All Change At The Town House

There was a ‘changing of the guard’ at the Town House yesterday (18 May 2022) following agreement between the Scottish Liberal Democrat and SNP councillors to form a partnership for five years to run Aberdeen City Council. This happened at the first meeting of the new Council following recent elections which saw both group gain one seat each, resulting in a majority within the chamber.

The city council has required coalitions since 2003 following the introduction of the Single Transferrable Vote system whereby you rank council candidates in order of preference. From the 1950s to 2003, the city was run by a succession of Labour majorities. However, in 2003, the Liberal Democrats ended Labour dominance. From 2003 to 2007, the Council was run by a coalition of 20 Liberal Democrats and 3 Conservatives. From 2007 to 2012, there was a Liberal Democrat / SNP coalition. From 2012 to 2022, a Labour / Conservative / Independent coalition was in charge of the city council.

Over the past two weeks the different groups have had discussions with each other to identify whether or not a deal could be struck to run the city. The 11 Labour councillors confirmed that they would not enter into a formal coalition with any other political group but they were willing to work with other groups as long as those groups were prepared to support and action the Labour manifesto. This effectively made it impossible for either Labour (with 11 councillors) or the Conservatives (with 8 councillors) to reach the required minimum of 23 councillors needed to run the city. Talks continued between the SNP and Liberal Democrat groups to establish whether or not they could agree a way forward.

Liberal Democrat member for Kingswells, Sheddocksley & Summerhill, Steve Delaney said, “Our starting point was always going to be our manifesto. We were elected on what we said we would deliver and, unless we could bring forward the bulk of what was in our manifesto we would been letting down those who had put their trust in us. In the end we came up with a policy statement which does exactly that”.

Steve, continued, “In addition to manifesto commitments I agreed to a partnership with the SNP to deliver stability for the city over the next five years. There were no other alternatives available for running the city council. At the Council meeting yesterday the Conservatives and Labour confirmed they would not revive their decade long coalition.

“It’s worth stating emphatically that I do not support Scottish independence. My three Liberal Democrat colleagues on the council share that view. The Scottish Liberal Democrats oppose independence and an independence referendum. Absolutely none of this has changed, nor will it”.

“This is a local solution for local circumstances. We have concluded an agreement with SNP councillors which focuses on investing in our crumbling infrastructure and taking forward improvements to services which are within the remit of the council. Although our policy statement is lengthy and not everything can be progressed from day one, our top priorities will be education, housing, infrastructure and the environment. Given that our position on the future of the United Kingdom is diametrically opposed to that of the SNP, both groups have agreed to disagree on this issue and to work together on maintaining and improving our local services in Aberdeen”.

Some key Liberal Democrat priorities for the city which will be taken forward include

  • abolishing the Brown Bin charge;
  • more curriculum choices in schools;
  • improving music education;
  • a new £1million road safety fund;
  • Resurfacing at least 40km of roads and 40km of pavements each year so that by 2032 at least 80% of our roads and pavements are in good condition.
  • investment in green transport – walking and cycling
  • campaigning to reverse underfunding of our city
  • addressing the climate change emergency and moving the city towards a sustainable net zero position.

Steve concluded, “After ten years of the Labour, Conservative and Independent coalition, Aberdeen voted for change. We could have stood on the sidelines and made plenty of noise or we could step up, take responsibility and deliver on the promises we made to those who put their trust in us.

“We didn’t like the terms administration – which nobody understands – or coalition, so instead we are describing ourselves as a partnership. The SNP are indeed the larger of the two groups but the deal agreed with them takes us forward as partners in the running of the city.

“Our leader Ian Yuill becomes co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, Martin Greig becomes Convenor of the Education Committee, our new member Desmond Bouse is Vice-Convenor of Planning. I am Vice-Convenor of the Licensing Committee and Depute Provost”.

Liberal Democrats Launch City Election Manifesto

Aberdeen Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto – “Putting the Sparkle Back in the Granite City” – for the 5th May Council elections.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Ian Yuill said, “Aberdeen is a city with a long and proud heritage, a city with a record of valuing education, a city with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a city which embraces links across Europe and around the world.

“Sadly, over the last ten years the City Council has been led by a coalition of Conservative, Labour and Independent councillors which has more than doubled the Council’s non-housing capital debt to over £1,068 million pounds. This is the equivalent of £4,664 for every adult and child in Aberdeen. The Conservative, Labour and Independent councillors have pursued large vanity projects rather than focussing on providing the key services upon which people depend.

“Aberdeen’s most valued asset is its citizens, and the Liberal Democrats are committed to improving life chances and the quality of life for all. Our 2022 election manifesto focuses on delivering that.

“The Liberal Democrats are committed to putting the sparkle back into the granite city.”

Key points in the Liberal Democrats’ plans for Aberdeen and the City Council include:

✅ Taking action to improve educational opportunities for Aberdeen’s young people.

✅ Transforming the quality of our city’s environment through positive green policies, including planting one million trees over the next ten years.

✅ Improving transport within our city, including £40 million of investment over five years in repairing and resurfacing Aberdeen’s crumbling roads and pavements.

✅ Making streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

✅ Developing Aberdeen’s economy in a genuine partnership with the private sector, third sector and residents.

✅ Revitalising our city centre.

✅ Delivering, with partners, over the next ten years, thousands of homes for social rent.

Councillor Martin Greig, Depute Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, added, “Education is the key investment for our city’s future. Aberdeen’s children and young people deserve the best possible education so they can meet the challenges of the twenty first century. The Liberal Democrats will focus on providing high quality education in good quality school buildings.”

Liberal Democrat Housing and Transport Spokesperson Councillor Steve Delaney added, “There are over 5,000 people on Aberdeen’s council house waiting list. The Liberal Democrats want to eliminate that waiting list by building, with partners, 5,000 homes for social rent over the next ten years. Most of those 5,000 homes will be council houses.”

Steve Delaney added, “The Liberal Democrats also want to tackle the terrible state of many roads and pavements in Aberdeen. Our manifesto includes a plan to invest in resurfacing and properly repairing roads and pavements.”

Ian Yuill concluded, “After the Council election on 5th May, Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors will work to deliver the best possible services, to strengthen our economy and to make Aberdeen an even better place to live, do business, work, be educated and enjoy life.”

Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat Budget Proposals

Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrat councillors yesterday proposed investing in education, abolishing the Garden Tax, repairing crumbling roads and pavements, and enhancing Aberdeen’s environment at Aberdeen City Council’s budget meeting. 

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Ian Yuill said: “The Liberal Democrats’ priorities are education, the environment and repairing Aberdeen’s crumbling roads and pavements. 

“Our proposals include investing over £46 million in city schools, abolishing the hated Garden Tax and investing in properly maintaining Aberdeen’s roads and pavements. Things that affect the whole city. It is important that the council gets the basics right.” 

Key points of the Liberal Democrats’ budget proposals included: 

  • Investing £46.4 million in education buildings including a new primary school for Torry, relocating St. Peter’s School, improving nursery facilities at St. Joseph’s School and £2 million to increase capacity at Bucksburn Academy.
  • Abolishing the Garden Tax, the unpopular charge made to collect residents’ garden waste from brown bins. 
  • Investing an extra £14 million over five years in repairing roads and pavements across Aberdeen. This would pay to resurface up to 70 miles of road surface. 
  • Investing in improving Aberdeen’s environment including tree planting and action to enhancing biodiversity. 
  • Improving road safety by creating a Road Safety Fund and rolling out 20mph speed limits in all residential areas in Aberdeen. 
  • Investing £16 million in improving charging facilities for electric vehicles in Aberdeen. This is the equivalent of over 3,200 fast chargers. 
  • Investigating the feasibility of planting rose beds at key points alongside Anderson Drive. 
  • Investigating generating green energy using ground source heat pumps in council playing fields and parks. 
  • A 3.3% increase in council tax. 
  • Cutting by £50 million to £100 million the funds allocated to the City Centre and Beach Masterplans.  

Ian Yuill said, “Despite the huge cuts forced on the council by the Scottish Government, the Liberal Democrat have once again focused resources on our priorities of education, Aberdeen’s roads and pavements and our environment.” 

Defibrillators For Sheltered Housing

Aberdeen City Council has agreed to investigate the possibility of putting defibrillators into all council owned sheltered housing blocks across the city. A proposal was already before the council recommending this be looked into for schools, with a full business case coming to next March’s council budget meeting.

Speaking in support installing defibrillators in schools, Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Ian Yuill put forward a request that all our sheltered housing blocks be included in this initiative. Councillor Boulton agreed to include this with her schools proposal and the committee approved it unanimously. Although we cannot second guess what that business case will recommend, it’s certainly a move in the right direction to bring these life saving devices to both schools and sheltered housing in a welcome show of cross party unity.

Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesman Steve Delaney said, “As I’m out and about visiting residents in sheltered housing, this is at the top of everyone’s list. People are asking how much they cost, if there’s funding available for them and how to go about getting one”

“Where these have already been installed, training is offered and I’m told they are very easy to use. There’s a definite willingness amongst a number of residents to undergo the training, knowing that this could mean the difference between life and death”.

“I look forward to seeing this initiative progressed, both for schools and for sheltered housing. It’s exactly the type of initiative that the whole council can be and should be uniting around”.

Further details can be found here.

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Community Planning Aberdeen has launched an online simulator to enable citizens to express what is important and of value to them and for their community.  The survey is open to any resident of Aberdeen City.

What is important to you?

Community Planning Aberdeen is the name for your local partnership of public, private and third sector organisations and communities all working together to improve people’s lives across Aberdeen City.

We would like residents of Aberdeen to participate in this short exercise to discover what things you value and what is important to you.

Imagine you are responsible for improving the lives of the people of Aberdeen. You only have 500 points to give to various improvement projects. You must allocate all of these points. How would you allocate these points? How you do this will help guide the work of Community Planning Aberdeen and the priorities within the City’s Local Outcome Improvement Plan.  You can, also, give comments and submit ideas. 

Open until Wednesday 31st of March 2021

Get Started >>

If you have any queries or would like to give us feedback, please use the comments boxes in the link or email us at

Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrats Call For Face Coverings On Dedicated School Transport

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Scotland’s national Clinical Director Jason Leitch has been reinforcing the requirement for social distancing in school environments.

To improve safety, Aberdeen City Council’s Liberal Democrat Group is calling for the wearing of face coverings to be made compulsory on dedicated school buses. Currently, face coverings are compulsory on public transport but not on Council managed school buses.

More information on the provision of school buses is at:

Liberal Democrat Education spokesman Councillor Martin Greig said:

“There have been cases of covid19 infection in schools so it is vital to take every possible opportunity to encourage and enforce physical distancing. There should be a consistent message to wear a face covering when travelling on the bus. Council operated school buses should not have a different policy. People can just get confused when the safety rules vary so much from one situation to the next. It is reasonable to expect that everyone travelling in close proximity should cover up”.

“If face coverings can’t be made enforceable on school transport, this should be a very strong recommendation from the Council. This is a clear commitment not just for the safety of the bus passenger but also for the wellbeing of every individual they later come into close contact with.”

Scottish Exam Results Chaos

I am very pleased for all the young people whose hard work and ability is now going to be properly recognised by the regrading of National 4 and 5, Higher and Advanced Higher results.

This whole disgraceful shambles was the fault of an arrogant Education Secretary and Scottish Government who refused to listen to repeated warnings that the scheme adopted to make the awards was grossly flawed. As a result they put tens of thousands of young people across Scotland through a hugely difficult week.

Like many other young people and parents, I will never forgive John Swinney and the Scottish Government for what they have put our young people through.

Schools Return Between 12th – 15th August

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

All parents will receive communications from both Aberdeen City Council and their child’s school in the next few days reminding them of the date/time of the planned induction session for their child along with any additional information they may require.

Induction sessions will take place at some point between 12th and 15th August with all children expected to return to school full time from 17th August.

These induction sessions are needed to introduce new children to P1 and S1 and also to familiarise all children and young people with the additional measures which have been introduced in order to reduce the likelihood of Covid-19 being spread within schools.

Some changes such as the use of hand sanitiser when entering different classrooms, management of breaks (including lunch breaks) and movement within school buildings will be common to all schools, whereas certain schools may require children and young people to become familiar with additional requirements.

The age and layout of the school, whether it’s a primary or secondary and a number of other distinct factors will dictate which measures are required at individual schools.

Aberdeen City Council has updated their information to parents and carers on the re-opening of schools and this can be found here.

My Concerns About Schooling

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

by Steve Delaney – 27 June 2020

I’m sure most parents will agree that teaching staff across the city have done an excellent job putting together online learning resources for our children at short notice and keeping that going over the past 3 months.

However, there are significant challenges ahead as we adapt to new ways of getting back to something resembling normality whilst still have a requirement to take appropriate precautions to keep ourselves and others safe.

The Scottish Government’s initial plan was for all children in Scotland to return to school on 11 August 2020 on a part time basis using a “blended” teaching model which was to include some face to face classroom work along with some online learning. Plans were already well advanced for this as we head towards the final week of the virtual school term.

These plans would have involved smaller numbers of children in each classroom with a number of measures put in place to support social distancing and limit any possible spread of Covid-19 within a school environment. Councillors were recently briefed on these plans and I was most impressed by the amount of work which had gone in to ensure that both our teachers and pupils can stay safe.

There was of course one major challenge for all and that related to childcare. It is expected that many more people are likely to be back to work by the time the new school term starts. If in-class attendance is not following the usual timetable from Monday to Friday each week, who is going to look after the children the rest of the time? Parents will be at work and it may be unwise to ask elderly grandparents to help out in the current situation. Additional childcare comes at a cost but there’s never enough places to meet normal demand, never mind this increased demand. This was a real concern for parents and one for which the Scottish Government had been unable to offer answers.

A few days ago the Scottish Government had a re-think and decided to open all schools to all children full time from 11 August . My concern is that, like the previous “blended” model, this latest approach may also be undeliverable as it currently stands, but for different reasons.

It will not be possible to put in place social distancing if all children return full time as there’s not the space to do this. Therefore, unless social distancing rules change, it appears that teachers and pupils will be afforded less safety measures than the rest of the population.

The decision on whether to re-open schools on 11 August on a full time basis will be taken towards the end of July and nobody can second guess where we are going to be in respect of the Covid-19 recovery at that point in time. I would hope the virus has by then become a reducing and hopefully negligible threat but this remains unknown at present.

I’m sure we can all agree that the longer children are away from full time schooling the more risk there is of them falling behind. We would all like to see education get back to normal as soon as possible, but this must not be done at the cost of increased risk to Covid-19 for our children and their teachers.

Although no public authority (UK Government, Scottish Government or local council) has got everything right, most decisions to date have been taken in good faith based upon the science. My greatest fear is that we may now start to see decisions being taken for political expediency without due regard to the risks posed from both a practical and a safety point of view.

The Scottish Government needs to gain the trust of parents and teachers by publishing the scientific evidence upon which they have based their current plans. They also need listen to parents, listen to teachers and most of all adhere to the medical and scientific advice. Only by doing this will they be able to come up with a solution which is deliverable, safe and workable for everyone.

