Feb 192016
 

MartinFordThmWith thanks to Martin Ford.

A reformed budget setting process for Aberdeenshire Council was formally agreed at last Thursday’s  full council meeting. The new approach to deciding the authority’s annual revenue budget was first proposed last year by Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors Martin Ford and Paul Johnston, who wrote to the Council’s other political groups in March 2015.

“We want to see draft budget proposals coming forward from the various political groups in the autumn so there can be proper public consultation and cross-party dialogue and negotiation before the budget is set in February,” said Cllr Martin Ford. 

“This allows for much more scope for public input into budget decisions and creates opportunities for cross-party agreement and sharing of ideas.”

During the 11 February full council meeting, the DIGG plan attracted cross-party support and was praised by Council co-leader Cllr Richard Thomson. The officers’ report on Aberdeenshire’s 2016/17 revenue budget recommended that budget proposals for 2017/18 are initially reported to the full council next autumn, in line with the process put forward by the DIGG.

In his speech to the 11 February meeting, proposing the 2016/17 revenue budget, Cllr Martin Kitts-Hayes said:

“Linked to the importance of a budget consultation exercise is the early discussion on future years’ budget proposals. Therefore I propose that all groups prepare draft budget proposals and report these to Council in autumn.”

Said Cllr Paul Johnston:

“I welcome the cross-party agreement on this important reform. Ultimately, we believe this new budget process will lead to better budgets and more say for Aberdeenshire residents on these key decisions.”

In acordance with their own proposed budget process, the DIGG presented detailed draft proposals for Aberdeenshire’s 2016/17 revenue budget to the November 2015 Aberdeenshire full council meeting.

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Feb 122015
 

martin-fordWith thanks to Martin Ford.

At yesterday’s (12 February) Aberdeenshire Council budget setting meeting, proposals from the Democratic Independent and Green group of councillors (DIGG) were echoed in proposals by other political groups.

But there were also key differences between the budgets put forward by the coalition administration, the SNP and the DIGG.

The administration alone backed increased care and burial charges.

Green councillor Martin Ford (pictured) said:

“Only the DIGG proposed more funding to improve Wi-Fi connectivity in schools, and for cycling. The administration’s decision to increase care charges was unnecessary, as the savings needed to balance the budget could be achieved more fairly in other ways.”

The administration, the SNP and the DIGG all proposed to make a saving on roads maintenance.

The key strategic difference between the three budget proposals was the emphasis in the DIGG budget on ‘invest-to-save’ initiatives. Seconding the DIGG budget, Cllr Paul Johnston outlined areas where the Council could potentially make changes, subject to public consultation, that could cut costs or generate income, including:

– Partnership investment arrangements in the delivery of industrial and economic development projects.

– Partnership investment arrangements to install wind turbines on suitable sites not owned by the Council.

– Development of the Council property portfolio through a third-sector partner.

– LED replacement of street lights and part night switch off in appropriate locations.
– Introduction of further comfort partnerships to improve publicly available toilet facilities.

– Differential car parking charges based on vehicle emission bands, lower charges for low emission vehicles and higher charges for high emission vehicles.

– An anaerobic digestion heat plant for district heating, using suitable organic waste generated or collected by the Council.

“We believe the Council should aim to develop an income stream, to help fund public services, independent of the Council Tax or Scottish Government grant funding,” said Cllr Johnston.

“Utilising existing assets and taking opportunities to develop renewable energy, at least £3 million a year extra could be secured towards service provision.”

There was praise for the budget consultation during December and January conducted by the DIGG, and an acceptance by the Council leadership that more and better consultation was needed on future budgets.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Mar 282014
 

Aberdeen-forward2With thanks to Ed Walker.

Aberdeen Forward’s next Big Giveaway Day will be held this Saturday 29th March 10am-1pm at Aberdeen Forward Ltd, 2 Poynernook Road (just behind Union Square, opposite Kwik-Fit).

Aside from a huge range of FREE furniture, craft resources & stationary, our charity & trade stands will be running alongside our famous raffle with prizes including:

  • A meal for 2 at Handmade Burger Company
  • 1 Place on an award winning Aberdeen Forward upholstery course of your choice (evening or weekend)
  • Various Lush cosmetics gift sets worth over £65
  • A meal for 4 at Nando’s Aberdeen
  • A round of golf at Murcar links golf course, Aberdeenshire.
  • A mystery Cath Kidston Item

Tickets for the raffle cost just £1 and are available now from Aberdeen Forward.

The Giveaway day will be held at Aberdeen Forward on 2 Poynernook Road between 10am and 1pm and is open to schools, individuals, groups and everyone in between. Feel free to come along to browse our massive range of free resources, have a look at our range of great local craft stalls and enjoy some tea, coffee and other light refreshments. Entry cost is £3 (free to under 16’s).

Aberdeen Forward Ltd.
2Poynernook Road
Aberdeen
AB11 5RW

01224 560360

Mar 202014
 

Aberdeen forwardthm174With thanks to Ed Walker.

Want to Save Money and Reduce Your Food Waste?

Come along to our Free Cooking Demonstration and learn some creative ways to use leftovers from the Foodie Quine

St Bridget’s Hall, Stonehaven Dunnottar Church

Saturday 22nd March, 10.30am – 1.30pm

Please contact Karen or Gillian on 01224 560360 email kwood@aberdeenforward.org to book a place

Sep 052013
 

AbForwardGiveawayAberdeen Forward, your local environmental charity, are once again holding the Very Big Giveaway Day on this Saturday, September the 7th!

As usual, individuals & schools can access FREE office furniture, stationery and arts and craft resources.

There will also be a book stand and various drop in craft stalls running throughout the day, including a handmade cosmetics stand, ‘Beadpop’ stand, an oil & glass stand and ‘Stencil’ handmade crafts!

There will also be a raffle (tickets £1 available now) with a range of excellent prizes from local businesses including a Meal for 4 at Nando’s, various Lush cosmetics gift sets, a round of golf at Murcar Links Golf Club, Coffee for 2 at Books and Beans, A glass fusing workshop with Oil & Glass Aberdeen and a FREE lampshade making course!

In addition, The Nappy Laundry will be running a pop-up nappy shop where you can get expert advice and access to a great range of real cloth nappies. Further to this, the Aberdeen Forward Baby Shop will be open, providing access to an excellent range of low-cost, high quality baby items from prams and nursery furniture to pushchairs and cots.

Entry to the Big Giveaway Day is £3.00 for adults, children under 16 are free. Any questions, queries or requests, get in touch with us by clicking here or calling 01224 560360.

May 092013
 

With thanks to Robin Li Laing, Marketing & Events Manager.

The next Monthly Aberdeen Jack & Jill Market will be at the Hilton Treetops Hotel, Aberdeen on Sunday 12th of May, 10.30am to 1.30pm. This community organisation was set up to help Scottish families with the rising cost of raising children.

Faced with the ever-rising cost of bringing up a child, Aberdeenshire parents are selling and bartering in a bid to reduce the cost of raising children.

The last monthly Aberdeen Jack & Jill Market saw 415 savvy shoppers bagging some spectacular jaw-dropping prices on quality baby & kids gear.

53% of sellers made £100-£200, 21% made £200-£350, with the top selling stall making over £330

It costs £90,000 to raise a child up to age 11, an increase of 15% over the past 5 years, according to new figures released by Halifax, whose economist, Martin Ellis, says the figures have “added to the already considerable strain on household finances during the economic downturn”.

But, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. As the cost of raising children soars, an increasing number of smart money mums have beefed up their selling and bartering skills to make and save money.

A trend is emerging where mums and dads are now much happier to choose selling and shopping at local car-boot sales and market days, as a cost-effective alternative to the high street for what their children need. Over a third of parents are now choosing to buy and sell second-hand, according to recent figures.

