Shaping Aberdeen – moving forward

As I end the week in further meetings with colleagues from Aberdeenshire Council on the drafting of the City Region Deal which we will be jointly taking to both UK and Scottish Governments, I thought it would be useful to pause and reflect on a busy few days which have seen two Council meetings, a State Visit and the latest in the series of CityTalks which have been run as part of the development of the City Centre Masterplan.  All have seen progress in Shaping Aberdeen.

Yesterday’s visit to the Town House by the President of the United Mexican States, President Enrique Peña Nieto as part of his State Visit to the United Kingdom as the guest of Her Majesty The Queen saw the President attend a presentation and signing of Memoranda of Understanding on collaboration in the energy sector, with representatives of the UK and Scottish Governments and senior representatives from the UK Oil and Gas Sector.  The event was superbly organised by a team of Council colleagues from many services led by David Gow, Civic Team Manager.  I was proud to be involved and struck once again by the global reach of our City and the international stage on which we in the Council play such an important role on behalf of the people who live and work here.

Yesterday evening saw Rollin Stanley deliver the latest in our series of CityTalk events.  An internationally renowned city-planner, Rollin spoke on the ways in which Calgary has been developed and changed for the better over the years.  Also featuring similar events which focussed on Gothenburg and Manchester the CityTalks have been one of the range of ways public engagement with the City Masterplanning process has been stimulated.  Further consultation activities are planned for later this month and I will be formally seeking the views of Council staff on the draft Masterplan with the intention of using the feedback I receive to inform my report to Council in May on the Masterplan and its delivery.  Further information on this will be on the Zone soon.

Wednesday’s Council meeting saw a number of major matters discussed with important decisions being taken.

Elected members heard the results of the Care Inspectorate’s Joint Inspection of Services for Children and Young People in the City and I am pleased to add my congratulations to all involved from the Council and our partner organisations for such an encouraging report recognising the significant improvement in services and partnership working that has taken place in Aberdeen City over the last few years.  Of course work remains to be done and there is always room for improvement, but everyone has a right to be proud that their efforts have justifiably been recognised.

The Council meeting also saw an important milestone reached with the members approving the draft Health and Social Care Integration Scheme for the City which we and our partners in NHS Grampian will now submit to the Scottish Government.  Another report to Council that marked the culmination of many months of detailed work by Council and partner staff.

A third major decision at Wednesday’s meeting saw the Council unanimously agree the proposal to support the new AECC development which will include a conference centre, energy centre and two hotels.  The £333 million costs of the development are offset by a number of income streams and significant savings are made in comparison to the Council’s current financial support to the existing AECC.  The new development will be built on the site of the Rowett Institute in Dyce and a residential-led mixed-use scheme is proposed for the existing AECC site in Bridge of Don.  Tribute must be paid to Andrew Win and those who worked with him over many months bringing together the scheme presented to Council this week.

The week has also seen Thursday’s Special Council Meeting confirm the decision to progress the Marischal Square development and Wednesday’s Council Meeting agree that the Council will leave COSLA at the end of the month, more on this latter decision in a future blog.

Last, but by no means least, Monday this week saw the deadline pass for applications to the posts of Director of Corporate Governance, Head of Legal & Democratic Services and Head of IT and Transformation.  Assessment Centres and Interviews are timetabled for later this month and by the end of March the Council’s Extended Corporate Management Team will be complete.  Subject to notice arrangements, I hope that everyone will be in post by before the summer break.

A busy week, enjoy your weekend.  Back on Monday for more!