Can I take the opportunity to pass on my festive best wishes to all at Aberdeen City Council – here’s to a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
I’m always very conscious that although the holiday season is looming, for so many colleagues it will be business as usual throughout. My thanks go to everyone working over the public holidays and keeping vital services running, it is very much appreciated not only internally but by all those we serve in Aberdeen. If you are able to get a break over the festive period, I hope you have a good one and return refreshed and ready for 2019.
A great deal has been achieved this year and it’s important to acknowledge the pace of the transformation that we’re undertaking as an organisation. I know there have been challenges for every area of our business as we change and adapt – thank you for your support and commitment. My appreciation also goes to colleagues who have moved on during the course of the year for all they contributed, many over lengthy and distinguished service.
Continuing on the note of thanks, special mention to designer Scott Cumming from the Communications team for his work on the Council’s digital Christmas card. It will be seen far and wide and is a great celebration of Christmas in the city.
Of course, Broad Street has a very festive feel at the moment with the Christmas Village in full swing. We’re getting a particularly close view from Marischal College – with one ride in particular flying past at regular intervals and keeping us all on our toes!
It has been fantastic to see so much positivity around the village and the Christmas in Aberdeen programme in general. The conversation on social media and around the city has been overwhelmingly positive and, together with Aberdeen Inspired, we can be very proud of the great spirit that’s being fostered. Locals and visitors alike have played their part in bringing that Christmas cheer.
It’s important to acknowledge that the festive period can also be a difficult time for many.
In particular, my thoughts and wishes are with the family of young Liam Smith. Liam, who is just 16 and a pupil at Westhill Academy, has been missing since 17 November and I cannot begin to imagine what family and friends are going through at this time. I’d urge anyone who may have information that could assist the search to get in touch with Police Scotland. Further details can be found here.
The police will continue to work tirelessly as they search for Liam and always face the most testing of circumstances with professionalism and wholehearted commitment.
As our own Council teams play their part in the city’s winter readiness in terms of road and pedestrian safety, with the gritter teams mobilised this week, it’s important we remember that the freezing conditions pose an even greater danger across the city in respect of those who are without shelter. For one person to be facing winter in those circumstances is simply not acceptable in a modern, caring society – unfortunately the numbers are stark in Aberdeen and throughout the country. This weekend I’ll be joining the Council contingent, officers and elected members, for Sleep in the Park at Duthie Park – aiming to raise funds and awareness in the ongoing efforts to tackle homelessness across Scotland. It is a small gesture in acknowledgement of a significant issue and part of four simultaneous events taking place in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Food poverty is another issue to be addressed and thank you to everyone who contributed to the recent food drive by CFINE across Council premises. Stock levels remain low and your support is valuable – to find out more about ways to contribute visit the CFINE website.
I know we all take time to think of those less fortunate than ourselves at this time of year and it is always uplifting to see across the year the many ways in which so many colleagues play their part in making a positive difference to individuals and communities across the city.
We’ll continue to strive to make a difference throughout the Christmas period and into 2019 and I look forward to working alongside you to do that.
In the meantime, the very best of wishes for the festive season to you and yours from the directors and I.