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 chiefexecutive@aberdeencity.gov.uk 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 http://www.sacert.org/catering

Give Blood

I’m delighted to let you know that the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (https://www.scotblood.co.uk/) will be running a blood donation session for Council staff and elected members at Marischal College on Monday 10th August.  The session will take place in Room 4-W-01, it will run all day and there will be four beds set up to take donations.

The impetus for this link with the Transfusion Service has come through colleagues who are aware that the son of a staff member at the Maritime Museum is currently undergoing treatment for leukaemia.  The child has so far received 37 units of blood over the course of his treatment and I think this brings into sharp focus for all of us just how great the ongoing demand for blood donations is.

As it happens, traditionally blood donations drop by approximately 20% over the summer period so every donation is even more gratefully received at this time. 

When the idea of this session was originally floated there was fantastic feedback with just short of 200 colleagues expressing an interest in donating.  I appreciate that the chosen date may not suit everyone, but I’m confident that there will be an excellent response.  Watch out on the Zone for information on how you’ll be able to book your place at the session.

We’re going to continue our link with the Blood Transfusion Service and hope to have two-day sessions with them every six months going forward so the Council’s support for their vital work can be maximised.  I urge everyone who can to get involved in donating.

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.

Best Value Audit 2015

The Controller of Audit has presented a Best Value Audit report on Aberdeen City Council to the Accounts Commission.

The report, produced following work with the Council by Audit Scotland colleagues earlier this year, will be considered by the Accounts Commission at its meeting on 11th June. The document is publicly available on the Commission’s website http://goo.gl/dSWuvV

The final report, which will include the Accounts Commission’s Findings is due to be published on 2nd July.  The report, together with an initial action plan addressing the Findings will be taken to the Council at its meeting on 19th August.


Star Awards

A fantastic Star Awards event last night at the Beach Ballroom, so many stories of staff achievement and excellence worthy of celebration.

Congratulations are due not only to all the winners and but also to all the shortlisted nominees.  Our Awardees for 2015 are:

Professionalism:  Stephen Booth, Property Estates Manager (CH&I)  

Respect:  Culter Cleaning Team; Helen Graham, Susan Robertson, Mary Clark (CH&I)

Customer Focus:  Jackie Lamont, Deputy Head Teacher, Danestone Primary School

Communication:  Carol Li, School Administrator, St Peter’s RC School

Friday’s Child:  Fiona Cochrane, Support Officer (CH&I)

Collaboration:  Powis Recycling Team, Waste and Recycling Team and Powis Residents’ Group: Hannah Lynch, Erica Manfroi, Martina Klubal, Anne Gladstone, Alan Paterson, Dave Simmers, Andy Mearns, Scott Ross, Michael McTigue and Fiona Lindsay

Innovation:  Ray Douglas, Beach Ballroom (E&CS)

People’s Champion:  Donna Shaw, Housing Support Worker (CH&I)

Shining Star:   Louise Ironside, Assistant HR Coordinator (CG)

Legacy Awards:  Elizabeth Wood, Senior Complaints, Rights and Enquiries Office, (SC&W); Judith Stones, Lead Curator in Archaeology and History, (EC&S); Jim Taylor, Surveying Manager, Kittybrewster; Beverley Graham, Support Officer to the Lord Provost.

Great thanks are due to the judges who decided on the winners, to the staff team that pulled together such an enjoyable (and glamorous) event and to the sponsors who ensured that the ceremony and dinner were fully funded.

I’m already looking forward to the 2016 event! 

One Walk Aberdeen

I recently attended the corporate launch at the Town House for this year’s JDRF One Walk Aberdeen, a 5k walk taking place on Sunday 27th September at Drum Castle. There’s more information on the walk and the work of the juvenile diabetes research foundation here https://goo.gl/O7F0ni

I’ve committed to bring together an Aberdeen City Council ECMT team to raise sponsorship and to take on the walk, but it would be great if more Council teams were formed and joined us at Drum Castle on the day.  If you and your colleagues are interested drop me a line.


Transport Fleet and the Traffic Commissioner

I didn’t want the working week to end without me putting on record my appreciation of the hard work of all staff, trades union partners and managers who have been involved in implementing together the extensive programme of improvement activity at the transport fleet that has been underway since the Council was called before the Traffic Commissioner at the end of last year.

You will be aware that the situation the Commissioner highlighted was very poor and a number of major challenges needed to be addressed effectively but swiftly to ensure that we could continue to operate.  I am very impressed by the way this very difficult situation has been tackled and it was gratifying to hear this week the Traffic Commissioner’s recognition of the progress that has been made.  Much remains to be done, but I am confident that the team will now push on and ensure that in the not too distant future our fleet operation is recognised as being exemplary.

One final note I need to add is a personal thank you to Mark Reilly for his tireless leadership of this work.  I am very grateful to him for the determined way he has ensured that the much needed improvement has been and is being achieved.

2015 General Election

It’s the morning after the night before and ahead of becoming  fully immersed once again in the day job, I wanted to take the opportunity to write to thank everyone involved in delivering the 2015 General Election in the two constituencies for which I am Returning Officer – Aberdeen North and Aberdeen South.

I’ll be writing to all the staff who worked with me and my Deputes – David Gow, Steven Dongworth, Crawford Langley and Ciaran Monaghan – to express my gratitude to them, but mention should also be made of all the groups and organisations who made venues available to us for use as polling places and to Robert Gordon University for our count venue at RGU:Sport.

Thanks are also due to our partners who assisted in the delivery of the elections – Ian Milton and his Electoral Registration team, the Idox team who worked with us on the processing of postal votes, Royal Mail, Police Scotland and Showsec Security.

Once the dust has settled on the General Election and all the required paperwork has been finalised, we’ll take the opportunity to reflect on what we might be able to improve in the way we do things and work will begin on the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary Elections.