Fantastic news this morning of Aberdeen’s gold in the city category of the UK Britain in Bloom campaign.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the Britain in Bloom team, a great example of the Council working closely with partners, communities and volunteers to make a real difference in the City.
Congratulations to Christine Rew, her team and everyone who has had a role to play in bringing together the proposal for the redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery. Today’s fantastic news that the programme has been awarded £10 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund is another significant milestone on the journey which will culminate with the revamped building opening to the public in 2017.
The redevelopment of the Art Gallery is key to the Better Image for Aberdeen strand of our Strategic Infrastructure Plan and the rejuvenated venue will provide a high quality city centre visitor attraction featuring new gallery spaces, new educational facilities, an upgraded Cowdray Hall and new retail and catering offers.
Work is now underway on the fund-raising campaign which aims to raise the final £10 million towards the £30 million total cost. The HLF award has been matched by a £10 million contribution from the Council’s capital programme.
A tremendous start to the week with the launch of Aberdeen Guarantees at the Beach Ballroom.
This new partnership initiative brings together the efforts of the public, private and third sectors to help young people progress towards employment. Aberdeen Guarantees will ensure all 14 to 25-year-olds in Aberdeen have access to quality opportunities in learning, training and work. This morning’s launch marked the start of the collaborative process to bring about this ambitious project by engaging with the city’s business community.
The programme of activity will be key to the Council addressing the Strategic Infrastructure Plan priority on skills.
I am delighted to say that the Council Leader and I have signed a pledge on behalf of the Council, promising a range of support for young people, including providing modern apprenticeships; informing students, parents and teachers about the job market and skills required in the City; and participating in careers fairs. I know that I can rely on everyone in the Council to support those young people who undertake their work experience with us. One of the most striking aspects of the launch event were the presentations by pupils from Northfield and Oldmachar Academies outlining the impacts on them of work they have undertaken in companies around Aberdeen.
In leading from the front, the Council is now calling on organisations of all sizes across the city to follow suit and provide what support they can to the city’s youth.
Aberdeen Guarantees will bring together a range of approaches for youngsters who are still at school, those approaching the end of their school days, and those who have already left. It will help support these young people to move into further education, training, and employment, building on the work already done to reduce the number of unemployed young people in the city. The scheme will also advertise new training and work opportunities for young people and promote youth-employment related activity to young people, parents, carers, professionals and employers. You can find out more about the programme and our partners on the dedicated website www.aberdeenguarantees.com
Finally, a personal thank you to Neil McLennan and his colleagues in Education, Culture and Sport for such an exciting, effective and successful launch event today.
As we move towards the weekend, I want to take the opportunity to pay tribute to the superb work done by Fiona Lindsay and Sharon Robb in triggering and seeing to a successful conclusion the Council’s efforts to secure one of the Wild Dolphin sculptures at the auction held on Wednesday evening.
You can read the story elsewhere on the Zone and I’m full of admiration that what began this time last week as a “wouldn’t it be good if …” conversation among work colleagues was so rapidly taken up with such enthusiasm across the Council. Some 260 individual donations were made by staff members and with the addition of the pledge by the Council to match the sum raised, a total of £9,340 was secured in just three days. Sharon was successful at the auction and we secured the Evening Express sponsored Lottie designed by competition winner Erika Mackintosh.
It’s a real boost to see how within the Council individual members of staff, teams, trades unions and directorates can come together and work positively to achieve such a great outcome. I’m very proud that we have been able to play a role in the raising of funds for local charities and it will be great to have a permanent reminder at the Council of what has been a very special project for the City. As I write, discussions are underway on where best to site Lottie and I’m sure we will find a spot where she can be enjoyed by staff and visitors alike.
I am delighted to let you know that Judith Proctor has been appointed to the new post of Chief Officer, Adult Health and Social Care – a joint appointment with NHS Grampian. A high quality shortlist was taken through a rigorous two-day selection process and Judith emerged as the person to take on this exciting role for the City.
Judith, who originates from Aberdeen studied at North Lothian College of Nursing and Midwifery to qualify as a nurse before training as a midwife. She worked as a District Nurse/Community Midwife in Highland and Shetland until 2001 when she joined NHS Dumfries and Galloway as Public Health Practitioner. In 2003 Judith was seconded to the Scottish Government as a Senior Policy Officer working on the implementation of the Local Government (Scotland) Act which involved liaison with community planning boards across Scotland.
In 2004 Judith was appointed as Joint Strategic Planning and Commissioning Manager – Adults and Learning Disability for NHS Dumfries and Galloway. This was a joint post for the Council and NHS with responsibility for all planning, commissioning and contracting work. In April 2009 she was promoted to the role of Director of Planning and Head of Joint Strategic Planning, Commissioning and Performance becoming a member of the NHS Executive Management Team and the Social Work Management Team leading on specific areas of work for both organisations.
Most recently Judith has been seconded to NHS Grampian as the corporate lead for integration across the 3 partnerships in the North East of Scotland (i.e. Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray).
It’s very exciting to see the appointments to the new structure starting to take place.
Some fascinating discussions this week about Aberdeen city centre.
You’ll know that one of the priorities set in the Strategic Infrastructure Plan is to improve the image of the city, with the regeneration of the city centre being key to this. A team of specialists assembled by the international firm BDP has been appointed by the Council to develop a city centre masterplan for Aberdeen.
This week has seen the final touches being put to the plans for three series of engagement and consultation to find out what people who visit, work in or live in the city centre think should be done to improve it for us now and into the future. The first activities and events will take place towards the end of September and will be followed by similar programmes in November and March next year prior to the masterplan being finalised and presented to the Council.
Keep an eye out for information on what’s going on and do take the opportunity to share your views.
An exciting few weeks ahead as appointments are made to a number of senior posts in the structure developed by the Corporate Management Team and agreed by the City Council.
Next week sees the assessment centre and interview process for the new post of Chief Officer, Adult Health and Social Care – an appointment shared with NHS Grampian.
Today we’ve advertised six posts, the Director of Corporate Governance and five Heads of Service. Check out the dedicated microsite here http://goo.gl/fYU9UK and if you feel you have the required skills and experience, if the challenges of the Shaping Aberdeen agenda excite you and if you see yourself playing an active and leading role in the Council’s senior team make sure you have your application in by the closing date of 22 September.
It can’t have escaped your notice that polling day for the Scottish Independence Referendum is rapidly approaching.
David Gow and the Elections Unit are putting in place all the necessary arrangements for Aberdeen’s 224 polling stations and our count venue at RGU:Sport. A team of over 850 staff has now been assembled in order to deliver the referendum in the City.
The first distribution of some 35,000 ballot paper packs to those registered for a postal vote began on Tuesday this week and we received our first call on Wednesday morning from a concerned voter needing clarification on how to deal with the paperwork. Voting is underway! We’ll be processing postal ballots at the Town House in the run up to 18th September.
I fully appreciate that while many of us have a direct role to play in delivering the referendum, many more colleagues do not. However, it is important for all of us working for the Council to recognise that we are now within the 28 day pre-poll period and under the terms of the legislation that established the referendum there are a number of onerous obligations placed on us not to promote or express support for either side of the campaign. There is a guidance note for all staff available on the Council’s website http://goo.gl/kkQuIY and I ask you and your colleagues to remind yourself of the do’s and don’ts particularly in relation to wearing badges etc. at work and displaying promotional materials in or on Council property (both major don’ts!).
If you have any concerns or questions about any of the guidance please speak to your line manager. Ciaran Monaghan in OCE will also provide advice on issues raised.
The first Council meeting after the recess has taken place today, schools went back this week and given the weather we’re having at the moment you’d be forgiven for thinking that autumn has already arrived. If you’ve already had a summer holiday, I hope it was a good one and you were able to recharge the batteries in the company of family or friends. If you’re still to have your break, enjoy and remember us back here at work wondering whether or not to put the heating on.
As ever, there is of course plenty to do over the coming weeks and months. The members today agreed the recommendations for the second phase of the restructure and work now begins both on filling Heads of Service posts and working up proposals for the third phase which will be taken back to committee for approval within two cycles. Please do take the opportunity to get involved in helping to shape the proposals. The revised committee structure has also been agreed today and it will be introduced from 8th October. As I’ve said before, I’m very keen to move on from discussion about structure to concentrate on working with you to build a culture within the Council that sees us support each other in providing the very best outcomes for the people of Aberdeen. Watch this space, as they say!
Plenty for all of us to do before Christmas.
It’s shaping up to be an exciting week for the council, as we embark on Shaping Aberdeen – a new plan to promote the developments and improvements we are delivering for the city.
Shaping Aberdeen emphasises the key priorities identified in the Strategic Infrastructure Plan: housing, transport, connectivity, city image, and skills. We will use it to highlight significant new developments to Aberdeen residents and businesses.
Shaping Aberdeen is a long-term plan building on established strong foundations, demonstrating the city’s strengths and ongoing improvement, with residents in mind. I think it is very important that we communicate directly with the people of Aberdeen to show them what we are doing to improve the city and build on its successes.
We’ll outline and promote a broad range of projects, including our new housing developments, schools, roads infrastructure, digital connectivity and high-speed broadband, regeneration projects, the proposed new AECC, and the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project.
I want to make sure the people of Aberdeen and visitors to the city are informed about how the public pound is being spent and can see at a glance what’s happening in the city as it continues to grow, develop and regenerate.
Shaping Aberdeen is a new way of communicating with the city and we’ll be using a range of means, including social media, the mainstream media, email, and an exciting marketing campaign to get our message across. You’ll soon see a range of messages appearing across the city.