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Spending on Council's Biennial Design Awards "Untenable" in Light of Looming Cuts to Services

>> 2 December 2022

Aberdeenshire councillors yesterday agreed to cease the biennial Aberdeenshire Architectural and Landscape Design Awards in light of cost pressures – unless outside sponsorship can be found to allow the event to proceed at no cost to the taxpayer.

SNP councillor Glen Reid (East Garioch) proposed that the event, which has run for 13 years, should stop and the funding instead be used to fund services which might otherwise be cut. He was seconded in that proposal by fellow SNP councillor Stephen Smith (Peterhead South and Cruden).

The budget for the event and the organising of the competition and judging was given as £15,000, which councillors pointed out would be better used to fund council services in light of looming budget cuts.

Commenting, Cllr Glen Reid said:

“Whilst I agree with the aims of the awards in recognising excellence and innovation in design across Aberdeenshire, we’re currently in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and it’s difficult to justify spending money on events such as this. I think it’s time to stop this and reappropriate the funds.

“If there was a way for this to proceed with no cost to the council taxpayer – such as fully virtual or through sponsorship - then I would be happy to support it continuing. However, I can’t support spending money on this when we are shortly going to be asked to make some very hard decisions on essential services.”

Cllr Stephen Smith added:

“While it’s always nice to have excellence recognised, the hard fact is this awards ceremony simply cannot continue while there are council services which need the money. There are other architectural and design awards run on a national basis and I’m sure entrants from Aberdeenshire will be more than able to compete on a Scotland-wide basis.”

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Peterhead Councillor Welcomes Conservation Works on Town's Memorials

>> 4 November 2022

Peterhead South and Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith has welcomed the current works being carried out to repair and conserve the town’s war memorials.

The works are being carried out with the help of a £6,000 grant from the War Memorials Trust Grants Scheme.

Aberdeenshire Council, which submitted the application, is working alongside the Peterhead branch of the Royal British Legion on the project and will provide additional funding to complete the scheme.

Peterhead-based granite memorial specialist Duncan Ross has been tasked with undertaking the conservation work on the memorials – located in the historic St Peter’s Cemetery overlooking Peterhead Bay – and is currently undertaking cleaning, repainting of the lettering, general repairs and sensitive improvements.

War Memorials Trust member and councillor for Peterhead South and Cruden, Stephen Smith, said:

“I’m very pleased these works are being carried out in the centenary year of the memorial and will stand it in good stead for many years to come. I am grateful to the War Memorials Trust for their support for this project.”

Frances Moreton, Director, War Memorials Trust said:

“War memorials connect us today to those who have given their lives in conflicts throughout history. Conserving them will ensure future generations can continue to pay their respects. War Memorials Trust was delighted to support this project and hopes it will ensure the war memorial remains a focal point for the community. Anyone concerned about any other war memorials that might need help should contact the charity, or if you believe it is important to preserve our war memorial heritage please donate to help us sustain our work.”

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Local Councillor Highlights Avian Influenza Advice after 120 Dead Birds Removed from Cruden Bay Beach

>> 8 July 2022

Peterhead South and Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith is urging local residents and visitors to follow safety advice issued by Aberdeenshire Council following the removal of 120 dead birds from Cruden Bay beach by council staff.

Commenting, Cllr Stephen Smith said:

“I’m grateful to council staff for responding to the reports from myself and other residents and getting the beach cleaned up.

“It’s very sad that so many birds have been affected but the advice is that our beaches are still safe to enjoy this summer and the threat of transmission to humans is very low.

“That said, there are a number of simple measures people should follow to maintain strict hygiene standards, including not picking up or touching dead or dying birds.”

Aberdeenshire Council is urging people to continue reporting incidents of dead birds – both to Defra on 03459 335577 and, if you come across groupings of 10 or more dead birds, the council’s own dedicated phone line on 01467 537444.

But remember to follow this safety advice at all times:
  • Do not pick up or touch dead or sick wild birds 
  • Keep pets/dogs away from any dead or sick birds 
  • Don't feed wild waterfowl 
  • Don't touch wild bird feathers or surfaces contaminated with droppings
If you find a live but sick bird call the SSPCA on 03000 999999 for advice – however please note that due to the current situation you should not bring any wild birds to their animal rescue and rehoming centres.

If you keep poultry or other birds, it is vital that you wash your hands and clean and disinfect your footwear before tending to your birds.

For more details on avian influenza, visit www.gov.scot/publications/avian-influenza-bird-flu/.

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Local Councillor Comments on Longhaven School Decision with Warning to Other Small Rural Schools

>> 1 July 2022

Peterhead South and Cruden Councillor Stephen Smith has told a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Full Council that lessons need to be learned from the mothballing and subsequent closure of Longhaven School.

The SNP councillor was heavily involved in the successful 2004 campaign to save the school from closure. However, following the transfer of the Headteacher of the single-teacher school to a new post in 2018, Aberdeenshire Council failed to put in place alternative staffing arrangements and the school was temporarily closed in 2018 and subsequently mothballed.

Commenting, Councillor Stephen Smith said:

“While it’s extremely disappointing that such a well-regarded school which the local community fought so hard to save from closure in 2004 has got to this stage, the general view in the community is one of resignation that the school will close. No one is going to apply to send their child to a school which is currently mothballed and has no teacher, so the conclusion to this was always fairly obvious.

“While there should never be a limit placed on the career-progression of teaching staff, it should have been entirely possible for the council to put in place a short-term solution until a new appointment was made which did not involve what was at that point a temporary closure and the children transferred to different schools.

“Aberdeenshire Council should be supporting rural communities and I would strongly urge the Education Department to reflect on their processes, which may very well affect other single-teacher schools in rural areas and place them under threat of mothballing and closure.”

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