Council cash injection pledge

A cash injection of up to £13 million has been approved for six key areas for development identified by the Aberdeenshire Alliance.

The funds have been allocated from Aberdeenshire Council’s £20 million one-off savings identified from 2011/12.

Early in June, the Aberdeenshire Alliance launched its vision for the next five years and set out six key areas for development which would receive a one-off cash investment to boost activity.

The Alliance gave a 100-day pledge for considering plans to deliver the six areas and committed to a particular focus on bringing forward proposals which are planned for later years.

Councillors approved the £13 million cash injection at a full meeting of the council on Thursday, June 28.

A call was made that officers be asked to provide more comprehensive details for each of the six proposals. Following discussion among councillors, the recommendations were approved as per the report.

The expenditure is broken down into the six areas for development:

Key Area 1: Invest in our towns and villages creating better places to live and work.

Up to £3 million will be allocated to this area, which focuses on town centre regeneration, environmental improvements, economic development initiatives and community building projects in towns and villages.

Area committees and local community planning groups will be asked for their views on the areas of greatest need. These will be reported to the Policy & Resources Committee on September 20.

Key Area 2: Provide assistance to small and medium-sized businesses - helping our economy to flourish.

This area will focus on support communications technology support for businesses, working towards improved broadband infrastructure. Up to £1.5 million will be set aside for key areas 2 and 3.

Key Area 3: Boost tourism and hospitality industries, attracting visitors and inward investment to the area.

The proposal focuses on the marketing and promotion of Aberdeenshire as a place to live, work and visit.

Key Area 4: Increase pre-school and nursery provision improving the life chances of all children.

Councillors agreed to allocate £4.25 million to introduce full-time pre-school education and childcare provision across Aberdeenshire to help give all children the best possible start in life.

Key Area 5: Increase care-at-home services for older people, more choices, better quality of support.

A sum of £1.5 million will be allocated to increase the range and quality of home care to support the increased demand, avoid hospital admissions and promote early discharge.

Key Area 6: Accelerate plans to improve roads, provide affordable housing and replace schools and care homes.

A cash injection of £2.35 million will be used for projects including the delivery of affordable housing schemes and the replacement of schools and care homes. The development area also includes road surfacing schemes on the A947 and the A97 roads, at a cost of £520,000.

Councillors agreed that Key Areas 4, 5 and 6 will proceed with immediate effect. Detailed proposals will be drawn up for Key Areas 1, 2 and 3, to be reported to the Policy & Resources Committee on September 20, for discussion and agreement on which should be progressed.

The Scrutiny & Audit Committee will monitor the expenditure on all projects aimed at delivering the six key areas.