One organisation Aberdeenshire parents have turned to is The Jack & Jill Market which runs monthly nearly-new baby & children’s markets in Perth and across Scotland  for families, with the emphasis on quality goods.

The Jack & Jill Market is so swamped with demand from mums wanting to make and save money, that new locations are being set-up all the time in an effort to meet this demand.

Recent research has shown that UK adults can have up to £581 worth of useable but unused items; for a two-parent family this can add up to more than £1000, much of it locked up in buggies, bikes, cots, clothes, toys, all the all the rest that still have plenty of life left in them, so it makes smart money sense to release this money into the family budget.

Several of these community events are now fully-booked up to 3-4 months in advance for sellers, and are now seeing up to 1000 mums and families through the doors in a 3-hour period, looking for high quality items, at a fraction of the retail price.

There has definitely been a cultural shift in attitude. Thrift is the new cool as mums look for ways to reduce the cost of raising children. The change is especially obvious in first-time mums who have traditionally opted for predominantly new items when setting up for their new baby but are now looking for a smarter alternative.

The next monthly Aberdeen Jack & Jill Community Market will be held on Sunday 12th May, at the Hilton Treetops Hotel, Springfield Road, Aberdeen 10.30am – 1.30pm. Then again on Sunday 16th of June.

For further details, visit: www.jackandjillmarket.co.uk

Apr 122013
 

With thanks to Robin Li Laing.

Faced with the ever-rising cost of bringing up a child, Aberdeen parents are selling and bartering in a bid to reduce the cost of raising children.

At last month’s Aberdeen Jack & Jill Market, 423 savvy shoppers saved hundreds of pounds.

39% of sellers made £100-£200, 35% made £200-£350 and 8% made over £350,  with the top selling stall making a fabulous £519.50!

According to new figures released by Halifax, it costs £90,000 to raise a child up to age 11, an increase of 15% over the past 5 years which their economist, Martin Ellis, says have added to the already considerable strain on household finances during the economic downturn.

But just as the tough get going when the going gets tough, so an increasing number of smart money mums have beefed up their selling and bartering skills to make and save money as the cost of raising children soars.

A trend is emerging where mums and dads are now much happier to choose selling and shopping at local car boot sales and market days, as a cost-effective alternative to the high street for what their children need.  Over a third of parents now choose to buy and sell second-hand, according to recent figures.

One organisation Aberdeen parents have turned to is The Jack & Jill Market which runs monthly nearly-new baby & children’s markets in Aberdeen and across Scotland, solely for local families, with the emphasis on quality goods.

The Jack & Jill Market is so swamped with demand from mums wanting to make and save money, that new locations are being set-up all the time in an effort to meet this demand.

Recent research has shown that UK adults can have up to £581 worth of useable but unused items.

For a two-parent family, for example, this can add up to more than £1000, with much of it locked up in buggies, bikes, cots, clothes, toys, all the all the rest that still have plenty of life left in them, so it makes smart money sense to release this money into the family budget.

80% of mums and families selling at the markets make £100-£350 in 3-hours of selling, with a significant number of mums making up to £550 and our top selling mum to date making £800.  This is money that can then be re-invested back into the family budget to help with the on-going costs of raising a family.

Many baby and kids items are barely, or never, used and are on offer at the markets at up to 90% off the retail price snd with over 13 million toys still ending up in landfill each year, it makes perfect sense to recycle and save money.

Commenting on the markets a couple of local mums said:

“We had a great time!  Hoping to do another one early next year. – Laura Letts

 “I got some great bargains that I am over the moon with” – Charlene McConnachie

The next two local Jack & Jill Markets will be held from 10.30am to 1.30pm on Sunday 14th April and Sunday 12th May, at the Hilton Treetops Hotel, Aberdeen.

For further details, visit: www.jackandjillmarket.co.uk

Mar 142013
 

With thanks to Robin Li Laing.

Faced with the ever-rising cost of bringing up a child, Aberdeen parents are selling and bartering in a bid to reduce the cost of raising children.

At last month’s Aberdeen Jack & Jill Market, 574 savvy shoppers saved hundreds of pounds.

31% of sellers made £100-£200, 44% made £200-£350 and 23% made over £350 with the top-selling stall making a fabulous £583!

This month’s local Aberdeen Jack & Jill event will be on Sunday 17th March at the Hilton Treetops Hotel in Aberdeen.

It costs £90,000 to raise a child up to age 11, an increase of 15% over the past five years, according to new figures released by Halifax, whose economist, Martin Ellis, says the figures have,

“added to the already considerable strain on household finances during the economic downturn”.

But, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. As the cost of raising children soars, an increasing number of smart money mums have beefed up their selling and bartering skills to make and save money.

A trend is emerging where mums and dads are now much happier to choose selling and shopping at local car-boot sales and market days, as a cost-effective alternative to the high street for what their children need. Over a third of parents are now choosing to buy and sell second-hand, according to recent figures.

One organisation Aberdeen parents have turned to is The Jack & Jill Market which runs monthly nearly-new baby & children’s markets in Aberdeen and across Scotland, solely for local families, with the emphasis on quality goods.

The Jack & Jill Market is so swamped with demand from mums wanting to make and save money that new locations are being set up all the time in an effort to meet this demand.

Recent research has shown that UK adults can have up to £581 worth of useable but unused items; for a two-parent family this can add up to more than £1000, much of it locked up in buggies, bikes, cots, clothes, toys, and all the rest that still have plenty of life left in them.

It makes sense to release this money into the family budget.

80% of mums and families selling at the markets make £100-£350 in three hours of selling, with a significant number of mums having made up to £550 and our top selling mum to date making £800.

This is money that can then be re-invested back into the family budget to help with the ongoing costs of raising a family.

Many baby and kids items are barely used, or never used, and on offer at the markets for up to 90% off the retail price. And with over 13 million toys still ending up in landfill each year, it makes perfect sense to recycle and save money.

Local Mum Laura Letts said,

“We had a great time! Hoping to do another one early next year

Charlene McConnachie said,

“I got some great bargains that I am over the moon with”

Jack & Jill Community Market
Sunday 17th March,
Hilton Treetops Hotel,
Aberdeen,
from 10.30am – 1.30pm.
( Then again on Sunday 14th April. )

For further details, visit: www.jackandjillmarket.co.uk

Feb 182013
 

Two senior youth councillors have welcomed the Aberdeen City Council administration’s budget for 2013/14, hailing investment in education and sport.

Youth council spokesperson Kenneth Watt said:
“The youth council has seen first-hand the effects of devastating cuts that have upset education in the city over the last decade. The commitment to investment from council leaders is very pleasing to a generation that has suffered a lot recently.

“I am particularly happy with the increased funding for Additional Support Needs. Past cuts to numbers of Personal Support Assistants has had terrible effects on the most vulnerable children in the city.”

“The new schools being built and existing ones being upgraded – such as Tillydrone – will have a really positive effect on the community.”

Barry Black, chair, added:

“Our generation is fed up of cuts to education and sport. I believe this is one factor in the recent surges in youth crime in the city and by investing in facilities such as the new pool and the city of culture bid more activities will soon be on offer which the city has been lacking in over the past few years.”

Mar 152012
 

Voice’s Old Susannah considers the upcoming council elections, the UTG referendum result, the happenings on Tullos Hill, International Womens Day, blogging beasties and generosity. By Suzanne Kelly 

Tally Ho!  The May elections are coming, and not a second too soon.  Some of our tireless (or is that tiresome?) councillors are packing up and preparing to move on.  Let’s hope they bring all of their talents to their new areas.

I hear that there is now a shortage of packing crates at the Fortress of Doom (aka The  Townhouse) as heroic councillors get ready to head into the sunset.  I hope they don’t let the doors hit them on their way out.

As to the UTG Referendum?  Well, I guess that’s it – it has been a totally above-board, fair-and-square contest.

The grapevine would have it that some of the rich and powerful secret members of the Vote for the City Gardens Project are less than pleased it’s cost so very much money to have such a small margin of victory, but they still got the result they wanted, if not the landslide they’d prayed for (or is that ‘paid for’).

In the next few days I’ll write about the dozen or so wee problems that some people have with the referendum and how it was run.

Did you know that over 300 votes arrived just a wee bit too late to be counted?  Did you know it would be totally illegal for any of the campaigning organisations to see the register as to how the votes went?  No, neither did I until recently.  I also have it on very good authority who some of the VFTCGP backers are.  Old Susannah is toying with the idea of naming them.

They would be free to deny the association – but why should they want to be secret in the first place, after all, they were the heroes behind the scenes helping us poor souls know how to vote.  Who could turn down their promise of 6,500 new permanent jobs or their £122,000,000 flowing into the city each year?  Think of all the parties and portraits that would buy!  Wow!

(You might be interested to know that PriceWaterhouse Coopers were asked by me if they had intended their projections about money and jobs to be used as the VFTCGP did in its propaganda.   PwC might have been expected to say they were delighted, and that they stand behind their projections 100%.  However, they said that as the projections were made for a ‘private client’ they can make no comment on them to me.  Of course the bills I’ve seen for PwC look like you and I paid for this great work out of our taxes, but there you go).

And other great news from Tullos  Hill.  HoMalone is having her way, backed up by impartial ‘expert’ C Piper (perhaps related to the CJ Piper firm which was already paid £42,000 for the bang-up job delivered on tree planting to date?).  Yes, the gorse is gone, and with it all those annoying butterflies, bees, moths, and insects.

The birds that would have eaten these critters and the small and larger mammals which lived in the gorse are homeless.  If only I had an environmental degree, then I could say we’ve interrupted the food chain and interfered with existing biodiversity on Tullos.  As it is, I’m not allowed to make any such observation, however obvious.

Any small mammals or deer rendered homeless should apply at Marischal College reception to declare their homeless status.  Of course these creatures are likely now to wind up as road kill.  Surely not even HoMalone or Ranger Bigboy will dare to claim any roadkill we see now will be due to overpopulation?  Well, we’ll see.

  Women around the world lack rights and comforts we all take for granted

Some of those animal-loving, meadow-loving radicals will be handing flyers out and collecting signatures on petitions this Saturday at 12:30 in front of Marks & Spencer Union Street.  The petitions apparently are to protest the use of school children to plant the 89,000 trees on Tullos.

Ms Malone indicates this will be an educational experience for the little mites, and I’m sure it will.

Having seen the state of the hill, they will learn about cuts, tetanus boosters, chemical pollution, industrial waste, and dead deer.  Thank you, Aileen.  I do hope she will make it to the hill to plant a few trees herself.  That would seem only fair to me.

For the paper petition, further info, and a PDF of the new flyer, visit:  http://oldsusannahsjournal.yolasite.com/

Finally, Old Susannah attended two events in the last week which celebrated International Women’s Day, a great Oxfam fundraiser held by Bead Crazy on St Andrew Street.  A dozen or so guests were treated to cocktails (thanks for the Black Russians), brownies and beads.  Everyone made pieces from recycled materials which was right up my street.

I’ve turned an old domino into a necklace that says ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, and a bottle cap into a brooch with an Oxfam fact.  Women around the world lack rights and comforts we all take for granted.  Thanks to Alex and everyone at Bead Crazy for the event.

Then at the Belmont last Saturday I ran into a collection of women celebrating Women’s day a bit differently.  They were all dressed as fairy godmothers, and were collecting wishes from the public as to what people would like to wish for our young girls’ futures.  My wishes didn’t include any granite webs or deer culls.  Thank you Merlyn and all the other women.

As well as a definition or two, this week I am pleased to announce that Aberdeen Voice has negotiated two new Celebrity Bloggers!  They will be featured in this column for the next several weeks.

And now – the first ever Millie & Cattie joint Blog!

“Hi I’m Millie, the Caterpillar!”

