Tag Archives: Aberdeenshire Council

WASTE REPORT HIGHLIGHTS RISK OF FAILURE IN NORTH EAST

A report on waste infrastructure by consultants Eunomia released this week,  may highlight a ” major risk of financial failure” of Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils’ multi million pound incinerator project.  This is according to leading Aberdeenshire Councillor, Paul Johnston.

“The report indicates that under likely scenarios the plant will be at risk of being surplus to requirements with increasing recycling rates even before it is fully working.” said the leader of the council’s Democratic Independent and Green Group.

“Eunomia as respected researchers, indicate that too much capacity could either reduce recycling rates or make surplus capacity incinerators go bust. The councils , if they decide to legally commit to such a major project, face a major risk of financial failure”

“This should be a signal for Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Council to stop, take a deep breath and to go back and take a long hard look at the alternatives before they waste as much as £180 million on a white elephant. ”

” Each new report such as this from Eunomia or the chartered institute of Waste Management and even from advice out of the European Union waste directorate is adding more and more evidence that the city and Shire have they got it wrong in opting for incineration.  It is financially too risky as well as being environmentally unsound.”

The Incinerator described as a white elephant, proposed in the city which is will cost Aberdeenshire £80million – more than the AWPR.

The  Eunomia report is available at:

https://cllrpauljohnston.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/rwir-issue-12-main-report_final.pdf

Councillor Paul Johnston is a Democratic Independent Councillor on Aberdeenshire Council and is a campaigner on waste and recycling issues as a member of CRNS the community resource charity.


DEMOCRATIC INDEPENDENT & GREEN GROUP WINS IN ABERDEENSHIRE

The confidence and supply agreement between Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors – Martin Ford and Paul Johnston – and their council’s Partnership administration has delivered significant benefits for Aberdeenshire residents. That is the view of both the DIGG and the Partnership.

The agreement was struck in 2015. The DIGG remained an independent opposition group but guaranteed limited support to the minority Partnership administration, allowing it to take office and bringing stability to the Council.

In return, the Partnership committed to supporting a range of specific policies and other changes put forward by the DIGG.

The agreement has worked well and been adhered to by both sides. It is the first such arrangement in Aberdeenshire.

One provision in the agreement is that an annual, objective, assessment of progress with it be requested from the Council’s chief executive. The assessment for 2017 has now been received.

The assessment shows the specific provisions in the confidence and supply agreement have either been delivered or are ‘work in progress’.

In addition to the policy changes in the confidence and supply agreement, the Partnership has adopted suggestions from the DIGG in the Council budget put forward by the Partnership.

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“The DIGG’s aims in reaching a limited agreement with the Partnership were to bring stability to the Council at a time when no grouping could form an administration by itself, and to secure policy changes and service improvements for residents.

“The DIGG has remained an independent opposition group – but one that has been able to deliver significant policy change. I’ve been particularly pleased that the Council has taken steps towards genuine budget consultation and is working towards further improving links with the third sector, charities and voluntary oganisations.”

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The cross-party co-operation between the DIGG and the Partnership has brought some significant progress. There have been been specific improvements, such as the investment in active travel.

“The adoption of the carbon budget is a governance measure of genuine significance – a Scottish first – that should deliver long-term benefits, and may provide a model for other councils.”

Council co-leader Cllr Richard Thomson added:

“The willingness of the DIG Group to offer political support to the Partnership where they could and constructive criticism where they couldn’t, has made this an extremely effective administration. Their willingness to engage and negotiate has shown just what can be achieved where politicians decide to concentrate on meaningful outcomes rather than just headlines.

“I hope that Aberdeeenshire is able to continue benefitting from this constructive approach to politics after May’s elections.”

Council co-leader Cllr Alison Evison said:

“We have fundamental aims in common with the DIGG – to provide quality public services to all residents in Aberdeenshire and in consultation with residents, and to develop effective partnership work with others in order to achieve this.

“Our agreement with the DIGG has in particular helped us to develop links with local credit unions. It has enabled our aspirations to develop more cycling and walking routes to become real projects.

In 2015 it was crucial for services in Aberdeenshire, and for the people dependent on these services, that we were able to form a stable Administration after a long, unsettled period. The Confidence and Supply Agreement secured this.”


BURNING WASTE AND BURNING MONEY AT SAME TIME – COUNCIL TAKES A RISKY COURSE.

Aberdeenshire Council has moved to go down the line of building a large incinerator plant for waste. This is in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, who have a site in Torry.  Also Moray Council wish to export their waste to the area.

I had the opportunity in the debate of moving an amendment to the motion to proceed with the joint venture owned by the three councils.  The text of the motion s below. There have always been alternatives, but owning yesterdays technology for tomorrows issues is nuts. The Council is taking one hell of a gamble because of the certain changes coming about with how deal with materials in the current waste stream.

Proposed by Councillor Paul Johnston, seconded by Councillor Martin Ford.

  • That the Council notes the report and the proposed agreement (with Aberdeen City and Moray for a new Incinerator)
  • The Council resolves not to adopt this agreement  or to  proceed to the Inter Authority Agreement (IAA) stage 2 due to unacceptable levels of financial and environmental risk.
  • The Council resolves to bring to the earliest possible meeting, a report on steps to minimise the materials to incineration as part of any interim measure and plan to phase out the landfill and incineration of Biodegradble Municipal Waste (BMW) in line with zero waste targets.
  • The Council notes the existing and future overcapacity of incineration facilities for refuse derived fuel in Scotland, UK and Europe.
  • The Council seeks agreement with Aberdeen City and Moray to maximise the recovery of valuable material from Biodegrade Municipal Waste (BMW) by use of Energy from Waste (EfW) through Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and through the use of composting and bio digestion to achieve zero waste objectives for biodegradable materials.

COUNCIL TO CHART ROUTE TO CUTTING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY SETTING CARBON BUDGET

full_29392In 2007, Aberdeenshire Council set itself ambitious targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions – but the Council has not yet managed to achieve consistent year-on-year reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide generated by its activities.

“The Council must do better at meeting targets to cut its carbon emissions,” said Cllr Martin Ford. “And make cutting emissions a higher priority. That means a new approach is needed to when and where the Council takes its decisions about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors – Martin Ford and Paul Johnston – secured agreement last summer that the Council’s new administration would support improvements to decision making about reducing carbon emissions. (Note 1)

The DIGG councillors then wrote to Aberdeenshire Council’s co-leaders last September making a specific proposal that the Council sets a carbon budget each year – detailing how and where it aims to reduce its carbon emissions – and that the carbon budget is agreed by the full council at the meeting which decides the Council’s revenue and capital budgets for the year ahead. (See letter attached)

The Council’s co-leaders have now written to Cllr Ford and Cllr Johnston indicating their administration’s support for the DIGG carbon budgeting proposal. (Note 2)

A report from officers on carbon budgeting is now expected at the 10 March Aberdeenshire Council full council meeting.

Cllr Paul Johnston said: “We are very pleased the administration has agreed with us about the need to improve governance and decision making in respect of the Council’s duty to cut its carbon emissions. The Council has challenging and ambitious targets to meet and it is important every councillor is involved in the decisions needed to deliver on those.”

Cllr Martin Ford said: “Aberdeenshire Council agrees its overall financial plans for the year ahead on budget day in February each year – the revenue budget, capital plan and housing revenue account budget. But there should really be a fourth budget decided alongside the ‘money budgets’ – the Council’s plans for reducing its carbon emissions resulting from its various activities. The carbon budget is interlinked with the money budgets because some measures to reduce carbon emissions will incur capital costs, but also deliver revenue savings. So all the budgets ought to be considered at the same meeting and be consistent with each other.”

Aberdeenshire Council, like all Scottish councils, is required by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 to exercise its functions ‘in the way best calculated to contribute to delivery of the Act’s emission reduction targets’. At the climate change conference in Paris late last year, 196 countries agreed to ‘hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels’.


 

Notes

  1. The DIGG’s ‘confidence and supply’ agreement struck with the new Aberdeenshire administration in May 2015 says:’The Council will include tackling climate change as one of its overarching strategic priorities. The Council will review the governance and scrutiny arrangements for ensuring its decisions with climate change implications are taken in line with its policy commitments and national targets.’
  1. Letter from co-leaders to DIGG councillors:

Dear Martin and Paul,

We refer to your letter of 25 September 2015 regarding the governance arrangements for elected member scrutiny of carbon emissions, and our subsequent discussions regarding this topic over recent weeks.

As you point out, our confidence and supply agreement dated 26 May 2015 expresses a shared commitment to reviewing the governance and scrutiny arrangements regarding carbon emissions. Your suggestion of implementing a ‘Carbon Budgeting’ process, if adopted by Aberdeenshire Council, could be a way not just of fulfilling that requirement within our agreement, but also of providing the evidence base necessary for improved decision making in this regard during the budget process.

In pursuit of this, we are happy to ask officers to prepare a paper for consideration at the March 2016 Full Council on carbon budgeting and how this could be incorporated into our existing budget processes. If agreed, this would then allow Aberdeenshire Council to incorporate the information necessary for effective carbon budgeting in time for the 2016/17 budget engagement process.

We trust that this is in order and look forward to hearing back from you in due course.

 

With best wishes,

 

Yours sincerely,

Richard Thomson Martin Kitts-Hayes

Co-Leader, Aberdeenshire Council Co-Leader, Aberdeenshire Council


ABERDEENSHIRE COUNCIL BUDGET: FAVOURABLE RESPONSE TO DIGG PROPOSALS

WoodhillHoAt today’s (12 February) Aberdeenshire Council budget setting meeting, proposals from the Democratic Independent and Green group of councillors (DIGG) were echoed in proposals by other political groups.
But there were also key differences between the budgets put forward by the coalition administration, the SNP and the DIGG. The administration alone backed increased care and burial charges.
Green councillor Martin Ford said: “Only the DIGG proposed more funding to improve Wi-Fi connectivity in schools, and for cycling. The administration’s decision to increase care charges was unnecessary, as the savings needed to balance the budget could be achieved more fairly in other ways.”
The administration, the SNP and the DIGG all proposed to make a saving on roads maintenance.
The key strategic difference between the three budget proposals was the emphasis in the DIGG budget on ‘invest-to-save’ initiatives. Seconding the DIGG budget, Cllr Paul Johnston outlined areas where the Council could potentially make changes, subject to public consultation, that could cut costs or generate income, including:

– Partnership investment arrangements in the delivery of industrial and economic development projects.

– Partnership investment arrangements to install wind turbines on suitable sites not owned by the Council.

– Development of the Council property portfolio through a third-sector partner.

  • – LED replacement of street lights and part night switch off in appropriate locations.

– Introduction of further comfort partnerships to improve publicly available toilet facilities.

– Differential car parking charges based on vehicle emission bands, lower charges for low emission vehicles and higher charges for high emission vehicles.

  • – An anaerobic digestion heat plant for district heating, using suitable organic waste generated or collected by the Council.
“We believe the Council should aim to develop an income stream, to help fund public services, independent of the Council Tax or Scottish Government grant funding,” said Cllr Johnston. “Utilising existing assets and taking opportunities to develop renewable energy, at least £3 million a year extra could be secured towards service provision.”
There was praise for the budget consultation during December and January conducted by the DIGG, and an acceptance by the Council leadership that more and better consultation was needed on future budgets.

BUDGET CONSULTATION BY DEMOCRATIC INDEPENDENT AND GREEN COUNCILLORS

Councillors Paul Johnston and Martin Ford were fed up with complaining, year after year, about the lack of public consultation on Aberdeenshire Council’s budget by the Council’s leadership. The two councillors are determined that this year would be different, so they have created a consultation themselves.
ConsultbudgetThe Aberdeenshire Council budget consultation by the Democratic Independent and Green councillors covers a wide range of possible budget choices available to the Council. The inclusion of a question should not be taken as expressing a view, just that residents’ views are sought on the issue.
“At last, this year, residents will ,” said Cllr Johnston, leader of the Democratic Independent and Green councillor group. “The Council is facing very difficult choices over the next several years. It’s essential everyone has an opportunity to express views on  the future budget direction for Aberdeenshire Councilthe Council, before decisions are taken.”
Green councillor Martin Ford said: “Budget projections indicate that significant savings will be required over the next four years, on a scale that means services are bound to be affected. So it is particularly important this year for councillors to hear residents’ views before deciding future budget strategy.

“How much income the Council gets, made up from Government grant, plus business rates and from the Council Tax – determines what the Council can spend on providing services. The SNP national policy of keeping the Council Tax frozen, rather than decided locally, means, in effect, that the Scottish Government is now deciding the Council’s total net expenditure for it. What local control there was, through the Council setting the Council Tax each year, has been blocked. And in real terms, taking inflation into account, Aberdeenshire Council’s budget is being cut.”

Cllr Paul Johnston said: “Other councillor groups on Aberdeenshire Council show no signs of carrying out their own budget consultations. However, we will make the results of our consultation available to all groups on the Council.”
Aberdeenshire Council will set its budget for the next financial year, and provisionally for future years, on 12 February. The budget consultation will close on 30 January, to allow time for responses to be analysed.
The Democratic Independent and Green councillors will make summary results available to the Council’s services and all councillors.
The budget consultation can be completed online at: www.budget.democraticaberdeenshire.org.uk
Contact: Martin Ford, 01224 790052; Paul Johnston, 01651 851198


BUDGET CONSULTATION LAUNCHED BY DEMOCRATIC INDEPENDENT AND GREEN COUNCILLORS

councillor_13405functionspage.aspxCouncillors Paul Johnston and Martin Ford are fed up with complaining, year after year, about the lack of public consultation on Aberdeenshire Council’s budget by the Council’s leadership. The two councillors were determined that this year would be different, so they have initiated consultation themselves.
“At last, this year, residents will be able to express a view on the future budget direction for Aberdeenshire Council,” said Cllr Johnston, leader of the Democratic Independent and Green councillor group. “The Council is facing very difficult choices over the next several years. It’s essential everyone has an opportunity to express views on what the Council should do, before decisions are taken.”
Green councillor Martin Ford said: “Budget projections indicate that significant savings will be required over the next four years, on a scale that means services are bound to be affected. So it is particularly important this year for councillors to hear residents’ views before deciding future budget strategy.

“How much income the Council gets, made up from Government grant, plus business rates and from the Council Tax – determines what the Council can spend on providing services. The SNP national policy of keeping the Council Tax frozen, rather than decided locally, means, in effect, that the Scottish Government is now deciding the Council’s total net expenditure for it. What local control there was, through the Council setting the Council Tax each year, has been blocked. And in real terms, taking inflation into account, Aberdeenshire Council’s budget is being cut.”

Cllr Paul Johnston said: “Other councillor groups on Aberdeenshire Council show no signs of carrying out their own budget consultations. However, we will make the results of our consultation available to all groups on the Council.”
The Aberdeenshire Council budget consultation launched by the Democratic Independent and Green councillors covers a wide range of possible budget choices available to the Council. The inclusion of a question should not be taken as expressing a view, just that residents’ views are sought on the issue.
Aberdeenshire Council will set its budget for the next financial year, and provisionally for future years, on 12 February. The budget consultation will close on 23 January, to allow time for responses to be analysed.
The Democratic Independent and Green councillors will make summary results available to the Council’s services and all councillors.
Cllr Paul Johnston said: “I would encourage as many Aberdeenshire residents as possible to respond to our budget consultation. The Council is going to have to make difficult and important decisions, and we need to know what people think about the choices we face.”
The budget consultation can be completed online at: www.budget.democraticaberdeenshire.org.uk
Contact: Martin Ford, 01224 790052; Paul Johnston, 01651 851198


%d bloggers like this: