Aberdeenshire Council Liberal Democrats today launched their manifesto for the local elections on 3 May. The Liberal Democrats have been in the adminstration since the council was established in 1996.
The future holds many challenges for local government; Aberdeenshire Council is not immune to the financial constraints and pressures facing the whole public sector. Effective, efficient use of public money, combined with sound financial management, is essential.
We recognise that strong local government is a fundamental requirement of a liberal democracy; its strength comes from its relationship with the people it serves. Aberdeenshire Council has an important leadership role and yet must be accountable and responsive to the people and communities we serve.
We are proud of our record of listening to our residents and delivering local services in a fair and effective way. We can demonstrate that we have delivered the overwhelming majority of the commitments and promises we made in 2007.
Aberdeenshire Liberal Democrats are proud of what has been achieved in the integration of work, transport, leisure and housing in our settlements. We will work in partnership with communities, developers and other agencies to ensure that Aberdeenshire continues to offer the best quality of life.
Local planning policies and process play a key role in delivering the aspirations of communities, residents, business and the council. We have already delivered significant improvements and will continue this work. Planning must be strongly linked with Economic Development; both are integral to developing sustainable communities.
We have listened to Residents’ Surveys, which have consistently highlighted the priority residents give to the appearance and cleanliness of their communities. We have ensured that as far as possible, residents’ expectations have been met. We will continue to give priority to this work and to environmental issues.
Liberal Democrats also value our built heritage and have given a high priority to both protecting and enhancing it. We will stress the need for higher design standards in new development, seeking design solutions that respect the built heritage of Aberdeenshire.
We are committed to the waste hierarchy of ‘Reduce, Re-use, Recycle’ and have worked to deliver an efficient and effective Waste Management service. We will continue to encourage residents to work in partnership with the council in managing their waste and driving down the volume of waste going to landfill.
Economic Development plays a vital role in ensuring that Aberdeenshire remains a prosperous and economically active region. All council services must contribute to the goal of an economy that delivers sustainable growth, low unemployment and a broader economic base. The current economic situation serves to emphasise the importance of this work:
Our Economic Development service has built successful relationships across Aberdeenshire, Europe and beyond, promoting Aberdeenshire across the world as an excellent place to do business. We will continue to give a high priority to this work, as well as supporting initiatives developed within communities. We will deliver the council’s new Economic Development Strategy.
Our new Local Transport Strategy was developed through consultation with communities and our partners. It contains our aspirations and ambitions for transportation in and to Aberdeenshire. We will work to deliver this Strategy and continue to lobby for significantly better investment by the Scottish Government in our transport infrastructure.
Liberal Democrats are committed to investing in Education in its broadest sense. Despite the intense financial pressures in recent years, we have continued to manage the council’s resources in order to deliver an integrated and up-to-date life-long education service, delivered in the best possible environment.
We will offer the best possible opportunities for Education, Learning and Leisure to all. We will continue to involve all of our communities in the decisions that affect them. We recognise the great value of our Education, Learning and Leisure staff, teaching and non-teaching and the contribution they make to delivering excellence in Aberdeenshire Education.
We also recognise the vital importance of our school estate in the delivery of a modern education to all. We have committed significant capital resources to the provision of new secondary and primary schools and will continue to grasp every opportunity to invest in our schools.
Education is a life long process and there should be educational opportunities open to all, regardless of age or means. We support the delivery of such opportunities through Community Learning and Development and are committed to involving the community fully in this service.
Culture and Heritage are important to our communities; we will continue to work in partnership with community groups to widen opportunity in the face of budget pressures. We remain committed to the provision of a modern Library service across Aberdeenshire, freely available to all.
In Aberdeenshire, the Social Work and Housing Service has faced considerable challenges over recent years, brought about by a steadily growing but ageing population, increasing expectations and ever mounting volumes of regulation and inspection by Government and its agencies. The pressure on housing in a rural area, combined with government timetables for homelessness, has grown and will continue to grow.
We will continue to foster joint working with other agencies, with community groups and with the wider community in order to maintain high quality services in Aberdeenshire, fairly and on the basis of need. The financial background will require continuing robust budgetary control and sound management of service finances.
We are committed to the provision of social housing of all types and tenures and to maintaining the high standards of the Council’s own housing stock. We have worked in close partnership with our tenants and this will continue. We have worked with housing associations, other agencies and with developers to increase the supply of affordable housing in Aberdeenshire communities. We will build on this work and seek to improve still further the services we offer.
The issues around health and social care grow ever more complex and demanding. Aberdeenshire Liberal Democrats are committed to the greater integration of Health and Social Care and to working closely with our partners.
Aberdeenshire remains our absolute priority. Our approach has been – and will remain – pragmatic. We are driven by commonsense, local, decision making rather than by political dogma. Our programme for 2012 to 2017 will build on our achievements to ensure that Aberdeenshire offers all its residents the best quality of life and all of its businesses the best possible environment in which to prosper
- The full Manifesto Document can be downloaded by clicking here.