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Councillor expresses concerns over Covid-19 impact on council priorities

By David Porter

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As Aberdeenshire Council prepares to hold the first of several meetings as it looks to revise its prioritiesin the wake of the coronavirus, members of the Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) on the council have expressed their concerns over the impact to council services.

Councillor Martin Ford
Councillor Martin Ford

DIGG councillor Martin Ford said: “The current natural disaster, the Covid-19 virus, has changed Aberdeenshire and the world.

"It does make sense now to revisit the Council’s priorities, to make appropriate adjustments because of changed circumstances.

"All sorts of things, from strengthened legislation on climate change to heightened concern about racism — not just Covid-19 — have changed since 2017.

"A proper, evidence-based, consideration of what is different and thus what needs to be amended would be entirely appropriate.

"However, that considered analysis certainly hasn’t been done.

“In any case, the Council’s existing 11 overall priorities were agreed unanimously by councillors following extensive public consultation.

"They cover the main Council services and many relate to statutory duties.

"So work on them isn’t going to stop and all remain important.

"Progress against these priorities provides a clear basis for accountability: this is what the Council said it would do during the five years 2017 to 2022, and officers are reporting on activity and results based on these priorities.

"So for reasons of transparency and accountability, as well as their crucial importance, these priorities must continue to shape what the Council does.

He continued: “Extremely serious though the current epidemic is, most things have not changed.

"Existing priorities such as providing the best life chances for all children, encouraging active lifestyles, reducing poverty and inequality and tackling climate change must continue to be priorities. "These things are at least as important now as they ever were.

"I hope the administration do not propose dropping or downgrading these priorities, and I would strongly oppose any move to do so.

“Wholesale abandonment of the Council’s current priorities is certainly not appropriate.

"Updating and modifying them to take account of changed circumstances is entirely sensible provided the changes are evidence based and properly considered.”

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