Risk and reward as we face climate change challenges

In recent months climate change has been in sharp focus. Internationally and nationally the action has been high profile and locally we have seen groups, including pupils of city schools, raising awareness on our doorstep at Marischal College.

I’m always keen to listen to the messages coming through from our communities and we acknowledge that climate change is one of our biggest challenges.

The Council takes climate responsibilities seriously, seeking to address the risks and grasp the opportunities presented to us, our partners, residents and the city as a whole.

Referring back to our guiding principle on purpose, we are all linked by our aim to care for the city and people – but the ethos of one team, one council, one city is just a relevant when in relation to climate change.

It is a global issue that can’t be tackled by organisation alone, it needs collaborative action. A range of Council teams and city partners are already working together to reduce emissions and increase resilience to severe weather. It’s important we all take time to understand our role in this, both professionally and personally.

Aberdeen’s Local Outcome Improvement Plan aims to help tackle climate change, with targets to reduce carbon emissions by 42.5% by 2026 and to adapt to a changing climate. Helping to support this, it’s great to see proposals for partnership work to increase community resilience, progressing through the Sustainable City Group.

The Council led Aberdeen Adapts partnership project brings 41 organisations together to build understanding, look at the bigger picture and explore ways to work together to protect what matters in the city.

Severe weather events can have a huge impact on Aberdeen’s people and places. The development of Aberdeen Adapts has united community groups and organisations, aiming to bridge the gap between different sectors to improve city resilience to more frequent and intense weather extremes.

An important step forward is the launch of a consultation, open until 29 July, on the draft Aberdeen Adapts Climate Adaptation Framework, giving people an opportunity to give their views on the city approach to climate adaptation.

I’m encouraged to learn the development of Aberdeen Adapts involved young people, through Climate Ready Place workshops in three city schools. Giving young people the chance to find out about climate change in a local context and express their views on this important issue.

It is heartening to see the development of Aberdeen Adapts, as well as work to identify climate risks and adjust to climate impacts, recognised in an Aberdeen City Council case study featured in the new Scottish public sector guidance on climate adaptation, launched in May.

My thanks go to officers across council clusters who are currently contributing information for our Climate Change Report. This yearly report shows our progress with meeting climate change duties to reduce emissions, adapt and promote sustainability. It also highlights the many teams involved in helping to monitor, inform, shape and deliver our climate change actions.

We also welcome links with the University of Aberdeen this summer, through a student project looking at the effects of extreme weather on the Council. This work will bring opportunities for officers to learn more and get involved. Understanding the effects of extreme weather can help inform our early planning and interventions.

From small individual actions to major projects we can all play a role in helping to meet council commitments to climate change and to ensure we’re staying true to our purpose, protecting the people and place.

A postcard from Marischal College as holiday season looms

When the school bells sound tomorrow afternoon it will mark the end of not just the academic year but the start of a well-earned break for many colleagues from all across the Council as we enter holiday season.

It feels like a good time to say thank you to you all for your work over the course of another incredibly busy spell over spring and early summer.

I hope everyone who does have leave booked enjoys the time off and gets the opportunity to recharge the batteries. Of course, many will be working through the holidays and ensuring our services continue to run and those efforts are appreciated.

I’d like to make particular mention of all those involved in the Food and Fun initiative, both within our own teams and our partners Cfine, AFC Community Trust and Sport Aberdeen as well as volunteers from community groups. It is a real team effort.

The end of term is something so many of us look forward to, but for too many families it’s a time that creates added strain.

Food and Fun was introduced by the Council as a pilot to deliver free meals and activities to children in key areas of Aberdeen during school holiday periods and has been rolled out on a permanent basis. Over Christmas, as an extension of the project, special events were hosted for young people to enjoy the festivities – from ice skating and crafts to a disco and visit to Santa.

For everyone involved in Food and Fun there’s a busy period ahead, with a six-week summer holiday programme beginning on Monday. The main aim is to ensure children continue to be fed, recognising the importance of school meals during term time for a large number of families, and also to provide the opportunity to take part in physical activity in a nurturing environment.

The initiative has been recognised with awards – but the reward and motivation for the many people who have put their heart and soul into developing the programme is in the positive impact there is on children, families and communities.

When we talk about our purpose – about caring for our city and our people – I think Food and Fun is a shining example that we can all be incredibly proud of.

On the theme of the school holidays, for thousands of our young people the weeks ahead will also bring SQA results day. Once again, can I thank the teachers and school staff who guided pupils through the exams. Having served as a revision buddy for my son in the run-up to the exams, I know the hard work that has gone in on all sides and now the countdown to the big day is on.

There will be students who exceed their expectations and others who may not get the grades they hoped for – whatever the outcome, it’s reassuring to know that the same support that was so evident before the exams will be there from our school staff next month.

I had the pleasure of attending an awards ceremony at Orchard Brae School today with Steven Shaw and our Council Gardener Daniel Shand as various prizes were presented by our environmental team to recognise the contribution of pupils to a range of projects including Clean Up Aberdeen. It was a privilege to join pupils for the celebration. I am always bowled over by the warmth of the welcome at Orchard Brae and there were lots of proud pupils and staff as the achievements were recognised.


As you may be aware, it has been a difficult week for the school following the publication of a report by Education Scotland which highlighted several areas for improvement. A robust action plan is in place to address those issues and it has been heartening to see the way in which the school community and staff have come together with a focus on realising the ambitions we all hold for the school and pupils.

The determination to improve and ensure the best possible outcomes for all of the children we serve must never change and that applies to every school, nursery and educational setting in the city. Working to make things better and taking pride in that progress is embedded in the guiding principles and that is happening every day.

The Council and our arms length organisations have had lots of positive recognition in recent weeks, with Sport Aberdeen named as the winner in the Enterprising Communities category at the Elevator Awards last week.

Sport Aberdeen’s commitment to inspiring positive change in the communities it serves was praised, along with the inclusive approach to changing lives through sport and physical activity.

As a Council that is an ethos we have embraced in a number of different ways, including through bringing the Tour Series cycling – and next the Tour of Britain – to the north-east. The Tour Series was named Best Public Sector event at the events industry’s E Awards last month, the second major accolade this year for the City Growth team’s work on the Tour Series. Congratulations to everyone involved.

The Great Aberdeen Run is another example of the scale of event that has been attracted to the city and the countdown is on to this year’s date. We have free places available for Council staff keen to take part in this year’s run, on August 25, and further details can be found here. Good luck to everyone who is in training – and if you haven’t already, there’s still time to sign-up.

Whether you intend to spend the summer putting in the miles in preparation for the run or putting your feet up for some rest and relaxation, best wishes to everyone for the holiday period.

Paying tribute to a loved and valued colleague

As many friends and colleagues throughout the Council will be aware, the weekend brought the terribly sad news of the death of Alan Gray.

Many tributes to Alan and memories of his service to the city and the Council have been shared in recent days and his loss has been deeply felt by those who have worked closely with him and in all corners of the organisation.

On behalf of the council I send condolences to Alan’s family, friends and workmates at such a difficult time.

Alan, who had just started his 40th year of work, was a passionate member of our environmental team and having started his career as an apprentice gardener had built an incredible amount of knowledge and skill which he took into his role as Assistant Operations Manager and as a mentor to our young staff.

Based at Duthie Park, Alan was a leading light in Aberdeen’s success in Britain in Bloom, Keep Scotland Beautiful and many other national awards. Such was Alan’s reputation, he had risen to become a Britain in Bloom judge – testament to his expertise and dedication. I know there have been dozens of messages from Britain in Bloom officials from throughout the country expressing their condolences.

Those who had the pleasure of working alongside Alan speak fondly of a colleague who was valued in different ways and who took enormous pride in the wonderful parks and gardens he helped to shape and care for. That was certainly my experience of him too.

His brilliant sense of humour, heart of gold and supportive nature have also shone through when remembering Alan.

I was touched by the tribute prepared by colleagues, with the blessing of Alan’s family, and will leave the last word to those who knew Alan best: He was a gentle giant of a man and a giant among his colleagues who are very shocked and saddened by his passing. He will be sorely missed.


Alan Gray

Our pledge to Equally Safe at Work values

I am pleased to have added Aberdeen City Council’s support to the Equally Safe at Work initiative, joining our Co-Leaders in signing an important pledge on behalf of the organisation.

That commitment can be viewed in full here and underlines our role as an employer in advancing equality in the workplace and seeking to prevent violence against women.

Six other local authorities have joined the national pilot project and I hope it provides reassurance to staff that we are integral to this group.

It goes without saying that the aims are for us all to embrace and to hold dear – we’re one team, one council, one city.

