Culture and Sport Business Unit and strategies approved

Plans for the creation of a culture and sport business unit have been given the go-ahead by councillors. Elected members also agreed culture and sport and physical activity strategies at a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council on Thursday, April 26.

The business unit aims to deliver the best possible service to local communities and assist with the council achieving its eleven priorities. The unit’s primary focus is delivering the council’s priorities on health and wellbeing through increasing participation in sport and cultural activities. Its secondary aim will be to maximise income for reinvestment in sport and culture services.

A sub-committee for culture and sport is to be created and will include a mixture of elected members and non-elected members. The business unit will be responsible for cultural services; sport and physical activity; community halls; sports pitches and certain catering services.

Cllr Anne Stirling, Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee chair, proposed the business unit whilst the council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair, Cllr Gillian Owen, seconded it. 

During the discussion, Cllr Martin Ford said that the catering services should not be incorporated into the business unit, and as a result the catering in schools will not be part of the business unit but catering in facilities such as leisure centres or cultural centres will be.

Cllr Stirling proposed the sport and physical activity strategy whilst Cllr Iris Walker seconded it, whilst the cultural strategy was proposed by Cllr Owen and seconded by Cllr Mark Findlater. Both were approved. 

Maria Walker, Director of Education and Children’s Services, said: “This council has given a significant amount of time to considering how sport and culture may be delivered, and as part of this process has had to navigate major national changes to rates relief to ensure the appropriate options can be properly brought to this council.” 

The cultural strategy aims over the next 10 years to make Aberdeenshire a place known for its distinctive culture; create ways for everyone to experience culture and encourage more people to visit museums, libraries and theatres; to provide opportunities for investment in towns and villages and entice tourists to visit Aberdeenshire.

The sport and physical activity strategy – also over the next 10 years - seeks to reduce obesity and improve mental health and wellbeing; focus on promoting diversity and inequalities by persuading everyone to use leisure centres, ski centres and sports facilities in Aberdeenshire; use sport and physical activity as a way of encouraging investment and economic regeneration in towns and villages and help young people learn new skills through volunteering, apprenticeships and learning.  

Cllr Stirling said: “We have many challenges ahead but we also have opportunities. By continuing to work with a variety of partners we can strengthen relationships, maximise resources and enhance the provision of services. It is important to listen to our local residents and build stronger, sustainable communities by focusing on meeting their needs. We must support people to reach their potential and look for ways to reduce inequalities across Aberdeenshire.”  

Cllr Owen, said: “This is a bold and ambitious ten year strategy, designed to make a difference. It makes clear how culture can have a positive impact across our council agenda, through supporting achievement and learning, developing local economies, combatting social isolation and promoting mental health and wellbeing.

“Importantly, in terms of financial constraint, it gives us a framework to decide and plan for how best to deliver services. Culture is part of who we are and makes us Aberdeenshire – our people, our places, our landscape. This strategy helps ensure we make the most of this great asset.”   

The full reports considered by councillors can be found via

An archive of the debate can be watched here: