Call for reforms of Common Good Fund

Peterhead South SNP councillors Stephen Smith and Stuart Pratt have called for Aberdeenshire Council to reform the way in which it administers the Common Good Funds of the burghs.

Currently, due to the low base rate, the administration charge levied by Aberdeenshire Council against the Common Good Funds of burghs such as Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Rosehearty and Macduff is double that of the annual interest income.

Peterhead South councillor Stephen Smith (pictured) launched another attempt at last week’s meeting of the council’s Policy & Resources Committee to reform the charging policy but was defeated 7-6 on a vote when Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors voted down his proposal, which was also supported by Independent councillor Norman Smith.

However, as the move found support among over a third of the committee members it will now be referred to a meeting of the Full Council on Thursday (March 8) for a decision.

Commenting following the meeting, Cllr Stephen Smith said: “The Common Good Funds are an important source of funds for various community groups, projects and good causes.

“However, I am very concerned that Aberdeenshire Council’s charging policy for administering the funds is actually taking away a huge slice of cash from the larger funds, such as Peterhead Common Good Fund.

“The Common Good Funds use their capital to generate an income for distribution in the form of grants. When the cost of running the fund exceeds the income generated, something is clearly wrong and this whole situation needs to be changed. I hope that councillors will see that and vote for change on 8 March.”

Cllr Stuart Pratt, who has also attempted to have the charging policy changed in the past, added: “This situation cannot continue and I think the time is right to look again at the most cost-effective way of running the Common Good Funds for the benefit of the Common Good, not for the benefit of Aberdeenshire Council.”