Can you help shape our plan for the future?

The people of Aberdeenshire are being asked for their views on a plan which could re-map the future of the area.
The election in May marked the start of a new council term, and with that came an opportunity to develop a new set of council priorities. 
New priorities mean direction. Once the priorities are agreed, they form the Council Plan, a document which gives Members, council staff, residents, businesses and partners a clear understanding of what the key issues for Aberdeenshire are and will be. This document will be the focus of long term action.
Officers have undertaken data collection and analysis, resulting in the creation of a "Strategic Assessment’, a document which identifies the issues that are affecting, or could affect, Aberdeenshire over the coming years. We took that data and fact-based research, along with political direction from the manifesto of the Administration of Aberdeenshire Council, to develop these draft priorities. 
Subject to approval, the priorities will form the basis of the Council Plan which will run from 2017 up to 2022. Aberdeenshire Council will use this as a way of setting direction, working out what is important and will budget accordingly. 
As a result of the work so far, four themes have been identified, each with priorities attached to them. 
Successful and Sustainable Communities-Support a strong and successful economy
-Connected communities – transport and digital
-Promote sustainable development within planning policy
-Protect and enhance our natural landscape and public open space, protect and enhance our built and historic environment
Aspirational People-Raising levels of attainment, ensuring equity and excellence
-Deliver increased hours of pre-school childcare and education in a range of flexible settings
-Work with parents and carers to support children through every stage of their educational journey
-Build a sustainable workforce through an innovative teacher recruitment strategy
-Achieve positive destinations for all our young people
-Address child and young people health issues, based principally on obesity and mental health
-Promote lifelong learning
-Celebrate the work of volunteers
-Encourage active lifestyles
Caring for Communities
-Continued support for health and social care strategic plan
-Enabling the provision of appropriate housing
-Partnership working to tackle the causal factors of deprivation
-Support delivery of the Local Outcome Improvement Plans
Public Service Excellence
-Long term, responsible financial planning
-Innovation in delivering council services
-Good governance and local scrutiny
-Enabled and participating communities
-Manage assets that maximise benefits for communities
-The right people in the right places doing the right things
-Minimising Aberdeenshire’s carbon footprint
A six-week engagement exercise is now open. People are being asked to go online to www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/councilpriorities - there they can read all about what each of the priorities means and take part in a short survey for each theme.
Council Leader Jim Gifford said: “There has been a lot of work to get to this point. The detailed data analysis means that the priorities are built on a foundation of solid research. We know from this research what the likely future trends will be, and as such are confident that our plans are future-proofed as much as they can be. The priorities also reflect commitments made in our Administration’s joint manifesto. 
Deputy Leader Peter Argyle encouraged people to get involved. He said: “This draft is comprehensive, however it really comes to life with the input from people who live and work in Aberdeenshire, as well as staff and council partners. We are keen to find out how these translate locally, which aims or priorities will make the biggest difference in our towns and villages, or even in your street or your neighbourhood.”
Chief Executive Jim Savege said: “Make no mistake, we will continue to do everything required of us, in terms of our duties and responsibilities.  Focussing on dealing with the above issues will not stop us from delivering essential front-line services. However, this could support a change in how we provide those services in new and better ways. The priorities give us direction to make clear exactly what sort of council we want to be, and you need us to be.”  
People have until 15th September to give their views.