Sep 072017
 

Popular Aberdeen based ceilidh band Iron Broo will provide the music for the World’s Largest Strip The Willow. Photo credit: Janie Barclay.

With thanks to National Trust for Scotland.

Do you want to be a Guinness World Record Breaker? On Saturday 9th of September we will be attempting the Largest Strip the Willow at Castle Fraser and we need YOU.

In the year 2000 Edinburgh broke the record with 1,914 people during their Hogmanay. We are ready to bring the record to Aberdeenshire.

So save the date and get your dancing shoes at the ready!

Organiser Paula Swan said:

“I can’t wait to see it. It was a little idea we had last year and only last week we got confirmation from Guinness World Records to say we could do it.

“Now it’s a reality and we’re really excited about pulling it together, and the responses we’ve had so far have been fantastic.”

She added:

“The great thing about Castle Fraser is you can stand on the tower, so we’re planning on filming it.

“We’re also going to fly drones across the field to really capture all the people having fun.”

By signing up for a ticket you are signing to take part in our attempt. You will still have to register on the day to collect your band. Tickets are free to attend however, there is a £2 parking fee.

Due to the nature of this record attempt participants must be 10 years and over. If you are a business or group and would like to register a team to take part please get in contact with castlefraser@nts.org.uk

Registration: Opens at 12:00pm and closes at 1:30pm for a 2:00pm record breaking kick off.

There will be catering vans and activities to help you to warm up and stay limber. Please keep in mind that we do live in Scotland so dress for the weather. We will be going ahead with our attempt regardless of the weather, so please bring suitable clothing and footwear as you will be dancing on grass. Ponchos will be available to buy on the day if you do require one.

Tickets are limited, booking essential.

The event would not be possible without the hard work and contribution of the following people;

– Iron Broo; who are performing the lovely ceilidh music that will help us strip that willow
– STV’s Andrea Brymer; who will be hosting the event
– Deeside Caledonia will be performing before we kick off the attempt
– Gordon School of Dancing will be showing us all how it’s done before the attempt
– A-line will be providing all AV and Tech support to make this event possible
– Mike Gall Transport for providing the staging required
– Fennel Media who will be filming the amazing attempt

Let’s do this Aberdeenshire!

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Aug 112017
 

Tiny Toadstools and Monster Mushrooms make for magical event at Crathes Castle, Garden and Estate. With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

With its harled façade, magnificent turreted towers and walled gardens, Crathes Castle is a standout property from the 16th century.

Fungi, folklore and fairy tales come together in the grounds of a magical North-east castle where woodland secrets and stories will be shared with young visitors and their families.

Green goblets that elves might use to drink from are likely to be among the finds during the Tiny Toadstools and Monster Mushrooms walk at The National Trust for Scotland’s Crathes Castle, Garden and Estate on Tuesday, August 15.
The ‘goblet’ is in fact the green elf cup, a fungus which creates a vivid green stain on dead wood and looks like a drinking vessel for an elf, and which is among hundreds of different fungi that can be found in the grounds of Crathes, a stunning castle that looks like it has come straight from the pages of a story book.

The setting makes Crathes ideal for sharing stories of fungi and fairy tales and visitors will learn how the fly agaric toadstools, synonymous with Enid Blyton books, get their spots and have the chance to find out about the largest fungi in the world which is visible from space.

Ranger Stephen Reeves says:

“Crathes is home to hundreds of different species of fungi due to the wide variety of habitats that can be found here. Some mushrooms like open grass lands, some live on dead wood and some on trees and we have all these different mixes.

“Our ranger-led walk isn’t about identifying mushrooms and toadstools but it is about sharing some really cool stories and games. Some mushrooms turn purple when they are cut and the biggest organism in the world is the honey fungus which is found in Siberia.

“There’s lots of fascinating stores and some interesting folklore too around them and we think adults will be every bit as intrigued by the stories as children are.

“Mushrooms and toadstools are so often overlooked but we have them in abundance at Crathes at this time of year and they will be very much at the heart of our storytelling.”

The ranger-led walk on August 15 is from 10.30am to 12 noon and is ideal for families with children aged between 5-11 years. Entry is £5 per child and adults go free.

Places are limited and so booking is essential at https://nts.cloudvenue.co.uk/crathestinytoadstoolsandmonstermushrooms

With its harled façade, magnificent turreted towers and walled gardens, Crathes Castle, which is managed by the National Trust for Scotland, is a standout property from the 16th century.

The castle and its gardens will be open to visitors during this summer programme event.

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Aug 042017
 

With thanks to Leanne Carter, Account Manager, Tricker PR.

The Crathes Half-Marathon 2014, at Crathes Castle. Picture by Kenny Elrick 13/09/2014

Runners of all abilities are assured of a fairy tale finish at next month’s Crathes Half Marathon – thanks to a castle that looks like it has come straight from the pages of a story book. The stunning Crathes Castle near Banchory in Aberdeenshire provides the back drop for the finish of the event, and all participants will get a welcome fit for a king – or queen – as they cross the line on September 16.

Organisers promise that participants will be not encounter any evil goblins or gremlins during their 13.1-mile adventure – the scenic course through the Deeside countryside is renowned for its PB potential guaranteeing runners a happy ever after.

However, Crathes Half Marathon will soon reach the end of a very important chapter: the deadline for entries is September 8.

Natasha Finlayson, events co-ordinator at Crathes Castle, Gardens and Estate near Alford, says the course has been a real favourite with past participants.

“Over the years Crathes Half Marathon has become really popular, with runners travelling from all over the country to take part,” explains Natasha.

“It’s a challenging course with a couple of hills, but it is predominantly on the flat. It’s best known for helping many runners achieve a personal best and as a great event for those attempting the half marathon distance for the first time.

“While the atmosphere, marshals and camaraderie out on the course are great, the one thing we always get really positive feedback about is the scenery and how beautiful the route is.

“There are sections on the road, short sections off-road, and of course that spectacular finish line in front of the castle which really helps to put a spring in the step of runners down the finishing straight.

“But it’s not just completing the course that will give runners the feel-good factor, as all proceeds from the event will go towards the National Trust for Scotland’s conservation work.

“It is incredibly hard work and takes a lot of time, effort and commitment – and funds. As part of the Trust’s Footpath Fund appeal this autumn, runners are encouraged to raise sponsorship and take a step towards protecting Scotland’s heritage.”

With its harled façade, magnificent turreted towers and walled gardens, Crathes Castle, which is managed by the National Trust for Scotland, Scotland’s largest conservation charity, is a standout property from the 16th century.

The castle and its gardens will be open to visitors during the half marathon, and organisers will also be laying on plenty of entertainment to help inspire the future generation of runners.

A family fun day will be the centrepiece of the day’s entertainment, complete with traditional children’s events including the egg and spoon, three-legged and sack races. There will also be a chance for adults to show their sporting prowess in these events too.

Natasha adds,

“It’s going to be a fantastic day out for the all the family, whether they are taking part in the half marathon or spectating. In addition to the traditional races, we’ll also have an assault course, a bungee run and giant inflatables.

“The great thing about Crathes Half Marathon is its appeal to runners of all abilities, whether you are aiming to finish in a little over an hour, or expect to be nearer to three hours.

“We have a pretty even mix of both male and female runners – our youngest participant so far is 18, while the oldest entrant taking part this year is a very sprightly 75-year-old.”

Entries to the Crathes Half Marathon – with all proceeds going to help the work of the National Trust for Scotland – are open now at  http://www.nts.org.uk/Site/Crathes-Half-Marathon/Crathes-Half-Marathon/ All finishers will receive a medal and a technical t-shirt.

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Jul 252017
 

With thanks to Leanne Carter, Account Manager, Tricker PR.