Mind Of My Own APP Now Includes Coronavirus Support

Aberdeen City Council has issued a reminder to the city’s vulnerable young people that they can access support through the current Covid-19 pandemic via an innovative app launched by the council last year.  

Since March 2019 the Mind Of My Own app has helped the city’s care-experienced young people make their voices heard and make decisions on their lives by saying how they are feeling, what support they need and to tell their care worker about the things that are important to them.  

With the use of Mind Of My Own, users can help overcome feelings of anxiety, isolation or loneliness by sending their worker a statement , which will be received by email, to let them know how the user is feeling and allow the individual to feel connected and digitally close to them at this time.

The app can be downloaded from an app store or by creating an account at

If potential users find this difficult, they can contact their worker and be supported through the downloading process.  

Vouchers Issued For Those Entitled To Free School Meals

Following the closure of our schools on 27 March, pupils who were entitled to free school meals were still able to get these but had to attend school at lunchtime for these.

With effect from 6 April, supermarket vouchers will instead be issued to eligible families. These will be issued fortnightly and will also cover what should have been the Easter break. During this first week when vouchers are being sent out, school meals will continue to be provided at school as normal.

Lib Dem councillor for Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill said, “I’m sure families will appreciate the move to vouchers as it helps protect children by allowing for social distancing and avoids the need to travel to school daily at at time when we’re all much safer at home”.

Parents should automatically receive these vouchers by email or text. If you do not receive these next week or the school do not have your email or mobile number please call the Virtual School Helpline on 01224 523322.

Help For Communities

A new website and phoneline launched today, providing people all across Grampian with information on how to access social, practical and emotional support on Coronavirus (COVID-19).  

The new Assistance Hub goes live this morning, pulling together links to the latest advice from a range of partners including all three local authorities, Police, Health, Red Cross, volunteers and community information. It is a site for anyone in Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray, with information for residents and businesses alike.   

The website address is or call 0808 196 3384 (8am-8pm 7 days a week). The number will complement other helplines, including Aberdeen City Council’s Crisis Support Line, which was launched last week and can be reached directly on 0800 0304 713.

The website is full of links with up-to-date information. The main objective is as a focal point for information and assistance for anyone affected by coronavirus anywhere in Grampian. It is also a way for residents to offer their support which they can safely deliver in their communities. Staff are on the phone to provide callers with up to date information, or to link them up with the right person who can quickly answer questions.  Another important feature is that the site can be used to request help on behalf of someone else, allowing friends and neighbours to signpost to someone in need. 

Lib Dem councillor for Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill said, “There’s so many useful new websites popping up offering advice about the coronavirus, public services, the lockdown and much more, that people are getting confused about where to go to locate specific information”.

“The amount of work which has gone into Aberdeen City Council’s coronavirus page is commendable as it the Business Gateway, NHS Grampian’s dedicated resource and a number of others but now we need to join the dots so people can find what they need quickly and easily without having to check a dozen sites with the risk that they encounter misinformation amongst the wealth of fact based resources”.

“My advice is simple, make the Advice Hub your homepage and you can’t go wrong. It links directly to all the other pages but offers much more besides, in a user friendly interface. Thanks to all the public sector partners in our area for this invaluable resource”.

Please Help Us Keep Our Children Safe

Aberdeen City Council has issued a plea for communities to support local children and young people through the current Covid-19 outbreak.

Graeme Simpson, Chief Officer for Aberdeen City Council’s Integrated Children’s and Family Services and Sheena Gault, Independent Chair of Aberdeen City’s Child Protection Committee (CPC), issued the following joint statement: “Regardless of the unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in, the health, wellbeing and safety of our young people remains of paramount importance.

“With schools and nurseries having closed from today for the foreseeable future, the onus is on all us to be watchful and to know what to do if we become aware of a child who is struggling or in distress.

“We urge everyone to play a part to keep local children safe. The onus of care has now shifted from schools to local communities, and we’re asking everyone to keep their eyes and ears open.

“Local communities always provide a significant protective factor for children and that’s even more important at a time when families may be under significant additional stress. If you’re at all worried about a child’s welfare, it’s much better to say something than do nothing.”

Anyone with any concerns about the health, safety or wellbeing of a child or young person, should contact Police Scotland on 101 or the Aberdeen Joint Child Protection Team on 01224 306877 (0800 731 5520 for emergencies out of office hours).

Information On Available Support Following School Closures

Following the Scottish Government’s decision to close of all schools from 20 March 2020, Aberdeen City Council has put in place a number of measures to try to minimise the impact on both pupils and their families.

Kingswells, Sheddocksley, Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “In a national emergency such as this, it has become necessary to close our schools to the majority of pupils for their own safety during what is expected to be the peak period in the life cycle of this virus. Those who will remain in our schools – pupils, teachers and support staff, should find social distancing to be less of a challenge due to the vastly reduced numbers”.

“The education team, working with others, has done an excellent job of putting in place support measures for our children to allow them to continue learning at home during this difficult time. I would like to thank all staff for the work they have done to pull everything together in such a short timeframe”.

“However, these and other support measures listed below will not take the place of regular schooling and it is understood many families may struggle to make suitable childcare arrangements at such short notice”.

Arrangements During School Closures Are As Follows

Schools will remain open for S4, S5, S6 pupils who require to attend sessions to complete senior phase course work for national qualifications. This vital service must as there will be no formal examinations this year, with grades being awarded on the basis of course work.

Families whose children who would normally receive free school meals during term time will be contacted through Groupcall to advise on how this service will continue to operate for their children.

Parents who work in the NHS and other workers defined by the Scottish Government as being critical to supporting the coronavirus response (who have nobody available to look after their children) will be able to apply online for childcare places. These places are limited and will often not be at the child’s usual school. There is a waiting list and two categories of key workers, with category one parents receiving access to places first. Work is ongoing to create additional places.

A Digital Learning Hub learning has been put in place to allow children to continue their work through the curriculum from home. Separate log ons will be available to support teachers and parents. Digital provision will be made available for children who have no access at home. The Digital Learning Hub can be accessed here.

A virtual school helpline has been established to support children and families in need of assistance.  The phoneline will be made available from 9am on 23 March 2020 and the number is 01224 523322.

Coronavirus (COVID19) Latest Update On Council Buildings & Council Services

Message from Councillor Steve Delaney

The situation around the Coronavirus pandemic is evolving daily, if not hourly. I would advise everyone to take heed of the official advice coming from UK Government, Scottish Government and Aberdeen City Council, which will continue to evolve based upon the best evidence available.

Aberdeen City Council has had to shut down all public buildings with the exception of Marischal College (which is opening for reduced hours).Most council services are continuing to operate but this may be subject to change to ensure the most critical services can continue to run at all times.

For the latest information from Aberdeen City Council click HERE

Anne Frank awards 2019

What are the Anne Frank Awards?

Anne Frank is representative of millions who suffered the horrific, depraved consequences of prejudice and genocide during the Nazi era. The GREC Anne Frank Awards invites all schools and youth groups throughout Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray to take part in activities to promote equality, Children’s Rights and positive relations between all people.

Examples of activities:

  • Celebration of appropriate events and anniversaries
  • Artwork, Poems, Drama, Movies, Comic Strips, Songs, Short Films or Project/topic work
  • PowerPoint presentations

TheUNSustainable Development Goalsmay also provide inspiration for activities.

Why take part?

Taking part is a great way to demonstrate your school or group’s commitment to equality and human rights, which in turn will cover various experiences and outcomes of the curriculum and may feed into other initiatives like Rights Respecting Schools. All those taking part will:

  • Be invited to the Awards Ceremony in June 2019 (attendance is not a requirement)
  • Be invited to present their work in front of their peers
  • Receive certificates, both for named individuals and school, class or other groups
  • Receive a framed photograph with pupils and the Anne Frank statue.  

“The event was very good and provided a fantastic experience for our pupils as they presented to an audience. The event was valued by our school as it allowed our wider achievement groups to get their messages across on the importance of fairness, equality and tolerance. It encouraged pupil voice and let pupils know their rights are respected and their opinions valued.”

Tom Whyte, Faculty Head, Harlaw Academy

How to take part:

To take part,simply fill in the short form (which can be downloaded from by using the contact details below) and attach evidence of the work that has been undertaken.  

Closing Date for entries:   Friday 17thMay 2019

Awards Ceremony: Friday 21stJune 2019

For more information and examples of previous entires visit contact Dave at

Applying For School Places

The method of applying for school places in Aberdeen has changed – it now needs to be done online.

Applications can only be submitted by parents, guardians or, if they are over 16 years old, the young person themselves.

If you want your child to start school in August 2019 the application must be made by Friday 15th March.

You can find out more and apply online here.

Get Involved @ Kingsford School

The Kingsford School Parent Council works alongside the school on issues which are importance to parents.

They also organise various events, all of which raise funds which help the school, reduce the cost of school trips and much more.

Joining the Parent Council isn’t onerous and won’t take up much of your time, but the more people get involved, the more they can do for the school and for our children.

They are a friendly informal bunch of parents who get together a few times a year and they would welcome some more parents joining their ranks. It’s a good way to get to know some of other parents too, especially if your child has just started nursery or P1.

So why not come along and find out a bit more?

Investment In Schools Blocked

Each of the past five years the Lib Dem Group on Aberdeen City Council has proposed additional funding for local schools.

This year’s additional expenditure amounted to £2.5 million across the city, amounting to £111 per pupil.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “Had this proposal been accepted, it would have resulted in increased expenditure of £48,174 for Kingswells, £37,962 for Kingsford, £29,082 for Fernielea and £22,755 for Muirfield. Secondary education was not forgotten either with an additional £89,244 earmarked for Hazlehead and £71,706 for Bucksburn”.

It’s vital that our schools have sufficient funds to ensure our children get the best education possible.

Unfortunately Labour, Conservative and SNP councillors did not share this aspiration.

Eday Crescent Play Area Upgrade

eday_crescentThe play area in Eday Crescent is to be upgraded before the end of the year. Unfortunately this means that all the old equipment is to be removed very soon.

