Letter from Council Leader Cllr Jim Gifford

Jim Gifford, Leader Aberdeenshire Council.
6 April 2020

I wanted to write a letter to everyone in Aberdeenshire, as we start another week of lockdown. I hope that you and yours are keeping safe and following the guidance which has been put in place to help us save lives and stop the spread of coronavirus.
Every day I remain amazed by the way that Aberdeenshire as a whole has reacted to this coronavirus pandemic. The community spirit; unparalleled. The work; unstoppable. The dedication; unrivalled.

To the residents and businesses of the area, please know that we, as a Council, are here for you. The way we deliver services might have changed in some places, but we are continuing to deliver services. It is encouraging to see services doing things in new ways, always recognising our important role in your lives. If in doubt, ask. Whether online, through our Contact Centre or via our social media channels, we will put you in touch with the right person to help you get the service you need.

To our staff, I take my hat off. You are out every day in incredibly challenging and often unknown situations, protecting people and providing a front-line service. This pandemic has shown the true heroes of our communities to be the often-unsung ones, such as the Council teams out every day collecting waste, the housing teams making sure emergency repairs can carry on, home carers, social workers, your roles continue daily and I could not be more grateful for that.

We also owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to our wider staff group for adapting so ably, those who have taken on different responsibilities to ensure critical services continue to operate.

The daily business goes on, and many committee meetings have taken place on Skype. My fellow councillors and I continue to be involved with the important decisions we need to take and are doing that right across the area. We are fortunate that the Council had invested the time and effort to develop a flexible working policy previously which has allowed us to maintain business continuity and resilience while many of our employees work from home where they can. Even they are using the technology to their advantage and being innovative.  

It is also heartening to receive such overwhelming support from the public - both in person and via social media - praising frontline staff for their dedication and hard work during this outbreak.

I would ask that everyone goes onto the Grampian Assistance Hub website or phoneline which was launched last week, providing people all across Grampian (Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray) with information on how to access social, practical and emotional support on Coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as a place to reach out and directly ask for help.
We recognise that these are unprecedented and difficult times. I encourage everyone to follow the lockdown measures, to stay home and keep safe. If you are struggling, there is advice and support out there, so please reach out.

My very best wishes to you all,

Cllr Jim Gifford