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Banff Councillor Starts Royal Bank Petition

>> 6 December 2017

Banff & District SNP councillor Glen Reynolds has started a petition to try to persuade bank bosses to change their minds over plans to close a local bank.

The Royal Bank of Scotland announced last week that their branch in Banff’s High Street is set to close next year. The announcement came just months after the town’s Clydesdale Bank closed.

Commenting, Cllr Glen Reynolds said:

“I am urging people to support my petition to oppose the local branch of the RBS in Banff from closing in May 2018. Having access to your local bank is vital, and expecting people to travel long distances to visit their bank is unacceptable. The people of Banff deserve better than that, not least when staff are being told they are under threat of being made redundant just as nine executives of RBS will be receiving grotesque share bonuses totalling £16m.

“Our High Street deserves better and so do the loyal customers of the bank, many of which have been loyal to the bank for many years, including local businesses.

“We need banks to support customers, not abandon them. There will be a number of very unhappy customers that have been very loyal to RBS but now be thinking if it was worth it. I want the RBS to see the impact this will have on the people of Banff and stop the closure.”

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Questions Asked over Absence of Conservative Committee Chair and Vice-Chair

>> 14 November 2017

Councillors have raised questions over the commitment of local Conservative councillors after the Banff & Buchan Area Committee was today (Tuesday) left without a Chair or a Vice-Chair and had to elect a stand-in.

A storm erupted after it emerged both the Chair and Vice-Chair of that Committee - Conservatives Andy Kille Michael Roy – were both absent on holiday. The position of Chair attracts a payment of just under £9000 per year for carrying out that function.

The dates for meetings of the Banff & Buchan Area Committee were known well in advance of May’s Local Government elections and opposition councillors argue that in addition to a full-time commitment, the absence of key representatives is a betrayal of election promises to truly represent constituents in a committed way.

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Audit Committee and SNP councillor for Troup ward Ross Cassie said:

“I don’t understand why people put themselves up for election and then do not make an attempt to represent the people and the communities in the ward that elected them.”

“Back in May our local Tories were very vocal about their electoral success and who wouldn’t be? However, with that success comes a responsibility to the positions to which you have been elected. As today is not an incident in isolation, this demonstrates a clear lack of discipline within the local Conservative Party, and a clear lack of conscience on the part of the elected members who have seemingly decided that a holiday is more important than representation. We have lengthy recesses in the council calendar in line with school holidays when there are many opportunities for holidaying outwith the committee timetables.”

SNP Councillor for Fraserburgh & District, Charles Buchan added:

“It has become very clear since the May local elections that some of our Conservative councillors are not taking their work seriously. For both the Chair and Vice-Chair to deliberately clear off on another holiday, missing one of the most important meetings for Banff & Buchan, shows a lack of commitment to the people they represent, including the people with planning applications to be determined, and those who will be affected financially by Area decisions.

“They appear to be copying the antics of Moray Tory MP Douglas Ross who also disappeared from his day job.”

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Macduff & Banff Regeneration Chairs Welcome New Grant Scheme for Social Enterprises

>> 6 November 2017

A grant support scheme has been launched to assist the development and creation of social enterprises in Aberdeenshire.

Councillors agreed to support the sector with a £200,000 Social Enterprise Support Fund which is open for applications until March 2019. The fund includes grants for new permanent employees, training, expert advice and for feasibility studies into new income streams.

There is also a grant for the establishment of new social enterprises, and for the establishment of new income streams for existing social enterprises.

To benefit from the scheme the social enterprises will have to be legal entities which can trade and where there is an asset lock. This means that if the business was dissolved the assets would be passed on to an organisation with similar aims.

There is also provision to ensure the award of a grant will not be detrimental to other local businesses.

Chair of the Banff Regeneration Partnership, SNP councillor Glen Reynolds said:

"The funding of the rapidly growing third sector, or what was known as 'charity work', is evolving as the nature of our economy seeks out better ways to do more for people who are in need of help and where profit is not the sole driving force.

“Competition and austerity has forced traditional charities to become more entrepreneurial, and with UK Government policy outsourcing many services, it is inevitable that in many areas typically covered by the 'not for profit sector', businesses and social entrepreneurs are increasingly talking to each other and looking at their aims and objectives in terms of the social and environmental impact as well as their financial profit.

“As a result, social enterprise is becoming a vast, growing, and rapidly changing field and it is great news that the Council is grasping the opportunities that exist, and is reaching out to would be entrepreneurs and people with refreshing new ideas, who can combine that entrepreneurial initiative with a social conscience."

Chair of the Macduff Regeneration group, Troup SNP councillor Ross Cassie added:

“This range of grant funding streams will assist our many or new social enterprises diversify, take on extra employees and even start the entire process.

“The £200,000 fund can be accessed to fund a full-time employee and also to access other avenues of income allowing your social enterprise to diversify and grow. This fund may also be the start of your venture.”

For more information on the scheme and how to apply please email econdev@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or see: http://bit.ly/ShireSESS

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SNP Councillors Speak Out Against Christmas Lights Charges

Local SNP councillors Glen Reid (East Garioch) and Neil Baillie (Inverurie & District) have spoken out against proposals by Aberdeenshire Council to charge community groups for the cost of electricity used by Christmas light displays.

The move followed a meeting of the Garioch Area Committee where councillors were being asked their views on a new policy for festive light displays. Among the proposals from the council were that community groups should be liable for the cost of the electricity used by Christmas light displays. At the meeting, both councillors spoke out against the charges as an unfair burden on voluntary groups.

Commenting, Cllr Glen Reid said:

"Across our towns and villages, volunteers work tirelessly throughout the year to raise the funds to maintain and erect the communities Christmas lights. The council must not add another expense to the burden that these people already face. There is a real prospect, if they are asked to pay for the electricity supply on top of all the other charges, that eventually some of our communities will end up with no lights for their celebration and that would be a travesty."

Cllr Neil Baillie added:

“I welcome the recommendations of improving the health and safety associated with voluntary community groups putting up festive lights and fixtures. However, they must be further consulted with them on this plan to help reduce any financial burden on the volunteers who fundraise for festive lights. This can be done by helping with the cost of electricity, public liability insurance and survey fees for identified groups. We have to recognise and help the community groups and volunteers who give up their own time, and work hard to light up the North East at the festive time of year we all enjoy.”

The issue will be decided by Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee in the near future.

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