Building the Council of the Future

How time flies…. we’re now four weeks into the Building the Council of the Future events and more than 1800 colleagues have attended so far.

A huge thank you to those who have put forward views, ideas and questions at the events.  All of the feedback will be invaluable as we start to put together plans to push ahead with the Transformation Programme.

For those of you who have yet to attend an event, don’t worry – there’s plenty more being arranged.  These events will be a constant feature of the Transformation Programme and will change to make sure we get input at every stage depending on what’s happening.

And there are many other ways for you to keep-to-date or get involved.

In the last few weeks, the Transformation Zone has been launched as a space where you can all get information, news and updates about Transformation.  More importantly, there are many opportunities through this site to ask questions or submit comments and ideas on the information.  If you didn’t traditionally have access to The Zone, desktop computers are being fitted into all Council locations where you can get onto the intranet.

You may be interested in seeing some of the feedback that we’ve had from staff so far – on the site there’s a video clip featuring highlights of the conversations that happened.

If you want to help with communications and engagement or play a role in supporting your teams as we move through change – why not become an Employee Rep?  There’s more information on the Employee Rep Network on the Transformation Zone.

Another first over the last few weeks, was the first meeting of the Strategic Transformation Committee.  A bulletin capturing news from the Committee is also featured on the site.  As is the first edition of the Staff Guide to Transformation – October’s edition is all about our need to change and the Target Operating Model.  Each month will include different features as we go through Transformation.

So, if you haven’t already – please make sure to take advantage of the communications tools that are available and sign up to one of the events.  I’m keen to hear from you….

Check out the latest news section of the Transformation Zone. 

Team Aberdeen 

I’m delighted that we’ve lit Marischal College in support of the Dons ahead of their trip to Hampden for the League Cup Final. 

Even our Celtic-supporting colleagues will appreciate that it’s only appropriate that the Council gets behind our home town team as they pursue more silverware. 


Armistice Day

All staff and visitors to Council buildings will have the opportunity today to observe the two-minute silence at 11.00 am to mark Armistice Day. 

In addition I will have the honour to accompany the Lord Provost and other elected members in representing the Council at the Remembrance Service to be held in the City on Sunday. 

Bailey Gwynne

This morning has seen the release of the conclusions and recommendations of Andrew Lowe’s independent review of the circumstances surrounding the death of Bailey Gwynne at Cults Academy on 28th October 2015.  The document published today is available on the Zone.

Set out below is the statement I gave on behalf of the Chief Officers Group at today’s media conference:

Firstly, it is of course impossible to begin with anything other than a reflection on what took place at Cults Academy a year ago. What happened then was a tragedy which saw a young life lost and had a traumatic impact on so many other lives. The Chief Officers Group pays tribute to the extraordinary dignity and fortitude shown by Bailey’s family. We also gratefully acknowledge the incredible work undertaken by many staff across all of our organisations as the terrible events unfolded on 28th October.

The Chief Officers Group and the teams we represent are determined to implement any changes to practice that aim to decrease the likelihood of such an awful event taking place in the future. But we are well aware that no amount of future change will alter the fact that Bailey is no longer with us and that his loss continues to be keenly felt.

As you know, once the trial concluded at the High Court in Aberdeen in March this year, the Chief Officers Group commissioned Andrew Lowe to undertake a review. The aim was to provide independent assurance to our organisations and to the public that all circumstances in relation to Bailey’s death have been examined. And to make appropriate recommendations which can be applied for future practice.

Mr Lowe has now reported to the Chief Officers Group and we thank him for his work. The conclusions that he has reached and the recommendations he has made have been shared this morning.

I confirm that our Chief Officers group is committed to taking forward all the actions that fall to our organisations individually or jointly to progress. Work will begin immediately on the implementation plan called for by Mr Lowe’s final recommendation and reports will be taken into our organisations’ governance structures over the coming weeks.

Two of the recommendations are made to the Scottish Government and we will work closely with colleagues there.

I fully appreciate that the language of conclusions, recommendations and implementation plans is dry and impersonal in very stark contrast to the human stories at the heart of the review.

When he was working on his review, Mr Lowe had access to a wide range of confidential files containing the most personal information relating to individuals.

He has also undertaken one-to-one interviews with more than forty people. As a result the narrative of his report setting out his findings contains a great deal of sensitive, confidential and legally restricted information. This narrative has not been published today for legal and data protection reasons.

However, the Chief Officers Group is committed to the publication of the report. With that in mind we have already instructed colleagues within each of our organisations to work together. We have asked them to put in place a process that seeks the necessary permissions from the individuals referenced in the report in order to make publication possible. As soon as possible.

We were determined to ensure that this very necessary process didn’t delay the release today of the review’s conclusions. We are equally determined that there will be no delay in the work required by each of us to deliver against Mr Lowe’s recommendations.

We have also set up a help line which will be staffed by Educational Psychologists from this afternoon until Thursday 5pm. This could be extended depending on the number of calls we receive.

That number is: 01224 764515.

Counsellors will also be available for the same period in the school to talk to young people, families or staff as necessary.

As part of our commitment to learning lessons we will share the conclusions and recommendations nationally.  

Integrated health and care, day one

Congratulations to Judith Proctor, Tom Cowan and the whole team from both Aberdeen City Council and NHS Grampian on the launch today of Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership. 

Great work done by all to get to this point, an exciting journey ahead. 

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

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:

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 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

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.