Core Path - Final lap

The final consultation of the Draft Core Paths Plan for Aberdeenshire has started and ends on 14th September 2009.

Information on the plan is at

and the maps are at

Responses are supposed to be on a special form - I've asked for this to be made available as a Word document rather than just a pdf to make it easier for people.

As ever, do have your say ....

Conduct Committee

I gather than the Press and Journal are likely to appeal to the Information Commissioner regarding Aberdeenshire Council's refusal to release the papers relating to Cllr Ian Tait's suspension.

Cllr Tait has made it clear that he is willing for the material to be released .... and the reasons cited today for refusal in the P&J do seem to fall into the categories that allow information to be exempt from publication - see for full story. The reasons for refusal were quoted as
The panel decided that “the public interest in maintaining the exemptions outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information”.

Its refusal notice added: “The review panel considered that public authorities should be entitled to carry out what are essentially disciplinary investigations outwith the public glare.”

The following quote from the Information Commissioner's website is interesting

Q. Can the authority often decide it is in the public interest to keep information secret?

A. When the authority is deciding whether it is in the public interest to provide information or not, it cannot and should not take the following into account:

  • the possibility of embarrassment to officials
  • the possible loss of confidence in the authority
  • the seniority of the people involved, or
  • the risk of you misinterpreting the information

I asked for the material to be released to me as a councillor (not into the public domain) so that I would know exactly what Cllr Tait is accused of. This was refused and I have since operated on the assumption of innocence as I believe such matters should be dealt with by the independent Standads Commission rather than an internal Conduct Committee.

I hope the Information Commissioner makes quick ruling - the sooner the facts are in the public domain the better for everyone.

Spatial Planning - a wider view

Thanks to the University of Aberdeen, Queen’s University Belfast and The National University of Ireland – Maynooth for the establishment of the Irish Scottish Forum for Spatial Planning.

There were an impressive range of speakers for the Forum's first meeting on Friday and Saturday - and it well met its goal of "to place formal planning and spatial imagining in broader historical, cultural, and environmental perspective, and to relate this to evolving concepts of the ‘nation’ and identity. "

I look forward to more such meetings.

Thank you!

Western Isles

I have just spent a week on holiday on Lewis and Harris. I am very impressed with the islands - a truly magical place to kayak around (when the weather is kind).

But what really struck me was the people. So welcoming and friendly. So interested and engaged with everything around them.

The consensus of local opinion was that the reduction in ferry fares from the pilot of Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) has led to more visitors. I hope they do get more visitors who in their turn support the very many local and community-led attractions and businesses.

Now just what will I do with the Harris Tweed I came home with?