Most then attended the Senior Citizens Lunch there.

The next of these walks will also start from Columba 1400 on Wednesday 13 December.  Anyone attending should get there for 11:45am.

This is part of an initiative for regular groups to spring up in communities that is backed by Step It Up Highland, Paths for All and NHS Highland.  Walks are open to all at will not exceed 30 minutes.  Suitable footwear and clothing advised.  Call 01470 562 464 and ask for Angus to register an interest.  

A Buckinghamshire-based car hire company has agreed to abolish a "ridiculous" ferries levy for customers using their vehicles to visit rural parts of Scotland, following pressure from Kate Forbes MSP.

Green Motion UK had been adding an extra surcharge of £125 – plus £20 for every day of the entire hire – when their cars travel on a ferry.

This meant that anyone using the Mallaig to Armadale, Corran Ferry, Cromarty to Nigg, the Small Isles and Skye to the Outer Hebrides crossings would all have incurred a minimum £145 fee – with a total additional surcharge of £405 if the hire was for a fortnight.

But Green Motion UK have now agreed to ditch the unpopular policy, following extensive pressure from Kate Forbes MSP.

The fees came to light after a Badenoch B&B owner (who asked not to be named) contacted Ms Forbes on behalf of two Swiss tourists, Maik Christen and Therese Rellstab, who cancelled a trip to the Outer Hebrides because of the astronomical extra costs in excess of £400.

Kate Forbes MSP has accused high street banks of deserting the Highlands after the Royal Bank of Scotland were the latest to announce a series of closures across the region.

Branches in Aviemore, Beauly, Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig will all shut by the summer – leaving some constituents more than 40 miles away from their nearest RBS.

Although in all cases there are alternative arrangements with the local Post Office as well as a visiting mobile bank, Kate Forbes MSP said she was deeply concerned what the closures will mean for rural communities across Scotland.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said: “RBS is just the latest bank to abandon the Highlands and forget the locally communities who depend on their services. These banks are deserting the Highlands.

“How are elderly and vulnerable customers supposed to access banking services, when they are expected to drive an hour from Mallaig to Fort William, or from Kyle to Portree? That is, of course, if the bus service is working perfectly.

NHS Highland board has approved a business case to modernise services in Skye and Lochalsh.

The board plans to invest in modernising and delivering more sustainable care and services for the communities, including investment in new or refurbished community hospital ‘hub’ at Broadford.

For Skye Lochalsh and South West Ross, prior to submission of the Full Business Case, more work is required to determine what services may be required following the closure of The Haven, a private care home, and what that might look like (care at home, housing solutions and care home places).

This is something that will be discussed with the relevant communities and other providers. Funding implications for a transport solution for both projects, meanwhile, will also be clarified at the Full Business Case stage.

At the NHS Highland board meeting at Assynt House, Inverness, on Tuesday 28 November 2017, the board was told that the ‘foundations’ of the redesigns were based on investing in staff, services and infrastructure to help more people to be independent at home or as close to home as possible while disinvesting in old buildings and outdated models of care.

Broadford Youth Club made it to the finals in sportscotland's Thanks To The National Lottery competition.

In October, a group of young footballers made a 20 second video on how the new sports pitch in Broadford has affected their lives and communities.  The video can be seen here.

If the Youth Club win, they receive £2000 to go towards football and sporting activities.  

To vote, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with "6 Broadford Youth Club."  Voting closes at midday on Friday 1 December.  People can vote as many times as they wish.

Preliminary designs for Broadford's new hospital hub will be displayed in December.

The drop-in event will have technical representatives from the design team available to explain the initial design ideas for the new healthcare facility.  

The event is part of the planning process for the new hospital.

NHS Highland submitted a pre-planning application in July 2017. If the process progresses as planned, work should start on the new hospital in 2019 with completion by the end of 2020.

The facility is to be sited on land adjacent to Dr MacKinnon Memorial Hospital.