Aberdeenshire Council is preparing to launch a new cross-party group to help guide the region from actively dealing with the pandemic, to recovering from it.
At next week’s full council meeting councillors have been recommended to approve the creation of the “Covid-19 Recovery Reference Group”.
The new group, which will have 14 elected members to proportionally reflect the political makeup of the council, is proposed to help “ensure an integrated and holistic approach across the council” as the local authority works to get back to relative normal in a post-corona world.
The Covid-19 Recovery Reference Group will be able to provide regular updates to the full council and will have the ability to make “comments, observations and recommendations” to both the council and its various committees where it is required.
Council leader Jim Gifford said he believes the new group will assist the council in rapidly adapting to changes that may be necessary as the route to recovery from the pandemic becomes clearer across Scotland.
He said: “The idea is to get a separate group of councillors representing all the parties on the council to look at all the issues that are bound to emerge and are already starting to emerge as we move from the emergency response phase to Covid-19 into the recovery phase, whatever that is.
“We want the group to be able to act as a sounding board for ideas from council officers or councillors in order to feed into what we do next, which is bound to influence our next budget.
“We have a very good decision-making process just now but it tends to be very slow with regards to churning out changes to policy.
“But this group will be able to work more quickly.
“So much is closed right now, from sports centres to libraries and what-have-you, so there’s opportunities to discuss things like when will these places reopen and at what speed and at what cost – and this group will be important in that process.”
The group has a soft concluding date of January 2021, but Mr Gifford said that could change if required.
He added: “We’ve got no idea how long the recovery phase is going to take so we’ve put in a review at six months to see if as a group we need to continue or if we need to revert back to our normal way of doing things.”