Power 2 Aberdeen



COSLA’s commission on strengthening local democracy recently reported that Scotland is the most centralised nation in Europe. The SNP Scottish Government’s agenda of further centralisation has seen powers systematically stripped from Aberdeen’s Town Houses and hoarded in Edinburgh. From police to planning Aberdeen city council is losing crucial powers to the central belt.

Conservatives in Aberdeen believe passionately in local democracy and local decision making. Therefore Conservatives across Aberdeen are calling for action to reverse the increasing centralisation of power in the corridors of Edinburgh and see these powers transferred back to the Council. By restoring power and freedom to Aberdeen City Council it will help promote the healthy diversity of provision needed to ensure high quality services and to guarantee that at all times the needs, priorities and ambitions of individual communities are paramount.

By strengthening our City’s local democracy we restore local accountability, empower local communities and decisively shift power away from government to where it should properly rest, in the hands of local people here in Aberdeen.

Conservative Councillor for Hazlehead/Ashley/Queen’s Cross, Ross Thomson, says:

“Since the SNP came to power in 2007 we have systematically seen powers stripped from the Town House and hoarded in Edinburgh. From police to social care, from housing to planning we have seen the hands of Councils tied by national legislation in an attempt to force Councils to deliver the priorities decided by national politicians.”

“In Aberdeen Conservatives hold a passionate belief that decisions are best taken by local communities rather than in the central belt . We want to see powers restored to Aberdeen. To ensure that local Councillors are fully accountable to local people then local decision making needs to be strengthened. The current one-size-fits-all approach is not working and Aberdeen needs to be free to pursue policies and provide services that best meet the needs of our local communities.”

What We Are Campaigning For:

Aberdeen Conservatives believe that the Council is financially constrained by the SNP Scottish Government. Aberdeen is Scotland’s economic power house yet it is the most underfunded Scottish local authority. Scottish Conservatives successfully campaigned for a funding floor, yet the Scottish Government has failed to meet the 85% funding floor in Aberdeen.
Further, under the Business Rates Incentivisation Scheme (BRIS) Aberdeen should have received an additional £5.8million in funding. However, the Scottish Government clawed £5.5million of that funding back to shore up their budget. Aberdeen Conservatives are calling for more financial autonomy.

* The Business Rates Incentivisation scheme should be doubled and 100% of non-domestic rates revenues beyond target should be returned directly to the Council
* Give Council the discretionary power to use BRIS revenues to offer discounts.
* Scottish Government control continues over a proportion of Council funds to force service delivery along nationally decided priorities. Aberdeen City Council should have the freedom to order our own priorities
* More power should be devolved to Aberdeen City Council over structure and service provision. Conservatives on Aberdeen City Council believe it is in the best interests of the Council and communities to be able to work with both the private and voluntary sector in regards to service provision. There should be more opportunities for the private sector to bid in public procurement contracts as they often provide not only more cost effective, but higher quality services.
* Aberdeen City Council should be able to adopt its own Code of Conduct and complaints procedure rather than be constrained by centralised authorities.
* More powers over housing allocation should be returned to Aberdeen. Thereby housing allocation policy can be decided locally and with the communities affected to ensure tailored local policies.
* Planning powers should be returned to Aberdeen to ensure that decisions are made locally rather than in Edinburgh. Decisions affecting communities in Aberdeen should predominantly be made by local people. Aberdeen Conservatives are opposed to the idea that local planning decisions can be overturned to stay in line with Scottish Government priorities. The planning appeals process is an important safeguard, but too often it is abused by Scottish Government.
* Further, by allowing Councils to create their own code of conduct this could mean that Councillors in Aberdeen no longer prevented from expressing their opinion at any stage of the planning application process. Aberdeen Conservatives believe that being elected to office is in itself a commitment to act in the public interest and a “forced objectivity” in planning decisions is unnecessary.