Shaping Aberdeen – City Centre Masterplan and Delivery Programme

Today’s meeting of the City Council has just ended and I’m delighted to report that the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan and Delivery Programme has been agreed unanimously by the elected members.

In one sense this is the successful culmination of over a year’s work by many Council officers working in partnership with BDP and their team of consultants but on the other hand we must recognise that the hard work starts now as we move forward to deliver the projects that will make the 20 year vision a reality. 

But what an exciting opportunity there is before us now to work with partners, stakeholders and the people we serve to make a real difference to Aberdeen and the wider North East.

The Council:-

  • agreed the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan and Delivery Programme; 
  • recognised that while the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan and Delivery Programme establishes the framework for the regeneration of Aberdeen’s city centre, each project will be subject to detailed scrutiny and the normal development control processes;
  • noted the impact the City Centre Masterplan will have in informing all relevant policies, strategies and plans either for which the Council has a statutory responsibility or which the Council itself agrees and implements; 
  • agreed that officers will undertake a review of the Council’s financial strategies in relation to the capital plan, the Common Good and asset acquisition and disposal in light of the City Centre Masterplan and Delivery Programme and report to Committee with recommended changes as necessary;
  • agreed in principle the interventions set out in the City Centre Masterplan and Delivery Programme, noting that due diligence will be undertaken in relation to the financial, legal and all other implications on each project or programme of activity contained within the City Centre Masterplan that it falls to the Council to deliver with the results of this due diligence being reported to Committee ahead of any decision being taken to proceed;
  • agreed that the Chief Executive will report to Council at its meeting on 19th August 2015 on the establishment of an in-house officer team to facilitate the implementation of the Delivery Plan;
  • agreed the Chief Executive will report to Council on 19th August 2015 on the governance arrangements for the establishment of an Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan Reference Group bringing together citizen, public sector, business, academic and funder representatives; 
  • agreed that the Chief Executive will report to the Finance, Policy and Resources Committee on 15th September 2015 a proposed programme of enabling works and activities;
  • agreed that regular update reports on the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan and Delivery Programme will be brought to Council; and
  • agreed that the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan and Delivery Programme be shared with all relevant partner organisations.

So, plenty to do. 

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who has played a role to date, delivery starts now.

Success for the Libraries Team

Great news of a national award won by the Library and Information Service.

The team’s link with last summer’s Wild Dolphins project across the City has been recognised with a Marketing Excellence Award from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) http://bit.ly/1Gpbekd

The awards recognise success in marketing activities undertaken by libraries to encourage more people to make use of their services.  The Silver Award won by Aberdeen is one of only four given out across the UK for 2014. 

A School of Dolphins saw over 30 miniature dolphin sculptures displayed in libraries across the City as part of the Wild Dolphins art project between June and August 2014.  Children were encouraged to visit their local library during the school holidays to view the sculptures and find out more about libraries.  Throughout the period, public libraries in Aberdeen received an additional 38,805 visitors compared to the same period in 2013 and signed up nearly 2,500 new members.

Well done to everyone involved.

Summer in the City

An update to my blog below to let you know that the guide is available on the Family Information Service website http://bit.ly/1K9DcFq

With the school holidays fast approaching thoughts are no doubt turning to how to keep the children entertained over six long weeks. 

The Family Information Service has helpfully produced the brochure Summer in the City 2015 which is packed with events and activities for children and young people.

  

Pick up your copy from Marischal College or your local access point, library or sports centre.  The guide has also been sent to every school in the City. 

Happy holidays!

Shaping Aberdeen – Extended Corporate Management Team

I’ve blogged on various occasions over the past few months as appointments have been made to the Extended Corporate Management Team (ECMT) following the restructure agreed by the Council last year.

I’m pleased to say that we now have available a schematic which shows the ECMT structure and post-holders, follow the link here: http://bit.ly/1QDZSDd

You’ll see from the diagram that Fraser Bell will join us as Head of Legal and Democratic Services next month.  The recruitment process for the Director of Corporate Governance will also get underway in July and the intention is to have an appointment made by mid-September.  I’ll keep everyone updated.

Out and About

When I spoke at the Star Awards event earlier this month I mentioned just how important my visits to staff teams across the City are to me and indeed how they are often the most inspiring part of my working week.

This week sees a varied range as I dropped into Mastrick Social Services Centre on Monday, I’m with the Accord Card Team today and with the Educational Psychology Service tomorrow.  I finish the week with a visit to the fleet workshop to thank the team there for all the improvements made following on from the Traffic Commissioner Public Hearing.

As ever, if you’d like me to visit your team so I can find out from you and your colleagues about the work you’re doing serving the people of Aberdeen drop me a line at chiefexecutive@aberdeencity.gov.uk and we’ll set something up.

 

School Dinners

I’m delighted to share the excellent news that the catering provided in our primary schools has achieved the Soil Association’s Food for Life Bronze Award.

Congratulations and thank you to everyone across the Council involved in driving through all the necessary changes to take this step forward for the children we cater for each day.  Special mention must be made of Susan Bailey and all her efforts in leading on the project.  Sights set now on Silver and Gold!

Further information on the award scheme can be found at http://www.sacert.org/catering

Give Blood

I’m delighted to let you know that the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (https://www.scotblood.co.uk/) will be running a blood donation session for Council staff and elected members at Marischal College on Monday 10th August.  The session will take place in Room 4-W-01, it will run all day and there will be four beds set up to take donations.

The impetus for this link with the Transfusion Service has come through colleagues who are aware that the son of a staff member at the Maritime Museum is currently undergoing treatment for leukaemia.  The child has so far received 37 units of blood over the course of his treatment and I think this brings into sharp focus for all of us just how great the ongoing demand for blood donations is.

As it happens, traditionally blood donations drop by approximately 20% over the summer period so every donation is even more gratefully received at this time. 

When the idea of this session was originally floated there was fantastic feedback with just short of 200 colleagues expressing an interest in donating.  I appreciate that the chosen date may not suit everyone, but I’m confident that there will be an excellent response.  Watch out on the Zone for information on how you’ll be able to book your place at the session.

We’re going to continue our link with the Blood Transfusion Service and hope to have two-day sessions with them every six months going forward so the Council’s support for their vital work can be maximised.  I urge everyone who can to get involved in donating.

Aberdeen Art Gallery

The redevelopment of the Art Gallery took another big step forward recently when on behalf of the City Council I signed the construction work contract for the project. 

The work will be undertaken by McLaughlin and Harvey of Belfast, who are intending to commence work immediately.

I’m very pleased to acknowledge with thanks the co-operation we’re receiving from both our immediate neighbours at the Schoolhill site – Robert Gordon’s College and the Robert Gordon University.  Undertaking any major project can raise practical problems and the College and Council colleagues are currently finalising arrangements to limit disruption to their daily business, while enabling the building works to progress.

We’re also very grateful to Robert Gordon University for their understanding and co-operation.  We are also working to limit the impact of the construction project on the public, but given its city centre location I think we have to recognise that some disruption on occasion will be inevitable.

The Art Gallery redevelopment is a key element of the Strategic Infrastructure Plan and its realisation.  It’s tremendous to see another major milestone passed in the delivery of this project for the City.

Best Value Audit 2015

The Controller of Audit has presented a Best Value Audit report on Aberdeen City Council to the Accounts Commission.

The report, produced following work with the Council by Audit Scotland colleagues earlier this year, will be considered by the Accounts Commission at its meeting on 11th June. The document is publicly available on the Commission’s website http://goo.gl/dSWuvV

The final report, which will include the Accounts Commission’s Findings is due to be published on 2nd July.  The report, together with an initial action plan addressing the Findings will be taken to the Council at its meeting on 19th August.