“And I’m Cattie the Millipede!  We’ve had a horrible, tragic few days:  our meadow home was destroyed and many of our friends with it.”

“Yes, sadly that’s true, Cattie.  Bulldozers showed up without warning to our Tullos Hill home, and ruined our wildflower and gorse home.  We had our rescue quite by chance.”

“That’s right Millie.  We were chewing on a Foxglove plant and suddenly it was ripped up and hurled into the air.  Sometime later the plant was found by a kindly passerby, and we were all taken to a safe house where we all now live.”

“We were both reluctant to launch this blog, but Old Susannah showed us the coverage Aberdeen was giving to a talking cactus, Morris the Monkey, and Jake the Ghost.  So we thought, ‘Why not try it?’   We know Spike the Cactus is very popular, and if people are willing to take voting advice from a monkey and a ghost (no offence), then people should know our story, too.”

“Yes Millie – we have a responsibility to let people know our beautiful home is gone, and an entire generation of moths, butterflies, bees have been wiped out.  What will become of some of our larger friends like the birds, small mammals and especially the kindly roe deer is our huge worry now.”

“Agreed Cattie.  We are grateful we were saved – we only hope our friends who haven’t been destroyed yet will be spared.  Got any lettuce?”

Cattie and Millie will give us an update next week and for the foreseeable future.

Charity:  (adjective) state of being generous, donating time or money to those  less fortunate.

While our very own local billionaire works selflessly to ensure his lasting granite memorial will bring his family continued and visible dominance over a certain city, a less savvy multi-millionaire has displayed a woeful lack of commonsense.

When it looked as if there would be some public outcry against his web, he calmly threatened to take his ball and go home.

J K Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter saga read the world over, has donated over £100 million to charity in the past year and a bit.  Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard hardly anything about her donations.  Where were the press cuttings, the headlines, the photos?  What did she get in return to show for it?

Ms Rowling has a lot to learn I fear.  Not only has she given enough away to nearly pay for the granite web we all long for, she’s dropped way down on the UK’s wealthiest list.

We will remember for quite some time how Sir Ian made his gracious £50 million donation to Aberdeen.  As long as we did what he wanted with it, and let unelected entities ‘manage’ our common good land, it was a great gift indeed.  When it looked as if there would be some public outcry against his web, he calmly threatened to take his ball and go home. Charity begins at home, and we’re going to take his charity, whatever form it takes, and like it.

Sure, Rowling may have made children all over the world discover the joy of reading,  and her books got people to read together in families and groups.   Her money may have helped countless people the world over across a wide variety of problems and concerns.  She may have made important points about the value of love, courage, kindness and friendship –  

But where’s the statue?  Alas, if there’s no granite monument and not a ton of press coverage bragging about the money, then the donations might as well never have happened.  Shame.  Perhaps a great PR firm could help…

One of the more radical points I picked up from these ‘children’s books of Ms Rowling’s ran along the lines of this (I deliberately paraphrase)  “One thing the tyrants of this world fear is that one day, one of the people they have oppressed will rise up against them.”  Can’t for the life of me think why that particular idea should spring to mind, but there it is.

New Acronyms!

Hooray!  We’ve more acronyms in this town than we know what to do with.  First it was the ‘Tree for Every Citizen’ scheme or “T’FEC!’ as it is affectionately known in Torry.  The tree scheme’s supporters (all 3 of them) are so pleased with their recent successes that they have more plans up their sleeves, or so I hear.

‘Forget Allowing Citizens Anything for Free’  is a brainchild for the coming budget cuts which are  in the pipeline, reflecting the service cuts and support staff cuts.  It will be called ‘FAC AFF!’ for short.

If this proves successful, phase 2 may be launched.  Its working title is Forget Every Citizen Utterly – or ‘FEC U’ for short.

If you want to see these schemes enacted, then don’t rock the boat at the elections, and we will continue on our happy course.  See you down at the Granite Web or Monorail station soon!

Next week? – At this rate what our Council will dream up is anyone’s guess…