From Aberdeenshire Council communications team
Cllr Gillian Owen has been appointed as the Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, by her fellow councillors. The Council Administration comprises Scottish Conservatives & Unionists, Liberal Democrats and Independent councillors who adopt a collective approach to leadership.
An amendment by the SNP, seconded by the Democratic Independent Group, to appoint Cllr Gwyneth Petrie as Council Leader was defeated by 39 votes to 22.
Cllr Owen was first elected to Aberdeenshire Council in 2007 as local member for Ellon & District and served as chair of Audit Committee from 2012, and more recently chair of Education & Children’s Services Committee since 2017. As Council Leader, she will make the move to chair Business Services Committee overseeing corporate services like finance, digital, HR and property.
Further changes to committee leadership were also agreed at the meeting of full council at Woodhill House today (Thursday 29th June).
Chair of Education and Children’s Services: Cllr David Keating
Chair of Infrastructure Services Committee: Cllr Alan Turner
On her appointment, Cllr Owen spoke of her pride at being asked to lead the council’s Administration. She said: “I am so proud to have been appointed to lead Aberdeenshire Council. I am committed to working in a manner which is positive, constructive and collaborative. This is a role of huge importance where I will seek close co-operation with all councillors to ensure we continue to deliver the very best outcomes for our communities.
“Last November we agreed our new Council Plan, with a clear set of priorities, generated from what our communities told us, and supported by our strategic assessment which uses data to identify what we’re doing well and what the future challenges will be.
“We remain committed to delivering those Priorities, with a strong focus on place. We appreciate that our communities are passionate about seeing our towns and villages prosper and flourish. As a council, we must be attuned to those needs, and ensure our service decisions reflect that local demand.
“I am also acutely aware of the serious financial challenges facing all public services. Aberdeenshire Council set a balanced budget for 2023/24, with a combination of savings, treasury management and voluntary savings – we continue to closely monitor our budget and so far we’re on track. However, we know that further difficult decisions will have to be made as the demand on our services continues to grow, along with rising costs and settlements from Scottish Government which simply do not meet the needs of our communities.
“We are committed to a programme of transformation to ensure we are able to respond effectively to the financial challenges ahead. We will be engaging with our communities over the coming months about our budget and plans for transformation and hope that everyone takes the opportunity to have their say.
“I am committed to serving the communities of Aberdeenshire to the very best of my abilities and look forward to working with colleagues in the Administration and across the chamber to navigate the challenges ahead.”
Deputy Leader of the Council Cllr Anne Stirling commented on the appointment of the new leader. “I welcome the appointment of Cllr Owen as Council Leader. She has demonstrated over many years her passion for the communities of Aberdeenshire and has been a true champion of our children and young people in her role of chair of Education & Children’s Services.
“I am excited about the future for Aberdeenshire. The council is truly committed to supporting our communities achieve their aspirations and that we deliver good local services that people trust and value.
“We are facing real financial challenges so it is critical that we are able to provide leadership as we navigate the conflicting demands on our services. We have a Medium-Term Financial Strategy and have committed £37million on a transformation programme that will see us drive change through all services, creating more efficient processes and delivering savings. We remain committed to our Capital programme with major investments in a new campus at Peterhead and have committed to a programme to tackle climate change.”
Cllr John Cox, speaking on behalf of the Independent Group said: “The Council’s leadership is in strong hands. We are committed to supporting our businesses, have today agreed our very powerful new regional economic strategy, and will continue to deliver against our ambitious digital strategy.
“This is not about changing our direction – the Council Plan is the bedrock of what we seek to achieve on behalf of our communities. We will build on the good work already done and continue to invest in vital local services, navigating the financial challenges along the way.”