Author Archives: Paul

About Paul

Works in the community


Udny Climate Action, last weekend [ 13th March ] organised a small practical step in their campaign of climate action.

On the principle that its actions by every individual that will make the difference, they set about planting 400 trees. All done on the Saturday.

Trees are not the only solution, the preservation of soils, peat bogs and grasslands can equally play a part. But trees are definitely part, in places where trees are the natural default wild habitat. That includes much of the North East of Scotland. The trees not only capture carbon, they bind and enrich soils, creating massive underground carbon /fungal networks and they allow for a profusion of insects and higher forms of local wildlife.

Thanks Udny Climate Action

( UCA are part of Pitmedden, Udny Tarves Community SCIO and anyone who cares for the planet can join. )

If you want to know more about how trees can help in the battle against Climate Change, please email me on

Assistance Hub making a real difference

The response from local authorities, NHS Grampian, police, Fire and rescue in assisting local communities to both organise (and be effective), can be seen in the article below. No response is perfect, I accept, but the effort in the north east is clearly working. What we need is for people to continue to follow the guidance to stay at home unless for essential journeys and remember separation distances. This will, in the end, be as effective as possible in saving lives.

Assistance Hub making a real difference

Partners from across the public sector have been praising the Grampian Assistance Hub, established last month to help people in need throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The phone line and website both went live at the end of March. Since then, more than 3,000 people have used the site to ask for help or to request help for someone else.

The website address is and the phone number is 0808 196 3384 (8am-8pm 7 days a week). The main objective is as a place where people can report that they need help. It is also a way for residents to volunteer their support which they can safely deliver in their communities. Staff are on the phone to provide callers with up to date information, or to link them up with the right person who can quickly answer questions.

Another important feature is that the site can be used to request help on behalf of someone else, allowing friends and neighbours to signpost to someone in need.

The Hub is open across Grampian, accessible to anyone from Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire or Moray.

And the praise for the work of those staffing the Hub to get help to those at their most vulnerable has been pouring in.

Case studies:

  • Email received from woman who lives in Northern Ireland but her elderly parents are in Inverurie. Through the hub a local church group were able to deliver them a food parcel. Despite having been insistent that they “were fine” the parcel was incredibly warmly received and may save them having to go out for a while.
  • Elderly woman in Elgin who had broken her leg so couldn’t walk her dog. Hub staff got in touch with a community group in the area, who secured a volunteer to walk the lady’s dog.
  • Elderly lady in Mintlaw who had a broken washing machine. Hub staff managed to her in touch with a local charitable group who sorted her out with a washing machine and fitted it. They passed on, “I called her today to see how she is getting on with the machine – she says she is loving it and was able to do a load of laundry this morning for the first time in a long while.”
  • Staff at the hub followed up calls with an individual who has required repeat support from the Hub. He has required food parcels as well as other assistance and was matched with a volunteer. That individual got in touch to say “He wanted me to pass on how grateful he and his partner are to everyone for all the assistance that they have been given and to let us know how much their food parcels have meant to them.”

Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Campbell Thomson from Police Scotland chairs the multi-agency Local Resilience Partnership (LRP), who oversee the work of the Assistance Hub. He said: “Behind every figure is a person in real need. Someone who is not sure where to turn to get help and advice. For many this Assistance Hub is a useful channel, but for those people it is a lifeline. I take great pride in the work of the team who set up and run the Hub and owe a debt of gratitude to the volunteers and businesses. It is becoming a well-worn phrase, but these really are unprecedented times. Through the work of this Assistance Hub I can see the very best team working and partnership with one single objective, helping people at their time of need.”

In a recent letter to all the volunteers who signed up to help via the Assistance Hub, Prof. Amanda Croft, Chief Executive of NHS Grampian, said: “When the Grampian Assistance Hub was launched last month, few could have predicted the remarkable response we have received from the people of the North East. I’m pleased to say that you have come forward in extraordinary numbers to protect our NHS and support those most in need. Over 3,000 individuals or groups across Grampian have now registered to offer support in their communities. That is incredible. The spirit and enthusiasm shown by people from all walks of life is truly inspirational. I give my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has come forward: we owe each one of you a huge debt of gratitude.”

Coronavirus COVID-19 – local volunteers

Friends, neighbours

If you are involved or want to be involved, please consider this mutual aid group. Register your local group or find a group to join and help.

Please stay safe.

Cllr Paul Johnston
Democratic Independent
Aberdeenshire Council


US Vice President Henry A. Wallace

“The really dangerous American fascist… is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power… They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

~quoted in the New York Times, April 9, 1944”



There are just a few days left to respond to Aberdeenshire Council’s transport survey. The Council is doing a ‘clean sheet’ consultation about services and what is required by Aberdeenshire’s citizens.

Please click on the link below to the Aberdeenshire Council Transport survey. The closing date is next Monday 9th December 2019. So people still have time to give their valuable view on the future of Bus Services in Aberdeenshire.

Cllr Paul Johnston
Democratic Independent
Aberdeenshire Council


Some things can be said simply.

p.s. This post can refer to local as well as national leadership.


I am wondering with the Conservative party under prime minister BOJO and the proposed suspension of democracy, if the Liberal Democrats will continue to support the coalition locally led by Conservatives.

How much does it take for them to stop giving Conservatives the credibility they clearly do not now deserve in positions of authority .


The University of Aberdeen is holding a public science cafe – all invited.

Cafe Scientifique

Autumn 2019 Programme

Enjoy a coffee with a slice of science this autumn with the brand-new Aberdeen Café Scientifique programme, starting 21 August 2019

Hope to see you there!

These events are FREE, no booking required.
The nearest parking available is at Harriet Street car park.

Cafe Scientifique – It’s in the rock! Clues about climate change

Wednesday 21 August
19:00 – 20:30
Kino Bar – Belmont Filmhouse

Join Dr Amanda Owen (University of Glasgow) and Dr Alena Ebinghaus (University of Aberdeen) to discover the hidden signs of climate change and better understand the impact that this has on our environment. Tackling present-day climate change is an immense challenge and its long-term consequences are not fully understood yet. Here we will talk about the clues of climate change hidden in Earth’s history and what we can learn from it.

Admission is FREE
No Booking Required
For more info click HERE


Aberdeenshire Councillor and waste campaigner, Paul Johnston has reacted positively to the report by Earthwatch’s researchers working with Plastic Oceans UK, an NGO commissioning research.

“The list contains materials where we largely have alternatives so its perfectly possible to get change via regulation and education as well as civic action.” said the Democratic Independent Councillor. “so the message is ‘YES WE CAN’ However, there are materials that require a major effort. No 3 on the list of pollutants is smoking litter along with its packaging. This needs a significant effort by legislators and/or enforcement work. We already have litter fines – but Councils would need the support of government if they were simply to try and tackle this by simple enforcement alone.”

On the report itself, Councillor Johnston said:

“The report highlighted many actions individuals can do and ones which can be done by local people or Councils. Its positive reading and i would urge examination of the report in detail by everyone who wants to see a sustainable future.”

“I do however, accept that there is a role for politicians, legislators and public servants in progressing all of this. This report is a great ‘heads up’ for everyone involved.”

The Plastic Rivers report, published today (8 April) in association with Plastic Oceans UK, has analysed data from nine studies of freshwater sources across the UK and Europe, revealing the top ten plastic pollutants in the UK’s rivers and lakes.

Here is the list and Cllr Johnston’s reactions in parenthesis.

The top 10 plastic pollutants in rivers and lakes:

  1. Plastic bottles and lids
  • These can be very largely dealt with by a DRS in Scotland (Deposit Return Scheme)

Food wrappers (crisp packets and sweet wrappers)

  • Extended PRS (Producer Responsibility Scheme)cwill create systems for collection such as Terracycle, as well as compostable alternatives.

Cigarette butts

  • This needs debated. Is enforcement of existing laws being done?

Sanitary items (nappies, sanitary towels, tampons and wet wipes)

  • The subject of a debate in the EU about separate collections?

Plastic or polystyrene takeaway containers

  • Full environment friendly alternatives exist.

Cotton bud sticks

  • Full environment friendly alternatives exist.

Plastic or polystyrene cups

  • Full environment friendly alternatives exist.

Smoking-related packaging

  • As per 3 above

Plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery

  • Full environment friendly alternatives exist.

Plastic bags

  • Full environment friendly alternatives exist.

To access the full report, click here.


Councillor Paul Johnston is leader of the Democratic Independent and green Group on Aberdeenshire Council and campaigners on zero waste and circular economy issues.


For new or aspiring social entrepreneurs, inspirational leadership is critical to their organisation’s initial success.

This one day introduction to leadership is an ideal starting point for individuals who are thinking of starting a social enterprise or who have recently started one.

Attendees will:

  • Learn what is meant by leadership and the key responsibilities of a leader
  • Strengthen their understanding of the key traits of a good leader
  • Reflect on their own strengths and areas of development
  • Engage with leadership and motivation theories
  • Explore the next steps in their leadership development

Date: Thursday 9th May 2019
Time: 10.00am to 4.00pm
Location: Fly Cup Catering, Inverurie, AB51 4FS

Through the support of the Scottish Government we are able to offer this leadership programme FREE OF CHARGE

If you have not already booked for this event, don’t delay as places are offered on a strict first come, first served basis. Secure your place here: Booking Form

For more information, contact Louise on 0141 404 0088 or leadership