Scotland Democracy, devolution and governance

A week (and over 500 miles) in the life of a (very) rural councillor


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Geva Blackett is a councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside in Aberdeenshire. Following our briefing on a day in the life of a councillor (LGiU Scotland subscribers only), she shares a ‘typical’ week in her work.

To me, the most important part of my role is being able to identify partnerships to make things happen – be that in the public or private sector and often an amalgam. Thus underpins my thinking and my approach, because nothing can be achieved by one person working on their own.

So here’s a rush through a typical week:

Monday: Group and then Administration meetings in Aberdeen at 9:30 and a meeting about sheltered housing meals, respite care and supported accommodation at 2:30. I then spent the evening researching some arguments about shooting and the economy for Tuesday – and gave my apologies to Braemar Community Council.

Tuesday: Marr Area Committee in Alford, with a big agenda that included a hefty discussion on economic activity in the Marr Area – but no mention of shooting and fishing so I had quite a lot to say on that, lucky I had done my homework! Shooting and fishing are vital economic and biodiversity drivers in my Ward and indeed much of the Marr Area – so I was surprised that such an important paper as Economic Activity in Marr contained not one mention of their contribution, and so decided to gather some facts and figures for officers and colleagues to consider.

After lunch we had a presentation on the new Integrated Health and Social Care.

Wednesday and we were back in Aberdeen for a special Full Council discussion on the Aberdeen City Region Deal and just as I was leaving to come home… I was asked to substitute on the Future Governance Working Committee. The Future Governance Working Group has been considering the restructuring of the council’s governance – changes to which are now being approved and will take effect from early next year.

Thursday was catch up day and then on Friday back to Aberdeen for a presentation on the One Group by Sir Ian Wood – and again no mention of either the income generated by shooting and fishing and worse, no mention of game in his Food and Drink strategy. Hopefully my interventions will be taken on board.

Months of hard work come together with a meeting with Ballater Business Association and System2 – the Marketing and PR company contracted to tell the world (oh and VisitAberdeenshire too) that Royal Deeside is open for business and you can do virtually anything you want here from walking to skiing, cycling to golfing, shooting to fishing, gliding to painting. We have wildlife, we have castles. we have world class scenery, we have culture. We have history, we have Royals. We have amazing food and fantastic hospitality. This is a perfect example – in my mind – of partnership working for the benefit of business and the community alike

So I hope that gives you a flavour – what of course I haven’t spoken about is all the community council meetings, the parent council meetings, the policy committee meetings (and the reading of the papers, some of which are pretty technical and each of which affects people’s lives) and the individual meetings with constituents – or phone calls and emails; working with officers to help people. That’s where the role really pays off because there is nothing like knowing you have helped!

If you’d like to contribute to this series on the work of councillors and officers across Scotland, get in touch at [email protected].