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Councils’ dismay at police and fire reform Government plans to press ahead with single police and fire services have been condemned by councils. The Government’s own business case provided “no

certainty” that the merger of existing services would make communities safer or strengthen links between emergency services and the people they serve, said the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. “The only certainty here is that the Government can do this so they are,” said COSLA president Pat Watters.

McPherson named Clacks chief Clackmannanshire Council has appointed Elaine McPherson as its new chief executive. McPherson, currently head of strategy and customer

services at the council, will take up her new post on 26 September. She replaces Angela Leitch, who has left to take up the top job at East Lothian Council.

New north-east town on the cards A proposal to create a £1bn new town is under consideration by Aberdeenshire Council. Developers say the 9,000 home settlement, sited at

Chapelton of Elsick, about ten miles south of Aberdeen, could generate over 8,000 jobs, as well as helping to meet the need for new homes in the area.

Social care first at Aberdeen Aberdeen City Council has approved the funding for Scotland’s first local authority-owned company providing social work services to older people. The arm’s-length body, which will be able to generate

revenue by selling services to other bodies, is expected to save the council £3m over five years. A full business case is expected by the end of the year.

Te highest profile dilemma now facing the council is the future of the Union Terrace Gardens. Opinion is fiercely divided over plans to bring the gardens level with Union Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, creating a vibrant new cultural space in the city centre. McCaig admits to being “agnostic” about the proposal, which is now the subject of a design competition attracting the interest of architectural firms across the world.

“I would be in support of that design going to

a referendum and asking the people of Aberdeen [whether] they want this, because it’s their city after all,” he says. “Tat needs to be done with a business case so people know what it’s going to cost. Let the people decide, let’s take the politics out of it, because the city centre of Aberdeen shouldn’t be a political battlefield – it’s something that’s bigger than politics.” Underpinning the business case for the scheme is a bid to pilot tax incremental financing, a brand new funding mechanism pioneered by Edinburgh to fund the redevelopment of the waterfront at Leith. “At the moment, TIF is the only show in town,” says McCaig. “If we were

knocked back, it may not be the end of the project but it would be very much back to the drawing board.” His vision of Aberdeen is clear: the economic

powerhouse of an independent Scotland. “We need the infrastructure, both physical and social, to ensure we’ll be able to meet the challenges and opportunities of the next century,” he says. “Tat will require an educated population, and new housing, both affordable and premium, so there is a huge number of things we need to do.” As for what the future might hold for McCaig himself, he is predictably circumspect. “I’ve never had a gameplan of what to do with my life,” he says. “At the moment, I’m enjoying this role. I would like to continue after the elections and on a political level, I’m incredibly excited about the prospect of an independence referendum and making the case for why that would be good for Aberdeen.” Whatever direction his career takes, there is no doubt that as one of the brightest young stars in Scottish politics, McCaig will be one to watch.

Stirling eyes renewable energy Stirling Council is set to generate its own renewable energy as part of a plan to cut CO2 emissions and save money from reduced energy costs. Solar panels installed on schools, offices and

potentially council homes could also earn the council an income of up to £50,000 a year, which would be ploughed into council-house improvements and addressing fuel poverty, it said.

Vacant sites to become community assets Disused spaces across Glasgow are to be given a new lease of life under a programme of small grants announced by the city council. Over 20 community projects have been awarded

funding of up to £2,500 to create temporary landscaping on vacant sites. Council leader Gordon Matheson said disused areas should become community assets rather than magnets for anti-social behaviour.

New Director of Infrastructure for Shetland Shetland Islands Council has appointed a new Director of Infrastructure Services. Phil Crossland was Director of Transportation and

Planning at Stoke-on-Trent City Council until March this year.

19 September 2011 37

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