You may recall that last November during a by-election, the SNP were telling voters that a new HQ in Inverurie was more or less a done deal. At full council later that month, the opposition Alliance group (Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and aligned Independent councillors) called for more transparency and clarity around the business case. We felt that we did not have enough information to progress to the next stage. We were not aware of good enough reasons to move our HQ from Woodhill House. We knew that there was an “aspiration” by some to have the HQ in Aberdeenshire rather than in the City. Does location really matter? We are told that over 400 members of staff currently at Woodhill House travel from within the Aberdeen City area (they’ve included Westhill in their figures – but not Elrick which they’ve included in the wider Garioch area?). The ‘cons’ listed by officers of relocating to Inverurie includes cost of relocation and planning requirements for Inverurie Locos to Garioch Sports Centre, current market value of Woodhill House not being achieved and increased traffic flow within Inverurie town centre. Councillors will discuss this further on Thursday. The full report which we will have in front of us then can be read here (item 10).
Each month, councillors receive via the council’s Economic Development service a monthly bulletin showing headline news, figures and statistics about the North East economy. The report is compiled by Tony MacKay of MacKay Associated in Inverness. Tony previously was a member of the economic staff at Aberdeen University and retains a strong interest in the economy of the North East. With the author’s kind permission, I attach a copy of the December edition which I hope will be of interest.
Aberdeenshire Council will set its budget for 2017/18 on 9th February.
Recently, I have written about how the Scottish Government made a decision to increase council tax in only bands E-H from April outwith any locally-decided change. The changes made by the Scottish Government in these bands are below:
Band Current rate New rate
E £1,394.56 £1,499.15
F £1,648.11 £1,854.13
G £1,901.67 £2,234.46
H £2,282.00 £2,795.45
These figures of course exclude any water and sewerage costs which are automatically added to our annual bills, if we are eligible to pay them.
There is an option for Aberdeenshire Council when considering the new year’s budget to raise council tax on all bands A-H by up to 3% over and above the Scottish Government’s imposed rise on E-H bands as above.
Cuts will have to be made anyway as central government funding has decreased. What are your views on Aberdeenshire Council raising council tax to prevent even more cuts in services?
The following dates and venues have been received from Cluny, Midmar & Monymusk Community Council for their meetings in 2017.
Meetings will start at 7pm, except for those held in Cluny Church Hall, which will start at 7:15pm.
26 January Midmar Hall
16 March Cluny Church Hall
20 April Monymusk Hall
1 June Midmar Hall
20 July Cluny Church Hall
31 August Monymusk Hall
12 October Midmar Hall
23 November (AGM) Monymusk Hall
Each year, Aberdeenshire Council carries out a consultation on budget plans.
It is an essential part of local democracy, ensuring that the voice of communities comes through in any and all budget setting decisions.
This year, we have launched a brand new approach, in order to try to simplify and illustrate the challenges faced.
In place of traditional surveys and written text, the team have developed a suite of infographics, each of which paints a different picture of a different part of council budget setting. For example, there is a section on the pressures that councils are under, one which focuses on council tax, and one which lays out some of the future opportunities.
Attached to each infographic is a short set of questions, in some cases just two questions, to give people the opportunity to make their voices heard.
The engagement process is open now and will close at the start of January, giving enough time for the results to be passed to councillors who, in turn, will use them to inform their decision making for the coming financial year.
- All the infographics and associated questions can be found at www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/budgetengagement
- Surveys are all open now and will close on 3rd January.
- Reports will be submitted to elected members in January to give them time to consider all views in time for the budget setting in February.
- The 7 topics are as follows: Pressures on our services; Investing in our communities; Increasing efficiency; Identifying savings; Council Tax; Income generation; The future of sports and cultural services in Aberdeenshire
The new approach has been taken to allow people have their views on as many topics as they feel passionate about. So views on all seven areas are being sought, however those with a particularly strong opinion on a particular subject can ensure that they get that message across loud and clear.
The infographics themselves are also being issued for use in community forums and discussions right across Aberdeenshire, to make sure everyone gets the chance to participate.
Council Co-leader Cllr Richard Thomson said: “It is important for us to embark upon our budget setting discussions with our eyes open. To get a feel for what people in our communities want and need from us, and to make sure they feel empowered to know what they can do for themselves. We want to maintain high quality public services while at the same time making sure we are as efficient as possible. We also want to minimise the impact any reductions have on residents and service-users.
“The views you share will help us as we come together as a council to debate how to make the best use of the funding available to us, and we value the feedback.”
Co-leader Cllr Alison Evison said: “Aberdeenshire Council is embarking upon a year of change and challenge. Local elections coming up will change not only priorities but faces around the chamber. Some significant projects will be delivered this year and others will be progressed. Ensuring we have had robust and extensive consultation will play a part in everything that we do.
“I encourage people across Aberdeenshire to let us know what their views are and look forward to getting the results.”
All the infographics and attached questions can be found at www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/budgetengagement
A consultation which will ask members of the public for their views on the concept of a charitable trust delivering sport and cultural services on behalf of Aberdeenshire Council will take place in December following discussions by councillors today.
At the meeting of Full Council, Aberdeenshire councillors were asked to consider a series of options for the future delivery of those services, including:
Outsourcing the delivery of the services to a private company;
- The creation of a public-private partnership;
- Continuation of the status quo;
- An enhanced version of the status quo, through which the services would continue to be directly delivered by the council;
- The creation of a charitable trust, wholly owned by the council
Councillors agreed that the creation of a trust is their preferred option for further consideration and that public consultation on the principle of a trust delivering the services should take place next month as part of the council’s budget engagement process.
The results of the consultation will inform a further decision by councillors in January as to whether a detailed business case for a charitable trust should be developed.
Co-Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, Cllr Alison Evison, said: “Today we have agreed that officers should continue to explore the idea of a charitable trust to deliver sports and cultural services in Aberdeenshire and come back to us with more information on how it might operate.
“The quality of the debate we have had so far gives me confidence that we are now on the right path, a path which could open up huge opportunities to sustain jobs and services.
“This path must include discussions with staff as well as public consultation and I’m pleased to see both happening.”
Co-Leader, Cllr Richard Thomson, said: “We know that alternative ways of delivering services have worked successfully elsewhere and it is time for us to consider why we aren’t doing it as well.
“The public consultation will help inform us when we meet again in January to decide whether to proceed to a more detailed, full business case for the creation of a charitable trust.
“We’ll be looking for views from sports and community groups, as well as individual residents who have both used and have never used our sports and cultural services.
“Our budget engagement will begin next month and will be promoted across Aberdeenshire so that is your chance to have your say.”
Here are the Minutes from the last Garioch Area Bus Forum held in September.The next meeting will be held in Westhill in the spring.
Inspiring Aberdeenshire is a celebration of the outstanding achievements and hard work of young people, staff and members of communities across Aberdeenshire.
Nominations are now open so put forward an inspirational resident or group today!
Now in its fifth year, Inspiring Aberdeenshire promises to be bigger and better than ever and will take place on Friday, 23 June 2017 at Haddo House.
The deadline for nominations is midday on Wednesday, 1 February 2017.
or print off a nomination form here – inspiring-aberdeenshire-nomination-form