Green Councillor Martin Ford On Aberdeenshire Council Changes

Democratic Independent and Green councillors Paul Johnston and Martin Ford have reached an agreement with Labour, Progressive Independent and SNP councillors on policies to be pursued by a new Aberdeenshire administration.

The agreed policies – on improved governance, support for communities and protecting the environment – will see the DIGG councillors remain a separate group on Aberdeenshire Council, but one that will support a new administration in key votes, giving the authority stability.

The agreement paves the way for an orderly transition to a new administration in Aberdeenshire, probably within a few weeks.

It follows a series of resignations from the present Conservative-led governing group on the Council that have left it without majority support.

The extent of co-operation between the DIGG and a new administration, if elected, is set out in a letter sent following negotiations (see below). The letter makes clear that the DIGG are not for joining the new administration, but are acting to prevent a potential stalemate on the Council.

Green councillor Martin Ford said:

"Our agreement commits a new administration to working with us on agreed policy priorities. For example, improvements to public engagement including proper consultation on the Council's budget. Support for active travel – cycling and walking – and other measures to help reduce carbon emissions. Protection of the Council's investment in community learning and development. Changing Council procurement rules to take account of wider benefits that might be secured through purchasing decisions.

"We believe these changes will deliver real benefits for Aberdeenshire residents."

Letter from Martin Ford and Paul Johnston
The specific policy priorities Martin Ford and Paul Johnston agreed would be put into effect by the new administration include:


1. Ensuring that spending on community learning and development is maintained, ie. no cuts to the community, learning and development budget line in the agreed provisional revenue budgets for 2016/17 (£4.762 million), 2017/18 (£4.822 million), 2018/19 (£4.883 million) and 2019/20 (£4.945 million).
2. Encouraging suppliers of goods and services to the Council to pay at least the living wage to their employees.
3. Investing at least £100,000 p.a. into preventative local health and social care services, specifically to fund third-sector organisations in Aberdeenshire to support vulnerable residents achieve or maintain independent living, funded through efficiencies from within adult social care services.
4. Adopting a third-sector charter to improve third-sector engagement, with the inclusion of a calculation or assessment of the social value of third-sector projects that can be considered as value in procurement processes the authority undertakes.


1. Support the inclusion of re-opening the Dyce to Ellon railway line in the Aberdeen City Region Deal, subject to investigation establishing a projected favourable cost:benefit ratio.
2. Include transition to a low carbon economy as a specific priority for economic development.
3. Move at least £250,000 p.a. from roads maintenance to supporting active travel (cycling and walking).
4. Make a commitment to producing zero waste by moving towards a circular economy, as a first step demonstrating how Council offices can remove recyclable materials, unnecessary plastics and compostable waste from the waste stream.

1. Remove barriers to the submission and debate of motions from individual councillors at Area Committees and full council. Any motions ruled inadmissible by the chair must appear on the agenda with the reasons for the chair's decision. A facility for an oral supplementary question to written questions at full council will be reinstated.
2. Alter its standing orders so the terms of a councillor's unseconded motion shall be recorded in the minutes of full council and committee meetings if requested by the mover to improve the public transparency of council decision making.
3. Change the process for setting the Council's budget in accordance with the principles and process set out in the DIGG letter to group leaders of 10 March 2015, to allow for public consultation on budget proposals.
4. Review the Council’s community engagement strategy and ensure full compliance by services in meeting the national standards of community engagement. Measure effectiveness of all community engagement activity to support improvements on a continuous basis.