Shaping Aberdeen, budget 2015/2016

The papers for the Council Budget Meeting on 5th February have now been finalised and circulated to the elected members. 

The Council will be considering reports relating to the General Fund Revenue 2015/2016 and indicative 5 year budgets, the Non Housing Capital Programme 2015/2016 and indicative 5 year budgets and the Common Good budget 2015/2016 and indicative 2016/2017 to 2019/2020 budget.  The Council approved the Housing Revenue Account and Housing Capital budgets 2015/2016 to 2019/2020 at its meeting on 17th December 2014. 

At the time of writing the organisational review of the Council’s management structure approved at the meetings of 14th May 2014 and 20th August 2014 is moving towards its conclusion and in addition, recruitment and selection will soon be underway to the posts of Director of Corporate Governance, Head of Legal and Democratic Services and Head of IT and Transformation. In order to ensure continued effective financial stewardship the Council’s budget was not realigned to the revised management structure of the Council during 2014/2015.  The realignment will be completed for 2015/2016. 

My report to the Budget Meeting includes the latest workforce planning document for the Council – Shaping Our Future Workforce 2015 – 2020.  This document will underpin the work of each Directorate in relation to the development of the Council’s staff team over the coming years. 

Work will begin before the end of the current financial year on the development with staff across the Council of a re-focused culture within the organisation which will see consideration given to each of customer experience, staff experience and use of resources in everything we do.  Decision-making within the Council will include an assessment of how the proposal being considered addresses the balance between these three factors.  This will be of central importance to the transformational work to be led by the new post of Head of IT and Transformation. 

Extensive work has been undertaken on developing the programmes to underpin the customer experience and staff experience aspects of this refocused culture. The early part of the new financial year will see initial piloting of an approach to outcome planning and budgeting which will be the subject of a report back to Committee. 

While the structure and culture of the Council are being refreshed, work is also underway with colleagues from public sector partners to refresh and refocus the City’s Single Outcome Agreement.  At the same time, given the changes underway within the Council, the Council’s own 5-year Business Plan 2012/2013 – 2017/2018 will also be updated in the coming weeks to reflect the changed working environment within the organisation. 

It’s useful to reflect that the Council’s current suite of corporate planning documents makes no mention of the impact of a City Deal or the delivery of the City Centre Masterplan.  Both will need to be included within the revised documents and both will require to be underpinned by a long-term financial strategy for the Council.  Officers are currently preparing such a strategy which will provide the Council with a clear understanding of its long-term financial opportunities and challenges within the context of the medium term financial stability that it has achieved in recent years. 

The budget reports considered by members next week set out how work continues in delivering against the Council’s Smarter Aberdeen policy statement and the Strategic Infrastructure Plan.  The reports also make clear that the financial situation to be faced by the Council, along with every other public sector body, over the coming five years is bound to be challenging. 

The Corporate Management Team is keenly aware of this challenge and work is underway both in terms of making the very best case to both the UK and Scottish Governments to explore with the Council mechanisms by which Aberdeen and the wider North East can be supported and in working with public sector partners locally to examine options through which further services might be shared. 

Such efforts with local, Scottish and UK partners will be built upon efforts within the Council to work with staff and their Trades Union representatives to seek and deliver service improvement and/or transformation. 

Reports will be brought to Committee as required.

Shaping Aberdeen, shaping the team

The week just coming to an end saw another milestone passed in the restructuring of the senior management of the Council with the announcement that Bernadette Oxley is the preferred candidate for the post of Head of Children’s Social Work/Chief Social Work Officer.

With Euan Couperwhite having taken up post just before Christmas as Head of Policy, Performance and Resources and with Helen Shanks having started work with us at the beginning of the year as Head of Inclusion, the senior team in the Education and Children’s Services Directorate is now complete.

Next week, Takki Sulaiman begins work with the Council as Head of Communication and Promotion and next month Richard Sweetnam joins us as Head of Economic Development.

We will soon begin the recruitment and selection process for the posts of Director of Corporate Governance and Head of IT and Transformation, so it is hoped that we will have a full Extended Corporate Management Team complement by the Spring. 

It’s exciting to be progressing in this way, but as I’ve said many times before while the structure is important it isn’t the be all an end all.  The key for the Council moving forward will be the culture we develop within the organisation and the focus we have on balancing improving customer experience, improving staff experience and improving our use of resources.


New Year, New You?

As we come to the end of the second full working week of 2015, it seems like a good time to see how we’re all doing with our New Year Resolutions…

If its fitness that you’re after you’ll find a recent reminder on the Zone that there’s a 25% discount for City Council staff at Aberdeen Sports Village, just show your ID badge. 

If the wellbeing you seek is slightly less frenetic you’ll also find on the Zone that discounted alternative therapy sessions are also being arranged for staff.  The first two sessions are already fully booked but more are promised for the future.

Finally, if a reduction in alcohol intake was the resolution for you for January you might be interested in giving the quiz a go at 

Whatever the New Year goals you set yourself, keep up the good work!


Paris attack

The impact of the awful events in Paris on Wednesday this week has been thrown into even sharper relief for a number of colleagues here as it has emerged that one of the victims of the shooting was visiting the offices of Charlie Hebdo from Clermont-Ferrand, Aberdeen’s French twin city.

Michel Renaud had worked for several years in the Mayor’s office in Clermont-Ferrand and organised the biennial Carnet de Voyage festival there.  He is survived by a daughter and wife, Gala Renaud.  Gala works at the Mission des Relations Internationales in Clermont-Ferrand and will be known to many in Aberdeen who have participated in exchange projects with our twin city.

A march is taking place in Clermont-Ferrand on Sunday to pay tribute to the victims of the attack and to demonstrate the importance of freedom of expression. 

A statement on the Ville de Clermont-Ferrand website reads: ‘The city of Clermont-Ferrand is injured for two reasons: first, because in this country of human rights, this cowardly attack has infringed the freedom of the press, the freedom to speak freely; but also by the loss of a good man, Michel Renaud, an active Clermont citizen, always committed to the defence of human values.  His death affects us all deeply.’

The Lord Provost is writing to our friends and colleagues in Clermont to express our condolences and to reaffirm our support at such a difficult time.


Into 2015

With Twelfth Night now having been and gone I think we can say that the festive holiday period is now behind us and a new year has now begun.

Like the vast majority of Council colleagues I returned to work yesterday and I wanted to take the opportunity in this first short message of the new year to welcome everyone back, to once again thank those team members who continued to provide Council services when others were on holiday and to say how much I’m looking forward to working with you on what is bound to be another packed year of service development and delivery for the people of Aberdeen.

As I mentioned before Christmas I am committing time in the diary to getting out and about throughout the year to visit teams to find out from them about the services we provide to individuals, families and communities across the different parts of the City.  Hopefully I will have the opportunity to meet you and your colleagues on one of these visits, but in the meantime I wish you a happy and successful 2015.