Christmas 2018 has already come and gone.
It seems like only yesterday I was writing last year’s New Year Message.
Once again it has been a busy and eventful year both here in the Ellon & District Ward and across Aberdeenshire.
The Budget process is entering its final stages and it is still not clear if the Scottish Government can find support for its budget.
This is making life more difficult than usual.
The current plan sadly leaves us in Aberdeenshire with a large gap to fill.
The funding formula does us no favours and the Scottish Government only adds to that burden.
The downturn in oil and gas continues to affect the economy and our residents.
I, as chairman of Education and Children Services, know only too well the effect on the council of not receiving its fair share of Government Grant.
The children in Aberdeenshire are no different to those in any other part of Scotland, so why can’t we have the same amount of money in real terms as they do?
Our administration will continue to work hard to protect frontline services but there will be some hard choices that may have to be taken.
I was delighted to see so many people at the Farmers Market in December and thank you all for your good wishes.
It has personally been a tough year, as some of you know, with the loss of my mother to Alzheimers and again I thank all those that donated in memory of my mum to Alzheimer Scotland.
They are now just under £1,000 better off and I hope it is a small help to alleviate this horrid disease and my heart goes out to all those families who are currently suffering like my family has during the last ten years.
Ward issues continue to land in my inbox.
The change in the bus timetable has created several concerns, particularly for those who rely on public transport while potholes continue to be a regular source of frustration.
The opening of the dual carriageway from Balmedie to Tipperty has brought many advantages, particularly in shorter journey times, but we are seeing the predicted problems occur at the South Road roundabout where the queuing has moved from Balmedie.
I hope the NESTRANS report will provide us with a solution to these problems as well as the dualling from Ellon onwards, but more particularly a solutuon for the Toll of Birness junction, which I will continue to campaign for.
There are other unforseen consequences caused by the opening of the road; traffic in and out of Newburgh, lack of lighting at the junction at the Southern end of Foveran, the dangerous crossing at Bridgend for bus users, and the disgraceful surface of the A90 between Ellon roundabout and Tipperty.
I was dismayed having written to Aberdeen Roads that this will not be addressed until next year’s budget!
Let’s hope the New Year sees the full opening of the AWPR and that the Ellon Park and Ride finally as Phase 2 of the upgrade completed.
Ellon and its surrounding villages are blessed with organisations who do so much for our communities from the community councils, Ellon Civic Pride, Nicer Newburgh Gardeners, the many church groups, the Boys and Girls Brigade, the Scouts and Guides, the sports clubs and many others- I would like to thank them all for what they do.
Finally, I wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous 2019.