Councillors met for the last time before the 2012 local elections at the full Aberdeenshire Council on Thursday, April 26.
On the agenda was the Local Development Plan, a range of reports from the scrutiny and audit committee and proposed changes to the council’s standing orders.
The Provost opened the meeting by acknowledging the achievements of the council at the recent Cosla Excellence Awards. The council had achieved five awards, the highest of any Scottish local authority.
Bronze awards were presented for Service Improvement and Innovation, Improving School Transport Safety, Bus Stop!; Tackling Inequalities and Improving Health, School Travel Planning in Aberdeenshire; Securing a Workforce for the Future, Kaizen for Daily Improvement; One to Watch, workSPACE.
The council achieved a silver award in the category Strong and Sustainable Communities, Community Asset Transfer in Aberdeenshire.
Councillor Bryan Stewart put forward a motion that arrangements for opening tenders by councillors remain unchanged, rather than a proposed alteration put forward at Policy and Resources Committee that officers undertake the opening of tenders. The leader put forward an amendment to support officer recommendations, given the difficulties experiences with councillors not attending the tender openings. The motion was defeated.
Director of infrastructure services, Stephen Archer introduced the Local Development Plan advising councillors that it was a plan founded on detailed and open consultation, and that it set out the future direction for planning in Aberdeenshire in an innovative way.
Head of planning, Robert Gray, explained that the report asked councillors to resolve to adopt the local plan and to consider and agree to modifications recommended by the Scottish Government’s Reporter.
Head of legal and governance, Karen Wiles, added that the plan was the result of a long and considered process, and it was her professional advice to accept the plan as there were no reasonable grounds for rejection and that a challenge to the Reporter’s recommendations could have serious implications and result in extended delays.
Planning policy team leader Piers Blaxter addressed issues raised at area committee for Newburgh, Newmachar and Udny Green. He advised that while area committees did not agree with the Reporter’s decisions affecting these settlements, there were no grounds for the council to reject the Plan.
He was confident that the council could still satisfy the needs of local communities in future years through the supplementary guidance and through local control by the area committees.
He added that this was a pragmatic solution that resolves the concerns of local communities, whilst allowing the Plan to move forwards.
Councillors supported the adoption of the Plan - 54 votes to six with one no vote.