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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Jan 062017

With thanks to Martin Ford.

It’s a small budget adjustment that could make a big difference.

That’s the rationale for the proposal by Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group of councillors (DIGG) to reallocate £70,000 to support youth work in Aberdeenshire Council’s 2017/18 revenue budget. 

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“We believe informal learning activity for young people in safe social spaces is valuable for both the young people involved and communities.”

The purpose of community learning and development has changed since revised Scottish Government guidance was introduced in 2012. 

“Traditional youth work is still important as part of a wider view of supporting communities, even though the focus of community learning and development has shifted due to government policy,” said Cllr Johnston.

“We want the Council to be able to support youth work that now falls outside the scope of community learning and development,” said Cllr Martin Ford.

“Provision could be either by the Council itself or by making funding available to community groups.

“For example, I know of really valuable youth work being provided through a community organisation locally. But it’s a continual struggle finding the funding required to keep provision in place.

“In such circumstances, a small grant from the Council could make a big difference and would certainly represent value for money for the Council in terms of the benefits for the community.”

The DIGG proposal comes despite Aberdeenshire Council facing severe budget cuts next year. The £70,000 to support youth work is proposed to be reallocated from within the community learning and development budget, which is forecast to be underspent this year

Aberdeenshire Council’s overall budget for community learning and development work was protected by the confidence and supply agreement struck between the DIGG and the Council’s administration group in 2015.

Aberdeenshire Council’s 2017/18 revenue budget will be set at the full council meeting on 9 February.


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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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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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[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.]

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.

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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
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