Soprano Pipistrelle Bat (Pipistrellus pygmaeus) at bat handling and trapping demonstration held at the National Trust for Scotland property of Culzean Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland, August

They are the type of beasties that most people try to keep out of their homes but the rangers at Craigievar Castle will be doing everything they possibly can to lure moths out of hiding – even offering them a beer.

Visitors to a late-night event at the National Trust for Scotland’s property will be able to learn how to make sugar traps – a sticky solution of black treacle and beer that moths just can’t resist.

The sweet-smelling mixture, which is completely harmless to the creatures, is then pasted onto trees in the grounds of the castle and will attract moths from far and wide.

But it’s hoped that moths will not be the only winged visitors making an appearance at the family event on Friday, July 28. Those who go along to the Craigievar, near Alford in Aberdeenshire, will also have the chance to meet the resident colony of bats.

The elegant tower house, known for its distinctive pink façade, is home to pipistrelle and brown long-eared bats which love to go flying as the sun starts to set.

National Trust for Scotland ranger Toni Watt said:

“Moths and bats are absolutely fascinating flying creatures. We’ve previously staged popular events for bats and events for moths, but this is the first time that we have brought the two together.

“We’ll start off in the castle grounds where we will show people how to make and set sugar traps. The traps are a harmless mixture of black treacle and beer which is boiled up and pasted to trees. It gives off a sweet-smelling nectar which the moths love.

“While we are waiting for the traps to work their magic and attract the moths, we’ll take a walk around the castle grounds and look for bats. We have not yet conducted a bat survey this year, but previously we have had pipistrelle and brown long-eared bats roosting at the castle.

“We’ll be using bat detectors to see what is out and about, and during the walk we’ll be discussing the bats and their nocturnal lifestyles.

“We’ll then go back to the sugar traps and set up a light so that we can see the months. As well as a torch to walk around the grounds, we recommend that people bring sunglasses or a wide brimmed hat to protect their eyes from the light – a real mix of items!

“I know that some people may find this a little bit spooky but it is a lovely time of day to visit the property. I love being out with the bats as it starts to get dark and it can be a beautiful sight on a nice evening.”

Moths and Bats at Craigievar is one of a range of special events being held by the National Trust for Scotland, Scotland’s largest conservation charity, at its properties over the summer months.

The event is being staged by the Trust’s Ranger Service in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service and Butterfly Conservation.

It is suitable for all ages – visitors aged under 16 must be accompanied by an adult – and starts at 8.30pm. It will go on until after darkness falls, and is expected to wind up at around 10.30pm.

Booking is essential for the event and tickets, which cost £4 for adults and children, are available at www.nts.org.uk

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Jul 032017
 

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

(L to R) Sarah Harker and Moira Gash of DeeTour and VisitScotland regional director Jo Robinson.

A pair of Aberdeenshire entrepreneurs have launched a new tourist guidebook aimed at attracting more visitors to Royal Deeside.
Moira Gash and Sarah Harker, who run tour and activities business DeeTour alongside their own separate businesses, have created the Royal Deeside PassporTour, a pocketsize guide showcasing things to see and do in the Aberdeenshire valley.

The pair previously worked for tourism body Visit Royal Deeside.

Aimed at national and international visitors and locals alike, the 128-page book highlights the diversity of the area’s tourism offering. The guide was created after local tourism businesses called for this type of publication.

With stunning scenery, a wealth of locally produced food and drink, and an array of tourist attractions, golf courses and outdoor activities to enjoy, Royal Deeside has something for visitors of all ages. The book is designed to provide a comprehensive insight for those planning a trip to the area, while also acting as a guide and money saving tool as they explore the region.

Along with highlighting key tourist attractions and profiling the amenities and activities on offer in each of the main towns, the guide features interviews with local artists, tour guides, musicians, sportspeople and tourism professionals, helping to bring the region to life. A golf trail and a tea and cake trail each present further incentives to explore Royal Deeside, with participating businesses offering discounts to customers.

The history, heritage and culture of Royal Deeside and Scotland is also outlined, and a handy summary of Doric words will help visitors to grasp some of the basics of the distinctive north-east dialect.

Priced at £9.95, the Royal Deeside PassporTour provides purchasers with over £200 worth of savings through the 23 vouchers and two trails that it features.

The guidebook is also suitable for local families looking for inspiration for things to do during the summer holidays. Vouchers include 15% off at Go Ape at Crathes Castle, 50% off at Battlegrounds Paintball, two for one entry to Braemar Castle and 20% off day rover tickets at the Deeside Railway.

Co-director of DeeTour, Moira Gash, said:

“The Royal Deeside PassporTour aims to allow travellers to make informed choices as they plan their trip to Aberdeenshire and also act as a reference tool while they are visiting. Thanks to its royal connection, Deeside draws visitors from around the world and we’ve had interest in the guide from far and wide.

“Not only is it suitable for those visiting the area for the first time, but the huge savings offered by the featured businesses makes it a fantastic tool for locals. For families planning day trips during the summer holidays, the savings on offer at Go Ape at Crathes Castle and Battlegrounds’ paintballing, near Banchory, more than cover the cost of the book.”

The initiative has received the backing of VisitScotland, and was showcased at this year’s Royal Highland Show as part of the Aberdeenshire Village display, where it was given an enthusiastic reception from show visitors.

Jo Robinson, VisitScotland regional director, said:

“I think the Royal Deeside PassporTour is a great idea to inform visitors coming to beautiful Royal Deeside of the vast array of attractions, entertainment, locations and handy hints and tips, as well as locals looking for ideas for the summer holidays.

“Partnership and collaboration is at the heart of Scottish tourism and VisitScotland works with local industry to develop and deliver innovative initiatives that grow the regional visitor economy. We need to think big about Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire as a tourism destination to ensure we fulfil our potential – every visitor must get a quality experience, every single time.

“The Royal Deeside PassporTour reveals some of Aberdeenshire’s best-loved places as well as its hidden gems, and is a fantastic celebration of everything that this charming corner of the world has to offer visitors.”

Copies of the Royal Deeside PassporTour can be purchased from a number of businesses in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire or online at www.deetour.co.uk.

DeeTour is an Aberdeenshire-based tour and activities business that was established by business partners Moira Gash and Sarah Harker. The business provides bespoke tour and activity packages to help visitors explore Aberdeenshire. In 2017, DeeTour launched the Royal Deeside PassporTour, a new guidebook highlighting the wealth of things to see, do and sample in the region. The pocketsize book, which costs £9.95, includes over 20 vouchers that provide more than £200 of discounts at local business. 

Further information about DeeTour and the Royal Deeside PassporTour can be found at www.deetour.co.uk.

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Mar 172017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

In an initiative by Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green councillors Councillor Martin Ford is asking Aberdeenshire Council to ‘give consideration to the feasibility of creating a significant visual arts, museum or other cultural facility as part of its redevelopment of the Harlaw Road site in Inverurie’.

Cllr Ford’s call comes in a notice of motion he has submitted for debate at the next meeting of Aberdeenshire’s Education and Children’s Services Committee on 23 March.

It has only been possible to submit notices of motion for debate at Aberdeenshire Council’s policy committees since 27 January this year when the Council’s new scheme of governance was introduced (previously notices of motion were restricted to Area Committees and full council).

Cllr Ford’s notice of motion says:

“Aberdeenshire Council shall give consideration to the feasibility of creating a significant visual arts, museum or other cultural facility as part of its redevelopment of the Harlaw Road site in Inverurie. The consideration process shall include seeking public views, establishing what external funding sources might be available and discussions with potential partners who may want to be involved (e.g. the local universities).”

