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SNP Select Housing Officer for Banff & District By-Election

>> Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Scottish National Party has selected Dr Glen Reynolds as its candidate for the by-election on 3 November caused by the death of Cllr Ian Gray.

Dr Reynolds has worked throughout Banff and District for ten years as both a housing and community safety officer for Aberdeenshire Council, bringing a great deal of knowledge of the workings of the council, having seen it from the inside. Dr Reynolds has raised a family in the area along with his wife, who is a local primary school teacher.

Commenting on his selection, Glen Reynolds said:

“The circumstances of my selection are sad of course, as Ian Gray was such a devoted and hard-working councillor. My ambition is to follow in his footsteps and to speak out for this ward. 

“I have forged excellent working relationships with council officials and our local police which are essential as we continue to make the ward attractive to live and work in, especially to younger folk. After the recent divisions on the UK's membership of the EU, I shall be working with everyone to ensure we gain the best possible outcome after the vote. I know the weaknesses and strengths in how the council operates, and how it can work for the best interests of the area.”

Dr Reynolds is a Director of Grampian Housing, arguing for more affordable, decent homes, and is a shop steward for the health union UNISON. He continued:

“I aim to continue to work with the Royal College of Nursing and the Scottish Government to improve the situation regarding GP shortages in our communities. I am also keen to promote the use of community wardens throughout the ward, as in Peterhead and Fraserburgh. If wardens are good enough for them, they are good enough for this ward. With a background in housing and health, I aim to make the Council work for all of its residents, not least those who need the most help. We must bring people into the area for it to have a sustainable future and I am determined that this happens, as part of the regeneration we need.”

Dr Reynolds has a background with charities Victim Support and Age Concern and is Chair of his local church council, having taught Christian Studies at the University of Aberdeen. Glen says that on a personal note, he loves writing and walking the family dog, Dougal.

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'Equity & Fairness Key to New Mental Health Services Contract' - Thomson

>> Thursday, 15 September 2016

Councillors on Aberdeenshire Council’s Policy & Resources Committee have approved the award of a new contract for Mental Health Services across Aberdeenshire to the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH).

The decision follows an invitation to organisations to bid for the new service specification.

The current contracts end on 31 December 2016 and the existing providers will continue until the new service begins on January 1 next year to enable a smooth transition of service for Aberdeenshire’s service users. The tender has been progressed in three ‘lots’, covering north, central and south Aberdeenshire given the broad scope of the services.

A report to councillors set out the reasons for the contract, highlighting that Aberdeenshire Council requires a community-based mental health service to promote the achievement of a mentally well and inclusive Aberdeenshire in which people who experience mental disorder are enabled to recover and achieve their personal outcomes.

The service is being commissioned to provide more equitable services across north, central and south Aberdeenshire; to target service provision more appropriately to individual risk and need; and to support those recovering from mental disorders and help them enjoy mainstream activities alongside other members of the community.

The report goes on to say that no existing service users will find services suddenly inaccessible to them. All will be introduced to the new provider and support plans agreed.

It further says that new services will address a number of current gaps in provision with additional:

  • A move away from buildings based services to more community based provision
  • Increased focus on recovery
  • Improved links to Employability Services
  • Building community capacity by encouraging the use of volunteers and peer support
  • An increased focus on service user outcomes, rather than outputs
  • The geographical spread of service provision is better matched to known demand.

Councillors discussed the new way forward for delivering mental health services, and on agreement awarded a two year contract (with extension options) to SAMH, described as the clear preferred bidder in each lot.

In a statement, committee chair and council leader Councillor Richard Thomson said:

“This contract has been deliberately structured to uphold a number of key principles, the most important of which is that we want to deliver mental health services based on equity and fairness across Aberdeenshire, with input from service users and based on delivering services at point of need. We are looking forward to working with SAMH and would like to thank the other organisations for their involvement with this detailed and necessarily complex process.”

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Thomson Comments on Future of EU Funding for Council Projects

Councillors on Aberdeenshire Council’s Policy & Resources Committee have today been discussing the future of European funding for council projects and the implications of Brexit.

Two papers were prepared for discussion. The first outlined the potential implications of the EU referendum results and asked councillors to endorse an action plan for the future. The second report set out in detail exactly what European funding programmes are currently being managed by Aberdeenshire Council.

The first report made clear that a vote to leave the EU would have significant implications for Aberdeenshire Council and the wider region as a whole. It raises questions over the sustainably of funding programmes, and challenge whether the council, and Scotland, should or will continue in future with projects presently funded by European grants. Whilst there is uncertainty, councillors noted that there is little the council can currently do, other than maintain a watching brief and reporting back on updates. An action plan was agreed which will see the council lobby government as the Brexit process continues and investigate other funding sources.

The second report showed that projects, including the European Social Fund, the LEADER programme and the European Maritime and Fisheries Funding, result in the council managing more than £11.1 million between now and 2020. Some examples of this in practise include:

  • The European Social Fund grant scheme, where applications are received and distributed on a competitive basis, managed by the Tackling Poverty and Inequalities Group.
  • The European Regional Development Fund which provides enhanced Business Gateway services throughout Aberdeenshire.
  • The North Aberdeenshire LEADER programme which facilitates bottom-up community led rural developments.

As a result, officers were instructed to prepare a further paper for discussion, when the implications of ‘Brexit’ on projects such as these becomes clearer. The above action plan will also see future papers considered by committee in 2016 and beyond.

Committee chair and council leader Councillor Richard Thomson said:

“The aftermath of the Brexit vote has left a big question mark hanging over the future of European funding for our communities and key sectors in Aberdeenshire, as well over the continued access for our local businesses to the European single market of nearly 700 million people.

"In response, Councillors have today agreed a plan which will see us pushing for answers to our questions, as well as seeking to lobby to mitigate the potential negative impact in Aberdeenshire of the UK-wide decision to leave the EU.

"We hope that government and decision makers at a national level will be as willing to engage as we are on this subject, in the best interests of this council and the people of Aberdeenshire”.

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Further Storm Frank Repair Work to Begin in Ballater

Repairs around the River Dee at Ballater following damage done during Storm Frank are expected to start next week.

Following a tender exercise, Aberdeenshire Council has appointed a local contractor to carry out work on its behalf. Forty metres of damaged bund along the riverside, which helps the river maintain its course, will be reinstated.

Armour stone will be placed at the toe of the embankment, earthworks will be done to reinstate the embankment to its existing profile and erosion control material installed.

The tender also includes removal of the existing one-tonne sandbags on Salisbury Road.

CR Contracting of Ballogie, near Aboyne, won the contract, worth around £15,000. The work is expected to start on September 21, with riverside works complete by October 17 and the whole project finished by November 7.

SNP councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside Geva Blackett said:

"Members of the community will be reassured that the diligence shown by the council since Hogmanay continues and we look forward to discussing the long term plans for the whole river in the not too distant future"

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