Council withdraws report on banning surgery adverts

A proposal to ban the advertising of councillors’ surgeries due to come before an Aberdeenshire Council committee last week was withdrawn at the last minute.

The move had already been condemned by North-east councillor Bryan Stuart and other councillors, stating that it make it more difficult for the public to access their councillors.

Under plans put forward by Head of Customer Communication & Improvement Kate Bond in a move to save just over £4,000 per year, councillors were instead to “be supported to set up their own Facebook page to promote engagement with their constituents”.

Surgery details would continue to be listed on the council website, as they are at the moment.

Commenting following the withdrawal of the item from last week’s meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee, Shadow Leader of the Council, SNP councillor Hamish Vernal said: “I think even the council’s administration baulked at the thought of implementing such an ill-thought out plan.

“The sum of money involved was relatively small but the consequences of the move would have meant that councillors would effectively have been holding surgeries in secret.

“Not everyone has access to the internet to look these things up, even if they knew where to look, and the suggestion that Facebook would be a suitable alternative is just laughable.

“I understand that a working group will now look at the issue in more depth and hopefully it will come back with more sensible suggestions.”

Buchan Observer editor Ken Duncan commented: “The public notices such as surgery adverts published in newspapers like our own remain an integral part of community life and I sincerely hope they continue to appear for many years to come.”