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Plans for potential changes to community councils assessed

By Kyle Ritchie

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Councillors in Aberdeenshire have scrutinised proposals for potential boundary changes for community councils in the region.

A special meeting of the full council held online assessed the local authority's review of the scheme for the establishment of community councils.

It is a legal process and the results of the first period of consultation were presented to councillors.

The specific topic of this was the operation, composition and boundaries of community councils and the groups were asked to provide feedback to the council.

Acting Garioch area manager Ann Overton told the meeting: "There are specified requirements in terms of the legislation around consultation and the review.

"The first period of consultation focused on boundaries and composition.

"The responses were not unexpected and the area officers and teams were aware of the majority of the responses, so area managers and their teams will deal with these.

"Where appropriate they will progress the facilitation of the required consultation and discussion with the relevant community councils and residents.

"The delegation to approve a change of boundaries sits with area committees, so any changes will be reported to the area committees in due course.

"The piece of work around boundaries will run in parallel to the scheme review."

The biggest change comes from Inverurie Community Council which wants to revisit the boundary structure between Inverurie and Kintore and District Community Council which Inverurie considers has "lost relevance as the communities have developed over the past decade".

Development at Crichie, Thainstone, and the former paper mill specifically are the focus although there are other areas where the impact of decisions of one council for the other settlement can have far reaching results.

Despite positive discussions, due to a range of factors at present they have been unable to agree an acceptable position for either party.

A spokesman for Inverurie Community Council said: "We thus believe that current scheme of establishment is not suitable in that it fails to clarify specific items.

"Due to the continued development and expansion of the Inverurie settlement (and others), we believe it is necessary to reassess/ revaluate/ redraw the boundaries so that Inverurie Community Council can fully represent the constituents who regard their residence as Inverurie though at the moment live in another community council area."

Mintlaw and District Community Council requested that its boundary be extended to take in the site for the proposed business park on the Balring Road.

Currently this lies in Deer Community Council's catchment area, but as this development will affect Mintlaw directly it is thought pertinent that the boundary is changed.

Echt and Skene Community Council believes its boundaries should be adjusted so that the area to the north of Dunecht village becomes part of Echt rather than Cluny, Midmar and Monymusk and the properties within this area are within the catchment for Dunecht School and the residents take part in community activities in Lyne of Skene and Dunecht.

They have also asked that the houses at Hill of Corskie, Bogentory and all of those along the B977 between Dunecht and Lyne of Skene should be in Echt and Skene.

The area manager also asked for approval to start the second period of consultation which will consider the draft proposed amendments to the scheme. This will be an eight-week consultation period.

The acting area manager added: "Our aim is absolutely to ensure a productive consultation period, with a view to return to full council with final proposals in April next year.

"The point of this review is to have the best possible scheme in place so the council can support our community councils to be in the best possible position so they can fulfil their role and continue to represent their communities as they do so well."

The new leader of the council councillor Andy Kille said: "Community councils are an important element of the community, playing a full part in change and improvement and it is good to see their role being recognised, enhanced and supported in this way."

He motioned that the recommendations of the report be approved and he was seconded by deputy leader councillor Peter Argyle.

Councillor Argyle said: "It is a very important piece of work and we need to get the scheme of delegation absolutely right."

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