Councillor Margaret Davidson has been Leader of the Highland Council since 2015 and was first elected to the Council in 1995. She represents the Aird and Loch Ness Ward which borders the city of Inverness. She has served as Chair of the Housing and Social Work Committee and Chair of the Children Committee. She is a member of the Convention of the Highlands and Islands and member of the Scottish Cities Alliance. Her particualr interests are housing, social care, supporting small business and digital inclusion. She is a partner in Abriachan Nurseries and has worked in horticulture and industry since leaving university. She has also lived overseas for many years in New Zealand and the Falkland Islands.
The Highland Council covers the largest land mass of any local authority in the UK with an area of 26,659km2 and a population of 234,000. The Council includes the growing and dynamic city of Inverness with its population of 63,000 and many sparsely populated rural areas.
A focus on inclusive economic growth was the central reason for the development of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal, a joint agreement between both the UK and Scottish Government’s and local partners to deliver a £315m programme of investment over the next 10 years. This is an important delivery mechanism for the Region’s economic vision and it is estimated the City-Region Deal will leverage £800m in private sector investment over the life of the deal.
The Highlands has seen significant population growth over the last 30 years. It has benefited from the creation of the University of the Highlands and Islands together with major investments in digital infrastructure and transport. However, it also faces challenges, particularly the emigration of young people due to a lack of Higher Education and employment opportunities. The investment within the City-Region Deal will create new well-paid jobs in the private sector, encourage young people to remain within the region and attract young people to immigrate. The measures in the Deal will boost the region’s growing sectors such as tourism and life sciences and build 1,600 affordable homes.
The Deal will also promote innovation, internationalisation and new partnerships between the Region’s many small businesses. Finally, the Deal will improve connectivity through investments in transport and helping to realise The Highland Council’s ambition to be the best digitally connected rural region in Europe.