Social Work & Housing Committee Headlines


At the SW&H committee meeting last Thursday, members were updated on progress of the council’s New Build Housing Programme. It is fantastic news that Westhill is set to see 30 new council houses in phase 5 of the programme. There’s a long waiting list for the area and very little turnover, there being very few council properties left in the town due to the Right to Buy implemented in the ’80’s.

It is now council policy that Westhill should have 40% affordable housing in any new development. We rely on registered social landlords (RSLs) to make up the shortfall; unfortunately this is proving more and more difficult as RSLs are struggling to build with the paltry grants they now get from the Scottish Government.


Committee were asked to agree on a feasibility study on the future of the temporary homeless accommodation at Martin Brae, Inverurie. I am sure these units have served a purpose over their lifetime. To find yourself homeless is devastating enough – having to live in what many class as a “hen-house” would be heartbreaking. In 21st century Aberdeenshire, nobody should be stigmatised by living in what obviously is second-class temporary accommodation. Our affordable housing, and certainly our temporary accommodation, needs to be integrated with mainstream housing. I am confident that the next report will bring forward a positive solution for this site.


Jim Farish, Governor Designate for HMP Grampian, updated committee on progress on the new prison at Peterhead. The prison will see a new profile of prisoners with facilities for 42 females, 394 males and 67 young adult males (16-21 years) with a catchment area of Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and East Moray.

HMP in Aberdeen will official close in January 2014 with the new HMP Grampian opening in March 2014. The team is very much on target to deliver the project on time. With 66 new members of staff recruited, the total number of uniformed staff will be 230. There is to be a purpose-built family centre at the new prison. Local services should very much follow citizens in to prison and follow them out again when they leave.

The agenda for last Thursday’s SW&H meeting can be found here: