Aberdeenshire Council’s Policy & Resources Committee met last Thursday, February 23, to discuss a range of issues.
Councillors agreed that the Council should participate in a Grampian-wide pathfinder in relation to scrutiny and engagement arrangements for Police and Fire Services. The pathfinder is expected to consider and shape the local approach for police and fire services, following the establishment of a national service after April 2013. Councillors agreed it was important to retain a close interest in how new local arrangements would operate.
Statutory and local performance indicatorsCouncillors welcomed the proposals for a new ‘Aberdeenshire Performs’ system which will deliver improved performance reporting across the council. Councillors were supportive of the proposals to move to exception reporting for committee, recognising that they would receive access to live performance data to enable them to monitor service performance and would be able to raise any concerns with officers directly.
The Head of Finance introduced the report which indicated an £11 million underspend. He explained that the underspend represents around 2% of the council’s revenue budget and that it was a managed position and reflective of the financial strategy adopted by the council. He added that the report recognises the future challenges and stressed that the council was not complacent about its financial position.
Councillors agreed changes to financial regulations and welcomed the introduction of a financial regulations ‘lite’ document, designed to raise awareness of the regulations amongst staff.
The committee considered a report on the council’s policy for affordable housing in the context of planning gain contributions. The Director of Corporate Services reported that the policy of the council was to secure 25% for affordable housing through planning gain from developers. However, concerns had been raised by the Formartine Area Committee where proposals were coming forward with contributions of less than the agreed 25%. The Director of Corporate Services explained that each case needed to be considered on its individual merits and that economic pressures had an impact. The council had also received a letter from the Scottish Government’s Director and Chief Planner asking that council’s be more flexible in their approach to deliver affordable housing, particularly given the current economic climate.