Projects given cash boost

Investment of more than £13million for a range of schemes across Aberdeenshire has been agreed by councillors.

The projects form part of six key areas for development identified by the Aberdeenshire Alliance in early June this year, funded by savings generated during 2011/12.

The proposals focus on six key areas of investing in towns and villages; providing assistance to small businesses; boosting tourism and hospitality industries; increasing pre-school and nursery provision; increasing care at home services for older people; and accelerating plans to improve roads, provide affordable housing and replacing schools and care homes.

The proposals were confirmed at a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Policy and Resources Committee at Woodhill House on Thursday.

As part of the focus on investing in towns and villages, the committee discussed a range of projects identified in each of Aberdeenshire’s six divisional areas.

Local area committees had worked alongside communities and partners to prepare a list of almost 70 projects for investing in towns and villages.

These were assessed in terms of priority, with the outcome being that 49 of the projects will now be developed at a total cost of £3,165,322. A future allocation of £1,935,000 for a number of key projects was also approved.

The renovation of the Alford Heritage Centre is one of the schemes included.

Proposals to assist small businesses include an independent study on the whitefish processing sector, a one-stop advice and information telephone number for all business enquiries, an apprenticeship scheme in agriculture and a power cable into Fraserburgh Harbour to support future business growth.

Schemes have also been put forward to support the tourism and hospitality industry including a tourism campaign for Aberdeenshire, investment in walking paths including the Deeside Way, and the creation of a place brand for Aberdeenshire.

The other key priority areas of increasing pre-school and nursery provision, increasing care at home services for older people and accelerating plans to improve roads, provide affordable housing and replace schools and care homes have all been progressed, following reports to the policy committees.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Jim Gifford said: “We made a commitment in June to taking a focused approach to making the best use of the funding we have available. I would commend the work that has been done locally to identify community projects for support as these schemes have the potential to benefit thousands of residents and visitors to Aberdeenshire.”

Deputy leader of the council, Cllr Martin Kitts-Hayes said: “Today’s decisions mean that we can now set the ball rolling on each strand of the six key areas for development.”

The committee agreed that the implementation and monitoring of local budgets for the scheme be delegated to area committees, with reports being brought back to Policy and Resources on a six-monthly basis. Timescales for individual projects will be determined in due course.