As part of the upgrade some tarred areas around the edges are to be replaced with grass and a new rubberised surface is to be laid over the remaining tarred area. As you would expect there will be a fair amount of disruption but it willl be well worth it.

Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “I’m delighted to see yet another play park being upgraded in our area. From the artist’s impression, it’s clear this will offer much improved facilities for families in the Summerhill area.

Countesswells Update

CountesswellsAs a result of a failure of the members of the Countesswells Consortium to sign an agreement legally binding them to deliver the schools, roads and other infrastructure, the Planning Application came back to Council.

This application refer to land to the south of the A944 between the roundabout at the end of Lang Stracht to the Kingswells roundabout, where 3000 homes and associated facilities are destined to be built.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “When we first considered this last year, I was happy enough with the proposals within the site boundary but voted against the application due to the absence of any detailed traffic mitigation proposals. I considered this to be an unsafe position then, and it has become more so over time. It’s some 10 months later and we still don’t know whether or not sufficient measures will be put in place to address this legitimate concern”.

The proposal before councillors had advocated the signing of separate agreements with the different developers.

Comment in on this, Steve said, “If we proceed, there is a real risk that contributions do not all line up as expected as a result of any disputes or disagreements between developers. A “best case negotiated settlement” may not necessarily represent the level of contribution which is needed to address either the required education or roads requirements, or indeed both”.

Steve voted to refuse the application on the basis that the current roads infrastructure could not cope with the increased traffic and no details of traffic mitigation had been put forward. When that was defeated he supported the previous Council decision to progress the development but only following the signing of the said legal agreement jointly by all three developers. This proposal eventually won the day.

He said, “It’s not up to the Council to sort out falling outs between developers. They either agree to take joint responsibility for delivering the roads and schools needed to support this development or they don’t build”.

Lib Dem Budget Supported Education, Infrastructure & Local Communities

Town HouseOn 5th February 2015 Aberdeen City Council passed its General Fund and Common Good Budgets for 2015/16. This essentially covers everything except Council housing, which was dealt with in December.

All Parties were agreed on over 99% of the £455 million expenditure on essential services, with the different groups proposing alternative spending priorities for the remainder. The Liberal Democrats prioritised education, roads resurfacing, potholes, street lighting and the gritting/clearing of roads and pavements in winter.

The Lib Dem proposals on Education, which were rejected by Labour, SNP, Conservative and Independent councillors offered additional funding to every school in the city based upon their school roll. It was for head teachers to use this where they saw the greatest need.

Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “Had this proposal been accepted, it would have resulted in an addition £12,807 going to our primary schools, consisting of £4,384 for Kingswells, £2,995 for Kingsford, £2,762 for Fernielea and £2,706 for Muirfield. Secondary education was not forgotten either with an additional £6,689 earmarked for Hazlehead and £4,472 for Bucksburn. At just £200,000 for the whole city, this represented an affordable investment in our children’s future”.

The Liberal Democrats, acknowledging the Council’s inability to keep our roads and pavements clear of snow and (more importantly) ice during a fairly mild winter, also put forward proposals to help address the deficiency. They proposed additional staff and equipment to grit an extra 12.5 miles of pavements AND 12.5 miles of side roads/cul-de-sacs on a “normal” snowy day. During the rest of the year these staff would be deployed to undertake an additional 6,000 road surface treatments/pothole repairs. This was a fully costed proposal which was affordable to the Council, but rejected by Labour, SNP, Conservative and Independent councillors.

As in previous years the Lib Dem Group proposed an additional £2 million expenditure in our crumbling infrastructure. This would have delivered an additional 5.5 miles of road resurfacing, or 5.5 miles of pavement resurfacing or 1,333 lighting columns or a combination of these to best meet priorities within our communities.

Steve Delaney said,”I was advised by officials a couple of years ago that £20 million of investment is needed per year for the next 10 years to bring our infrastructure up to scratch. Aberdeen’s Labour led Council spends about 20% of what’s needed each year, allowing our roads and pavements to further deteriorate with little hope of being resurfaced in the short term. Sadly this is not a priority for them”.

The Liberal Democrats also put forward proposals to set aside £250,000 from the Common Good Fund to make awards of up to £15,000 to local organisations to support projects which would deliver long term benefit to communities. In fairness, many councillors, cross-Party saw merit in this approach but other than the Lib Dem members, none were willing to support them when it came to the vote.

Education Fears with Local Development Plan

Parents1On 28th October 2014 Aberdeen City Council put its latest Local Development Plan out to public consultation. The consultation will run for 10 weeks, giving interested parties the opportunity to comment on the proposals as they currently stand. The Plan then comes back to the Council with councillors having to take a final view before it goes to the Scottish Government Reporters’ Unit for further scrutiny in advance of its adoption by the Council. Very little has changed since the Plan adopted in 2012 as a significant supply of land had already been identified for employment and residential purposes, to be phased over the next 20 years.

Local councillor Steve Delaney asked a number of detailed questions. His greatest concern related to educational provision for housing schemes proposed in the Local Plan. Steve pointed out that pupil forecasts in the current Plan date back to 2010. He asked that these be updated to ensure the Council using the most up to date figures available and can ensure adequate educational provision is identified. His comments referenced Kingswells Primary, Kingsford Primary and Hazlehead Academy, though he stressed that capacity issues would create challenges across the city unless Planning and Educational services worked more closely with each other.

No More Space At Kingswells School!

Parents1A further 46 properties have been approved for the eastern side of Fairley Road, bringing the total for the West Huxterstone site to 143 in stark contrast to the 120 approved in both the Aberdeen Local Development Plan and the West Huxterstone Masterplan.

Kingswell councillor Steve Delaney spoke at the Planning Committee and later wrote to committee members outlining his concerns about the impact of this development on Kingswells School. He had previously raised these same concerns at the masterplan stage in 2012 and asked that development of the site be phased in conjunction with the Education service to ensure the school had sufficient capacity for the additional children. This amendment was accepted but not followed through.

Steve said, “Capacity issues at Kingswells School were highlighted as early as November 2012 and were universally accepted at that time. The two planning applications relating to this site increased the number of units by 20% in full knowledge their was no more space at Kingswells School and no phasing was proposed when the planning applications came forward. These are arguably the worst planning decisions I’ve witnessed in the 12 years since I was first elected to Aberdeen City Council.”

Steve, a former Vice-Convenor of Planning, continued, “First we saw the committee’s request for a visit to the school refused by the Convenor of Education, Culture & Sport. Then the Planning Convenor attempted to block the visit by use of a “guillotine motion”, which thankfully he lost. Such behaviour is in my experience unprecedented. In the past if any local member requested a visit this was done as a matter of courtesy”.

Committee members were rightly concerned and did indeed visit the school, but they decided that delaying these 46 homes would make no difference as the school will be over-capacity whether or not they proceed. The number of primary age children attributable to these 46 homes would have been at least 13, possibly more so the approval has indeed exacerbated the capacity problem.

Steve said, “My proposal to Committee was to delay this development, not to scrap it. I remain unconvinced that Kingswells School can accommodate two additional classrooms without losing valuable general purpose space to the detriment of all children’s education.”

“The reasons the school will be over capacity relate to the increased number of properties, the decision not to phase delivery of the combined site and the failure to factor in any children coming from the West One development. It’s been one disastrous decision after another and the consequences of these decisions will impact on numerous children and their families living in Kingswells”.

“Regrettably the decision has been made and there is no appeal mechanism available. I ensured committee were made aware of all the facts with regard to both applications but regret that common sense did not prevail”.

In the event that additional children cannot be accommodated at Kingswells School, not all children zoned for Kingswells will be offered places and those who are not will require to be bussed to other schools where spare capacity exists.

Newhills Expansion Out To Consultation

NewhillsThe Newhills expansion is currently at the Development Framework (pre Masterplan) stage. The proposals involve the building of 4400 homes between Bucksburn and Kingswells. The consultation runs from 17th March 2014 until 29th April 2014.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney spoke at the meeting. Whilst complimenting the proposals overall, he raised specific concerns about school capacity.

He said, “I’m particularly concerned that we’re asked to accept a figure of one secondary school child per 7 households as being reasonable. Unless we’re intending for this to be an area primarily for older people, the figure seems a bit low and I’d ask that we re-visit this as part of the Masterplanning process. A failure to recognise sufficient capacity will result in the loss of a developer funded new build school and over-crowding at existing schools, so we need to get this right.”

He continued, “Similarly there needs to be appropriate arrangements but in place for the adoption or ongoing management of open spaces to avoid the issues we see elsewhere across the city with some areas being badly neglected as a result of unenforceable provisions in this respect. I’d therefore ask that this requirement be fed into the Masterplanning process.”

A number of other committee members also echoed both concerns and it was agreed that these would be looked at further as the process goes forward.

Steve said, “This process remains at an early stage but it’s important we get things right as we only have one opportunity to do so, but getting it wrong will have long term consequences. I’m happy to see this go out for public consultation but will be keeping a close eye on these proposals as they go through the various stages. I would therefore encourage people to look at the document and make their views known.”

The consultation can be found here.

Council Budget 2014/15

BudgetAberdeen City Council held its annual Budget meeting on 6th February 2014. The Priority Based Budgeting introduced when the Liberal Democrats were running the city has led to increased stability and improved strategic planning of the city’s finances. In excess of 90% of the proposals were common to all parties with an element of expenditure available for allocation to specific priorities. It was for each grouping to prioritise how this amount was spent.

The Liberal Democrats, as part of their balanced budget proposals, urged additional investment in education and repairing Aberdeen’s crumbling roads and pavements.

Liberal Democrat proposals would have seen £300,000 of Common Good funds spent enhancing Hazlehead Park and the area around it during 2014/15. Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said, “Hazlehead Park is in need of some serious investment and £300,000 could have done much to upgrade this much loved park. Had the Council supported our proposals this would have seen major revamps of the Queen Mother Rose Garden and the poor quality roads around the park”.

The Liberal Democrats also proposed investing £125,000 for replacement or refurbishment of our childrens’ play parks. Although some improvements have been made, investing an additional £125,000 in play parks would have made a real difference by helping to refurbish and improve play parks across Aberdeen.

Turning towards education, Steve said “We believe investing in our children’s education is vital so we proposed giving an extra £100,000 to schools to buy additional books and equipment. That would have made a real difference to every school in the city. Sadly Labour and their Conservative sidekicks rejected this extra investment in Aberdeen’s children’s future.”

The Liberal Democrats also proposed investing a home safety initiative to help address carbon monoxide poisoning, which is still, sadly, responsible for a number of deaths each year. Commenting on this initiative, Steve said, “Investing £50,000 in this would have allowed the council to work with the Fire and Rescue Service and provide thousands of homes across Aberdeen with Carbon Monoxide detectors. This relatively modest amount of money would have made people across Aberdeen feel safer and quite possibly have saved lives.”

The most significant proposal from the Liberal Democrat Group was to nearly double investment in roads and pavements during 2014/15. Currently Aberdeen City Council has a budget of £2.2 million per annum for this which is clearly insufficient. Had these proposals been accepted, this would have resulted in a total of almost £22 million over the next five years being spent on repairing roads and pavements in Aberdeen

Steve Delaney said “Too many of our city’s roads and pavements are crumbling. What the council must do is invest more in the permanent repair and resurfacing of roads and pavements to bring them back to an acceptable standard. In the long-run that will reduce the cost of jet-patching and other less permanent repairs.”

“Sadly Aberdeen’s Labour and Conservative councillors rejected our carefully costed proposal to invest nearly £22 million in road and pavement repairs over the next five years.”

The Liberal Democrats also proposed abolishing “on street” Sunday parking charges and ending both on and off street parking charges on other days at 6.30pm, rather than the current 8pm.

Steve said, “The Liberal Democrats believe ending on street parking charges on Sunday and making on and off street parking free after 6.30pm would help bring more people back into our city centre on Sundays and weekday evenings. The council should be encouraging people to come into the city centre and not making it more expensive for people.”

As part of their revenue and capital budget proposals the Liberal Democrats also proposed investing:

– £50,000 in installing additional bus shelters

– £50,000 to fund a flood guard grant scheme to help households threatened by flood

– £50,000 in small scale environmental initiatives, providing dog waste bins and warning signs

Kingswells/Sheddocksley/Summerhill councillor Steve Delaney said,”Despite the rejection of this by Labour and Conservative councillors today we will continue to campaign for greater investment in our children’s future, action to repair our crumbling roads and pavements and more effort to improve Aberdeen’s environment.”

Pearl Shines At Awards!

Aberdeen City Council CopyrightAberdeen City Council hosted its Star Awards on 2nd May 2013. The event was designed to recognise the excellence of its staff and presentations were made to winners in a number of categories. In particular the “People’s Champion” category invited nominations from members of the public and one of our own was amongst them.

Sheddocksley resident Pearl Rendall is known to us as Kingsford School’s lollipop lady. She has been a “weel kent face” to children (and their parents) in the area for over 30 years. She keeps the kids in order, promotes road safety and brightens up even the wildest and coldest days with her warm smile and friendly conversation.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley councillor Steve Delaney said, “I’m delighted Pearl has been chosen as our people’s champion. Pearl has been keeping our children and their parents safe for more than a generation, despite being badly injured carrying out her duties over 20 years ago. I’ve known her personally for a number of years and enjoy seeing her cheery face every day as she educates our children on road safety and keeps them out of harm’s way. This is a well deserved honour for a true people’s champion”.

Pearl was presented with her award at a ceremony at the Beach Ballroom. Steve added, “Pearl does a sterling job but is a very modest lady. Perhaps now she really knows how much she means to all the mums, dads and kids in our area. Nobody deserves this honour more”.

Council Opposes New School for Maidencraig

On 7th February 2013, the Education, Culture & Sport Committee decided not to provide a new school to serve the Maidencraig development. The recently approved Maidencraig Masterplan will result in 750 new homes being built on both sides to the Lang Stracht adjoining existing housing in Summerhill and Sheddocksley. The new development will run as far as Dobbies on the north side and as far as the roundabout which joins the Langstracht, A944 and B1119 at Green Hedges.

Kingswells/Sheddocksley Lib Dem Councillor Steve Delaney said, “Currently children are already walking more than a mile to Fernielea School on the Summerhill side. This would increase to about two miles for those living closest to the roundabout”.

“On the Sheddocksley side the distances to Kingsford School would increase from about half a mile to over a mile. A new school could have accommodated children from the whole Maidencraig development as well as the area from Rousay Drive westwards, making all three schools accessible to everyone. The decision not to even consider this is just plain stupidity”.

The Liberal Democrats put forward an amendment asking for the Committee to look at the feasibility of building a new school to serve this area. The move was opposed by Labour, Conservative and SNP councillors.

Mr Delaney said, “Our area has been denied a new school where a need clearly exists. Instead, we’re going to see children arriving at school soaked and frozen in cold weather as a result of the distances they will have to travel to school. In addition, the Labour, Conservative and SNP councillors who voted against this will be responsible for significantly increased traffic during school runs, which will affect all of us, and runs contrary to local and national transportation policy”.