Communities and Childcare to Fore as SNP Launches 'Stronger for Aberdeenshire' Local Election Manifesto

>> 10 April 2017

Stronger communities, increased housing provision and a dramatic expansion in childcare provision were put right at the heart of the local election campaign today, as the Aberdeenshire SNP Council Group launched its manifesto for May's local authority elections.

The pledges were revealed by Aberdeenshire Council Co-Leader and SNP Group Leader Richard Thomson, as he was joined at a launch event in Ellon by the SNP's candidates for the May 4 poll.

The SNP - which currently runs Aberdeenshire Council in partnership with Labour and Progressive Independent Councillors - is pledging to double the amount of free childcare available to local parents, bringing the total support available to 30 hours a week. Other key pledges include a commitment to seeing at least 2,500 affordable homes built over the next 5 years, along with a move to increase the involvement of communities in policy and budget decisions through a multi-million pound increase in participatory budgeting.

Cllr Thomson hailed the pledges as being key to empowering communities and sustaining the local economy.

"Local elections deserve to be fought on local issues, which is why we're proud to be standing on a manifesto which shows we are Stronger for Aberdeenshire”, he said.

“Thanks to the SNP Scottish Government, the North East of Scotland is seeing major and much-needed investment in its physical and digital infrastructure. As welcome as that is, it's only part of the picture if we want to make Aberdeenshire the best place it can be.

“Support for business and a strong economy runs through all that we do in administration in Aberdeenshire. However, to maintain a strong economy we need to invest strongly in our social infrastructure as well.

“Investing in education and childcare is one of the most important things any society can do. We'll be working in partnership with the Scottish Government to double the amount of free childcare available in Aberdeenshire to 30 hours per week for 3 & 4 year olds and vulnerable two year olds, and supporting efforts to close the attainment gap in our schools.

“Despite the record level of social housing being built since the SNP took office in Aberdeenshire, we recognise that there's still a great deal to do. That's why we're committing to working with partners to provide an additional 2,500 affordable homes in the next five years.

“Another key initiative if we are returned to administration is to give communities a real say in local services and budgets by introducing 'Community Choices' or 'participatory budgeting'. By setting aside 1% of the council budget - which is just over £5m each year – and allowing communities to get involved in how that is used, we can involve people far more in shaping how their local services are delivered.”

Elsewhere, the SNP manifesto commits to lobbying to take the new A96 route east of Inverurie and away from Bennachie, therefore helping to ease congestion on the A947 between Dyce and Oldmeldrum; supporting the re-establishment of the Buchan rail link; a rolling programme of schools investment; taking forward plans for a sports and leisure trust and a Fraserburgh seafood 'Centre of Excellence' subject to the strength of the respective business cases; and more local food procurement.

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