Committee chair Cllr Alison Evison has confirmed Cllr Ford’s notice of motion will be included on the agenda for next week’s Education and Children’s Services Committee meeting.

Cllr Ford said:

“The motion doesn’t commit the Council to anything beyond an exploratory process. But it’s an exploratory process we should do, and we need to do it now before the site is master-planned.

“Essentially, the motion asks the Council to think about the possibilities, and have discussions with others. Why would it not do that?

“The motion is deliberately not prescriptive about the kind of facility. That needs to be discussed and a decision emerge from consultation and dialogue.

“Personally, I rather like the idea of an ‘Aberdeenshire Museum’, but that’s clearly just one possibility. I want to see what comes out of the discussion and consultation that I hope results from the motion I have tabled.

“The point is, who would have predicted the V&A going to Dundee? Someone had to suggest it, against all reasonable expectation, and it happened.

“There is certainly room on the Harlaw Road site.

“A major cultural facility would bring significant benefits for the Aberdeenshire economy and tourism. It would also contribute to the quality of life for residents and raise the profile of the area.

“Clearly, funding will be an issue – which is why the motion asks the Council to look at external funding possibilities and open discussions with potential partners as part of an initial exploratory process.”

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“This is a good idea. At this stage, agreeing the motion does not commit the Council to expenditure, it only opens the door to exciting possibilities.

“The Council should be keen to hear the public’s views.”

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Feb 102017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

In a ground-breaking move, Aberdeenshire Council today became the first local authority in Scotland to set a carbon budget alongside its revenue, housing and capital budgets. All four budgets for 2017/18 were set at the meeting of the full Aberdeenshire Council yesterday (9 February).

The idea of a Council carbon budget was put forward last year by Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors Martin Ford and Paul Johnston.

The aim of the budget is to promote the effective management and delivery of reductions in Aberdeenshire Council’s own carbon emissions – and so contribute to the wider efforts to prevent more serious man-made climate change.

Aberdeenshire’s first carbon budget, agreeing to limit total Council emissions to 74007 tonnes CO2e for 2017/18, was backed unanimously by councillors. The new total represents a five per cent cut in emissions relative to emissions in 2014/15 (the most recent year for which data were available when the budget was being calculated). 

Speaking in support of the carbon budget at today’s meeting, Green councillor Martin Ford said:

“This is a very important improvement to the Council’s governance. It will change the way the Council takes decisions.

“Despite very considerable effort, the Council has only been managing to cut the carbon emissions arising from its operations by about one per cent per year – nowhere near enough to meet its own or national targets. I have held the view for some time that this is partly down to the governance arrangements in place in the Council for taking decisions with climate change implications.

“The adoption of an annual carbon budget should make it impossible to ‘forget’ in future that, as well as its intended consequences, a decision may also, unintentionally, increase carbon emissions.

“There is overwhelming scientific evidence for man-made climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. It’s the most serious threat we face.

“Aberdeenshire Council must play its part in tackling the problem, and get better at reducing its own emissions.”

DIGG councillor Paul Johnston said:

“The carbon budget will allow the Council to achieve the necessary carbon emission reductions as efficiently as possible. We can use it as a tool to ensure the Council gets best value, the maximum carbon bang for our bucks.

“We should never lose sight of the fact that carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels is pollution.”

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Feb 072017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire Green councillor Martin Ford has welcomed the extra money for local government secured by the Green MSPs in return for supporting the Scottish Government’s budget.
Aberdeenshire Council is set to benefit from an additional £6.309 million revenue funding and an additional capital allocation of £1.88 million – beyond the settlement previously intimated by the Scottish Government.

Budget day this year for Aberdeenshire Council comes on Thursday (9 February) and the agenda for the budget meeting has just been published containing proposals for balancing the 2017/18 revenue budget on the assumption of acceptance of the Scottish Government’s previous position on local government funding. 

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“I am relieved and delighted that, at the eleventh hour, additional government funding has been secured for next year for Aberdeenshire Council.

