Young peo­ple may join coun­cils

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - NEWS -

Peo­ple as young as 14 are be­ing of­fered the chance to take an ac­tive part in com­mu­nity coun­cils af­ter coun­cil­lors gave the green light to new rules.

An over­haul of the way lo­cal bodies op­er­ate through­out Aberdeen­shire was ap­proved by coun­cil­lors last week.

It al­lows coun­cil of­fi­cers to sus­pend groups if num­bers fall too low.

But the new rules also mean 16-year-olds can be elected onto com­mu­nity coun­cils and peo­ple, aged 14 and 15, can also get in­volved as ju­nior mem­bers.

Di­rec­tor of busi­ness ser­vices, Ritchie John­stone said it would give “flex­i­bil­ity” and would be “clearer”.

The au­thor­ity has 71 com­mu­nity coun­cil ar­eas with six cur­rently await­ing re-es­tab­lish­ment.

The new scheme was passed by Aberdeen­shire coun­cil­lors yes­ter­day and will be for­mally adopted at the be­gin­ning of April 2018.

Stone­haven com­mu­nity coun­cil chair­man, Phil Mills-Bishop, has been piv­otal in at­tract­ing young­sters to his ranks and has been work­ing closely with Mackie Academy pupils.

He said: “There are some chal­lenges such as pro­vid­ing the right agenda items to keep their in­ter­est. We could po­ten­tially take on seven young mem­bers, which I think is very ex­cit­ing. We need some new blood and en­thu­si­asm.” A city cen­tre church will close its doors to wor­ship­pers for the last time this month af­ter Kirk bosses signed off on an amal­ga­ma­tion plan.

The Pres­bytery of the Church of Scot­land has con­firmed that the con­gre­ga­tion of Queens Street Church will move into St Mark’s on Rose­mount viaduct, with the church fi­nally clos­ing on Oc­to­ber 29 af­ter 22 years at the site.

The con­gre­ga­tion of the city cen­tre par­ish was ex­panded in 2004 with the ad­di­tion of wor­ship­pers from the nearby Greyfri­ars Church, which was closed by the Church of Scot­land.

But due to a con­tin­u­ing de­cline in wor­ship­pers it has been de­cided to amal­ga­mate with St Mark’s.

The Queen Street area also forms an im­por­tant part of the coun­cil’s am­bi­tious 25-year city cen­tre mas­ter­plan, which in­volves the de­mo­li­tion of the po­lice head­quar­ters as part of a trans­for­ma­tion of the area into the new Queen’s Square res­i­den­tial area.

Con­gre­ga­tion mem­ber He­len Ren­nie con­firmed the news to any­one who wants to at­tend the church’s last ser­vices.

She said: “The Queen Street Church is clos­ing down on Oc­to­ber 29, and this Satur­day is the last cof­fee shop af­ter 22 years.

“We will be open for morn­ing cof­fee and light lunches, Au­drey’s sale ta­ble will be clos­ing with many bar­gains, and Christ­mas cards, in aid of Friends of Roxburghe House Grampian, will be on sale.

“We would like to take this op­por­tu­nity to thank ev­ery­one who has sup­ported us over the years – con­gre­ga­tion, vis­i­tors and hol­i­day­mak­ers.”

Church el­der Martin Greig, who is also a city coun­cil­lor, ex­plained that fewer peo­ple liv­ing in the city cen­tre had led to the amal­ga­ma­tion.

He added: “It was a priv­i­lege to be at wor­ship at Queen Street Church. The con­gre­ga­tion is in­spir­ing in its strong and faith­ful com­mit­ment.

“There are chang­ing res­i­den­tial pat­terns in the city with fewer peo­ple now liv­ing in the city cen­tre and peo­ple are also chang­ing how they wor­ship, with it now be­ing less com­mon for peo­ple to join a church.

“It makes sense to look at merg­ers.”

A Church of Scot­land spokesman said: “The two con­gre­ga­tions of Queen Street Church and St Mark’s Church have hap­pily de­cided to unite and St Mark’s Church will be used as their place of wor­ship.

“A min­is­ter will be called to serve the united con­gre­ga­tion in due course.”

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