Flying the flag for the city

It gives me great pleasure to share news of yet another Aberdeen success story – and a very fitting one for summer.

The environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has confirmed that the city has been awarded five Green Flags for its outstanding green spaces.

Duthie Park, Hazlehead Park, Seaton Park, Johnston Gardens and – for the first time – Victoria Park were all winners.

The tally of five Green Flags, which recognises excellent management and environmental standards, is the highest number the city has ever achieved in a single summer.

It’s another example of great partnership working and real testament to all the hard work of community volunteers, including Friends of the parks, partners and of course our own staff.

Aberdeen is rightly proud of its renowned green spaces and this is just one more reason to explore and fall in love with your city this summer.

New Year: Hogmanay cheer and 2018 health focus

With everyone settling back into the work routine after the festive break, I want to take the opportunity to thank all those involved in the success of the city’s Hogmanay celebrations.

Music, fireworks and a great atmosphere ensured the event was a triumph and there has been plenty of positive feedback. As ever, months of planning and hard work was put in behind the scenes by Council staff – not to mention the efforts in the build-up and on the night. The teams responsible gave those who attended a great start to the year.

Thanks also go to everyone who worked through the holidays or who was on-call across a variety of other services. The work of the Council never stops and that is down to the contribution of colleagues in so many different roles.

Staying on the New Year  theme, everyone at the Council has the opportunity to make 2018 a positive one when it comes to health and wellbeing through the work of HR colleagues in providing access to a WellPoint kiosk.

The free to use kiosk can measure everything from weight and BMI to blood pressure and heart rate – with all results confidential. There are touch screen questionnaires that help to ensure the right signposting to health and lifestyle advice and support is provided.

The kiosk has been in place on the lower ground floor at Marischal College since yesterday (9 January) and will be available for the next four weeks. It will then be at West Tullos from 20 March and Altens East from 3 April, for two week spells at each, then a month at Kittybrewster from 29 May before moving on to various secondary schools.

We all tend to start the year with great intentions when it comes to health and wellbeing, so this is a good tool that’s available to us. Hopefully the kiosk will be well used.

I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.

Report to Council now available to view

Today a report to full Council has gone live to outline the proposals for an interim functional structure for the Council, following extensive engagement and consultation with staff, trade unions and public sector partners.

Many of you have taken the time to help shape the future direction of travel of this Council and have contributed on the proposals through staff consultation in the last three weeks. I want to thank you for taking the time to submit your views.

In total 108 staff sessions took place between 11 September and 28 November with total attendance at these events standing at 4505.  This includes large scale sessions at the Town and County Hall, Beach Ballroom and Harlaw; briefings by managers at various depots and locations, and an ‘on the road’ gallery at both Marischal and outlying establishments.

Organisation and delivery of the sessions has involved more than 167 staff including members of ECMT, 3rd tier managers, Head teachers, a range of employees from across the council, the Research and Development Team and Trade Union colleagues hosting stalls to answer any questions staff might have.  This represents a live example of the Target Operating Model in action with the breaking down of silo working and the moving of resource to where it is needed.

A summary of your responses to the proposed interim functional structure has been prepared and submitted in Appendix A of the report. Here you can see a summary of the final decisions that were made against these responses.

It is important to note that all feedback has been fed into the Transformation Team and the transformation delivery boards who will take a lead in implementing changes based on the ideas, suggestions and information as we move to the transition period. The proposal being put forward is an interim structure – we expect that as we continue to re-design the organisation, further changes will be made and you will be a key part of informing this work.

All feedback will be published and made available for everyone to see through the Transformation Zone where actions taken by the Delivery Boards will also be updated.

I hope you will continue to be engaged in this process, read through the report and the appendices and continue to submit your views about Transformation through the zone or your line manager. The report, item 9a, can be accessed here.

Recognition for our rising stars – and their mentors

It is always heartening when dedicated and talented employees we have at Aberdeen City Council are recognised for their skills and I’m delighted that is the case in the forthcoming Law Awards of Scotland.

Scott Connor has been nominated in the Trainee of the Year category and Fiona Closs in the Junior In House Lawyer of the Year category.

Both will face competition, with five other finalists vying for the two awards, but regardless of the outcome on November 30 they can be proud of their achievements in being named finalists.

It’s a great honour for them as individuals early in their careers and reflects positively on the Council as a whole. Those who have mentored Scott and Fiona – sharing knowledge and experience – also deserve praise for their role in this recognition for the team.

At a time of great change within the organisation, it’s important to stress that good people will always be at the heart of the vital services we deliver on behalf of all those we serve. That focus will never change and the commitment to fostering talented individuals across the services is something we can all be proud of.

A spectacular start to a packed winter programme

I must take the opportunity to thank everyone who played a part in the success of the spectacular fireworks display on Sunday.

More than 12,000 people turned out to enjoy the show, bringing the communities we serve together for the traditional November 5 celebrations.

After the disappointment of last year’s cancellation due to weather conditions, it was fantastic that the effort and dedication of the teams responsible for delivering such a popular event was rewarded with a great response from the public.

In the weeks ahead there will be many more events to get people talking and really engaged with their city – from the opening of the Christmas Village and switch on of the Christmas tree lights to the lights parade, which this year is combined with the Denis Law Freedom of the City celebration, and much, much more. There is certainly plenty to look forward to.

None of these events would be possible without the planning, expertise and teamwork behind the scenes at the Council. My thanks go to all involved at the weekend – here’s to the next successful event.

The loss of a valued colleague

It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of a valued colleague from our Education and Children’s Services team.

Debbie Moir, who served with distinction as Head Teacher of Hanover Street School and most recently as a Quality Improvement Officer after being seconded to that role last year, had been receiving treatment for cancer and we have been informed of her death this week.

Our thoughts are with Debbie’s family and on behalf of all at the Council I am sending my deepest sympathies to them, offering the support you would expect at this difficult time.

My condolences also go to all who knew Debbie – not only as a knowledgeable and committed colleague and teacher but as a friend. The loss has been felt throughout the education services and beyond.

Debbie’s contribution to education in the city will not be forgotten and those who worked closely with her have fond memories of a very caring person who put children at the centre of everything she did, determined to ensure the best outcomes for young people. An infectious laugh, quick wit and ability to put others at ease were just some of the many other qualities which shone through and which will be greatly missed.

SPECTRA wins Festival of the Year Award

Congratulations to all the teams responsible (City Promotion & Events; Culture, Partnership & Policy), and all colleagues, volunteers and partners who made SPECTRA 2017 – Aberdeen’s festival of light – such a success.  The festival has now won Large Event of the Year and Team of the Year at The Drum Scottish Event Awards 2017.

SPECTRA is a relatively young festival, but had around 65,000 visitors in 2017 and was up against some long-established events.  Well done and we’re all looking forward to SPECTRA 2018.

Fantastic Success at Beautiful Scotland Awards

An absolutely fantastic night for Aberdeen at the Beautiful Scotland awards!

Our list of winners:-

  • City Category winner and Gold Medal, and Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society Award for our horticulture and green spaces.
  • Powis, Gold Medal and Residential Community category winners.
  • Dyce in Bloom, Gold Medal and Best Urban Community category winners.
  • Brighter Bucksburn, Silver Medal.
  • Cove in Bloom, Silver Gilt Medal.
  • Aberdeen Inspired, Silver Gilt Medal and Visit Scotland Award for Tourism.

The awards are well deserved and testament to all the hard work the team and our many (ever growing) community partners put in, not just to the campaign but to everything they do that goes towards making Aberdeen the amazing place it is. Everyone involved should be very proud of what they’ve achieved. Roll on Britain in Bloom, Champion of Champions!



Barcelona Attack

My thoughts this morning are on yesterday’s terrible attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. After yet another act of senseless terrorism we, like the rest of the world, can only express our sorrow and sympathy for the victims, our solidarity with the people of Spain and remain vigilant to the risks of terrorism.

Manchester Attack

My thoughts are with everyone affected by last night’s appalling news from Manchester. The targeting of this latest attack is particularly shocking and heart breaking. I know we will all feel the grief and sadness felt by the people of Manchester.

We are liaising with colleagues in Police Scotland. Whilst, this morning, there is no intelligence to suggest an increased threat to Scotland, we must all remain vigilant and mindful of the threat posed by terrorism, reporting anything suspicious.