“For Aberdeenshire Council, Green MSP colleagues have secured a huge improvement.

“Even with £6.3 million extra funding, it is still going to be a tough budget this year for Aberdeenshire Council. But clearly the Council will now be able to re-visit the budget proposals just published and, at the very least, take out some of the proposed cuts to services. This is excellent news. I am so pleased.

“As it stands, the proposed budget includes some staffing reductions in Education and Children’s Services which I certainly don’t want to see implemented. Converting some of the Council’s spending on roads maintenance from revenue to capital, as proposed, is a short term saving, but long term is more expensive. There are good arguments for dropping these measures from next year’s Aberdeenshire budget now the financial pressure on the Council has been eased.”

The proposed Aberdeenshire 2017/18 revenue budget, as published yesterday, does include elements put forward in the Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) draft budget proposals last November – including additional money for active travel, traffic calming and youth work.

DIGG councillor Paul Johnston said:

“We’re pleased some issues we identified as needing support have been taken on board by the administration, but, given the financial squeeze, the amount of extra money was inevitably going to be very limited. There is clearly now scope for a greater investment in these agreed priorities.

“The DIGG will also want to look at the potential for using some of the new money for measures not included at all in the published proposed 2017/18 revenue budget – such as support for businesses affected by the business rates revaluation.”

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Nov 222016
 

marischalpicBy Suzanne Kelly.

While pondering whether to offer Aberdeen Press & Journal and the Evening Express a free base for one year in the controversial Marischal College office building, Aberdeen City Council has certainly been helping the paper financially as it spends £200,000 per annum on advertisements in the papers. 

A recent Freedom of Information request shows that the city council has advertised in Aberdeen Journals Ltd’s local papers to the tune of £626,500 over the last three years. 

This is a mean of £205,500 per year. 

The breakdown is as follows:

2016 – £199,818.78 (up to 25 October 2016)

2015 – £219,123.87

2014 – £197,513.68

The City explained:

“Unfortunately, we are unable to provide a breakdown of each expense. The types of expense that ACC would use Aberdeen Journals for would be, for example, Public Notices and Job Advertisements.”

The city also claims it would be too expensive to get a breakdown of what these ads are.

Aberdeenshire Council on the other hand spend a grand total of £6,998 on advertising with the two newspapers over the same three year period. When asked to check the figures, the Shire spokesperson confirmed this figure was all-inclusive.

The city declined to give a breakdown, stating there were a staggering 3,000 invoices for the time period, and the cost to them of collating the information was over £3,000.

There IS such a thing as free rent.

The City Council declines to answer whether it is planning to give free rent to the P&J or other future Marischal Square residents.

The City does advise:

“The discussions in relation to the proposals for the AJL terms have involved the advice of external property agents, the Council’s development partner and a number of Council officers.  The Council officers involved  were Head of Finance, Head of Land and Property Assets, and Asset Management Manager.” 

The P&J editor Damian Bates seems unsurprisingly keen to move to the building his papers previously called ‘controversial’. 

He commented in a recent article:

“It’s in no-one’s interests for it to sit empty and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to head back home; back into the city centre where we belong and where The Press and Journal started its amazing journey more than 270 years ago.

“We are now a multi-media business and this prospective move will provide a bright future for the Evening Express, P&J, Energy Voice and all our other products and sites. The council has been our landlord since approximately 1970 so nothing is going to change.”  

Some Free Advice on Free Rent, Expensive Advertising and Ethics.

Some notices must be published in newspapers for legal requirements. Job advertisements appear on the City Council’s website, which is free to access by anyone with a computer, and anyone with a library card can access computers for free. There is no excuse for cutting services while spending this kind of money on advertising.

Considering that jobs can be easily, freely posted on the city council’s website, and citizens are told that services and that citizens were told budget cuts have to be made, cutting down on advertising should have been a priority. In January Finance Committee Convener, Cllr Willie Young told the council’s advertising vehicle the Evening Express:

“It’s possible third sector organisations could see funding cut…We have to look at everything.”

Perhaps before any other services are cut, Aberdeen City Council might want to think twice about its advertising spend and giving new office space away for free, with the taxpayer picking up the tab.

According to the P&J, office space in Aberdeen commands a high price – or at least should do:

“…Aberdeen continues to lead the way for prime office rents, with Ryden reporting a current price of £32 per sq ft – higher than Glasgow’s £30 figure, with sites in Edinburgh and Dundee generating £28 and £15 respectively.” 

If the city could and should be making money out of the massive eyesore which could have been that civic square everyone in a position of power once Jonesed for (oh Sir Ian, where art thou? Why didn’t you want the civic square there? And I note that ‘Opportunity North East Limited’ has extended its accounting period so it won’t have to report at the end of this month now and has until the end of March 2017 – your comment welcome Sir Ian), and if the city has to ‘look at everything’ to find money – why should Aberdeen Journals Ltd. enjoy this largess?

Then again there is a small moral issue. For most of the rest of the UK, a newspaper has a duty to investigate with impartiality, serving as a check on government and a check on the powerful. As it stands, the P&J’s alliance to the editor’s wife’s boss Donald Trump is a dark stain.

Can the P&J really morally afford to be indebted to the city council it should be investigating, or has any pretence of journalism now left the building. We should be told.

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Nov 222016
 

martinford-kintore-crossing-tallWith thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire’sDemocratic Independent and Green Group of councillors (DIGG) is arguing the consultation on alternative service delivery models for sport and cultural services agreed at their council’s Education, Learning and Leisure Committee should form part of the expected wider consultation on budget options due to start later this year.

Aberdeenshire Council has agreed to follow a revised budget setting process for its 2017/18 budget in line with the decision taken at the Council’s budget meeting last February and in accordance with the provisions of the confidence and supply agreement between the DIGG and the Council’s coalition administration.

Draft budget proposals are to be published in November giving time for public consultation and to allow discussion on proposals between the various political groups on the Council ahead of formal budget decision making in February.

Cllr Martin Ford (pictured) said:

“I’m really not keen on the charitable trust proposal for future delivery of sport and cultural services. If it was not for the potential financial benefits – possibly betterment in excess of £1 million per annum – I don’t think the option would be under consideration. As it is, given the financial pressures on the Council and anticipated need for future savings, using a Council-owned charitable trust to deliver sport and cultural services has to be given serious consideration.”

Aberdeenshire Council is expected to have to make significant savings in its revenue budget for 2017/18 and in subsequent years. At this stage, before the Scottish Government grant settlement is known, there is considerable uncertainty about the amount the Council will have to save to balance its budget for next year.

However, based on reasonable assumptions, additional spending cuts or other savingstotalling over £10 million are expected to be required, over and above thesavings already identified in the draft 2017/18 revenue budget published last February.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“In setting its revenue budget for 2017/18, Aberdeenshire Council is going to have to take a range of decisions driven by the need to save money. Moving to a Council-owned charitable trust to deliver sport and cultural services is one option that could be adopted.

“Deciding what to do to balance the revenue budget means comparing all the potential savings options and trying to identify the least damaging and disruptive way of achieving the spending reductions required. Public consultation on those savings options that would affect the Council’s public services should also allow simultaneous consideration of the different proposals, so their relative acceptability can be gauged.

“Including alternative models for the delivery of sport and cultural services in the Council’s budget consultation process is the logical way to proceed,”

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“As part of consideration of alternative delivery models for sport and cultural services, I would want the Council to look at options for local control, not just a single Aberdeenshire-wide charitable trust.

“As a group, the DIGG aim to have a range of draft budget proposals ready for the November full council meeting, and will welcome the opportunity to get feedback and comment on these before the Council sets its revenue budget for 2017/18 next February.”

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