News

The COSLA Excellence Awards 2017 are now open!

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Can we win a gold or silver award again this year?  We can, but only if your teams step forward and share their successes with us.

We want teams to tell us, and COSLA, about what they are doing that is:

·     Compelling, dynamic and original;

·     Improving efficiency and effectiveness;

·     Having an impact now or how it will in the future.

What are your teams doing that is making a real and meaningful difference to people’s quality of life and to our communities?

For Aberdeenshire, submissions are being coordinated by the Performance Team who is looking for managers to put forward suggestions within the next few weeks. All you need to do is complete a short internal application form which tells us what the project is about and how it is making a difference.

Please email performance@aberdeenshire.gov.uk to request an application form.

Please be quick as internal applications close COB Friday, 19th May.

For further information contact Dale McKinnon, Policy Officer (Performance) dale.mckinnon@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or visit the Awards page at awards.cosla.gov.uk

New Ward Pages go live

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The new and improved Councillor Ward Pages is now live and content editors can upload items.

For more information, please contact Alison.cumming@aberdeenshire.gov.uk 

Wellbeing Newsletter May 2017

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This ties in with Mental Health Awareness Week (8th -14th May), and although there are some great awareness months, weeks and days highlighted throughout the year, we should always be aware of topics that many of us suffer from or have experienced.

Mental Health is gradually breaking down barriers and becoming a less taboo subject which is great and this adds to the importance that we should all be more understanding of the topic as colleagues, managers, friends and individuals. The newsletter (Mental Health-May 2017) highlights  the mental health policy, support for employees/managers and training opportunities.

‘See Me Scotland’ have produced a couple of videos below in which highlights some typical thoughts of employees and managers are portrayed.

Power of OK 1

Power of OK 2  

To Support Mental Health Awareness Week (Sunday 7th – Sunday 14th May) there are a number of community opportunities which can contribute to our wellbeing. Click HERE to find out what’s on in South, North and Central Aberdeenshire.

 

Bulletin News

UK study finds that cycling or walking to work can improve health and lengthen life

Study finds that exercise can improve brain power in over-50s

 

Health Campaigns in June 2017

Help raise awareness of designated health days/weeks/months within your teams and workplace or even on a personal level.

Generally the organisations leading these days shall have resources and information you can access by visiting their websites.

Diabetes Week – www.diabetes.org.uk

Motor Neurone Disease Awareness Month – www.mndscotland.org.uk   

Carers Week – www.carersweek.org

 

Opportunities

 

 

 

Election update from the Chief Executive

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​The 70 councillors who will form the next five-year term of Aberdeenshire Council have been elected, following the counting of thousands of votes today​. (Fri, May 5)
A total of 116 candidates put their names forward to represent communities across Aberdeenshire’s 19 electoral wards.
The count, held jointly with Aberdeen City Council in the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, began at 9.15am, with the Aberdeenshire declarations complete by 2.40pm
The complement of councillors in Aberdeenshire has risen from 68 to 70 following adjustments made by the Boundary Commission, with an extra seat in each of East Garioch, and Turriff and District.
Aberdeenshire Council’s Returning officer and Chief Executive, Jim Savege, said: “The local elections are arguably the most important for our residents, as it provides their chance to decide who represents their interests at Aberdeenshire Council.
“I hope this election will be particularly memorable to 16 and 17-year-olds who have been able to take part in this process for the first time.
“I would like to congratulate the 70 councillors who have been elected and look forward to working with them to make Aberdeenshire the best it can be.”
The final result was:
Scottish Conservative and Unionist 23 
Scottish National Party 21
Scottish Liberal Democrats 14
Independents 10
Scottish Labour Party 1
Scottish Green Party 1
The first meeting of the new council is due to take place on Thursday, May 18, when key councillor roles will be decided. 
Full details of Aberdeenshire’s elected members can be found on our website.
Youtube URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzYfLDk6dws

70 councillors elected to form new Aberdeenshire Council

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A total of 116 candidates put their names forward to represent communities across Aberdeenshire’s 19 electoral wards.

The count, held jointly with Aberdeen City Council in the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, began at 9.15am, with the Aberdeenshire declarations complete by 2.40pm

The complement of councillors in Aberdeenshire has risen from 68 to 70 following adjustments made by the Boundary Commission, with an extra seat in each of East Garioch, and Turriff and District.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Returning officer and Chief Executive, Jim Savege, said: “The local elections are arguably the most important for our residents, as it provides their chance to decide who represents their interests at Aberdeenshire Council.

“I hope this election will be particularly memorable to 16 and 17-year-olds who have been able to take part in this process for the first time.

“I would like to congratulate the 70 councillors who have been elected and look forward to working with them to make Aberdeenshire the best it can be.”

The final result was:

Scottish Conservative and Unionist 23

Scottish National Party 21

Scottish Liberal Democrats 14

Independents 10

Scottish Labour Party 1

Scottish Green Party 1

The first meeting of the new council is due to take place on Thursday, May 18, when key councillor roles will be decided. 

Full details of Aberdeenshire’s elected members can be found at: www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/localelections

New Ward Pages goes live

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The new and improved Councillor Ward Pages is now live and content editors can upload items.

For more information, please contact Alison.cumming@aberdeenshire.gov.uk 

Terribly serious election update

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​As you will be able to tell from the update above on the election, things are progressing at pace with the polls open at 7am (Thursday) in the local government elections. 

Here is where we need your help. 

Do you have a dog? Do you have a darth vadar mask? And are you registered to vote? 

We are asking our Twitter and Facebook followers to take photos outside polling stations and help us get one of two hashtags going viral. 

So, could you take your dog along to vote and take a picture of him/her outside? Post it on Twitter and tag @aberdeenshire with the hashtag #dogsatpollingstations. 

Or don a darth vadar mask/star wars tshirt and tag us in your selfie after you have cast your vote with #maythefourthbewithyou. Because, after all, it is Star Wars Day. 

Or even, dress your dog up as Yoda and tag both #dogsatpollingstations #maythefourthbewithyou - get both of them in! 

Your help is reminding people to use their vote is really appreciated. 

Volunteers required for Corporate Induction film

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Corporate induction is a critical part of welcoming new employees to our organisation. A good induction can increase staff engagement and reduce the time needed for a new team member to settle into the workplace. Common complaints about induction processes include being bored and being overwhelmed by too much information. 

It’s recognised the current format needs to change, and we are looking to replace the corporate induction with a short film about working for Aberdeenshire Council.

The aim is to produce a lively and  highly flexible Aldo and YouTube corporate induction video, made up of interviews with employees from across the Council.   

Would you like to participate in this film? If so, please can you send us in a short video clip of yourself, of no longer than 60 seconds, answering the following questions:

  • What would you like to see included in Aberdeenshire Council’s corporate induction?”  and/or
  • “What do you like about working for Aberdeenshire Council?”
Please email your video clips in to LandMTeam@aberdeenshire.gov.uk by Tuesday, May 16.  

Once we have reviewed all of the footage, we may get in touch to ask you to participate in the film.

Please ensure that this information is passed on to colleagues who do not have access to Arcadia.

We look forward to viewing your videos!

Take part in Town Centre First survey

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​The Town Centre First Principle will be rolled out across the Council soon. Do you know what it is, and how it will affect your team and decisions? We’d love to know what you know so far.

Please take part in a short online survey to help the team in charge of roll-out to understand how they can best support colleagues. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/P652KQW

Almost 400 take strides with this year's Duke of Edinburgh programme

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A total of 396 young people have achieved Duke of Edinburgh awards across Aberdeenshire during this school year. 255 Bronze, 102 Silver and 39 Gold awards have been achieved across the 18 Duke of Edinburgh Centres in Aberdeenshire.

As well as being a huge achievement for the participants, this is also a great accolade for the staff and volunteers who support the programme locally. Gold award participants in particular demonstrate outstanding commitment to the programme by participating in 12 months of volunteering, completing 6-12 months of learning a skill and going on a four-day expedition as well as a five-day residential. None of this would be possible without the staff and volunteers there to support them.

There has been a huge increase in Gold achievers this year and every one of them will be invited to Holyrood to pick up their award.

Duke of Edinburgh team leader Susi Mclarty explains: “Well done to all of those who have taken part this year – it is great to see how much they all get out of this experience. We’re also hugely grateful to all of the volunteers who give up their free time to allow young people across Aberdeenshire the chance to benefit from it all. We are always looking for new volunteers so please get in touch if you would like any more information.”

The Duke of Edinburgh programme broadens horizons, skills and friendships. It is a fun and rewarding journey where young people can grow in confidence and become more independent by taking part in education and employment opportunities as well as getting fit and learning new skills.

For more information, email awards@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or visit the team’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Duke-of-Edinburgh-Aberdeenshire

Your vote matters

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​Thursday, May 4, will see us go to the polls for the Scottish local government election.

Voters have a single transferable vote this time and you can learn about how that works when it comes to the count by watching a short video by the Electoral Commission.

It’s been five years since an election was last held to appoint all of the elected members that make up Aberdeenshire Council, which this year will rise from 68 to 70 seats. And, it’s the first time that 16 and 17-year-olds will be able to cast their vote in a Scottish local government election.

Chief Executive Jim Savege who is also the Council’s Returning Officer said: “The upcoming election will lead to the appointment of councillors for the next five-year term of Aberdeenshire Council, so this is the most important time for people to influence how they are represented locally.”

You can find further information on the upcoming election, including details of candidates, on the Council’s website at http://bit.ly/shire17 

Councillors approve new equality outcomes for a fairer Aberdeenshire

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Councillors approved the launch of six new equality outcomes for the Council this week, which will be in place from now until 2021.

The new outcomes will help us provide a level playing field for people with protected characteristics, both within our organisation and in our local communities.

The aim is to build on previous work and promote a fairer, more inclusive Aberdeenshire where everyone can feel part of the community and ensure that equalities are always an important consideration in everything we do.

Some of the key themes highlighted by the equalities staff survey in August 2016 were:

  • Accessing interpretation and translation services
  • Prejudice and discrimination reporting processes
  • Accessibility of council buildings
  • Recruitment processes

This feedback, together with responses to community surveys, and from the Citizens’ Panel and number of internal workshops, have helped to shape our 2017-2021 equalities outcomes. Please take some time to read them.

The next step is for services across the organisation to develop work plans that will help us to work towards achieving these outcomes. 

Chief Executive Jim Savege explains: “Working to achieve these outcomes will help us to ensure Aberdeenshire is a level playing field for all. You can be part of that. Understanding and respecting differences among colleagues, service-users and partners may sound simple but it is also very important. We can all be role models and champions for equalities within communities across Aberdeenshire.”

For more information about equalities and how it relates to your role, check out the Equalities pages on the website, or contact your Equalities Champion or a member of the Equalties Team.

Join a Team Talks event in person or online

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As part of a programme of work to capture your feedback, work towards One Aberdeenshire and help us all to build on our strengths as a council, Chief Executive Jim Savege is launching new Team Talks events.

This is an opportunity to meet with Jim and members of the Strategic Leadership Team in person or online and get to grips with what makes Aberdeenshire tick.

Jim explains: “Having a shared understanding about what it means to work for Aberdeenshire Council can help us all to work together better within our communities and across services in the most helpful way possible.”

When and where?

  • Thursday, June 1 @ 1pm in Committee Room 1, Woodhill House
  • Tuesday, June 27 @10am at Community Room 3, Deveron Community and Sports Centre, Banff
  • Tuesday, September 19 @3.30pm at Mackie Academy

All events will also be available online using Skype!

Managers should allow employees time to attend. There is no need to book and the hyperlink to the event online will be shared shortly. If you’d like to be sent the link for joining online when it is available or are keen to register a question in advance, email communicatebetter@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Aberdeenshire Council’s Building Standards team re-appointed as verifiers for maximum term

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A recent Scottish Government announcement confirmed all 32 Local Authorities have been re-appointed as building standards verifiers.

The period of time each Local Authority has been appointed for was dependent on its recent performance.
Aberdeenshire’s Building Standards team is delighted to have been appointed for the maximum term of six years after being deemed a strong performing authority. 
Good and poor performing authorities have been appointed for three years and one year respectively, with any extensions subject to the authority demonstrating improvements.
Aberdeenshire’s re-appointment provides continuity to residents, local businesses, developers and architects, ensuring that local contacts and the service provided within the Building Standards team remains the same.  
Team members will continue to ensure that work carried out on both new and existing buildings meets reasonable standards, set out in the building regulations.  
This work is carried out through the processing of Building Warrants and site inspections with the aim of securing the health, safety, welfare and convenience of anyone in or about buildings, as well as the conservation of fuel and power and achievement of sustainable development.
Over the past 24 months Aberdeenshire’s Building Standards team has worked hard, undertaking a staff re-structure, office rationalisation, embracing e-building standards beyond the level required and obtaining Customer Service Excellence accreditation. 
All of this work helped ensure its re-appointment for the maximum six year term.
Infrastructure Services Director, Stephen Archer, said: “The service provided by Building Standards is constantly being reviewed in terms of processing a Building Warrant application timeously, professionally and also ensuring that the service provided is what the customer actually wants. 
“The six year re-appointment is confirmation that improvements are being recognised.”
The re-appointment period begins on May 1, 2017.

New number for ICT Service Desk

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If you need to request an ICT service or report an issue you should access askFred, from the front page of Arcadia or www.askFred.IT, and use the self-service portal or chat to provide details.  

From the start of May, there is a new number for reporting an issue that is preventing you from working: call 01467 53 8000 (short code 761 8000) or, using Skype telephony, simply type ICTServiceDesk, click and call.

 

 

You can now upload library content to the new Ward Pages

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Current library content will not automatically be moved across to the new site so you will need to republish anything that needs to be available when it goes live.  

Content owners can access the new pages now to add library items:  

Go to new Ward Pages and click the library ‘add content’ icon:

ward pages add content icon.jpg 

Please note that you will not be able to publish consultations between now and 7 May but you will be able to upload consultations, on the new pages, from 8 May.

Please contact alison.cumming@aberdeenshire.gov.uk for more information.

Watch out for bogus workmen

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We highlighted information on Arcadia recently about serious organised crime and this includes bogus workmen. How do you spot them? They may tell those targeted urgent repairs need to be done to their home. These repairs may include things like roofing, general building work or guttering. The work is generally not needed and is frequently of a very poor standard or is not carried out at all.

The criminals involved are often very intimidating and persistent, and they will increase the price as the job progresses often accompanying the householder to their bank to obtain cash.

But what do you do if you or someone you know is targeted? As Detective Sergeant Brian Cumming explains: “If work is recommended by a cold caller, please say no thank you in the first instance. If you have concerns about repairs needed, approach reputable tradespeople who may have been recommended to you by neighbours, relatives or friends. Phone a local company to arrange for a quote.”

Top tips:

  • Never pay the full amount or a large deposit up front
  • If you do go ahead with work, always ask for a detailed receipt/invoice with the tradesman’s full address and telephone number on it.
  • Beware of those who will only accept cash or are prepared to ‘do a deal’ for cash.
  • Never accept any offers of a lift to the bank or building society to get money for paying for work done or yet to be done.
     

Further information is available on the following websites: 

http://www.aberdeenshirecommunitysafety.org.uk/police/bogus_callers.html

http://www.ourwatch.org.uk/uploads/general/A5_Distraction_Burglary_Leaflet.pdf

https://crimestoppers-uk.org/

 

If you have any information relating to this type of criminality please use the dionortheast@scotland.pnn.police.uk email address to inform Brian’s team. The intelligence gathered by Brian’s team can all contribute towards painting a bigger picture of what serious organised crime groups are up to across Aberdeenshire and ensuring further investigation takes place where necessary. All information provided will be treated with the strictest confidence.

Remember, however, if you see something that requires immediate police attendance, call 999 or continue to use 101 to report non-emergency issues.

 

Secure email update

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The Scottish Children’s Reporter Association (SCRA) is now Secure Email Blueprint (SEB) accredited, meaning that all email sent from us to them is secure-by-default.

You do not need to use encryption with the following frequently emailed organisations:

  • NHS (including NHS Grampian)
  • Police Scotland
  • Scottish Children’s Reporter Association (SCRA)
  • Scottish Prison Service
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Scottish Courts
  • Tribunals Service
  • Fife Council
  • North Ayrshire Council

You  MUST continue to use the encryption guidance to send email securely to organisations which are not on this list.  This currently includes:

  • Department of Work and Pensions
  • Other non-SEB-accredited Local Authorities including Aberdeen City Council, Moray Council, Angus Council, Highland Council

Boost your fitness, boost your output, boost team building

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The Council’s Pedometer Challenge is a great way to improve your fitness and do some team building.

The important details:

  • Open to Aberdeenshire Council employees only
  • Teams of 5 (Teams of 4 & 6 are ok with an average team score calculated)
  • Sign up by the closing date of April 24, 2017
  • Starts on May 1, 2017
  • Finishes June 11, 2017 (6 weeks)
  • Various prizes up for grabs

    Follow links to:

    Pedometer Challenge Team Pack

    Pedometer Challenge Team Entry Form

If you’re still not convinced, have a look at some of the feedback from previous years’ entrants:
“Surprised at how little I moved at the beginning of the challenge and now more mindful of how a 30 min walk can help each day.”

“Made me more conscious of healthy active day’s v sedentary days in front of the pc. Now aware of the benefits and the energy it creates to go that bit further.”

“Encouraged me to be more active – I realised how little I actually do.”

“Colleagues were competing with each other, great to share exercise tips. Made us speak more and realise what hobbies we took part in outwith work.”

“Encouraged me to leave the office and go outside during my working day.”

“I became conscious of how lazy and unfit I was. I have not stopped walking since then. Went on a walk with a young man and was ahead of him. While he felt tired, I was ready to walk more. I have not lost a lot of weight but my body feels firmer.”

 

Health and Social Care Hub and council offices proposed for Ellon

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The proposals, which have been drawn up following discussions with partner organisations include:

* new council office,

* family resource centre,

* new health and social care hub, including a new health centre

* affordable housing for social rent

* extra care housing

Elected members will discuss the report which provides a summary of the initial proposals. Each proposal will be subject to its own business case scrutiny, but collectively form an approach to the redevelopment of the site and redevelopment of the town centre.

Council offices

Aberdeenshire Council approved a report entitled ‘Office Space Strategy Assessment Study’ in January, which included a recommendation to “explore options to consolidate offices in Ellon in to a new office”.

The council currently occupies ten town centre properties in Ellon and rents the Kirk Centre for Area Committee.

The proposals would see employees who currently work in Ellon move to either the proposed new council office, new family resource centre or the new health and social care hub in the town.​

Health and Social Care Hub

In addition Officers have been working in partnership with NHS Grampian and Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership to develop proposals for a new Health and Social Care Hub.

This will include a replacement building for the current Health Centre and the Adult Day Service building based at 27 Station Road. It will also accommodate the Health and Social Care teams covering Ellon and the surrounding areas, currently based at Schoolhill and 59 Station Road.

The Health and Social Care Hub would be constructed to the most up-to-date space and technical standards for GP practices and services. It would also include space to allow for 50% expansion space should the Partnership need to expand to meet the demands of an increasing population.

Family Resource Centre

The preferred service model for the delivery of social work services for children in need and at risk of harm, is through Family Resource Centres. The provision of a Family Resource Centre in Ellon will fill a major gap in service provision in one of the largest settlements in Aberdeenshire, and the largest in the Formartine area.

These facilities provide targeted, timely, single and multi-agency programmes of support to children and their families.

Family Resource Centres have already been established in Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Banff, Stonehaven, Portlethen, Banchory, Huntly, Kemnay, Inverurie and Turriff.

 Ellon Academy2.jpgEllon Academy.jpg

Housing 

Aberdeenshire Council is committed to the delivery of affordable housing in order to meet identified housing need and accordingly this is reflected in council priorities.

This proposal will therefore provide a mix of accommodation types to meet identified housing need within Ellon.which will include, affordable housing for rent and extra care housing.

Councillors will be asked to provide comments on the proposed rationalisation of properties in Ellon and agree that further business cases for the various proposals be taken forward.

To learn more about the proposals please read the report which is available at http://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/committees.aspx?commid=5&meetid=18459

Are you ready for Ward Pages changes?

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Ward Pages is being updated and the new version will be unveiled on 5 May 2017.  

If you have content in the library and want it to be available on the new site,  you must republish it on the new ward pages as it will not automatically be moved across.  You will be able to do this from 27 April.

Any non-planning consultations before 27 April must have a closure date before 4 May, as councillors may change following the election on 5 May. 

ou will not be able to publish consultations between 27 April and 7 May. You will be able to upload consultations, on the new pages, from 8 May.

For more information, please contact alison.cumming@aberdeenshire.gov.uk 

Committee round-up: Audit Committee 29.3.17

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​Progress being made to address internal audit recommendations, discussions on compliance with key council documents, and the work of the council’s external auditors were among matters discussed at the latest meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Audit Committee.

Adjourned topic-scoring reports dismissed

The committee’s business began with the consideration of two reports adjourned from February’s meeting.

The first concerned a topic-scoring exercise regarding the council’s IT system for council tax collection and the collection of income and debts. Following consideration of the background report, the committee agreed to dismiss it from any future work.

The second report, on the council’s strategy for the disposal of vehicles, equipment and other assets by fleet services, was also dismissed from any future work.

Internal audit reports considered

Moving on to the formal meeting of the Audit Committee, councillors discussed the latest updates on the implementation of internal audit recommendations.

The committee requested a briefing note regarding the procedure for approving temporary dispensations from Disclosure Scotland checks. Updates were also requested on internet connection speeds for the Glow education network, the capacity of rural schools to benefit from Council policy, and on the retendering of the CareFirst social care management system.

Councillors also requested that Education and Children’s Services Committee undertake the first stage of an investigation into whether the Glow network is a suitable solution for the service over similar packages.

In a report that followed, the committee approved the 2017/18 Internal Audit Plan for Aberdeenshire Council. The plan highlighted proposed areas of investigation across all council services.

Progress of matters raised by external auditor discussed
 
The committee noted the progress made addressing issued raised in the External Auditor’s Audit Report for 2015/16.

In September 2016, the former Scrutiny and Audit Committee agreed responses to the action plan of issues to be addressed by the council, all of which were classed as ‘medium’ priority.

A report before councillors outlined that 9 of the 11 recommendations had been addressed, one was in progress and not yet due for completion, and that the remaining action had passed the initial deadline for completion. A verbal update was given to say that this final action had since been addressed.

In a report that followed, the committee noted Audit Scotland’s Annual Audit Plan for 2016/17.

Update provided on ‘internal control compliance and good governance’ concerns

An update stemming from a special meeting of the former Scrutiny and Audit Committee was brought before councillors for discussion.

At the special meeting, committee members raised concerns over a number of compliance issues, heard by the council’s chief executive. The concerns related to compliance with the council’s financial regulations, matters relating to decision-making, and the implementation of internal audit recommendations.

The update report highlighted that performance over the past six months had improved, with a reduction in the average total number of recommendations not implemented by their due dates.

Commenting on the update, the committee asked for an update on the actual figures behind a compliance rate of 87% between September last year and March 2017.

The committee also requested that an update on the action plan be brought before the next meeting of the Audit Committee in June. 

Other matters

• The committee discussed an update on actions agreed at previous meetings of the committee.
• The committee was thanked for their efforts both on the former Scrutiny and Audit Committee, and the new Audit Committee, and for the range of work that had been undertaken.
• The full public reports considered by the committee can be found via http://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Have you updated your council smartphone?

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If you have a council smartphone and have not already updated your phone, please follow these instructions (​http://microsoft/office-365/smartphone-update/)  so you can access emails on your device.

 

Update for council smartphone users

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​Users of council smartphones have been asked to update their devices following the roll-out of Office 365 and an issue is currently affecting some users who have not already updated their phone.

If your phone uses *Windows 10, you will be unaffected and should follow the update instructions if you have not already done so.

If your phone uses *Windows 8.1, do not update your smartphone at this time.  Further guidance will be provided as soon as possible.  You will not be able to view emails but you will still be able to make and receive calls.

*To find out which version of Windows you are using:

  1. Go to you smartphone Home screen
  2. Swipe to the left
  3. Go to settings
  4. Click about or systems > about (depending on phone)
  5. Click more info

We apologise for this issue that is outwith our control, we are currently working with Microsoft to find a solution and will provide updates via Arcadia and Yammer.

Small steps towards a healthier lifestyle and big steps in team building

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The Council’s Pedometer Challenge is a great way to improve your fitness and do some team building.

The important details:

  • Open to Aberdeenshire Council employees only
  • Teams of 5 (Teams of 4 & 6 are ok with an average team score calculated)
  • Sign up by the closing date of April 24, 2017
  • Starts on May 1, 2017
  • Finishes June 11, 2017 (6 weeks)
  • Various prizes up for grabs

    Follow links to:

    Pedometer Challenge Team Pack

    Pedometer Challenge Team Entry Form

If you’re still not convinced, have a look at some of the feedback from previous years’ entrants:
“Surprised at how little I moved at the beginning of the challenge and now more mindful of how a 30 min walk can help each day.”

“Made me more conscious of healthy active day’s v sedentary days in front of the pc. Now aware of the benefits and the energy it creates to go that bit further.”

“Encouraged me to be more active – I realised how little I actually do.”

“Colleagues were competing with each other, great to share exercise tips. Made us speak more and realise what hobbies we took part in outwith work.”

“Encouraged me to leave the office and go outside during my working day.”

“I became conscious of how lazy and unfit I was. I have not stopped walking since then. Went on a walk with a young man and was ahead of him. While he felt tired, I was ready to walk more. I have not lost a lot of weight but my body feels firmer.”

 

Community Asset Transfer (CAT)

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How much do you know about the Community Asset Transfer Process (CAT)? Have you been in one of our properties, like a town hall or a community centre, and heard people say “Our community group should be running this place” or “We need to be more involved in the running of this place”? That is, essentially, someone expressing an early interest in a Community Asset Transfer (even if they don’t know it). 
Aberdeenshire Council has policies and procedures in place to establish where a Community Asset Transfer might be in the best interests of one of our buildings. Under CAT, we pass the running of some facilities to interested and suitable community groups. The detail of the procedures is all online. Importantly, members of the public can also view our register online, http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/CATassets.
Best advice, if you hear someone expressing an interest please advise them to call the Area Manager for the relevant part of Aberdeenshire. They will pick it up from there. Below are all their contact details. 
 
Banff and Buchan Area Manager – Margaret-Jane Cardno margaret-jane.cardno@aberdeenshire.gov.uk (01261) 813 300
 
Buchan Area Manager – Chris White chris.white@aberdeenshire.gov.uk (01779) 483200
 
Formartine Area Manager – Elaine Brown elaine.brown@aberdeenshire.gov.uk (01358) 726 404
 
Garioch Area Manager – Douglas Milne douglas.milne@aberdeenshire.gov.uk (01467) 628 201
  
Kincardine and Mearns Area Manager – William Munro william.munro@aberdeenshire.gov.uk (01569) 768 200
 
Marr Area Manager – Janelle Clark janelle.clark@aberdeenshire.gov.uk (01467) 536421 

Committee round-up: Communities Committee 30.3.17

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Updates from the housing service, details of two major school campus projects and funding awards for sport and physical activity groups were among matters discussed at the latest meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee.

Interim review of Housing Business Plan discussed

An interim review of Aberdeenshire Council’s Housing Business Plan is to take place over the next few months ahead of a full review of the document in 2018. 

A report before the committee explained the plan is comprehensively reviewed every three years to ensure the council’s housing revenue account can remain viable over a 30-year period. It also takes into account Aberdeenshire’s local housing strategy priorities and rent affordability.

A report before councillors explained that social landlords are expected to meet the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing by December 2020, and that Aberdeenshire is to embark on an ambitious programme of works to achieve this.

It went on to add the service will continue to provide new affordable housing as well as maintaining rents at an affordable level.

It was agreed that all elected members should be invited to the review process workshop on June 15 and that area committees should also be involved as part of the review process itself.

Housing capital programme forecasts considered

The committee was updated on the planned investment in new build housing, improvements to existing housing stocks and other matters for 2017/18, with forecasts showing that just under £28million will be spent locally.

A report before councillors explained the plan will be funded through a variety of methods, including borrowing and house sales. It was agreed that the committee should continue to receive updates on the implementation of the capital programme.

In a following report, proposed spending of more than £213million under the council’s Social Housing Improvement Programme (SHIP) over the next five years was outlined to councillors.

A report on tenders for a four-year SHIP contract is to be brought to a future meeting of the committee for consideration.

Update provided on development of affordable housing

The progress of the latest phase of the development of affordable housing was brought before the committee.

Aberdeenshire Council is now in its sixth phase of its new build affordable housing programme, which will see the development of 137 units across a range of communities.

Between April 2016 and March 2017, a total of 220 new affordable homes have been developed across Aberdeenshire. This has involved 135 homes for social rent, 48 for mid-market rent, and 37 for low-cost shared equity. A further 14 households were able to purchase their homes at an affordable rate through the resale of existing low-cost shared equity properties.

Work is now underway to deliver a further 359 housing units for social rent, 20 for mid-market rent, and 12 for low-cost shared equity.

The committee sought assurances that regular updates would be provided to area committees so that members would be kept well-informed on developments within their own wards.

Funding awarded to sport and physical activity groups

Funding totalling £74,000 has been awarded to three sport and physical activity organisations operating in Aberdeenshire.

The committee agreed to grant £20,000 to the Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust, which runs activities in 10 Aberdeenshire locations; £24,000 to Ellon Meadows, which attracted more than 100,000 attendees last year; and £30,000 to the Garioch Sports Trust, which drew almost 250,000 attendees.

Approving the grants, the committee asked that future reports should include details of the benefits achieved in local communities and if the grants were adding value.

The committee also asked that an information bulletin be issued to councillors to advise them of grants available for Aberdeenshire communities.

Options for Peterhead Learning Estate outlined to councillors

Two potential sites for a new Peterhead Community Campus were brought before the committee, ahead of further development of the project.

The committee noted that option one, for a new community campus at Kinmundy Road including sport and community facilities, a 350 capacity primary school and provision for additional support needs, had emerged as the preferred option for the project.

This option would include a new primary school and nursery on the existing Peterhead Academy site to replace Peterhead Central School, along with a re-zoning of the Peterhead network.

The second option would be to rebuild Peterhead Academy on it current site on Prince Street on a phased basis, again including a 350 capacity primary school and support for additional support needs.

This option would also include off-site community provision at Catto Park and Barclay Park and would again involve re-zoning of the Peterhead network.

The committee heard that the proposals had drawn 208 comments, with most supportive of the first option, although some expressed concerns about the potential impact on the town centre.

The committee agreed to instruct the heads of service for resources and performance, and lifelong learning and leisure, to conduct further community engagement regarding sport and leisure facilities at the Kinmundy site and other locations in the town.

The project was previously considered by the Education and Children’s Services Committee, which asked that the head of service for resources and performance carry out similar work regarding options for pre-school, primary and additional support needs provision at the Kinmundy site.

The committee agreed that officers should continue to explore both options and present a detailed analysis following further consultation.

Pool size discussed as part of Inverurie Community Campus project update

The size of swimming pool that will form part of the new Inverurie Community Campus was the focus of discussion as part of a project progress report brought before the committee.

The council must complete the facility by March 2020 to meet the requirements of a £24.8million contribution from the Scottish Futures Trust, and has been drawn up on the basis of having a six-lane swimming pool. 

As part of the discussion, the committee agreed to hear from David Adams on behalf of the 8 Lanes for Inverurie Swimming Pool campaign group.

Mr Adams talked of the group’s efforts since September 2015 and the group’s frustration that an eight-lane pool was not being considered as a viable option for the development.

He said an eight-lane pool could draw six regional swimming events to the area each year, generating £1million for the local economy. Mr Adams suggested the council could modify or delay other capital projects to afford the additional investment needed for the larger pool.

Responding to the presentation, councillors queried whether the professional focus might impact on access by the local community, and questioned the practicalities of increasing the size of the pool within the layout proposed for the development.

Officers were asked what consideration had been given to the community’s call for a larger pool, and in response it was stressed that there were a variety of competing priorities regarding sports provision in the project and that the 6-lane proposal already represented a 50% increase in capacity from the existing 4-lane Inverurie pool.

Head of Lifelong Learning & Leisure John Harding said: “We think this is the design that best meets the competing demands for resources in Inverurie.”

He added that the proposal to move from four lanes to six would increase capacity by 35% but moving to eight lanes would require a significantly bigger tank that could as much as double the amount of space required to store water

The committee went on to agree that the design of the new campus is based on the existing proposed building footprint, which features a six-lane pool.

Councillors also noted that all reports on projects should include a section on risk so that members can consider them in terms of their governance responsibilities, and sought assurance that this would be raised with the council’s senior leadership team.

It was agreed that a further report be brought forward to the appropriate committee as the project advances.

Officers have also been asked to bring reports back to the Communities Committee if required in connection with the effective delivery of the project and particularly concerning resources, risk and deliverability.

Satisfaction figures discussed as part of latest performance report

The committee discussed the latest performance information relating to Education and Children’s Services.

The committee was told that satisfaction had fallen with regards to sports facilities and that the services was taking the issue very seriously.

As a result, the service plans to seek additional feedback from customers within the facilities they are using.

Other matters

• Discussing updates to a minute of the former Social Work and Housing Committee of January 12 this year, it was agreed that the non-residential charging policy for 2017/18 take effect from April 1, 2017.  It was also agreed that an informal session with members of the committee, Police Scotland, and Scottish Fire and Rescue will now take place after the local government elections in May.
• The Education and Children’s Services Service Plan for 2017-20 was approved, and is to be presented to area committees. In addition, an appendix to the report is to be used as part of the induction for new councillors after the upcoming election, and a briefing document is to be prepared for councillors on looked after children.
• The full public reports considered by the committee can be found via http://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Two weeks left to sign up for the Pedometer Challenge

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The Council’s Pedometer Challenge is a great way to improve your fitness and do some team building.

The important details:

  • Open to Aberdeenshire Council employees only
  • Teams of 5 (Teams of 4 & 6 are ok with an average team score calculated)
  • Sign up by the closing date of April 24, 2017
  • Starts on May 1, 2017
  • Finishes June 11, 2017 (6 weeks)
  • Various prizes up for grabs

    Follow links to:

    Pedometer Challenge Team Pack

    Pedometer Challenge Team Entry Form

If you’re still not convinced, have a look at some of the feedback from previous years’ entrants:
“Surprised at how little I moved at the beginning of the challenge and now more mindful of how a 30 min walk can help each day.”

“Made me more conscious of healthy active day’s v sedentary days in front of the pc. Now aware of the benefits and the energy it creates to go that bit further.”

“Encouraged me to be more active – I realised how little I actually do.”

“Colleagues were competing with each other, great to share exercise tips. Made us speak more and realise what hobbies we took part in outwith work.”

“Encouraged me to leave the office and go outside during my working day.”

“I became conscious of how lazy and unfit I was. I have not stopped walking since then. Went on a walk with a young man and was ahead of him. While he felt tired, I was ready to walk more. I have not lost a lot of weight but my body feels firmer.”

 

Have you been involved in a project demonstrating excellent service delivery?

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The Performance Team want teams to come forward with what they are doing that is:

  • Compelling, dynamic and original;
  • Improving efficiency and effectiveness;
  • Having an impact now or how it will in the future.

What are your teams doing that is making a real and meaningful difference to people’s quality of life and to our communities?

For Aberdeenshire, submissions are being coordinated by the Performance Team who are looking for managers to put forward suggestions within the next few weeks. All you need to do is complete a short internal application form which tells us what the project is about and how it is making a difference.

Please email performance@aberdeenshire.gov.uk to request an application form.

Please be quick as internal applications close on Friday, May 19, 2017.

Last year, the Buchan Community Planning Group “Oot and Aboot Project” picked up the Silver Award in the Achieving Better Outcomes category, for developing a response to concerns about anti-social behavior and youth annoyance incidents.

In 2015, we picked up a Gold Award for the Library and Information Service within HMP and YOI Grampian and in 2014 the Westhill Men’s Shed was a Gold Award Winner.

Can we win gold again this year?  We can, but only if your teams step forward and share their successes with us.

There are five categories to choose from, covering Delivering Better Services, Achieving Better Outcomes in Partnership,Tackling Inequalities and Improving Health, Strong and Sustainable Communities and Local Matters.

For further information, contact Dale McKinnon, Policy Officer (Performance) dale.mckinnon@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or visit the Awards page at awards.cosla.gov.uk

 

 

Break out of your shell!

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​Spaces are still available on the following workshops:

Courageous Conversations – Thursday, April 20, Woodhill House

Mentoring and Coaching – Tuesday, April 25, Woodhill House

Building Resilience – Thursday, May 4, Fraserburgh

Decision Making & Problem Solving – Thursday, May 11, Fraserburgh

Managing Change – Tuesday, May 16, Woodhill House

Managers’ Survival Kit (2 days) – Tuesday, May 23 and Wednesday, May 24, Woodhill House

To find out more, to book onto one of the workshop dates or to view future dates click on the ALDO workshop links above.  If you don’t have an ALDO login, you can register by emailing training.courses@aberdeenshire.gov.uk with your payroll number, full name and email address.

The Leadership and Management Team develop and deliver a range of developmental workshops and team inputs. If you are interested in running a bespoke workshop or team event with your staff, please get in touch to discuss requirements LandMTeam@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Changes to Councillor Ward Pages

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Library

If you have content on the existing site, this will not automatically be moved across to the new Ward Pages. To ensure a smooth transition on to the new system, you can upload these Library items onto the new site from 27 April.  

If you need to publish new content in the library between 27 April and 5 May you should add it to the existing Ward Pages and the new Ward Pages to ensure there is visibility before and after the new site goes live.

Consultations

Anyone undertaking non-planning consultations before 27 April must ensure they have a closure date prior to 4 May, as Councillors may change following the election.  

No consultations will be published on Ward Pages between 27 April and 5 May but you can upload consultations on the new pages from 5 May.

For more information please contact alison.cumming@aberdeenshire.gov.uk 

Free health checks for Council employees

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​Health check appointments are availble for council employees on Tuesday 18th April and Thursday 20th April between 10am – 4.30pm in the Marriage Room, 29 Neil Ross Square, Ellon.

Health checks are completely confidential and involve a check of height, weight, BMI and blood pressure followed by an informal chat around physical activity, diet, smoking. alcohol intake as well as general lifestyle choices. Support will then be provided, should it be required.

To book an appointment contact the Formartine Area  Office on 01358 726404

 

Read the April Wellbeing Newsletter

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This month the Wellbeing Newsletter focuses on raising awareness about depression as part of the World Health Organisation’s World Health Day 2017. Workplace guidance and support is highlighted in this edition with some links to informative videos.

In conjunction with World Health Day on April 7, there will be an informal gathering at Inverurie Town Hall in the morning with the focus on ‘Lets Talk’. Members of the Wellbeing Team will be present to lead a walk with Council colleagues. Hopefully this allows a platform where you can share and listen to problems or experiences if you wish with people either suffering from or who supports someone with depression. Perhaps you just even want a general chit chat. More information is on a flyer within the Newsletter. (Please share)

 

Bulletin News

Aberdeenshire Council Pedometer Challenge 2017 (linked to Arcadia, if it doesn’t work contact steven.thompson@aberdeenshire.gov.uk )

Diet: research by cancer charity highlights the links between diet and risk of cancer

Salt content of everyday foods: The high salt content of many everyday foods was highlighted in a new report by Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH)

HIV trends in Scotland: Health Protection Scotland have published the latest trends in HIV incidence for Scotland

 

Awareness Events in May

 

Help raise awareness of designated health days/weeks/months within your teams and workplace or even on a personal level. Generally the organisations leading these days shall have resources and information you can access by visiting their websites.

 

New number for ARCH service

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​​Aberdeenshire Responders for Care at Home (ARCH) is a 24 hour service for planned, unplanned and urgent care.​

From 3 April 2017 there will now be one number for people to contact to access this service. Anoyone requiring this service should call 01467 533 533

ARCH will provide support to:

  • Existing service users

  • Tenants of Aberdeenshire Council’s Sheltered Housing schemes when the Sheltered Housing Officers are off duty.​
  • People identified by Health and Social Care staff who have an urgent or unplanned need.

The team will work with people and their families to prevent a hospital admission and once medically fit, to promote as early a discharge as possible.​


Updating Aberdeenshire website content

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The content of the Aberdeenshire Council website is updated and edited by a small team of User Experience (UX) experts .

Having a centralised team with editorial control ensures consistent quality across the corporate website, making it easier for users to find the information and services they need.

To avoid unnecessary delay in progressing requested work, please note:

  • The council website should only be used for sharing documents where the public are the intended audience and there is wide interest in viewing the information (Information for staff should be held on Arcadia and content for councillors should be stored on Ward Pages)
  • Documents that “must be made available to the public” do not necessarily have to be held on the website – the UX team can advise on alternative options e.g. a document repository is being created to hold standalone documents
  • If you are including a link to a website address in a publication, speak to the UX team about creating a short code rather than including a long version
  • Services must liaise with the UX team before issuing communications advising where documents are going to be held

Check out the help section on Arcadia for more information and to view the process for requesting updates.

The UX team also reviews existing content with a view to introducing improvements.  The next sections to be looked at will be:

  • Leisure, sports and culture
  • Schools and learning
  • Planning and building
  • Bins and recycling 

Save the date.

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Where? ​
Aberdeenshire Council Chambers, Woodhill House, Westburn Road, Aberdeen
What? 
You may be aware that the UK Government has been implementing the biggest change to the Welfare System in the last 60 years.  There is also a very ambitious channel shift in the model of delivery, using the web as the main channel of engagement with claimants and streamlining in and out of work benefits through the roll out of Universal Credit which will become live in Aberdeenshire within the next 12 – 18 months.
The current climate is challenging, however there are a number of opportunities which can be developed through partnership working.  This process can improve quality, increase capacity and can be built round the needs of people, communities and partners.
The event will explore challenges, options and opportunities.  The range of partners working in housing, health, financial inclusion & employability services will be given the opportunity to increase partnership working by improving the links within this area of work.
More information, including details of how to register for the event, will be issued in due course.
 

Meet our Gypsy/Traveller Liaison Officer

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Jennifer Macrae who fulfils the role at present explained: “The council is committed to promoting equality and recognises and accepts Gypsy/Travellers’ right to a nomadic way of life. Working closely with members of the travelling community helps us to help them work towards community cohesion and social integration.”

Jennifer’s role is diverse in that she is able to work with anyone who identifies themselves as Gyspy/Traveller, regardless of the accommodation they reside in or whether they live permanently in Aberdeenshire or are just travelling through.

Some of the tasks Jennifer looks after include:

  • Managing and engaging with unauthorised encampments (of which there were 61 in 2016)
  • Liaising with colleagues in education, social work and health
  • Supporting families to access services, ie registering with a doctor, dentist or school
  • Providing support to Gypsy/Travellers to attend meetings
  • Assisting with issues relating to tenancies
  • Providing advice about available pitches locally [MS1] 
  • Assisting with practical advice on local amenities and services
  • Giving advice on the history and culture of Gypsy/Travellers
  • Engagement sessions within the travelling communities
  • Increasing the knowledge and understanding of the communities in which there are Gypsy/Travellers.
  • Promoting social inclusion and cohesion

Her role also involves working in partnership with a variety of internal and external key stakeholders. Jennifer has received positive responses from Gypsy/Travellers whom she has helped with access to health care, education, housing and other issues. 

If you require support with Gypsy/Travellers as part of your role, or for more information about how Jennifer can help in your area, email jennifer.macrae@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

 

Candidates confirmed for local government election for Aberdeenshire

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The full list of candidates, along with information on how to register to vote, can be found on the council’s website at:

Votes for Aberdeenshire wards will be counted on Friday, May 5.

New social networking groups for electric vehicle and bicycle users

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​There are now two new Yammer groups, for staff who use Electric Vehicles (EVs) and bicycles. Wherever you are in Aberdeenshire, whether you use one of these modes for commuting or business travel, please feel free to join up, connect with other users and share information!

Bicycle users: https://www.yammer.com/aberdeenshire.gov.uk/#/threads/inGroup?type=in_group&feedId=11123080&view=all

EV Users: https://www.yammer.com/aberdeenshire.gov.uk/#/threads/inGroup?type=in_group&feedId=11017506&view=all

If you are new to Yammer you can find out more at www.Yammer.com All networked staff will shortly be able to see Yammer through your Office 365 portal – in the meantime you can use your @aberdeenshire email address to sign up. Later this year non-networked staff will be given access to the Aberdeenshire network on Yammer too.  

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Woodhill House closing at 6pm tonight

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Please ensure that all electrical equipment is switched off and where possible unplugged.

Should any issues arise due to this outage please contact Facilities Management Team Leader Claire Lessells​ as soon as possible.
 
Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause, however this test is necessary.

Get involved in the future of Health and Social Care Services

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The Integration Joint Board (IJB) is a joint board of Aberdeenshire Council and NHS Grampian which oversees the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership (AHSCP).

They are looking to recruit service users representatives. The role involves engaging with and gathering views from other service users and using this and your own experience to give a service user perspective to help the work of  the IJB

You will attend meetings of the IJB and should be willing to suggest and influence changes to services or plans and take an active role in groups or projects.

If you think you have what it takes to represent service users in the development of health and social care services we want to hear from you.

To request an application pack please email integration@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or phone 01467 537736

Applications must be returned by 31st March. 

Skype telephone numbers now live

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​If you have an Aberdeenshire Council email address you now have a new number and can make and receive calls using Skype telephony from your PC. Your old number will continue to work until the switch-off date indicated below.  

If you do not have a headset you can pick one up from Woodhill House reception or from a library in: Banff, Ellon, Fraserburgh, Stonehaven, Peterhead, Banchory, Aboyne, Alford, Laurencekirk, Mintlaw, Turriff, Portlethen or Westhill 

To see your new number: 

  • Go to http://directoryupdate  

  • Scroll down to Phone numbers 

  • Your personal Skype number is in the New Number field   

If you currently use a team or group number you must contact the Project Team to have a new number allocated.  

Schools will be contacted individually and given at least two months notice of their switch-off date. 

Switch off date for old numbers  

31 March 2017 

Inverurie  

Oldmeldrum 

Insch 

Huntly  

01467 

01651 

01464 

01466 

30 June 2017  

Aberdeen  

Banchory 

Aboyne 

01224 

01330 

01339 

30 September2017  

Alford  

Banff 

Ellon 

01957 

01261 

01358 

31 December 2017  

Fraserburgh  

Stonehaven 

Laurencekirk 

01346 

01569 

01561 

31 March 2018  

Peterhead  

Maud 

Turriff 

01779 

01771 

01888 ​

Have you heard about the Pedometer Challenge? Sign up now.

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In 2016 we had a record number of sign ups with 169 teams totalling 856 employees completing the challenge across all services. This year we would like to increase that number again, so would encourage you to share, recruit and drum up as much interest as possible.

You could have individual/team challenges with colleagues in the workplace, or better still work as a team to motivate each other to be more active. After all, it’s a challenge which aims to make us strive to being more physically active, especially if you aren’t already.

We have acted upon feedback of previous years and now cut the duration of the challenge from 8 weeks to 6 weeks, hoping it will be more manageable and help keep everyone engaged right until the end.

With thanks to the Strategy Development team we have been able to acquire some more pedometers for loaning to participants. However these are in limited quantities and as before we would strongly advise that if you have a wearable pedometer device or a smart phone then these are better options. Did you know that smartphones have movement sensors and studies have shown them to be more accurate? There are numerous free apps you can download or some newer smartphones already have a health programme installed which counts your steps.


The important details:

  • Open to Aberdeenshire Council employees only
  • Teams of 5 (Teams of 4 & 6 are ok with an average team score calculated)
  • Sign up by the closing date of April 24, 2017
  • Starts on May 1, 2017
  • Finishes June 11, 2017 (6 weeks)
  • Various prizes up for grabs

Follow links to:

Pedometer Challenge Team Pack

Pedometer Challenge Team Entry Form

Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership sets 2017-18 budget

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​Chief Officer ​​​Adam Coldwells has recorded a message for all employees in the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership

 

A transcript of the video is copied below.

At their meeting yesterday, the Integration Joint Board agreed a budget of £276m for all of the services we deliver in Aberdeenshire.

Although it is substantial amount of money it will undoubtedly feel challenging to deliver all we do. In order to deliver a balanced budget we will all have to be part of working towards our financial position as part of the great work you do every single day.

The budget we presented to IJB was around the Strategic Plan we previously identified. It is essential we build our work around that progressive view of how we deliver services long in to the future in a sustainable manner

There are two key things I would like people to think about as they work towards our budget position

1.    Productivity and Efficiency

First is how we all work day in and day out both efficiently and greater productivity. We are undertaking work in Kincardine & Mearns to explore productivity in a different way. What can we achieve as teams come together integrated teams across Aberdeenshire. Some of the initial work has been promising.

Practitioners will be able to spend more time working with clients and patients trying to remove the bureaucracy. As we do that better our efficiency rises so our ability to do work becomes more affordable within the envelope of money we have.

 

2.    Redesign Services

Second key theme is about how we redesign services – this is not new thing,  we spend lots of time redesigning things so we have a long term future. What are the things that will allow us to redesign pathways of care and make these more sustainable for our long term delivery model.

The Virtual Community Ward is a great example. This is where people take the opportunity to work together around the most vulnerable people we have has shown great results. Through this work many many people were not admitted to hospital, when most of them previously would have been admitted to community hospitals or Foresterhill and ARI . The initial results look exciting and if we can continue that and redesign other things in similar way then we will manage very well within the £276m budget

I want all of you to be part of this –  every single person in the partnership to be part of delivering not only the great care you do anyway but to think how we can do this within the financial envelope we have available to us

As you do keep in mind the five key aspects of our vision

  1. Asset based approach
  2. High quality services
  3. Person Centred maner
  4. Support people to be as independent as possible
  5. Keep people in and as close to community as possible

Please use this vison as the pegs of how we do our work every single day. If you want to ask anything please contact us we will be delighted to hear from you. ​

Adam Coldwells

Chief Officer

Principal Committee Officer who's "part of the fabric" of council meetings to retire

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Alastair first joined the council after completing a degree in German at the University of Aberdeen in 1979. At that time it was Grampian Regional Council and he was successful in being appointed to a post in the mail room at Woodhill House, but he didn’t view the mail room nor the council as a permanent career choice. It wasn’t until he successfully applied for the post of Committee Clerk in the Law & Administration Department he was set on a career path which has lasted almost 40 years.

His colleague Niall David told us: “Alastair is almost a part of the fabric of Woodhill House. As a local lad born and bred (he attended Aberdeen Grammar School), he remembers a time when Woodhill House as we currently know it wasn’t even here. Instead there was a wood and the original Woodhill House, which was more like a cottage. He even played in the grounds as a youngster, such is the unbreakable link between him and Woodhill.

“He wisely chose to move to the successor Aberdeenshire Council rather than neighbouring Aberdeen City Council when Grampian Regional Council was reorganised in 1996. Since that time he has led the Committee Services Team as Principal Committee Officer and we are really going to miss him.”

Alastair has undoubtedly been to more Full Council meetings than any other living person and considers the Council Chamber to be ‘his room’.

Head of Service for Legal and Governance, Karen Wiles adds: “Alastair’s knowledge and experience of the decision-making processes of local government is second-to-none. He truly will be missed by colleagues, officers and elected members. He retires as one of the most respected and valued officers ever to work for Aberdeenshire Council. We wish you a long and happy retirement, Alastair!”

Alastair will also vacate his position as the chair of SOLAR’s national Governance Working Group.

Frances Brown, another colleague, said: “Coming to work in Woodhill House will just not be the same once Alastair has retired. He’s a great colleague and friend, with such a knowledge of how the council works. He is the go to person for any queries about decisions made by the council stretching right back in time!”

Elections Coordinator and fellow Senior  Allan Bell sums up: “Retirement will afford Alastair the opportunity to complete his Munro-bagging quest and, more locally, continue to familiarise himself with every single rock and tuft of heather on his favourite peak, Bennachie. He is a cultured man with a love of music, opera in particular, dogs, reading and fine dining. Undoubtedly he will continue critiquing the fare in local restaurants/cafes and generally holding the modern world to account. Come back and see us from time to time, Alastair!”

Mindfulness based stress reduction course for staff

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​Over the last two decades, there has been an expansion and proliferation of mindfulness meditation programmes employed within education, business and healthcare and community settings.  The aim of these programmes is to decrease stress and improve attention and well-being.  A Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course has been provided for NHSG staff for several years, and is now being offered to council and university partners. It is an experiential course which will teach participants skills to enhance present moment awareness and in turn, effectiveness, communication and satisfaction both in and outside of the workplace.  

The next course is due to run for eight weeks on Wednesday evenings from April – June.  To secure a place, please complete the Staff MBSR Booking Form.docxattached and return along with payment. For more information, email margaret.mclean@nhs.net

Message from Police Scotland

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Message from Chief Constable Phil Gormley QPM

Police Scotland is saddened by the tragic events in London on Wednesday 22 March 2017.

Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and their communities. 

Whilst there is no specific intelligence to suggest such an incident will occur in Scotland, the UK threat level remains at Severe, therefore we must remain alert but not alarmed. You may notice increased police patrols. Such patrols are there for reassurance and community engagement.

Due to the nature of the attacks in London, certain communities understandably may feel more vulnerable at this time. Police Scotland is committed to keeping people safe and whilst we understand that the public will clearly be appalled by these events, I would urge each and every member of the community to continue to work together in ensuring that no person or group in Scotland feels marginalised or isolated. 

I would advise people to go about their business as usual. However, should anyone become a victim, or witness of any hate crime, they should contact the Police to report the incident.

Please be assured Police Scotland continues to work with partners at home and abroad countering the threat from terrorism to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our communities.  Thank you for your continued support in keeping our communities safe.

If you have any concerns or information about suspicious activity please contact the Police on 101, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or in an emergency dial 999.

 

Paying our respects after the London attacks

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​A minute silence is being held in Whitehall Government buildings this morning, as a mark of repsect for those killed in the attack in London yesterday. 
Flags across Aberdeenshire Council premises are flying at half mast. 
​Anyone wishing to also also observe the silence may do so. It begins at 09:33am. 

Office365 to be rolled out during April

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O365 will allow you to access your email and calendar, and work with team members on documents, using your PC or smartphone, wherever you are.

In preparation for the roll out, mailboxes will be moved to O365 during April. This will not change how you access your email. 

We will let you know when your mailbox is moving. The day after the move you may be prompted to restart Outlook but you should not see any difference in the way your own email works.  If you use a shared mailbox you may not be able to access it for a short time, or you may notice some small changes in the functionality. This is temporary and will be resolved when all users are moved. We will do this as quickly as possible to minimise any inconvenience.

If you have a council-issued smartphone you will still be able to make and receive calls but you must update your device to access email. This can only be done once your mailbox has been moved, following the instructions that will be issued nearer the time.  

O365 will be formally launched in May with a full range of events and opportunities to find out more. One exciting development will be the ability to use O365 on your own devices. Once you enrol your phone or tablet you will be able to access work emails, calendar and documents from your own device, wherever you have an internet connection. If you have a council owned smartphone you may feel that you no longer want to carry two separate devices.  By giving up your work smartphone you will be saving the council around £100 a year.  To find out more, contact the project team.

Find out more about new legislation to help unpaid carers

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In Scotland, there is an estimated 17% of the adult population and 4% of the population of young people who provide unpaid care to relatives and friends. The value of this support to health and social services is extensive. It is widely recognised that carers are now the largest provider of care in the UK. The care they provide saves the Scottish economy an estimated £10.3bn each year. Without the right support, the role of an unpaid carer can be detrimental to their own physical and emotional wellbeing.

This new legislation will introduce provisions to improve the health and wellbeing of carers.  These include:

  • Identification of carers’ needs for support through adult carer support plans and young carer statements (which will replace carer’s assessments)
  • Provision of support to carers based on local eligibility criteria
  • The ennablement of carer involvement in certain services – e.g. hospital discharge
  • Preparation of Local Carer Strategies
  • The preparation of Short Breaks Services Statements
  • Establishment of information and advice services for carers

You can find more information on the full detail of the Act below and we will continue to update you in any developments as these are available: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2016/9/contents/enacted

Local Carer Strategy

Work has commenced locally in Aberdeenshire to gather the views of adult carers via a carer satisfaction survey. The results of the survey will be our starting point to help us develop a Local Carers Strategy for Aberdeenshire.

The Strategy will detail our plan to support both adult and young carers throughout the implementation of the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 as well as highlighting the priority issues that our local carers have identified as requiring action.

 

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Improvements being made to geographic information systems

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Content is currently being moved to the new system and any changes made between now and the end of the month may not be available in the new system.  

If there is an operational need to update content before this point please contact ICT as soon as possible to make arrangements for the data to be moved across. In these cases, there may be a delay in the information being available in the new system. 

After 31 March, content editors will be able to update their content using Map Modeller.

You can view a list of the data that has been moved to the new system and visit this site to check that it is working as expected.  

Please note: 

  • Printing larger than A4 currently requires the use of Map Express or Map Modeller
  • Search by area is currently available for Primary School locations and catchments but can be extended if required
  • The Local Knowledge function will be available by 4 April
  • The number of data layers available is limited at present, but will increase over the next few weeks
  • As this is a test site, there may be short periods of interruption to the service while work is carried out 

Thank you for your understanding during this period of transition. Please contact the project team with any comments or queries.

 

Are you ready to up your step for this year's challenge?

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In 2016 we had a record number of sign ups with 169 teams totalling 856 employees completing the challenge across all services. This year we would like to increase that number again, so would encourage you to share, recruit and drum up as much interest as possible.

You could have individual/team challenges with colleagues in the workplace, or better still work as a team to motivate each other to be more active. After all, it’s a challenge which aims to make us strive to being more physically active, especially if you aren’t already.

We have acted upon feedback of previous years and now cut the duration of the challenge from 8 weeks to 6 weeks, hoping it will be more manageable and help keep everyone engaged right until the end.

With thanks to the Strategy Development team we have been able to acquire some more pedometers for loaning to participants. However these are in limited quantities and as before we would strongly advise that if you have a wearable pedometer device or a smart phone then these are better options. Did you know that smartphones have movement sensors and studies have shown them to be more accurate? There are numerous free apps you can download or some newer smartphones already have a health programme installed which counts your steps.


The important details:

  • Open to Aberdeenshire Council employees only
  • Teams of 5 (Teams of 4 & 6 are ok with an average team score calculated)
  • Sign up by the closing date of April 24, 2017
  • Starts on May 1, 2017
  • Finishes June 11, 2017 (6 weeks)
  • Various prizes up for grabs

Follow links to:

Pedometer Challenge Team Pack

Pedometer Challenge Team Entry Form

Ranger Service launches programme of events for the summer

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The programme runs from April to September and is available on the council’s website at http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/rangersummerevents

2017 is the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and there are lots of events taking place this summer to celebrate. From Bronze Age hut circles to 20th century plane crashes, there’s plenty to discover in Aberdeenshire. Leave your hi-tec, digital life behind for a few hours and discover how our ancestors survived in the past. Take a walk through time, discover history on your doorstep or simply enjoy a family day out. Whatever your age, interest or ability there’s something for everyone to enjoy this summer.

Events are happening from mountain to sea – the Rangers are taking part in the Cairngorms Nature Big Weekend and the Energetica Summer Festival again this year, delivering a range of activities from getting up close and personal with bats and moths, to cliff top walks and seabird watches.

2017 is also the 20th anniversary of Scottish Biodiversity Partnerships. Join the Rangers on walks and events to find out about the variety of life on our doorstep, how our local plants and animals benefit us and how we can help them. You can support our local environment and wildlife by taking part in a beach clean and litter survey, or find out how to help our local pollinators.

There are also lots of event happening at the Bennachie Visitor Centre over the summer – the Centre opens on the 1st April and is open seven days a week 10:00am – 5:00pm.

You can receive information on events and activities monthly direct to your inbox by joining our mailing list. To be added to the mailing list simply e-mail jan.lythgoe@aberdeenshire.gov.uk.

You can also join us on Facebook to see what’s going on and join in the chat www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/facebook/rangerservice

Making building repairs and maintenance more efficient

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Allan Whyte, Head of Property and Facilities Management explains: “There are currently a number of different arrangements in place to undertake works and in 2015 it was agreed we’d procure the services of an overarching hard facilities management contractor. This will make the council’s management of these services much more efficient.”

FES FM Ltd had been appointed as the successful bidder for the Council’s Hard FM contract with an estimated value of £12million per annum. They will begin work on 1 April 2017.

FES FM Ltd will be the council’s partner for the next five years, with an opportunity for a two-year extension. They will undertake all day-to-day repairs, statutory compliance including boiler servicing and the replacement of things like windows or wiring. The contract extends to all council properties and elements of building maintenance in social housing and sheltered housing, and the benefit is costs are limited to a fixed annual price paid monthly.

FES FM Ltd will now operate the repairs and maintenance Service Desk from their office in Westhill. The new number from 1 April to report any non-housing repairs and maintenance will be 0800 954 3576 and will be operated 24/7. Housing repairs are still to be reported through the council’s Contact Centre on 03456 08 12 03.

Existing facilities maintenance staff will be moving across to FES. Briefing sessions are currently being rolled out to services, and flyers and handbooks are being distributed to various building users over the next couple of weeks. 

Allan Whyte adds: “Aberdeenshire is the first local authority in Scotland to adopt the single provider approach. Our jointly agreed values with the new contractor focus on customer service, quality, safety, honesty, partnership and continuous improvement. I’m confident this will achieve many benefits for service users.”

For any general enquiries regarding building maintenance and repairs, please email hardfm@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

 

 

 

Take part in Make Aberdeenshire More Active survey

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The Make Aberdeenshire More Active group (MAMA) is a multi-agency working group which has been established to help support all partners to reduce sedentary behaviour and embed physical activity into daily life and make it an easy cost effective and normal choice for Aberdeenshire residents.

They have launch a new survey in order to gain a baseline of how much activity a sample of Aberdeenshire residents are doing and the barriers and facilitators to being more active.

Physical activity is a broad term to describe movement to the body that uses energy. It can be as simple as walking, gardening or housework. This survey has been developed to help the MAMA group monitor progress and identify what action is required. The MAMA group has identified three key priorities linked with the Scottish Government’s Activity Outcome Framework.

The three priorities are:

1.   Encouraging everyone to be more active/less sedentary, including those who are currently inactive, in their local communities with a focus on the physical activity pathway for people with long term conditions and those who are socially isolated/disadvantaged.

2.   Enabling active travel (e.g. walking and cycling), as the easy choice within and between our communities.

3.   Focus on increasing opportunities to be active/less sedentary for young people and people with disabilities/long-term conditions and those currently excluded/disadvantaged in terms of taking part in physical activity.

Complete the survey online at: https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=148223818611 

The survey will close on May 8, 2017

If you have any queries, or would like to find out more, please contact Mary McCallum at: mary.mccallum@nhs.net

 

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Are you ready to up your step for this year's challenge?

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In 2016 we had a record number of sign ups with 169 teams totalling 856 employees completing the challenge across all services. This year we would like to increase that number again, so would encourage you to share, recruit and drum up as much interest as possible.

You could have individual/team challenges with colleagues in the workplace, or better still work as a team to motivate each other to be more active. After all, it’s a challenge which aims to make us strive to being more physically active, especially if you aren’t already.

We have acted upon feedback of previous years and now cut the duration of the challenge from 8 weeks to 6 weeks, hoping it will be more manageable and help keep everyone engaged right until the end.

With thanks to the Strategy Development team we have been able to acquire some more pedometers for loaning to participants. However these are in limited quantities and as before we would strongly advise that if you have a wearable pedometer device or a smart phone then these are better options. Did you know that smartphones have movement sensors and studies have shown them to be more accurate? There are numerous free apps you can download or some newer smartphones already have a health programme installed which counts your steps.


The important details:

  • Open to Aberdeenshire Council employees only
  • Teams of 5 (Teams of 4 & 6 are ok with an average team score calculated)
  • Sign up by the closing date of April 24, 2017
  • Starts on May 1, 2017
  • Finishes June 11, 2017 (6 weeks)
  • Various prizes up for grabs

Follow links to:

Pedometer Challenge Team Pack

Pedometer Challenge Team Entry Form

MAPPA updates on ALDO

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The Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements, more commonly known as MAPPA, are the arrangements through which the local authority, police, prison service and health services are required to share information, jointly assess risk and apply resources proportionately to manage the risk of serious harm posed to the public by relevant offenders.

This includes registered sex offenders, mentally disordered restricted patients and other offenders managed in the community who, by reason of their conviction, pose a risk of serious harm to the public.

The operation, scope and governance of MAPPA has seen many changes over the past 12 months, leading to the revision of the MAPPA Awareness package on ALDO. Colleagues who are currently involved in the MAPPA arrangements, and those who are interested in finding out more about what MAPPA is and how it operates are encouraged to visit the updated ALDO package. The brief introductory video will provide sufficient information for many staff, with the option to continue through further modules if more detail is required.

Whilst colleagues from criminal justice are most active in MAPPA, those engaged in children’s and housing services and health and social care are regularly engaged in the process and would benefit from undertaking the ALDO package.

Check out what your colleague has to say about his Tusker car

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Watch loads of drivers’ stories, including that of Day Centre Officer Damian Richards who’s based in Stonehaven (https://vimeo.com/206380948).


Other videos available:

Ultra Low Emission Vehicles - https://vimeo.com/205862338

About the Scheme – https://vimeo.com/181930817

Order Process – https://vimeo.com/187623910

Usership versus ownership – https://vimeo.com/187625152

In life – https://vimeo.com/187804805

Options at the end – https://vimeo.com/187631066

To find out more and view the cars available to Aberdeenshire Council employees, simply visit www.abshirebenefits.uk and click on ‘Salary Sacrifice Cars’ tile and enter your username and password. If it’s your first time on the site, you’ll need your Employee ID number to hand to sign up.

Visit HMRC’s
website
for more information about salary sacrifice arrangements and how
they may affect your income.

For more information about the cars on offer contact Tusker by emailing EETeam@ss4c.com or calling 0333 400 7431.

 

 

 

 

Youtube URL: https://vimeo.com/206380948

Would you like to use your own smartphone instead of a second council device to access work info?

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In trials, staff have found this really handy and some users with council smartphones have opted to hand back their work phone to avoid having to carry two separate devices. Not only does this allow you to operate using a single phone, but it also saves the council around £100 a year.

If you have a council-issued smartphone and would like to find out more, contact the project team.

​​Serious organised crime: How you can help to crack it

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Everyone who lives and works in Aberdeenshire has a role to play.

Have you ever come across something that seems ‘dodgy’ but you’re not very sure? Do you sometimes have concerns when you’re out and about through your work but there’s no immediate threat to anyone’s safety? Are you unsure of who you’d tell about a criminal issue that doesn’t impact any vulnerable people but is worrying none-the-less?

As Detective Sergeant Brian Cumming explains: “Trust your gut instinct: it’s usually right. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is – and the worst part is that someone is usually being exploited as a result of it.”

If you notice anything untoward, no matter how small, email dionortheast@scotland.pnn.police.uk

The intelligence gathered by Brian’s team can all contribute towards painting a bigger picture of what’s happening across Aberdeenshire and ensuring further investigation takes place where necessary. All information provided will be treated with the strictest confidence.

What do we mean by serious organised crime?

  • Serious Organised Crime Groups (SOCGs) involve two or more people who are often involved in multiple crime types, including: drugs, violence, cigarette smuggling, tax fraud, money laundering, organised immigration crime, human trafficking, organised theft, bogus workmen, counterfeit good and cybercrime.
  • SOCGs can be involved in seemingly legitimate businesses. These are often cash-based businesses such as pubs, takeaways, taxis, hairdressers and nail bars.
  • Around 11% of Scotland’s 196 identified serious organised crime groups (SOCGs) operate in our area.

How does serious organised crime impact on our communities?

  • SOCGs prey on the most vulnerable, including the elderly and young people, and sometimes take over their homes to use them as a base for criminal activities.
  • Businesses related to SOCGs take income away from legitimate enterprises, and that income is often dispersed out with Aberdeenshire to fund further criminal activities.
  • SOCGs have little interest in the environment and often dispose of dangerous materials indiscriminately.

Let’s help to stop SOCGs getting a foothold within our communities. Please use the dionortheast@scotland.pnn.police.uk to inform Brian’s team about anything relating to SOCGs you may be aware of or notice in future. Remember, however, if you see something that requires immediate police attendance, call 999 or continue to use 101 to report non-emergency issues.

More information about Scotland’s Organised Crime Strategy is available at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00509064.pdf

 

Employee health checks now available at locations tailored to your team

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The council’s Wellbeing team offers ‘employee health checks’ and to make this service more accessible to more employees they are appealing to managers, teams or groups of colleagues to get in touch if you’d like to have the health checks at your site.

The health checks are free to all employees. They are confidential 30-minute appointments with the Health Promotion Officer, including a check of height, weight, BMI and blood pressure as well as an informal chat and signposting around physical activity, diet, smoking, alcohol, mental health and other lifestyle topics.

To make appointments available on a day and at a location which suits your team, a minimum of six employees must be signed up in advance. Additional spaces may be made available to other council employees not necessarily within that team, service, or site.

All that’s required is a small private room with two chairs and a table (with room to manoeuvre) to conduct basic health check tests.

If this is a service you would like to take advantage of then please email steven.thompson@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or call 01224 664136. Please also help us to spread the word about this opportunity.

Are you on Yammer? If so please follow the ‘wellbeing’ page for regular updates on events, news, training and more.

Do you engage with communities as part of your job?

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​The term ‘Community Engagement’ is often used to describe activities that look to involve community members in decision-making, and the design and sometimes the delivery of services and facilities.

Aberdeenshire Council, in partnership with the Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership and Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership, would like to find out how they can involve you in decisions and services.

We are asking for your help to shape the way we work together to create a vision for the future which continues to strengthen your involvement in local decisions-making.

At the moment we are looking for information you feel should be included in a new strategy which will focus on how we work together. Views are being sought from community groups, third sector organisations, and employees from across Aberdeenshire.

Information you share with us will help us prepare a draft version of the strategy which will be shared with you later in the year. We will then hold further talks with groups/organisations about the feedback received before going through the council’s formal approval process.

The survey is available at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Commengagestrat until Friday, March 24th.

Don't forget to shut down.

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The council is moving to a new internet filtering system on Tuesday 14 March. 
 
In order to be sure that the system will load up smoothly, please shut down your computer when you finish work today.
 

Don't forget to shut down.

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The council is moving to a new internet filtering system on Tuesday 14 March. 
 
In order to be sure that the system will load up smoothly, please shut down your computer when you finish work today.
 

Have you considered employing an apprentice in your service?

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Apprenticeships are available to anyone aged 16 or over who is not in full-time education, and is eligible to work in the UK. There are no set minimum hours in Scotland, but in order to meet the training requirements, most apprenticeships start at 20hrs per week.

At present, we have 47 apprentices employed by Aberdeenshire Council, based in a wide variety of services. We have apprentices in ICT, Care, Business Services, Leisure, as well as Fleet Services and Housing Repairs.

83% of our apprentices stay with us after completing their training, and have gone on to work for the council as ICT support analysts,  social care officers and systems officers, to name but a few.

In terms of the benefits of employing an apprentice, they can:

  • Address skills gaps, ensuring you have the right people with the right skills
  • Bring fresh ideas and new ways of working
  • Help your wider team grow through peer support and buddying
  • Be moulded to meet team and skill needs

Jim Savege, speaking at the recent Apprentice of the Year Awards commented: “We currently employ 47 apprentices. I would like to see this figure grow substantially, and my challenge to all services is to take steps to significantly increase the number of apprentices across all council services. HR&OD will be on hand to support you with this, and I would encourage you to contact them for further information.”

If you are interested in finding out how you could benefit from an apprentice in your team, or if you would like to find out more, please contact a member of the Resourcing Team at recruitmentadvice@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

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North East Climate Week 2017

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Throughout the week there are different events happening in both the City and the Shire.  Aberdeenshire Ranger Service and Libraries are hosting a number of events.  There are cycle rides, children competitions, storytelling, movie events, lectures and presentations to name a few.

For the full list of activities happening in the region please see the attached brochure and climate week website. 

https://issuu.com/rguunion/docs/climateweek_brochure2017_online

 

http://www.climateweekaberdeen.org/programme.html

Earth Hour 2017

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​Earth Hour is a global movement to raise awareness about climate change and environmental protection, first organised by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2007. This year it takes place on 25th March from 8.30-9.30pm.  Individuals and organisations will take part all around the world by switching off their lights for Earth Hour.  Since it first began 10 years ago, the number of countries taking part has grown to an incredible 178 countries and territories. 

Last year over 160 Scottish national and local landmarks were turned off.  This year Aberdeenshire Council has been awarded a ‘Super Local Authority’ badge for its commitment to Earth Hour. 

Earth Hour is not only about how much energy is saved during the hour.  It’s a chance to put the spotlight on the issues facing the planet, and is a brilliant reminder that together we can make change happen.  Small changes CAN make a big difference.

Individuals and organisations can take part in Earth Hour by switching off lights, planning events, and celebrating in their own way.

 

Ideas of things to do for Earth Hour include:

 

  • Go to a local Earth Hour event – The Aberdeenshire Ranger Service is hosting a FREE event at Delgaty Woods (email formartine.ranger@aberdeenshire.gov.uk for more information)
  • Host an Earth Hour party enjoying the darkness in the company of friends and family
  • Play games by candle light or have story telling time
  • Go for a family night hike and do some star gazing
  • Listen and look out for nocturnal animals visiting your garden
  • Create a pledge of how your family will live more sustainably
  • BE CREATIVE AND HAVE FUN WITH IT!

 

For more information and to sign up visit: www.wwfscotland.org.uk/earthhour 

You can also join in the conversation on Twitter with hashtags #EarthHour #ChangeClimateChange and by following @WWFScotland

Pre-election period – what you need to know

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​13 March – 4 May 2017 = pre-election period. 

This is the run up to the local goverment elections, a period in which special rules come into force governing what we can and cannot do as council officers. In short it is business as usual, but with some changes. 

Click here to see our pre-election page, read the guidance and watch our Head of Legal and Governance explain it all. Or email preelection.guidance@aberdeenshire.gov.uk if you have any questions. 

To summarise: 

Do…

  • Serve the Council, rather than any political party or group.

     

  • Carry out your duties in a politically neutral way; be impartial.

     

  • Make sure Council facilities or staff are not used for political purposes e.g.  room bookings, equipment, research etc.

     

  • Take particular care that any publicity issued before an election cannot be perceived as seeking to influence public opinion or to promote a particular candidate or political group.

 

  • Get clearance from the Communications Team for press releases and publicity materials.

     

  • Get advice if you are organising any public event even if the event has already been organised.

     

  • Ensure political balance.

     

  • Ask what use Council photographs or other materials will be put to.

     

  • Treat everyone participating in the political process fairly and without prejudice.

     

    Don’t…

     

  • Use Council resources like stationery, word processing and communications for campaigning/ party political activities or for private purposes.

     

  • Publish material that appears designed to get support for a political party or candidate

     

  • Give financial or other assistance to anyone in publishing material which appears designed to get support for a political party or candidate.

     

  • Issue publicity dealing with controversial issues or reporting views or policies in a way that may identify them with candidates or political parties.  

Leading the way with equality and diversity

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Pupil Support Worker Graham Wilson explained: “We focused in particular on the language used in and around school as well as the wider community.”

The school’s Gay, Trans, Straight Alliance (GTSA) led assemblies each day of the week to talk about how certain language and attitudes can be abusive and very hurtful, not only to the LGBT+ community but to anyone. Diversity exists to be embraced.

The pride flag, normally linked with LGBT+, was raised to highlight the academy’s desire to embrace diversity across all areas and work hard to eradicate all types of prejudice, inequalities, bullying and inappropriate language.

As a show of support within sport, the U13′s football team signed a pledge to ‘Make sport everyone’s game’ and wore their football boots emblazoned with rainbow laces in a midweek game against Inverurie Academy.

 

Does your role involve engaging with communities on behalf of the council?

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​The term ‘Community Engagement’ is often used to describe activities that look to involve community members in decision-making, and the design and sometimes the delivery of services and facilities.

Aberdeenshire Council, in partnership with the Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership and Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership, would like to find out how they can involve you in decisions and services.
We are asking for your help to shape the way we work together to create a vision for the future which continues to strengthen your involvement in local decision-making.
At the moment we are looking for information you feel should be included in a new strategy which will focus on how we work together. Views are being sought from community groups, third sector organisations, and employees from across Aberdeenshire.
Information you share with us will help us prepare a draft version of the strategy which will be shared with you later in the year. We will then hold further talks with groups/organisations about the feedback received before going through the council’s formal approval process.
 
 
The survey is available at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Commengagestrat until Friday, March 24th.​
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Read the list of those accredited organisations who can receive secure emails.

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​Aberdeenshire Council is now Secure Email Blueprint (SEB) accredited, meaning that you can send email directly to other SEB accredited organisations without having to use encryption e.g. all email sent from Aberdeenshire Council to the NHS is now secure-by-default as the NHS is also accredited.
 An up to date list of the most frequently emailed SEB-accredited organisations can be viewed HERE​, and emails to them will be secure-by-default:
You  MUST continue to use this encryption guidance to send email securely to organisations which are not on this list.  This currently includes:
·         Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA)
·         Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
·         Other non-SEB-accredited Local Authorities including Aberdeen City Council, Moray Council, Angus Council, Highland Council, 
 

Round-up of what happened at Full Council

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Round-up of Aberdeenshire Council
Thursday 9th March 2017
In a first for Aberdeenshire Council, the meeting was webcast enabling anyone to view the meeting online. This, and future meetings, will be available through the webcasting portal. https://aberdeenshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/home and will be archived on the site for people to review for up to six months.  
A range of business was discussed including a new Business Rates Relief Scheme, the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2017 and planning applications for a 10 pitch travellers site at Aikey Depot in Old Deer, and a new business park at Balmacassie in Ellon.
The meeting began with a presentation from the Young People’s Organising and Campaigning Group. The presentation focused on the campaign by young people to highlight the support and guidance needed by Looked After Young People and Children. They broadcast a DVD designed to raise awareness of the issues experienced by young people in care.
Cllr Anne Robertson said she was ‘very proud’ of the young people and their work and encouraged them to keep challenging councillors to ensure they are delivering their responsibilities as corporate parents.
Cllr Alison Evison welcomed their actions to take the campaign across Scotland and stressed the importance to all councillors of their role as corporate parents to support Looked After Children and Young People.
Business Rates Relief Scheme
A Business Rates Relief Scheme was agreed by councillors which will support over 1,200 businesses which are likely to be impacted by the most significant business rates increases.
Cllr Richard Thomson introduced the report, recognising that the revaluation had caused great concern and that some businesses were facing large increases and the council had a duty to respond. He said: “We have listened to businesses and examined the evidence. We have a Scheme that is easy to administer and implement, complementary to other relief schemes and will target support where it can do the most good.” He also welcomed comments from the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce who described the scheme as practical, workable and easy to administer.
Co-Leader Cllr Richard Thomson agreed to accept two amendments to the report. The first from Cllr Jim Gifford was: “Instruct the Chief Executive to write to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP asking him to guarantee that the estimated £23 million extra that will be collected over and above the non-domestic rates allocation on the settlement will stay in Aberdeenshire. Further to ask the Minister to guarantee that an adjustment will not be made to the Revenue Support Grant to compensate for the extra revenue raised nor will it be recovered in subsequent years.”
The second amendment came from Cllr Martin Ford: “Agree to support Aberdeenshire businesses in line with the North East Regional Economic Strategy with the balance of enabling funding and to use up to £50,000 to develop the business case to decriminalise on-street parking as a measure that would improve the management and vitality of town centres.”
The Business Rates Relief Scheme was developed following feedback from businesses across Aberdeenshire concerned at the proposed increases following a revaluation by the Grampian Assessor. Councillors agreed to set aside up to £3 million of ‘enabling money’ to support a rates relief scheme when it met in February. 
This decision follows a further announcement from the Scottish Government introducing a new national and local relief scheme, which will cap increases in 2017/18 at 12.5% for specific business sectors including hotels, pubs, restaurants, cafes and offices.
Of the 11,000 business rate payers in Aberdeenshire, over 1,000 have received notice of increases in their rateable values impacting on their business rates, some of which have significant cost implications. The scheme will support businesses through 50% relief to businesses with increased liability and who meet agreed criteria, an additional 25% for those businesses already in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme, as well as relief on empty properties. 
The issue has been particularly highlighted in the North East as the Rateable Value was based at April 2015 when the local economy was extremely buoyant. The Council has endorsed the North East Regional Economic Strategy and is committed to providing support to the business sector, from signposting to other agencies which may be able to assist and in some cases considering financial assistance. Engagement with both the Grampian Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses will be ongoing. 
The scheme will be in place for one year, giving businesses the opportunity to appeal their rateable value. 
Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan
Aberdeenshire Council agreed a Local Development Plan which provides a new planning blueprint for the area for everyday use. 
The decision follows an examination of objections to the proposed plan carried out by the Scottish Government Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals, on behalf of Ministers. 
The plan sets out ambitious long-term and site-specific visions for the area, not including the Cairngorms National Park, and will provide a practical framework within which the outcome of planning applications can be decided with a degree of certainty and efficiency.  
Approval by the Full Council follows nearly five years of work, involving extensive consultation with stakeholders, communities and the development industry.  
Cllr David Aitchison welcomed the report and the flexibility and more efficient use of land that the framework would bring. Whilst recognising that the Plan would never suit everyone, he recognised that it had been subject of significant consultation with communities and members and he urged all members to support it.
Cllr Peter Argyle seconded the motion. He expressed concern at the process, given the Scottish Government Reporter was able to make changes to the plan counter to the views of local people.
Cllr Paul Johnston suggested an amendment to seek a meeting with the DPEA to allow senior officials to engage with the DPEA on how they will facilitate the communities’ aspirations in their considerations.
An amendment from Cllr Allan Hendry to defer the decision was defeated 53 votes to 9, with 1 no vote. 
Planning Permission for Travellers Site at Aikey Depot, Old Deer
Councillors considered a planning application for a stopover site for travellers at Aikey Depot, Old Deer with provision for 10 pitches and associated vehicles.
The report was introduced by Planning Manager Mairi Stewart who explained the requirement of the council to identify suitable sites for travellers. She explained that in determining the application, the Planning Service considered key areas including the principle of the development on the site, including compliance with LDP policies and meeting criteria for gypsy/travellers, the visual impact on the area and any other material considerations.
Given the number of unauthorised encampments in Aberdeenshire, she said the proposal demonstrates a proven need and meets the requirement of the Local Development Plan. She said that material considerations included pressures on local facilities but these could be addressed and the Director of Education assured councillors that the area would be zoned within Maud and school places would be made available. It was highlighted that granting of the application would have a positive impact on the gypsy/traveller community.
Lynne Tammy, CEO of Article 12 in Scotland addressed the meeting, she explained how gypsy/traveller women experience significantly greater health inequality and the lack of facilities on roadside encampments can pose a major health risk. 
Linda Farquhar spoke in support of the application as a member of the council’s Planning for the Future Tenant Group. She explained that the site is not overlooked by anyone and that local facilities make the site attractive for short-term settlements. She also highlighted that it is well documented that travelling communities have used the site going back hundreds of years. She said that Aikey Brae would result in a reduction of illegal encampments in Aberdeenshire and welcomed the provision of education for children from the gypsy/traveller community.
Alexander Tong speaking against the application said that Aikey Brae not a sensible choice for children and young people, for health, education or from a social integration point of view. He said that the consideration of the needs and welfare of children were vital and that the site was adjacent to a busy, fast road without streetlights. School transport would have to be arranged as they could not walk to school safely. He said there were no services in Old Deer and the small village of Maud was 2.7 miles from the proposed site.
Councillors debated the application. Cllr Norman Smith said whilst recognising the pressures on the council to identify sites for gypsy/travellers, he didn’t feel this was the correct site as it was close to a busy road and the site experienced flooding. Cllr Jim Ingram described the site as ‘disappointing’, and said travellers need access to facilities and services which aren’t locally available.
Chair of the Gypsy/Traveller sub-committee, Cllr Allan Hendry said that consultation with travellers showed they would use the site at Aikey Brae as a stopover site and the distance to local facilities meets requirements. Although the site is within a designated conservation area, it does not preclude it as a site. Effective drainage will deal with any water issues and there is no flood risk. He urged councillors to approve the application. 
He was seconded by Cllr Martin Ford and addressed concerns that the site was not the complete answer to the challenges of addressing gypsy/traveller provision. Recognising it wasn’t he said it was a provision that the council needed to address. He explained that there are no immediate neighbours, it is an appropriate distance local services and facilities. He said: “This site meets requirements. We have to start somewhere and this is the place to start.”
Cllr Anne Robertson described the application as ‘a good start’. She said it was an opportunity to make a positive change and impact on both the settled community and the gypsy/traveller community with a properly constructed halting site that meets their needs.
Councillors voted 18 votes for the amendment (to reject the application) to 36 (to support) with no vote. 
Planning Permission in principle for a Business Park at Balmacassie, Ellon
Councillors considered a planning application in principle for the development of a commercial/industrial development on land to the north of Ellon, consisting of office space, industrial, storage and distribution and other uses. The allocation also requires land to be made available for a gypsy/traveller transit site, which would be subject to a separate planning application.
Chair of Formartine Area Committee Cllr Rob Merson said that the area committee had debated the application on several occasions and that at its meeting in January it was agreed by majority that the application be granted subject to conditions. Local members are aware that industrial land has become a premium in the town and the options of such sites were becoming more limited. He moved to support the application, which was seconded by Cllr Gillian Owen who said there was no question of the need for more development land in Ellon.
Cllr Martin Ford moved an amendment to defer the application – expressing concerns about the proposal to move the travellers site as the development grows, preferring a permanent halting site to be made available for travellers. It was supported by Cllr Jim Gifford.
Councillors voted 24 votes for the motion and 25 votes for the amendment – the application will be deferred.

Webcasting NOW LIVE

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Aberdeenshire Council is preparing to live-stream its first committee meeting.
 
Webcasting is getting underway this week, which will mean staff, members of the public and the press can watch the meeting of the full Aberdeenshire Council on Thursday.
 
Key points:
  • Full Council meeting on Thursday 9.3.2017, starts at 10:15am. 
  • Watch here: https://aberdeenshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/home 
  • Find papers here: http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/news
 
The objective is to really open up the process of democracy and make it more accessible and transparent. Often there are geographical barriers that prevent people engaging with the work of the council, or they don’t feel able to be part of the process. Webcasting helps to combat both of those issues.
 
Webcasting is in place in over 70 local authorities across the UK. In Scotland at least eight are actively promoting webcasting and it is already in place in the Scottish Government
 
You can watch the meeting this week from 10:15am through the webcasting portal. https://aberdeenshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/home You can also find the portal through the quick links on the Arcadia homepage.
 
After the meeting concludes, the video will be archived on the site, and will stay there for six months.
 
Provost of Aberdeenshire Council and chair of Full Council Hamish Vernal said: “Webcasting is a well-known way of opening up the democratic process and allowing the public to better engage with the work of the council. Each and every member of Aberdeenshire Council values the openness and transparency of local government and it is important that we uphold these values.”
 
The papers being discussed can be found by going to the news centre of the Aberdeenshire Council website and clicking on the ‘Committees and meetings’ link. http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/news ​

​​​​Borrow an electric bike for free!

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Maybe you like keeping up with the latest developments in technology? We might have something to interest you!

Would you like to borrow an electric bicycle – for free – for up to a month?

Come and find out more at Woodhill House reception on Friday 10 March, from 12noon to 2pm. The Transport Strategy Team will have a couple of electric bikes on display for you to have a closer look at and even take a test ride.

Electric bikes (e-bikes) work much the same as ordinary bicycles except they have an electric motor which is activated when you pedal to give a bit of a boost, making going uphill a lot easier!

You don’t need a special license to ride one (as long as you are over the age of 14) and the bikes can be used on cycle paths the same as ordinary bicycles.

We have four commuter-style e-bikes available for Aberdeenshire Council staff to use. You can borrow one for up to a month completely free of charge; for riding to work, for business trips or even for leisure trips.

Each bike is supplied with pannier bags, a lock and battery charger. When you sign up to the loan we will even give you a £30 voucher for Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative so you can buy a helmet!

The only condition is that you complete a travel diary for the loan period to let us know how you are using the bike.

You might also be interested in participating in the Sustrans Scottish Workplace Journey Challenge (https://scotland.getmeactive.org.uk/). Record your trips and you could be in with a chance of winning a prize! This runs for the entire month of March and is open to everyone, so those walking, car-sharing and using public transport are also welcome to take part![ 

If you are interested in borrowing a bike, please come to Woodhill House reception at lunchtime on 10March, or contact Anthony Robertson (Anthony.Robertson@aberdeenshire.gov.uk) for more details.

 

Council's Gaelic Language Plan is now in operation

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The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 was passed by the Scottish Parliament with a view to securing the status of the Gaelic language as an official language of Scotland, commanding equal status to the English language. Under the Act, Aberdeenshire Council is required to prepare and publish a Gaelic Language Plan

Aberdeenshire Council undertook extensive work to prepare the Gaelic Language Plan. It sets out how Gaelic will be used by the council within Aberdeenshire. Work is underway within services to deliver the actions within the plan. Progress reports will be reported through the Equalities & Human Rights Strategy Board. Annual progress reports will be considered by Bòrd na Gàidhlig during the lifetime of the plan.

 

 

 

It's National No Smoking Day!

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Smoking is a subject the majority of us have encountered in our life, whether you actively smoke, know someone who smokes or has had health issues in relation to smoking, or perhaps affected by the harms of second hand smoke.

With new laws coming into effect recently and with the implementation of Smoke Free Grounds into our ‘Smoking Policy’ it’s important to reinforce key messages and also promote support that is out there for anyone who wishes to give up smoking. Find out more in this month’s Wellbeing Newsletter and please share all of the information and resources included within your workplace and beyond.

 

Bulletin News

Researchers develop a new genetic test to assess women with breast cancer for chemotherapy.

Researchers study the effect of weight gain on risk of diabetes.

Figures show trends in uptake of bowel screening in Scotland.

 

Awareness Events in April

Bowel Cancer Month

World Autism Awareness Day

Parkinson’s Awareness Week

MS Awareness Week

World Haemophilia Day

International IBS Awareness Month

 

What’s on

Peterhead Women’s Rugby Club  are looking for new recruits to form a ladies team. All abilities welcome – Contact Ann on 07874004065

Aberdeen Hockey Club are also recruiting for new members of all abilities from someone who has never picked up a stick to current players, please visit – www.aberdeenhockeyclub.com

Community Food Initiatives (CFINE) – The Buchan Bridge Project will be starting their Enterprise Project selling fruit and vegetables each Monday in Buchan House from 10am – 1pm (started on Monday, 27th February).  Fresh fruit and vegetables will be available in both the Social Area and Meet and Greet Areas.

 

For any additional information on wellbeing news please contact steven.thompson@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or 01224 664136.

 

 

Scottish Prison Service now also accredited by Secure Email Blueprint

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​Aberdeenshire Council is now Secure Email Blueprint (SEB) accredited, meaning that you can send email directly to other SEB accredited organisations without having to use encryption e.g. all email sent from Aberdeenshire Council to the NHS is now secure-by-default as the NHS is also accredited.

The following frequently emailed organisations are SEB accredited and emails to them will be secure-by-default:

  • NHS (including NHS Grampian)
  • Police Scotland
  • Fife Council
  • North Ayrshire Council
  • Scottish Courts
  • Tribunals Service
  • Crown Office
  • Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Scottish Prison Service

You  MUST continue to use this encryption guidance to send email securely to organisations which are not on this list.  This currently includes:

  • SCRA
  • Department of Work and Pensions
  • Other non-SEB-accredited Local Authorities including Aberdeen City Council, Moray Council, Angus Council, Highland Council, etc.

Meet our Apprentice of the Year 2017

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Chloe was presented with the award by Chief Executive Jim Savege during a ceremony at Woodhill House this week. Chloe was commended for her hard work and commitment at Ythanvale Care Home, alongside runners up Dylan Tocher, an apprentice plasterer, and Jordan Craig who is an apprentice within ICT. 

Chloe told us: “Personally for me, it has been the best thing I have done career wise as it has got me onto a path which is suited to me and I have been given loads of support and guidance throughout.” 

Chloe’s line manager at Ythanvale, Jenna Adams added, “Chloe’s enthusiasm for learning is apparent and this allows opportunities to share experiences and best practice. I think if a post was to become available after the apprenticeship ends, then Chloe would give serious consideration to staying on.”

Speaking at the event, Chief Executive Jim Savege said: “We currently employ 50 apprentices across the organisation. I would like to see this figure grow substantially, and my challenge to all services is to take steps to significantly increase the number of apprentices. HR&OD will be on hand to support you with this, and I would encourage you to contact them for further information.”

Laura Simpson, Head of Service (HR&OD) also spoke at the event, commenting: ”Over the next 12 months, in partnership with all services, we will be looking to identify and create many more apprenticeship opportunities. This not only makes sense from an organisational perspective, but it is also vital that we lead the way in creating high quality training and job opportunities for the young people of Aberdeenshire.”

For further details of how you could benefit from having an apprentice in your team, please contact the Resourcing Team at recruitmentadvice@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

 

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Webcasting to go live

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Aberdeenshire Council is preparing to live-stream its first committee meeting.
Webcasting is getting underway this week, which will mean staff, members of the public and the press can watch the meeting of the full Aberdeenshire Council on Thursday.
Key points:
  • Full Council meeting on Thursday 9.3.2017, starts at 10:15am. 
  • Watch here: https://aberdeenshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/home 
  • Find papers here: http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/news
The objective is to really open up the process of democracy and make it more accessible and transparent. Often there are geographical barriers that prevent people engaging with the work of the council, or they don’t feel able to be part of the process. Webcasting helps to combat both of those issues.
Webcasting is in place in over 70 local authorities across the UK. In Scotland at least eight are actively promoting webcasting and it is already in place in the Scottish Government
You can watch the meeting this week from 10:15am through the webcasting portal. https://aberdeenshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/home You can also find the portal through the quick links on the Arcadia homepage.
After the meeting concludes, the video will be archived on the site, and will stay there for six months.
Provost of Aberdeenshire Council and chair of Full Council Hamish Vernal said: “Webcasting is a well-known way of opening up the democratic process and allowing the public to better engage with the work of the council. Each and every member of Aberdeenshire Council values the openness and transparency of local government and it is important that we uphold these values.”
The papers being discussed can be found by going to the news centre of the Aberdeenshire Council website and clicking on the ‘Committees and meetings’ link. http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/news ​

DLITE programme extended to Secondary Teacher Training

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​This is the first time that the part-time DLITE (Distance Learning Initial Teacher Education) programme will run for the training Secondary teachers after having been a huge success at primary level.

The event will allow aspiring teachers to find out more about the DLITE (Distance Learning Initial Teacher Education) PGDE Secondary programme.

The information evening will take place on Wednesday 8th March between 6 – 8pm in room 051 at the MacRobert Building, University of Aberdeen.  

The DLITE programme is run in partnership between Aberdeenshire Council and the University of Aberdeen and has been running at Primary level for the last four years.

Candidates must already have a degree from a recognised university and meet the entry requirements for the university (Higher English and Standard Grade Maths at credit level or equivalent).

They will also need experience working with children in a child care, school or voluntary setting and must either work at Aberdeenshire Council or live in Aberdeenshire.

Those who cannot attend the information evening are invited to contact Margaret Khan at Aberdeenshire Council for application forms by emailing margaret.khan@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

It's Scottish Apprenticeship Week

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We revisited last year’s winner, Rebecca Taylor, former apprentice mechanic, to hear about her achievements and where she is now.

Since completing her apprenticeship in August 2016, Rebecca has been successful in securing a permanent mechanic role at the Inverurie depot. She commented: “The difference with an apprenticeship and other training is the practical hands on experience you gain. Getting a degree at the same time as learning the trade helped me to get a permanent job as a mechanic as soon as I qualified.”

Craig Christie, Rebecca’s line manager explained: “During her apprenticeship Rebecca was always keen to learn and worked hard. It was a huge benefit to me and my team, especially when I had a vacancy for a mechanic. Rebecca was by then a fully qualified mechanic, experienced in our vehicles and it’s great she was able to take up the permanent role.”

For further details of how you could benefit from having an apprentice in your team, contact the Resourcing Team at recruitmentadvice@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Never ever 'date as per postmark'

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​Customer feedback has highlighted a plea for all letters sent from the council to be appropriately dated. Please avoid the use of phrases such as ‘date as per postmark’ as envelopes will not automatically be dated when they are sent out. This can lead to confusion for clients and those who may support them.

For more help and advice, a Business Writing Skills course can be found on our internal online training resource, ALDO. It includes information about planning your writing, guidelines on writing and tips on creating letters, memos and reports. 

Raising awareness of penalties drivers now face for using phones

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​The council’s Health and Safety Sub-Group is keen to ensure all employees are aware of revised penalties which mean drivers will now be fined £200 and given six penalty points if caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

Those who drive vehicles on the council’s behalf are reminded individuals rather than organisations receive any penalties and it is the responsibility of the vehicle driver to drive safely.

A number of online resources are available should you wish for more information:

http://think.direct.gov.uk/mobile-phones.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-39025787

http://www.scotland.police.uk/whats-happening/news/2017/february/penalty-and-fine-increase-for-mobile-use-while-driving

Inverurie to hold a Community Street Audit

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We are holding a Community Street Audit considering local streets and spaces on Thursday 9th March, and we’d love to hear what you have to say.

 

We want to understand what works and what doesn’t for people of all ages and abilities walking in Inverurie. How can local streets and spaces be made more accessible and appealing to everyone for walking, and what would you like to see happen to improve your neighbourhood?

 

If you’d like to participate, please get in touch with penny.morriss@livingstreets.org.uk for further information and to book a place. If you can’t make the day but would like to comment or feed back on something that affects you, we’d love to hear from you at the same email address. Please get in touch and share your experience!

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service now also accredited by Secure Email Blueprint

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​Aberdeenshire Council is now Secure Email Blueprint (SEB) accredited, meaning that you can send email directly to other SEB accredited organisations without having to use encryption e.g. all email sent from Aberdeenshire Council to the NHS is now secure-by-default as the NHS is also accredited.

The following frequently emailed organisations are SEB accredited and emails to them will be secure-by-default:

  • NHS (including NHS Grampian)
  • Police Scotland
  • Fife Council
  • North Ayrshire Council
  • Scottish Courts
  • Tribunals Service

You  MUST continue to use this encryption guidance to send email securely to organisations which are not on this list.  This currently includes:

  • SCRA
  • Scottish Prison Service
  • Department of Work and Pensions
  • Other non-SEB-accredited Local Authorities including Aberdeen City Council, Moray Council, Angus Council, Highland Council, etc.

Pre-election guidance

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​Hear from Head of Legal and Governance Karen Wiles explaining the dos and don’ts in the run up to the election in May and what “pre-election” means for you. 

Youtube URL: https://youtu.be/GcJE2n7w3T4

Business Services committee round up

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​This was the first meeting of the Business Services under the new Scheme of Governance.

Business Services financial monitoring

It was noted that this is a new report to the ones considered by the former Policy and Resources Committee, as this looks at the financial and capital monitoring for Business Services. 

The budget being monitored in this report is sitting at £34 million. Current overspend forecast 400,000, just over 1%. Breakeven is still a target for the service, despite being difficult to acheive this late in the financial year. Work being prioritised to deliver breakeven includes reducing all non-essential expenditure within repair and maintenance, among other things.

This is in the content of an overspend across the council of £3.5 million.

The Business Services revised Capital Budget is currently £14.3 million and the service is currently forecast to end this financial year at £12.4 million.

During the debate, questions were asked and answered which related to procurementas well as seeking assurances that health and safety critical repairs are still be prioritised.

Registrars fees

Aberdeenshire residents will be asked for their views on the charges applied by registrars for civil ceremonies.

Members approved a consultation to be held into a proposed rise in the fees for civil wedding ceremonies. Fees themselves have not changed since 2003 and the aim is to bring them in line with where they would be if inflationary increases had been applied regularly since then. Aberdeenshire’s present charges for civil ceremonies are amongst the lowest in Scotland, and are significantly lower than those advertised by other nonreligious celebrant groups. Proposed fees will remain less than most other Local Authorities and also less than all other non-religious celebrants.

The committee debate included the different rates being set based on days of the week and the timescales for consultation. There was also confirmation that there should be no staffing implications, as this will not affect working practices, simply the fees applied.

The committee agreed with the launch of an engagement programme, and further details on that will follow.

Data protection

A new data protection policy statement has been agreed following the meeting today.

Members were informed that the revision of the policy statement was prompted by an undertaking from the Information Commissioners Office by the Chief Executive.

The revised statement is below.  

DATA PROTECTION POLICY STATEMENT

1. Commitment to the Act

Aberdeenshire Council supports the objectives of the Data Protection Act 1998 and seeks to instruct all individuals who have access to the Council’s personal data to observe its Principles (see Code of Practice: Data Protection Act 1998). The Chief Executive has overall responsibility for the implementation of the Council’s policy for Data Protection and each Service Director will retain executive authority for the compliance of employees with the Policy and associated Code of Practice.

2. Scope

This Code of Practice applies to all employees, contractors and any other individuals working with or for the Council who have access to the Council’s personal data.

3. Notification

All purposes for which the Council holds personal data on computer must be notified to the Information Commissioner’s Office and kept up to date. It is a criminal offence to fail to notify within 28 days of commencing data processing. All computer systems containing personal data must be intimated by the system ‘owner’ to the Council’s Data Protection Officer for inclusion in the notification process. All purposes for which the Council holds personal data in structured manual records may also be notified to the Information Commissioner’s Office and kept up to date. Notification of structured manual records is optional.

4. Contents of computer files and structured manual records

The Council will comply fully with the eight Data Protection Principles in holding and processing personal data.

5. Confidentiality

All individuals who have access to the Council’s personal data are expected to protect the confidentiality of that data.

6. Subject Access

The Council will respond to any individual who makes a subject access request in the approved manner. A fixed fee of £5 for a request involving access to records held by a single Service and £10 for a request involving access to records held by two or more Services will normally be charged.

7. Disclosures

Disclosure of personal data will be made in accordance with the Council’s registration. In certain cases involving crime or taxation, for example, special exemptions to this rule may apply.

8. Security

All individuals who have access to the Council’s personal data must comply with the requirements of the Council’s Information Security Policy, Acceptable Use Policy and associated Code of Practice: Acceptable Use of ICT Facilities.

9. Private Use of Computers

Any private use of computers belonging to the Council by employees must comply with the requirements of the Council’s Information Security Policy, Acceptable Use Policy and associated Code of Practice: Acceptable Use of ICT Facilities.

10. Discipline

Any employee who deliberately breaches the Council’s Data Protection Policy will be subject to established disciplinary procedures as set out with the Council’s Disciplinary Policy.

11. Training

All employees who have access to the Council’s personal data must undertake mandatory Data Protection awareness training within three-months of commencing employment and undertake refresher training every three years thereafter. 

Scottish Apprenticeship Week is approaching

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Our apprentices bring new perspectives, an eagerness to learn, and it is important to recognise their achievements.

As one of the largest employers in the North-east, we have a responsibility to offer opportunities for young people to gain valuable work experience and training. Our current apprenticeship programme offers over 45 apprenticeships in 11 different career areas, enabling young people to achieve an SVQ while working. We are proud to say that vast majority of our apprentices (83%) choose to stay with us after completion of their training.

Our annual Apprentice of the Year awards ceremony, attended by Chief Executive Jim Savege, will be held during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, March 6 – 10, 2017.  Winners will be announced during this week along with details of new apprenticeship opportunities. 

Watch out for announcements on Arcadia and our Facebook (@AberdeenshireJobs), Twitter (@AbshireJobs) and Linkedin.

For further details of current apprenticeships or how you could benefit from having an apprentice in your team, contact the Resourcing Team at recruitmentadvice@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Skype telephony rollout continues

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The Skype telephony rollout continues, with many staff now enjoying the benefits of the new technology.  

Everyone with a corporate login will have their Skype number enabled by April 3. You will be able to use Skype telephony straight away but your old number will continue to work until the switch off date indicated in the rollout schedule below.

If you do not have a headset you can pick one up from Woodhill House (location to be confirmed) or from a library in: Banff, Ellon, Fraserburgh, Stonehaven, Peterhead, Banchory, Aboyne, Alford, Laurencekirk, Mintlaw, Turriff, Portlethen or Westhill.

You will be contacted with more details nearer the time but you can find out what your number is going to be now:

  • Go to http://directoryupdate
  • Scroll down to Phone numbers
  • Your personal Skype number is in the New Number field 

Please note that if you currently use a team or group number you must contact the Project Team to have a new number allocated.

Rollout schedule

Q1 2017

Oldmeldrum

Insch

Huntly

01651

01464

01466

Q2 2017

Aberdeen

Banchory

Aboyne

01224

01330

01339

Q3 2017

Alford

Banff

Ellon

01957

01261

01358

Q4 2017

Fraserburgh

Stonehaven

Laurencekirk

01346

01569

01561

Q1 2018

Peterhead

Maud

Turriff

01779

01771

01888

 

Swap your cigarettes for hockey sticks

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Smoking is a subject the majority of us have encountered in our life, whether you actively smoke, know someone that smokes or has had health issues in relation to smoking, or perhaps affected by the harms of second hand smoke.

With new laws coming into effect recently and with the implementation of Smoke Free Grounds into our ‘Smoking Policy’ it’s important to reinforce key messages and also promote support that is out there for anyone who wishes to give up smoking. Find out more in this month’s Wellbeing Newsletter and please share all of the information and resources included within your workplace and beyond.

 

Bulletin News

Researchers develop a new genetic test to assess women with breast cancer for chemotherapy.

Researchers study the effect of weight gain on risk of diabetes.

Figures show trends in uptake of bowel screening in Scotland.

 

Awareness Events in April

Bowel Cancer Month

World Autism Awareness Day

Parkinson’s Awareness Week

MS Awareness Week

World Haemophilia Day

International IBS Awareness Month

 

What’s on

Peterhead Women’s Rugby Club  are looking for new recruits to form a ladies team. All abilities welcome – Contact Ann on 07874004065

Aberdeen Hockey Club are also recruiting for new members of all abilities from someone who has never picked up a stick to current players, please visit – www.aberdeenhockeyclub.com

Community Food Initiatives (CFINE) – The Buchan Bridge Project will be starting their Enterprise Project selling fruit and vegetables each Monday in Buchan House from 10am – 1pm (started on Monday, 27th February).  Fresh fruit and vegetables will be available in both the Social Area and Meet and Greet Areas.

 

For any additional information on wellbeing news please contact steven.thompson@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or 01224 664136.

 

 

Police Scotland and NHS now also accredited by Secure Email Blueprint

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​Aberdeenshire Council is now Secure Email Blueprint (SEB) accredited, meaning that you can send email directly to other SEB accredited organisations without having to use encryption e.g. all email sent from Aberdeenshire Council to the NHS is now secure-by-default as the NHS is also accredited.

The following frequently emailed organisations are SEB accredited and emails to them will be secure-by-default:

  • NHS (including NHS Grampian)
  • Police Scotland
  • Fife Council
  • North Ayrshire Council

You  MUST continue to use this encryption guidance to send email securely to organisations which are not on this list.  This currently includes:

  • SCRA
  • Scottish Prison Service
  • Department of Work and Pensions
  • Other non-SEB-accredited Local Authorities including Aberdeen City Council, Moray Council, Angus Council, Highland Council, etc.

Fairtrade Fortnight continues

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Fairtrade Fortnight is a fun-filled time of the year, when campaigners, businesses, schools and places of worship show their support for the farmers and workers who grow our food in developing countries.

Aberdeenshire Council will join forces with many other communities and businesses throughout Aberdeenshire, Scotland and the UK by celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight.  For the next two weeks our canteens at Woodhill House and Gordon House will have offers featuring Fairtrade snacks, bananas, juice, tea and coffee as we show our support for the farmers who grow some of our break time staples. 

Look out for special deals, a competition draw and games during Fairtrade Fortnight.

Don’t forget that fairly traded and ethically sourced products are available year round in our canteens as part of Aberdeenshire Council’s commitment to being a Fairtrade Zone.

Here are some events happening in our Communities:

  • Alford – 11th March – Fairtrade Pop Up Shop – 10:00 -15:30
  • Inverurie – 4th March – Enjoy a Taste of India at the Acorn Centre – Talk from 11:00-12:00, tasters ALL day!
  • Stonehaven – 5th March – Fairtrade stall at Fetteresso Church
  • Pitmedden – 9th March – Formartine United Football Club – Presentation by Bala on Fairtrade Footballs 18:30-20:00 (for this event please contact Vicky Allan vickywhimster@googlemail.com)
  • Mid-Formartine Café Crawl March 4th – 18th – Pick up a FT Crawl Card and collect 10 stamps for a free FT chocolate bar.  Participating Coffee Shops include: The Coffee Apothecary – Udny, Haddo cafe in the park, The FPC Corner Café – Newburgh,  Pitmedden Kirk cafe(Wednesdays), The Community café – Methlick, Tarves kirk café (Tuesdays), Formartines,  Oldmeldrum Community Café, J.G. Ross – Oldmeldrum Square, Mrs. Smith’s – Haddo, Lochter, by Oldmeldrum and Potterton Pop-Up café.

 

Changes to the way email is filtered

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Around 45 million emails are sent to Aberdeenshire Council each year but less than 10 million of them are genuine so we need a security system that filters out spam or messages that contain some kind of threat.

Our previous filtering service contract has come to an end and we have recently secured significant savings by moving to a solution that offers us this protection as part of our current Microsoft Enterprise agreement. In the early stages, you may find that some unwanted emails are being delivered to your Inbox as the system “learns” what it should and should not block. If you do receive any, please delete or mark as Junk.

It is also possible for a legitimate email to be wrongly identified as spam, so you should regularly check your Junk folder.

You can block and unblock senders using the Filter Lists to ensure you receive only the mail you want to read.

Safe sender list

You can add names, email addresses and domains (addresses common to a particular organisation or group) to your Safe Senders List so they are never treated as junk.

You can add your contacts and other correspondents to this list, up to a maximum of 1024. All names and addresses in the council’s global address list (GAL) are automatically considered safe.

If an email has been wrongly directed to your Junk folder:

  • click a message from the sender
  • click Home
  • click Junk
  • click Never Block Sender (you can do this with emails in your Inbox to ensure that emails from a particular sender are never marked as Junk)

Blocked Senders list

You can block emails from a particular sender or domain, up to a maximum of 500:

  • click a message from the sender
  • click Home
  • click Junk
  • click Block Sender

Getting ready for Office 365

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​Microsoft Office 365 (O365) is coming soon and networked users will be able to access files, share documents and collaborate with team members, wherever they are and regardless of whether they are working on a PC, laptop or smartphone. O365 gives you additional functionality, rather than replacing the existing tools or services.

In preparation for the rollout it is essential that your directory information including job title, directorate, base location and office name, is up to date.  Please take a few minutes to review and update your details using Directory Update.

There will be further O365 updates on Arcadia over the coming weeks but in the meantime, please contact  O365useradoption@aberdeenshire.gov.uk with any questions.

Formartine & Buchan Way route user survey

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The Transportation team would love to hear your feedback on the route to help identify any existing needs/issues. 

An online survey is available until 3 March 2017.

Vodafone discounts available to council employees

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The council has partnered with Vodafone to offer discounts on Vodafone Pay Monthly bundles for council employees and up to five family members or friends. To take advantage, you must first order a Pay Monthly bundle, or upgrade, directly through Vodafone. Purchases through partners such as Carphone Warehouse don’t qualify. You’ll also need to pay a £10 membership fee, which lasts for the duration of your contract.

You can then apply for a discount:

  • In-store – simply take your work ID badge or a recent payslip to your nearest Vodafone store
  • Online –  if you have a council ‘aberdeenshire.gov.uk’ email address you can apply online

You will receive an email to let you know when the discount has been applied and you can use the offer on five additional contracts to share with friends and family. Each additional contract will have to pay a £10 membership fee.

Can I get a discount if I’m already a Vodafone customer?

To qualify for your discount, you must apply for it within 30 days of receiving a new connection or upgrade. If you’re an existing customer who’s been with Vodafone longer than 30 days, you’ll have to wait until you upgrade to take advantage.

You can access full details at vodafone.co.uk/advantage

Vodafone are currently running a limited special offer so make sure you visit the website soon!

Skype meetings: Are you prepared to engage?

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​Many of us are saving time, effort and money by hosting Skype-only meetings or including Skype as an option for meetings. The Skype meeting etiquette guide offers advice for participants and hosts.

View theSkype meeting etiquette.pdf now.

Aberdeenshire participates in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017

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From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, listed buildings to historic battlefields, cultural traditions to our myths, tales and legends, Aberdeenshire is an area full of history, from prehistoric stone circles to the recent heritage of the fishing industry. 

A cross service project group hopes to highlight the area’s fascinating past, some of our greatest figures, attractions and icons, as well as our hidden gems.

During the event at Haddo, representatives from local and national organisations showcased some of their contributions to the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Museum Service brought a range of historic and rare artefacts to display and schoolchildren from Tarves Primary were in costume taking part in doric storytelling activities alongside local doric author Debbie Leslie.

Selected historic artefacts from the Museum Service and Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives collections were there, including: an original claymore broadsword; an 1805 Marnoch Turnpike roads plan (over four metres long); King Robert II Charter to Banff (1372) – the original document; and a costumed Highland re-enactor with replicas of medieval chain mail and weaponry.

Provost of Aberdeenshire Hamish Vernal spoke at the launch, which was also attended by the National Trust for Scotland, Lord and Lady Aberdeen, City of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Archives and Visit Aberdeenshire.

We have a dedicated web page for #HHA2017 which includes a searchable events and activities section, as well as details of local famous faces and heritage trails to help you explore the area’s rich history: http://bit.ly/YoHHA2017

What's on in March with the Ranger Service

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Sunday 5th March            10.30am – 12.30pm

GO WILD IN THE WOODS – adults (over 16)

Join Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service and Haddo House & Country Park to learn essential woodland and camping skills, or to improve on your existing skills. Each session will have a range of activities (some weather dependent) but could include tarpaulin set-up/take down; knots and ropes; basic knife skills; saws and other hand tools and safe campfire lighting and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. 

If there is anything you particularly want to learn, please ask when booking and we will try to accommodate you. 

£5 per person, advance booking essential. 

CONTACT: haddo@visithaddo.com  or call 01651 851041

 

Saturday 25th March        7.30 – 9.30pm        

EARTH HOUR                 

Why spend Earth Hour huddled around a candle when you could be out in Delgaty Woods, under the stars, enjoying a hot drink by a roaring fire?  All electrical devices, including torches are banned – can you handle it?  Join the Aberdeenshire Rangers for an hour of down-to-earth, back-to-nature living.  Bring food and drink to share or just eat it all yourself! Free event but booking is essential.

MEET: at the southern entrance to Delgaty Woods, near the Mill of Delgaty; OS Landranger Map 29 grid ref. NJ 758 496.

Postcode: AB53 8HL –sat-nav users, head east from this point a couple of hundred yards to the entrance to Delgaty Woods. 

N.B. This is neither the main Castle car park nor the one further up the hill from the main Castle entrance.

CONTACT: the Formartine Ranger on 07786 021780, formartine.ranger@aberdeenshire.gov.uk  

 

CLIMATE WEEK CYCLE ROADSHOW!

An opportunity to take to pedal power as Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service celebrates North East Climate Week and the Year of the Bike with a series of cycling events.

Bikes should be in good working order, and a reasonable level of cycling proficiency is expected. Suitable clothing and cycle helmets are essential.

Saturday 18th March                  11.00am start
FRASERBURGH CYCLE                

Enjoy a pleasant 12 mile cycle along the Formartine & Buchan Way and back along quiet roads on the outskirts of Fraserburgh. This route is deemed moderate, so some cycling experience is necessary, and bikes must be suitable for uneven, sandy tracks. This ride is for adults only, you must be fit enough to cycle 12 miles, your bike must be in good working order and you must be able to, and have the means to repair a puncture.  Free event but booking is essential.

MEET: at Fraserburgh Esplanade – Nearest postcode: AB43 9TB

CONTACT: the Banff and Buchan Ranger on 07788 688855, banffandbuchan.ranger@aberdeenshire.gov.uk  

Sunday 19th March                     10.30am – 12.30pm   
UDNY – PITMEDDEN CYCLE   

The route starts at Udny Green and goes east to Pitmedden, along a very short stretch on the A920 and up to Dumbreck, back down to the Formartine & Buchan Way for three miles to Udny Station, another very short stretch along the B999 then onto country lanes back to Udny Green; an easy ride along mostly level ground.  This ride is for adults only, you must be fit enough to cycle 11 miles, your bike must be in good working order and you must be able to, and have the means to repair a puncture.  Free event but booking is essential.  Details of the route can be found here:

https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/2459/route2_002.pdf     

MEET: at Udny Green AB41 7RS

CONTACT: the Formartine Ranger on 07786 021780, formartine.ranger@aberdeenshire.gov.uk  

Saturday 25th March                  10.00am – 1.00pm
ADEN – AUCHNAGATT CYCLE    

Enjoy a circular cycle ride from Aden Country Park to Auchnagatt, returning via the Formartine & Buchan Way. 15 miles, moderate to easy with only a couple of short hills.

This ride is for adults only, you must be fit enough to cycle 15 miles, your bike must be in good working order and you must be able to, and have the means to repair a puncture.  Booking is essential.

Details of the route can be found here:

http://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/2469/route3_003.pdf

MEET: at the Car Park at Aden Country Park AB42 5FQ

CONTACT: the Buchan Ranger buchan.ranger@aberdeenshire.gov.uk  

Saturday 25th March                 10.00am – 1.00pm
BENNACHIE CYCLE              

An opportunity for families to get on their bikes and discover parts of Bennachie on this 6 kilometre (3.7 mile) route, which consists of a mixture of paths and forestry tracks incorporating gradual inclines and descents. All attendees must be competent to ride unaided, and all bikes must be suitable for uneven forestry tracks. We will be stopping along the way to do pond dipping and find out more about Bennachie’s cultural and natural history.

Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. Please wear appropriate clothing and also bring along a snack and a drink.

Participants must be able to, and have the means to repair a puncture. Booking is essential.

MEET: at the Bennachie Centre Visitor Car Park AB51 5HX

CONTACT: the garioch.ranger@aberdeenshire.gov.uk  or call 07786 021781

Image Reference: Find out about all the events and activities you and your family can go along to with the council rangers.

Image library upgrade

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Work has taken place to help improve the Aberdeenshire Council image library. 
It has been migrated onto a new server, which will strengthen it and stop it falling over. 
We have also taken the opportunity to upgrade the site itself, and that is ongoing. More to follow. 
In the meantime, you may need to update bookmarks. There is a new address for the image library and if you have it saved as a favourite you will need to make sure that is updated with this new address. ​http://imagelibrary.ad.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/asset-bank/action/viewHome 

Please take time to check it out, as it contains a wealth of images that show off Aberdeenshire in a great light. ​