Sign update

global sign

Back in May 2012, one of my first official engagements as a new councillor was to attend the unveiling of one of the “Global Centre of Excellence in Subsea Engineering” Welcome to Westhill signs.

Confirming the Aberdeenshire town’s subsea status, it was quoted that “Aberdeen City and Shire is home to almost 40% of the UK’s subsea industry which generates £6billion per annum and supports 50,000 jobs.

The oil and gas industry has certainly put Westhill on the map. At that time I quoted “Great news for Westhill and I hope that Subsea UK along with other local companies will get involved in the community aspect of the town and be interested to hear what local facilities and groups have to offer.”

Since the signs were unveiled, following complaints from nearby residents, I have been asking Aberdeenshire Council to look at moving the Hilltop sign to a more appropriate place instead of encroaching on residential space. I believe a more appropriate site has been identified but it is taking longer than expected to finalise due to the land not being in the ownership of the council. I am advised that the sign will be removed from the Hilltop location by the end  of March 2014.

This week’s diary ……

My council work this coming week includes Social Work & Housing Committee, Bus Forum, media training as well as a couple of local meetings. And there’s also a rather large document to read on our Licencing Board policy review response from Public Health. Should make interesting reading on how our policies on alcohol affects health.

That just leaves my case work to be seen to in between. Have a good week!

Do you have a question or a suggestion to put to Aberdeenshire Council?

Aberdeenshire logo

Aberdeenshire Council is committed to building an ongoing dialogue with local communities and businesses. This will be developed through organising local community engagement events within areas on a regular basis.

This next round of community engagement events will be looking at Aberdeenshire as an area and building pride in the places we live and work..

The events and venues for the 2013 events are listed below – all start at 7pm, unless otherwise stated:

  • Tuesday August 27, Inverurie Academy, Inverurie
  • Wednesday September 11, Scottish Maritime Academy, Peterhead
  • Tuesday October 1, The Dining Hall, Aboyne Community Centre, Aboyne
  • Wednesday November 13, Turriff Academy, Turriff

Please follow our social media channels to keep up to date with future events planned.

Our twitter account is @aberdeenshire and our Facebook account is Aberdeenshire

If you are unable to attend any of the events but would like to put forward a question or a suggestion please contact Lynne Gravener by email: or by phone 01224665424 at least three days before your local event.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s event at Inverurie – hope to see you there!

Council commits to Living Wage supplement

Aberdeenshire Council has pledged to introduce the Living Wage supplement, supporting its lowest paid workers across the authority.

At the meeting of Policy & Resources Committee held yesterday (Thursday 15th November 2012) a recommendation was put forward by the Leader of the Council Cllr Jim Gifford to make a commitment in principle to introduce the Living Wage supplement.

It was agreed that proposals should be presented to committee at the earliest opportunity exploring the full implications and options for introducing the Living Wage supplement in the context of on-going national and local negotiations.

Cllr Jim Gifford said: “We recognise that a large proportion of our workforce are in low paid jobs due to the nature of the services that the council offers. We value our workforce and need to take action to support our lowest paid staff through these difficult financial times.

“I hope that this commitment by the council will make a significant difference to the lives of our lowest paid staff and their families.”

The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually. It is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK and is higher than the statutory minimum wage that all employers must pay.

Full council, Fairtrade and funding

Full council met last week to discuss a range of issues.

Provost Jill Webster opened the meeting by reflecting on some of the successes celebrated by the council this year. This included the council being named as Scottish Transport Authority of the Year for the third time and a Lifetime Contribution award to the council’s former director of infrastructure services, Iain Gabriel, in recognition of 38 years of public service. Good wishes were offered to all Aberdeenshire Olympic hopefuls, in particular Garioch swimmer Hannah Miley as she competes in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Aberdeenshire is also looking forward to welcoming the Olympic team from Camaroon ahead of the games, with the first warm-up match against Northern Ireland Women’s team in Turriff on July 8th.

Formal business included a discussion about the use of Fairtrade products in Aberdeenshire Council. Aberdeenshire Council already supports Fairtrade and it was agreed to include a selection of ethical products including Fairtrade in all council offices.

Head of Finance Alan Wood presented the council’s financial results for the year to 31st March 2012. He advised that the unaudited accounts showed an underspend of £20 million, generated through the consistent and proactive management of budgets across all services. Cllr Kitts-Hayes, Deputy Leader, agreed that members welcomed the report and that it showed the council was operating more effectively and efficiently. Councillors agreed to use the savings in three ways; to top up reserves, to enable services to complete projects started last year and to invest in key priority areas. The six key areas are:

Invest in our towns and villages creating better places to live and work;

Provide assistance to small and medium sized businesses helping our economy to flourish;

Boost the tourism and hospitality industries, attracting visitors and inward investment;

Increase pre-school and nursery provision improving the life chances of all children;

Increase care at home services for older people;

Accelerate plans to improve roads, provide affordable housing and replace schools and care homes.

Do you know your local councillors and how multi-member wards work?

One of the most important changes to the way local government operates was the introduction, in May 2007, of multi-member wards.

There are 19 wards in Aberdeenshire, each with either three or four elected members, replacing the smaller, single-member wards which had existed.

Each of these members has an equal responsibility for the whole ward. To make this work effectively, ward members have to work together in a collaborative way – sharing duties, information and knowledge.

This may mean not all councillors attend a meeting in their area, instead arranging to share attendance with their local colleagues.

Councillors can be contacted in many ways – by simply speaking to them in the street, phoning or emailing them, writing a letter, or attending a local surgery.

Details of your four Westhill & District (Ward 13) councillors can be found here: