Infrastructure Services Committee round-up 30.11.17

The latest meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) began with the determination of planning applications which had been referred to it by Local Area Committees.

After representations from the planning service and an agent on behalf of the applicant, the committee voted 7-6 on a motion by ISC vice chair John Cox (Banff and District) to approve Planning Permission in Principle for 15 houses and associated infrastructure at Ladysbridge Village Site, Boyndie, Banff. Planners had recommended the application be refused; the Local Area Committee favoured approval.

The committee also agreed full planning permission for two buildings to incorporate a Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP) for power generation and drying agricultural produce (Part Retrospective) at Land at Cairnandrew, Longmanhill, Banff. Again, planners had recommended the application be refused; the Local Area Committee favoured approval.

An application for full planning permission relating to the development of a steading and surrounds to create eight houses at Kingseat Farm, Kingseat, Newmachar was also approved. Planners had recommended approval in this instance, as had the Local Area Committee.
You can see all the reports the committee considered at its meeting on our website.

Aberdeenshire Council Responses to National Consultations

Councillors approved responses to consultations on Local Bus Services in Scotland; Free Bus Travel for Older and Disabled People; and on the Future of Smart Ticketing in Scotland. You can see the details of the consultations and the council's responses to each in the reports to committee.

Plans to get communities behind prevention of litter and fly-tipping across Aberdeenshire

The committee agreed a strategy to pit the whole Aberdeenshire community against the problem of litter and fly-tipping.

Councillors agreed the production of an overarching Community Litter Prevention Action Plan for all of Aberdeenshire.

The intention is the council’s recycling and waste service would work with local organisations and community groups to help them produce their own plans to keep local areas clean.

These would then feed into the overarching strategy for the area, as would the council’s own Litter Prevention Action Plan, which councillors also approved.

National guidelines support prevention as a key strategy in tackling litter and fly tipping. The Scottish Government’s national litter strategy also encourages personal responsibility and behaviour change.

It promotes a new approach to litter, focusing on prevention instead of clean up, and encourages action based on specific types of interventions and collaborative efforts to drive change.

The strategy also identifies the benefit of Litter Prevention Action Plans in enabling organisations and communities to take collective action to tackle the problem.

Work by the council is already underway to identify and contact all relevant local organisations, including the public sector, voluntary and community groups, educational establishments and businesses of all sizes.

ISC chair, Peter Argyle, said: “It’s ludicrous we have to spend so much money picking up after people who simply can’t be bothered – it’s incomprehensible to me.”

You can see more detail in the committee report.

Regional Economic Partnerships Update

The committee received an update on the progress of Regional Economic Partnerships, including an update on the activities of Opportunity North East (ONE).

You can see the report on our website.

Regional Skills Strategy

The committee endorsed a new Regional Skills Strategy, which aims to ensure all relevant partners and agencies are working together to deliver on the skills agenda to ensure businesses have the people they need, and people have the skills to gain employment opportunities in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire areas.

Councillors heard the strategy is the culmination of work undertaken by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) in partnership with a wide range of regional and national organisations.

It aims to reflect the skills challenges and future opportunities in the region. It is a shared approach to skills investment, ensuring that there is a structured, coordinated, consistent and strategic approach to the design, development and implementation of the investment required to address skills needs and priorities.

The strategy forms a part of the delivery of the Regional Economic Strategy (2015) and the Aberdeen City Region Deal (2016). It seeks to address the skills implications of the significant changes to the North East economy taking place as a result of the downturn in the oil and gas industry, which has been the major contributor to the economic success of the region over the last 40 years.

The Regional Skills Strategy identifies the roles, responsibilities and commitment of the partners to deliver the approach set out in this document.

You can see the strategy in the report to committee on our website.

The report will also to be presented to the council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee for its endorsement.

Regional Inward Investment

The committee approved the Council’s involvement in the Aberdeen City Region Inward Investment Hub.

It heard about the development of the hub, Aberdeenshire Council’s involvement and the inclusion of the 25-year Energetica development corridor project, which has now been running for 10 years, in the overall approach.

The committee heard work has been undertaken over the last 18 months to scope out a new inward investment approach to cover Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

The approach has been informed via a commission by Aberdeen City Council with consultants Breeze Inward Investment. They found that at present the City region is the largest location in the UK without an inward investment team, but is the most dependent on inward investment in the UK outside London.

In 2014 and 2015, Aberdeen City region’s share of Scotland’s inward investment projects, as measured by EY’s European Investment Monitor, had halved from 15% to 7.5%, while Edinburgh’s share doubled and Glasgow also doubled its number of projects.

The committee heard this is the reason for the formation of an inward investment hub for the area, whose work will be delivered by an Aberdeen City Region Inward Investment Team, consisting of dedicated officers working for both Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils.

They will work closely with colleagues in Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International and the Department of International Trade along with key partners across the North East.

The approach includes Energetica as a core product, and builds on wider regional strengths and key industries. It reflects the investment of the City Region Deal into the industries of energy, life sciences, food and agri-technology, and tourism.

The success of the project will be monitored and reported on annually to the committee.

Trading Standards Service – Annual Review 2016-17

The committee reviewed a report outlining the performance of the Council’s Trading Standards Service over the last year.

Councillors heard the key aim of the service is to protect consumers and promote safe and fair trading.

This is achieved through inspections of trade premises to ensure they are trading in compliance with statutory requirements and by the investigation of complaints.

This protects not only the consumer but also the legitimate local business by providing a level playing field, the committee heard.

Inspection work aims to identify problems at an early stage and is an opportunity for businesses to obtain on the spot advice on often complex legislation.

The committee agreed to the continued preparation and reporting of an Annual Review of Trading Standards.

You can see the annual review and the report to the committee on our website.

The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010 - Enforcement Action Programme

ISC agreed the Trading Standards Service should undertake a programme of enforcement by way of advice and information to tobacco and nicotine vaping retailers over the next year.

This will include the maintenance of the register of tobacco and nicotine vaping products and the prevention of sales to those under 18 years of age.

Councillors also agreed a programme of inspection and surveillance, when necessary, of premises from which tobacco and nicotine vaping products are sold (including through social media sites) and a thorough investigation of complaints received.

Test-purchasing exercises using 16-year-old volunteers were also approved.

The committee also gave its support to a programme raising awareness of the law around tobacco sales and to educate the public about the problem of proxy purchases on behalf of those under 18, to take place in suitable locations at and around schools.

Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service Strategy Review 2013-16 and Ranger Service Strategy 2017-20

The council’s Ranger Service presented a summary of its work to raise awareness of the natural and cultural heritage of the region and to protect and enhance its biodiversity between 2013-16.

A proposed strategy for future work by the service was also presented for councillors’ approval.

The service promotes the enjoyment, understanding and care of Aberdeenshire’s natural and cultural heritage and contributes to the management, enhancement and monitoring of its environmental assets. This is in alignment with other Ranger Services and follows National Ranger Service Aims identified by Scottish Natural Heritage.

It delivers first hand provision of information, advice, activities and interpretation on Aberdeenshire’s natural and cultural environment for people of all ages and social groups.

The Service contributes to the management, enhancement and monitoring of environmental assets to promote and encourage engagement with Aberdeenshire’s outdoors in a responsible and sustainable way.

It also contributes to a range of Council, partner and community initiatives which support wider corporate and Scottish Government objectives.

The committee noted the report and agreed the aims and key priorities of the Ranger Service moving forward.

It also agreed the service should continue its role in the promotion and protection of the area’s natural and cultural heritage as shown in the draft Ranger Service Strategy 2017-20 and associated Team Action Plan.

The Ranger Service Strategy Review and the new strategy can be seen as part of the report to the committee.