The Aberdeenshire branch of UNISON wrote to me in April, the text of the letter is
I am writing to you as a resident of Aberdeenshire, an Aberdeenshire Council employee, and as a Trade Union Representative for UNISON. I am aware that you will be standing in the Local Government elections in a bid to represent Aberdeenshire Council as a Councillor. As such, I would like to ask you a number of questions about what you would do to protect services and staff during your tenure, should you be elected.
Over the past ten years, budgets have been cut to Local Government and, at the same time, demands on services have greatly increased. What would you do to ensure Aberdeenshire Council had adequate funding to maintain, or increase, the services to the people of Aberdeenshire?
Will you support Scotland’s Fair Work Framework, which pledges that staff should have security, respect, fulfilment, opportunity and an effective voice at work? Will you, should you be elected, invest in public services and oppose the policy of austerity, which is starving essential wellbeing services of adequate funding? Will you commit to keeping education, social care and other local public services, under direct local democratic control?
We have written to our members, informing them that we are writing to all prospective candidates, and have committed to sharing the responses or omissions we receive.
The letter and responses from other candidates can be found here UNISON.
My letter in response
Thank you for your letter 11 April on behalf of the Aberdeenshire Branch of UNISON. Please accept my apologies for the tardy reply, I didn’t get the letter until later in the month and have been busy campaigning.
Firstly may I point out that that if successfully elected on May 4, I will be representing the communities of Turriff and District ward and the Shire and not Aberdeenshire Council.
In answer to your questions
Budgets, working with fellow councillors and officers I would hope that Aberdeenshire Council would be able to make compelling arguments to ensure adequate funding is provided. I would also hope that everyone within Aberdeenshire Council will work together to find efficiencies and ways to ensure that any funding we do receive is used to deliver excellent services in our communities.
Fair Work Framework, I absolutely support the principals of an effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect for all council employees.
I believe that services provided by Aberdeenshire Council should, wherever possible, be provided by the council and direct employees. There are times when services need to be subcontracted out and Aberdeenshire Council must get best value, but I am against moving services to providers who are outwith of the Shire. Keeping services local, helps to ensure that money is invested and spent locally.
Whilst I oppose austerity we need to understand that there are not unlimited funds and any funding we do get needs to be spent wisely to get best value from every £1. Aberdeenshire Council, and its employees, need to be flexible and efficient in their approach to providing services to ensure we get this value.
Communities across Aberdeenshire must also bare some of this burden by paying charges for some services that are more inline with the true costs of providing them.
I would hope that if elected I could help to empower Communities and Community Councils to work in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council to provide additional services and support. One such group that comes to mind is the excellent Friends of Turriff Cemetery Group who are working in partnership with Landscape Services to help keep Turriff Cemetery a clean, tidy and welcoming place.
I hope this answers your questions and I look forward to working with you, and your members, should I be elected on 4 May.
Independent candidate for Turriff and District ward.