Planning for a prosperous future for all



Prosperity is a word so often used but not always understood. For example, what does a prosperous Aberdeen look like?

That is a question that has been under particular scrutiny for some time now, put in sharp focus by the obvious economic issues facing our city since the oil and gas downturn began to bite, but even more so recently as a new long term plan was finalised by Aberdeen City Council and key partners.

The Local Outcome Improvement Plan (LOIP) will be new to the majority of people but it is something you will hear much more about in the weeks, months and years ahead as it is rolled out.

The LOIP is a 10-year strategy for Aberdeen. Its aim is to drive transformation through a programme of practical action. It provides the foundation stone but will be built upon with even more specific locality plans, providing the impetus for meaningful improvement in some of our most disadvantaged communities.

Of course Aberdeen City Council and our partners cannot work in isolation, we need to empower individuals to make the decisions which will shape their lives and provide the opportunities to overcome the many challenges we have identified. The LOIP will do that.

At the weekend I attended the first of three locality planning events scheduled for the next few weeks.

The gathering at Sunnybank Football Club in Heathryfold was all about bringing the community together with elected members, public bodies, the business community and other stakeholders to shape the priorities for Northfield, Middlefield, Cummings Park, Heathryfold and Mastrick.

There was a great turnout for what was an incredibly useful and thought provoking day, full of excellent ideas which will help fuel the next steps.

It will be followed by one at Torry Academy on 17 September and then, on 8 October, an event for Seaton, Tillydrone and Woodside will be held at St Machar Academy.

The LOIP and these associated events are powerful examples of community planning in action and we have worked with a number of valued partners to create a plan which is now ready to be implemented. Our partners from the public and voluntary sectors have all made a very valuable contribution and will continue to do so during the vital next phase: delivery.

Last year I commissioned a strategic assessment of Aberdeen and the findings have been used to support the creation of a comprehensive blueprint for the decade ahead. At its heart are the key themes: prosperous economy; prosperous people; prosperous place. A fourth theme, technology, spans the entire LOIP.

That brings us back to prosperity, which cannot be measured simply in terms of pounds and pence. Prosperity for Aberdeen is about an ambition to see individuals, families, communities, businesses and groups throughout the city flourish regardless of their circumstances.

There are unacceptable divisions that the LOIP is designed to combat. For example, in health we know the life expectancy in the richest communities of Aberdeen is far greater than in the poorest areas. Those disparities stretch into areas including education and employment.