As ever we cannot act alone and, particularly in relation to reducing violence against women, our collaborative work with partners, including Police Scotland, is vitally important. That extends beyond our own workforce and into every community across the city.

Signing the pledge is a positive step, but actions speak louder than words. Thank you in advance for your support in ensuring the Equally Safe at Work principles are a reality within the Council and the city.

Audit approval brings recognition of financial management

The approval of the Council’s annual audit report may not be a red letter day on everyone’s calendar, but for all those involved in the tireless work during the audit it marks a significant milestone.

Wednesday’s endorsement by the Audit, Risk and Scrutiny committee marked the end of a fast, efficient and successful piece of work by our own teams and the external auditors from KPMG. The report can be viewed in full here.

I’ve highlighted before the way accounting deadlines and processes have been moved forward and it was pleasing to see auditors noting the success of that accelerated programme in their report.

A great deal of planning and work has gone into stepping up the pace of reporting and my appreciation goes to all involved. As KPMG noted, completed draft accounts for 2018/19 were approved by the end of April – against a statutory deadline of June 30 for unaudited accounts. We’re leading the way among Scottish local authorities.

Of course it’s important to say auditors didn’t only praise the speed of delivery, they also highlighted the quality of the annual accounts. A great credit to Jonathan Belford and the finance cluster.

The Council’s approach to financial management was a focus of the report, with strong leadership and budgetary controls commended, and that will continue to be a foundation for us as we build for the future.

Members of the audit committee expressed their thanks to all of the staff who have been involved in the year end process, the endeavours are appreciated.

The financial challenges remain, but we can take pride in the way we are facing up to those and innovating in all areas of our business. The work being done by finance to evolve and push boundaries is a great example of that approach in action.

An invitation to think differently about our future

Members enquiries, committee queries, customer feedback, media requests, Freedom of Information submissions … we deal with a lot of questions as an organisation every minute of every day.

As staff we tend to be well versed in answering questions, but don’t often get the time to ask them.

As an organisation we really want to change that and encourage everyone in all corners of the Council to become more inquisitive, about what we do now and what we can achieve together in the future.

There’s a working group being set up as a first step towards embracing a technique called Appreciative Inquiry, with expressions of interest invited from anyone keen to get involved. I’d encourage you all to find out more and consider taking part.

Appreciative Inquiry works on the simple principle that we grow as individuals and teams by asking questions (and working towards finding the answers). The aim is to shift thinking towards identifying successes and strengths which provide a positive platform to build from, with a structured approach to seeking improvements and solutions.

It’s a way of turning the focus to what we want to create, grounding outcomes in past successes and the new guiding principles, as well as inspiring us all to embrace opportunities. By opening up positive discussion we hope to encourage creativity, increase buy-in and improve morale.

The first working group will be tasked with looking at how we can better value each other and recognise a job well done – an important guiding principle.

It’s particularly relevant following on from the Star Awards last week, and some of the debate we saw in the build-up to the event. Lots of questions were posed about what recognition should and could look like – and I hope there will be many more as part of the Appreciative Inquiry approach.

That approach can be just as vital in areas including recruitment, engagement and our daily work in looking for ways to improve what we deliver on behalf of customers.

We need to think differently and want to support individuals and teams to do that in a collaborative way. If we continue to do the same things and think the same way, we’ll get the same results.

I’m excited to see how we can use Appreciative Inquiry to shape the future and the first of the working groups is a great opportunity to test and learn.

If you haven’t expressed an interest already, please do give some thought to getting involved in what promises to be a really positive and rewarding project.

Achievements take centre stage at Star Awards

Congratulations to all of our finalists and winners at the Star Awards, which were a fantastic celebration of the achievements of colleagues from across the Council.

Last night’s event at the Beach Ballroom was an opportunity to recognise the achievements of individuals  and teams from across the council. It was also an opportunity to look back at some of the highlights of the past year and also to look forward to what we hope to achieve in the weeks and months ahead.

There were 236 nominations this year, just short of a record entry, and for so many people to go out of their way to highlight the work of colleagues is really lovely.

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On that note, it’s important to thank some of the many people who made the event such a success. From the sponsors who generously support the awards and ensure they can be staged at no cost to the Council to the entertainers on the night and the fantastic compere Martyn Orchard through to the Ballroom staff who, as always, were the perfect hosts. Our judging panel, including representatives from a number of external organisations, give up their time to support the awards and are always passionate and diligent in their work.

Special mention goes to the organising team who give up their time to run the awards, from nominations and judging through to the night itself: Carol Wright, Steven Shaw, Martin Wyllie, Karen Gatherum, Arlene Dunbar, David Leslie, Cathy Lewis, Craig Clark, Stella Evans and Gordon McDade

Gordon’s last on the list but certainly not least – as project manager he’s been the driving force behind the Star Awards and he has decided to hand over the baton to let someone else take on the challenge. His work has been very much appreciated.

The roll of honour for 2019 is below, with everyone deserving of their place on a list that paints a picture of the diversity of the services we provide and the dedication that sits behind that.

We can all take great pride in what we have delivered together as one team over the past year.

I had the pleasure of making the opening remarks last night and used it to reflect on the journey we’re on.

I recently listened to a “thought for the day” by Dr Sam Wells and he contrasted the difference between an organisation and an institution, following on from the expose surrounding Oxfam in Haiti.

Dr Wells describes an “organisation” as only being focused on its output whereas an “institution” he describes as a keeper of standards, the bearer of trust and concerned with how it functions as well as what it does. It’s a timely and helpful distinction in definition.

As you know, we’ve been forging our definition of ourselves through the recently approved behaviour and capability frameworks. As I listened to Dr Wells, it made me see our efforts to define our collective character, through agreeing a set of common behaviours, as an attempt to be an institution rather than an organisation.

In the modern world, the language of institutions and public servants can seem dated and not relevant. However, the language of standards, trust, character all have a place in today’s world – it could be argued, required more today than ever before.

Looking back over the last year brought memories of achievements not only in good times but also in adversity and reinforced the fact that we are building a great institution through our staff.

The Star Awards are entirely dedicated to demonstrating how much we value each other and to recognising a job well done. It’s important that we continue to develop our approaches to showing appreciation, recognising the different attitudes held across our five generations of workforce. Last night there were 11 long service presentations, with more than 440 years of combined service.

Work will be kicking off soon, by a staff led group, on a bigger piece of work to explore alternative options for staff recognition and the results will be shared with everyone. I’ll provide more detail on that through my blog very soon.

Whatever your role and wherever you work in the Council, you’ll all be able to look back over the last year and point to the difference you and your colleagues have made to the people of Aberdeen.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your efforts and for continuing to play your part in making Aberdeen City Council a great institution. It’s certainly an institution which I am very proud to be Chief Executive of.

Star Awards 2019

Rising Star

This award celebrates an individual who has shone in their new role in the Council.

Winner: Hataichanok (Jan) Saevanee

Everyone knows Hataichanok as Jan and pretty much everyone that she supports at work makes a point of seeking out her chief officer to tell him how wonderful she is. Jan has an energy and positivity that infects everyone she works with. Jan came into the new Business Intelligence Unit (BIU), in mid-2018. Since then Jan has been an absolute star. One of the “big jobs” for BIU in 2018/19 was to start using a new tool (PowerBi). We would not have been able to do this without Jan. Some of us assumed she was an expert, but the truth is that she self-educated herself in her own time. She is now the Council’s “go to” person on PowerBi and is in very high demand.

Finalists: Jade Leyden; Emma Shanks.

Team of the Year

This award is for a team who have either achieved outstanding performance levels and customer satisfaction or worked in a focussed and unified way to deliver a desired objective for the Council and City.

Winner: Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership Learning Disability Team and the in-house services (Len Ironside Centre & ACCLDICS)

The social work team work tirelessly to ensure the outcomes for people with disabilities are of the highest standards. They monitor adult support and protection referrals to ensure the safety of vulnerable people within the community while prioritising reviews and transitions to services for people and their families. They do this with professionalism, dedication and care. The Health team provide support by ensuring the right equipment is in place or a social story has been completed in order for a supported person to understand what is happening to ease the transition to a new home. Working closely together colleagues can identify a problem or difficulty and work quickly and efficiently because they work together for the best outcomes possible for everyone.

Finalists: Environmental Services Clean Up Aberdeen Team; Lochside Academy Support Staff Team.

Improving Staff Experience

This award is for an individual or team whose behaviour creates a positive culture and enhances the experience of our staff.

Winner: Sean Ewing

Sean has proven outstanding leadership and resourcefulness within the Energy Team. Sean has arranged training, mentoring and development and always puts the wellbeing and morale of his team first. A joiner to trade, his knowledge in this area and many others across the Council is of tremendous value to the team.

Finalists: Kay Johnston ; Kittybrewster Catering team, Dorota Myszka and Marta Czajkowska.

Improving Customer Experience

This award is for an individual or team who has either demonstrated exceptional

customer service or has enhanced how customers experience our services.

Winner: Digital Schools Admission Team

Getting your child into school has been managed using paper forms for many years with the process which required many forms to be completed by parents/guardians. This year the team has transformed the staff and ‘customer’ experience with the launch of a digital admissions process. Parents/guardians can now apply for any school with a single online form for any term, and any year group throughout the year. All communications are generated instantly by email, with the process redesigned to gather evidence up front and highlight additional support needs earlier to enable better planning for the child’s education. The team included: Customer Development who led the initial business analysis, Education sponsored the project and ensured that outcomes were focused on Getting It Right For Every Child and the Legal Team ensured compliance with the Education Acts and governance.

Finalists: Care Management West Team; Jenny Rae.


The collaboration award is for individuals or teams who have demonstrated excellence in working together.

Winner: Bridge of Don Remembers

‘Bridge of Don’ Remembers was a collaboration between nine head or depute head teachers at schools in Bridge of Don, three local churches and the local branch of Legion Scotland. The project marked the centenary of the 1918 armistice. By working together, they increased the depth and richness of the project giving the children a greater learning experience and encouraged a whole community to get involved.

Finalists: Leigh Houston (Airyhall Primary School); Rosemount Community Centre.

Improving Use of Resources

This award is for an individual or team that strive for best value, effectively managing their resources whilst still delivering outcomes.

Winner: Countryside Ranger Service

The Countryside Rangers have a long history of having to deliver a lot of projects to improve the wildlife habitats of the Council’s fantastic 25 countryside sites totalling over 1200ha in area. To deliver the work needed for managing these sites volunteers have been key. The countryside rangers are constantly promoting the service and the benefits that volunteers can gain from it. In the last year volunteers have committed over 2140 hours of time (equivalent to more than 300 days) to help manage these sites.

Finalists: PEEP Project; Moira MacIver (Bucksburn Partnership).

People’s Champion

This award is for an individual or team who are an unsung hero and deserve recognition for the work they do and is chosen by the readers of the Evening Express.

Winner: Bill Esslemont – School Crossing Patroller, Woodside School

Bill was nominated by the pupils and staff at Woodside Primary School for his work as their school crossing patroller. Over the years Bill has earned the respect of the children, as you can see from these quotes: “Bill can say hello or good morning in several languages and greets everyone by name and with a smile” and “Bill always makes sure we are safe and he even reminds me to bring my ukulele to school!”. Pupils always listen to him to ensure they are safe while walking to and from school. Bill also arrives early for work in the winter, to ensure the paths and crossing area are gritted properly before the children arrive.

Finalist: Steven Shaw.


This award recognises an individual or a team who have demonstrated an innovative approach and improved the way we do business. The award for Innovation was voted for during the award ceremony.

Winner: Daniel Shand and Norman Adams – Council Gardener’s Blog

Daniel (council gardener) and Norman (videographer) have created a monthly gardening blog to inspire others to get into gardening and encourage people to visit Aberdeen’s beautiful parks and green spaces. The blog is also used to shine a light on all the different council services, Friends of groups, schools, community groups and charities, who all work tirelessly to make the city a great place to live and work. The blog is a great way of passing on expert advice from Daniel while Norman is also showcasing the knowledge and skill the Council has in creating video that engages with all ages.

Finalists: Elaine Buchan, Gemma Simpson, Hataichanok (Jan) Saevanee – Data Register; Angela Jane Hesketh – Employee mental health and wellbeing.

Shining Star

This award is given for an individual who has reacted to a situation out with their role within the Council. A situation that required their involvement to ensure that a customer or a colleague was given the assistance they required in a very rare situation, to enable them to overcome difficulty or to recover from an event that has had a significant impact on their health.

Winner: Emily Snowdon

Long Service awards – 40 Years of Service to Aberdeen City Council

Wilma Wallace, Malcolm Brown, Alison Simpson, Andrew Gaffron, Sandy Scott, Michael Johnston, William Milne, William Muir, Philip Roger, Lewis Shewan, Graham Shand.

Committee endorsement gives a platform to build our workforce of the future

Earlier in the month I highlighted the agenda of this week’s Staff Governance Committee and in particular the report on the Workforce Plan – the vision for our workforce of the future.

You can find out more here about what that means for all of us as part of the Council team.

I’m delighted to say the committee gave its approval to the plan, which includes the new Capability Framework.

With that endorsement from elected members and trade unions, we have real impetus as the approach is embedded throughout the Council.

Thank you again to all involved in creating the plan and framework, which will benefit every employee and help realise our vision for the Council and the city.

An opportunity to hit pause before pressing fast forward

I’ve made mention in the past of the pace of life in a city council, particularly one serving somewhere as dynamic as Aberdeen during a period of really significant transformation. I think we’ll only really appreciate the scale of that change when we look back in years to come at what has been achieved in a short period of time.

There are lots of cogs in our machine and we should all take pride in the way we work together to keep those spinning hour to hour and day to day.

What that machine doesn’t have is a pause button, so taking the time to take a step back and reflect can be difficult.

With that in mind, building review into the day to day business of the council is important and there’s been an important step forward in recent weeks that will have passed under the radar for many colleagues – but it’s important to highlight.

Last month the first in a series of reports on the effectiveness of all of the Council’s committees was published and considered by the Education Operational Delivery Committee.

This is exemplar practice in local government.  It’s an illustration of taking pride in what we do and working together to make things even better – our guiding principles in action!

Given the rhythm of the committee cycle, it would be easy to flow from one meeting to the next and from one year to another. By setting annual reviews on the effectiveness of each committee, we’re embracing our organisational capability of openness, transparency and accountability.

The Education Operational Delivery Committee review highlighted the training and development undertaken by members in the past year, expanding knowledge in areas including early learning as well as on specific projects such as Big Noise Torry, as well as noting the fact the vast majority of committee business was conducted in public session. That bodes well for the future of the committee, but the annual assessment of effectiveness will guard against complacency.

The review of the Operational Delivery Committee pointed to the success over the past year of holding the organisation to account in terms of performance as well as the clear links between the business considered by members and the Local Outcome Improvement Plan’s themes – with a particular emphasis on outcomes relating to place and people. Again, it’s very encouraging to be able to take that objective view on the impact committee reports and decisions are having in our communities.

Those are just a handful of highlights from the effectiveness reports, but give a flavour of the way we’re reviewing the way we work and in turn aiming to make continual improvement.

It’s part of the wider programme to improve our governance, which has delivered on a number of levels in the past 18-months. Notably the Council’s first ever Scheme of Governance has been introduced – with all of our key constitutional documents revised, consolidated and aligned to ensure an outcome focused approach to how we do business. Risk management has been enhanced, a new performance management framework created and the Council Delivery Plan created … the list goes on.

Good governance isn’t an easy topic to bring to life in a few hundred words, given the complexity that goes hand in hand with it, but it does run through everything we do as a Council and give us the platform to make a difference to the people, place and economy.

My thanks go to all involved in the initiatives I’ve touched upon as we strive to embed the governance that is helping to drive positive change in Aberdeen.

City pupils provide the purrfect build-up to the Star Awards

If you have passed through the reception at Marischal College over the past week, you’ll have noticed some very special guests have arrived.

The collection of Kelly’s Cats are on display before they move to the Beach Ballroom on June 20 as part of the Star Awards, where they will be star prizes in a charity fundraising raffle on the night.

The cats, decorated replicas of the traditional cast iron leopards by William Kelly, have become a fixture of the awards – but there’s a twist this year, with 11 Aberdeen schools taking the opportunity to play their part in the creative process.

The end result is fantastic and well worth taking the time to view – the pupils have done us proud!

Final preparations for the Star Awards are in full flow and once again can I thank the dedicated organising team for the time and energy they devote to the event. The organisers deserve to share the spotlight with those who have made the shortlist.

The evening is all about recognising colleagues and teams from across the council for the positive impact they make, making a real difference to the lives of people in Aberdeen. It is always humbling and inspiring to reflect on the achievements of the past year and to look at the big picture of what we deliver – which is certainly worth celebrating.

Now in their eighth year, the Star Awards have attracted entries from every cluster – 236 in total, and just nine short of the record number. It is fantastic to see colleagues keen to acknowledge the efforts of those they work alongside.

There will be far more next week as the envelopes are opened and this year’s winners are revealed.  I’m looking forward to seeing all of our worthy nominees taking centre stage.