Tag Archives: Green

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.”


RIGHT BUDGET DECISIONS NEXT WEEK CAN PROTECT SERVICES – DIGG COUNCILLORS

Budget

Aberdeenshire Council faces some tough choices when it comes to set its revenue budget for 2016/17 on 11 February – but most of the savings required can be achieved without damaging services. That is the view of the authority’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors Paul Johnston and Martin Ford.
“The Council does have scope to make a range of substantial savings in its budget that will not affect service delivery,” said Cllr Paul Johnston. “For instance, compared with expectations, the Council will save well over £1 million on borrowing costs in financial year 2016/17, due to continuing low interest rates. Fuel and electricity prices are also lower than had been forecast. Demand for some services has been less than expected in 2015/16, meaning the current budget allocation is more than required.”
Said Cllr Martin Ford: “The Council’s budget position has also been eased by additional income. New houses have been built and occupied bringing in additional Council Tax. Sales from the Council’s quarries are up by more than £1 million this year and next year’s budget can be adjusted to reflect an expected higher income too. The Council has gone for renewable energy – biomass and photovoltaic panels – to supply some of its buildings and this both saves on fuel or electricity costs and generates an income.”

The DIGG put forward draft budget proposals at the November 2015 Aberdeenshire Council meeting showing how the Council could effect savings of £17.97 million – slightly more than the total savings of £17.561 million then anticipated to be required to balance the 2016/17 revenue budget.

After the November Aberdeenshire full council meeting, officers identified further budget pressures. Then the Scottish Government’s grant settlement to the Council announced before Christmas was less than the ‘flat cash’ funding anticipated, creating a further £6.390 million shortfall for 2016/17. The Council thus now needs to find savings of £28.312 million to balance its 2016/17 revenue budget.
Since November, the DIGG councillors have been working on how further savings could be effected. While the Council will set a one-year budget on 11 February, it will do so in the context of knowing it needs to make at least a further £30 million of savings in the years to 2020.
The DIGG councillors have made clear their opposition to continuation of the Council Tax freeze.
Cllr Martin Ford said: “Vital public services such as education and social work must be protected from cuts as top priority. To do that, the Council must re-examine everything it does and seek increased efficiency whenever possible.
“There is certainly scope for some genuine efficiency savings.
“The Council could replace stand-alone public toilets with partnership arrangements for public access to toilets in buildings such as hotels, both improving the service and reducing costs.
“We also believe the Council can make further savings by additional investment in energy efficiency, such as LED street lights, and renewable energy.”
The DIGG is a separate and independent group on Aberdeenshire Council that reached a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with Aberdeenshire’s new administration last year. Some specific budget commitments were included in that agreement.
Said Cllr Paul Johnston: “The new administration has already accepted our conditions that there are no cuts to the community learning and development budget line, £250,000 is transferred to increase the budget for cycling and walking and £100,000 is redirected to preventative local health and social care services, specifically to fund third-sector organisations in Aberdeenshire to support vulnerable residents achieve or maintain independent living.”

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: