You’ll hopefully have had the chance to read my message following on from Wednesday’s budget decision, an update for colleagues that had an emphasis on the impact on staff and the headline items.
With the dust settling after the meeting, I’m keen to put some of the other elements in context in terms of Aberdeen City Council as an organisation.
Setting the budget is not something that happens in isolation on an afternoon once a year in the Council Chamber – the process and outcome will touch every single member of staff in different ways and links directly to our Strategic Business Plan, which has been refreshed and was also approved by members at the meeting this week. I’m really keen to highlight the way in which individual approved budget options underpin our Shaping Aberdeen approach.
Examples of purpose run right through the 2017/18 budget, with our commitment to people and place. From investment in education in the revenue figures, through to capital projects such as the Berryden Corridor and City Centre Masterplan, it is set out in black and white the positive impact we can make as a local authority. We are here to serve the city.
How we do our business is a huge part of the Shaping Aberdeen programme – but what this week’s budget shows is the way it translates into numbers. For example, by transforming our procurement model we will save £3million in 2017/18 alone. By transforming and digitising the delivery of business support, a further £3m will be saved in the year ahead. Those are just two examples of the way in which changing the way we do our business is making tangible differences – that £6m sum will be used to maintain and improve vital services and there are many more examples in this year’s budget. This is Shaping Aberdeen in action.
Culture is something that is more difficult to capture in numbers, but if you look closely it is there – particularly in the form of the ongoing support for the technology which will help us become the modern council we strive to be with a progressive culture. The Employee Opinion Survey showed really positive results in terms of staff having the tools to do an effective job and that’s only possible if budget priorities support this approach.
With the budget set, I’m looking forward to another year of delivering on behalf of the people of Aberdeen. I’m really enthusiastic about what we can achieve together.
I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our Scottish Fire and Rescue Service colleague Paul Morrison this week. Paul was a highly respected officer working closely with Council services and community safety partners during his time at the community safety hub.
Paul will be remembered as a talented and supportive colleague, and a very good friend.
My sincere condolences to Paul’s family and friends.
Another successful evening for the Council at the APSE Scottish Apprentice of the Year Awards last night.
Graeme Baird (Electrician) was named the Scottish Apprentice of the Year for the 3rd Year Group and David Hutcheon (Plumber) was runner-up for the 2nd Year Group. Well done to both on their fantastic achievement and a huge thank you to Dougie Gibb for the way he looks after the apprentices. As it happens I dropped in to see Graeme at work on site recently with Dougie (unannounced, sorry about that Graeme!) and was really impressed by the commitment Dougie shows to the apprentices and indeed by the support they have from all their work colleagues.
Last night also saw a celebration of the success of the winners at the Health and Social Care Partnership’s first Staff Awards. It was great to see this up and running before the first anniversary of the Partnership, sending a clear message about the importance of celebrating the successes arising from integration. Well done to everyone involved in organising such a fantastic night.
A short note to put on record my appreciation of the work undertaken recently by colleagues from across the Council on two big projects – one planned, one definitely not.
The response by the Council team working in partnership with others following the fire at Froghall Gardens to deal with its impact on residents was an excellent example of joint working under the pressure of an emergency situation. I know the team has started to debrief and identify lessons learned, but in the meantime a huge thank you to each and every one of the individuals who came together to do the very best they could for the individuals affected.
At the same time, we should also celebrate a project where months of planning and preparation came to fruition in spectacular fashion with huge public success. SPECTRA draws on expertise from across the Council and partner organisations and this year’s festival drew huge crowds over the four nights it was presented in the city centre. Again, massive thanks to everyone involved.
I’m really delighted to hear that we’re well on our way to beating last year’s level of donations to the Community Food Initiatives North East food drive.
Many full crates have already been collected and replaced at Marischal College, the Town House and Frederick Street, but the drive continues until Friday 17th February so there’s still plenty of time to add to the donations.