Committee round-up: Communities Committee 5.7.18

A special meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee was held to discuss the delivery of strategies for culture, and sport & physical activity, and the development of the council’s new Culture and Sport Business Unit.

The meeting, at the council’s Woodhill House office in Aberdeen, took place on Thursday, July 5.

Introducing a report on the two new strategies, Head of Lifelong Learning & Leisure John Harding said services had moved ‘at great pace’ to prepare for their delivery and the associated work with committees.

The ten-year strategies were agreed by the full council in April, along with a pilot for delivery of services within a new business unit. In May, Communities Committee agreed that a sub-committee be established to support development of the unit.

The report before councillors explained how the new approach would support a range of themes: Building the Best Library Service; Active Everywhere; the Aberdeenshire Pitches Strategy; Arts & Heritage; and Community & Town Halls and Venues. 

The report also outlined how the council’s sport and physical activity services are keen to reach out to people who would benefit from being more active, including older people, teenagers and people living in deprived areas.

Councillors asked that references also be added to recognise those from minority groups, and those with disabilities or mental health challenges. It was agreed to amend the report to confirm the list was not exhaustive.

The committee also agreed that regular reports should be submitted by the new sub-committee to Education and Children’s Services Committee, and the Communities Committee, regarding buildings with shared catering services.

Councillors also asked questions about investment in town halls, and the maintenance of facilities gifted to the community, and it was stressed that communication and engagement with communities would be very important.

The meeting then moved on to a report about developing the Culture & Sport Business Unit, whose work the committee will oversee.

The unit was described as ‘a bold and ambitious pilot’ for new ways of working that aim to maximise positive outcomes for communities. The unit is due to begin operation from December 1 this year and members were told of progress to date.

The sub-committee might establish sub-groups to focus on specific areas of work, and an induction and training programme for sub-committee members has been developed.

Committee members were invited to provide comments or suggestions regarding the content of the induction package for consideration. 

The committee also discussed a timescale of activity for the sub-committee over the next few months, and as part of that it was agreed that a draft pitch strategy would be considered in November.

Other topics discussed in the report included service level agreements, development of an Aberdeenshire Culture & Sport charter and a business plan, and fund-raising.

Commenting on the work done to date, Communities Committee chair Cllr Anne Stirling praised the efforts of all involved, including the management team. 

“I’d like to say thanks to staff,” she said. “Not just senior management but to staff on the ground who deliver the service on a daily basis. I would just like to put on record the committee’s acknowledgement and thanks.”

The committee went on to consider appointments to the Aberdeenshire Culture and Sport Sub-Committee in private session.

The meeting was not webcast but the full public reports that were considered can be found via: http://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/