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Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

A week which saw Theresa May confirming that she had chaired the first meeting of the UK cabinet committee tasked with overseeing work on Brexit, also saw Nicola Sturgeon calling on the UK Government to highlight the importance they place on Scotland’s role in the UK. Elsewhere, debate arose surrounding the EU customs union, while the European and External Relations Committee met to discuss the impact of Brexit on Scotland. All these stories and more are included within this week’s Scottish Political Insider.

 

Housing and Construction News

The Scottish Government announced that more than 200,000 low income households have received grants thanks to the Scottish Welfare Fund. During its first three years of operation, around £97.9 million has been allocated. Elsewhere a new survey by CIH Scotland found that 70 per cent of its members were concerned about meeting the Scottish Government’s target to build 10,000 affordable homes. Meanwhile, the construction union UCATT endorsed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign. Later in the week, the latest UK Construction Market Survey by surveyors’ body RICS illustrated that reductions in housebuilding, in part due to Brexit concerns, contributed to a slowdown in the Scottish construction sector.

 

Technology

An article published by the BBC found that a number of groups reliant on European funding for technology related projects have been told the money is “on pause” following the EU referendum vote. More can be read: here

 

Life Sciences

GlaxoSmithKline announced it will invest £275m in an expansion of its UK manufacturing offering this week, describing the UK as “an attractive location for investment”.

 

Professional services

Figures from a survey by LDF found more than half of UK SMEs found banks not to be “business friendly”.

 

Political news

The week began with Nicola Sturgeon making a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research in Edinburgh, where she called on the UK Government to highlight the importance they place on Scotland’s role in the United Kingdom as preparations are made to leave the EU. Her comments were followed by those of Theresa May later in the week who claimed that preparations were now underway for Britain’s “orderly departure” of the EU and that maintaining economic relationships with the EU bloc was a top priority. The SNP had earlier warned that pulling out of the EU customs union would harm Scottish business trade.

 

On Thursday, a Scottish Parliament committee examined the impact of the decision to leave the EU, with a number of business leaders sharing their thoughts. Hugh Chater from Virgin Money said if Scotland could arrange its own deal, it could offer “fresh opportunities” for Edinburgh’s financial sector, while Colin Borland of the Federation of Small Business Scotland raised concerns over the lack of free movement which may occur.

Meanwhile, Labour’s leadership saga took another twist after a judge rejected a legal challenge to allow Jeremy Corbyn to automatically stand for re-election as leader. It was raised by ex-parliamentary candidate Michael Foster who was challenging Mr Corbyn to get the signatures of MPs in order to stay on the leadership ballot.

Elsewhere, pro-independence campers lost their case to stay outside Holyrood, the Fraser of Allander Institute revised its Scottish GDP growth forecasts in a report which also argued Scotland faces a prolonged period of economic uncertainty and volatility post-Brexit, and the Supreme Court ruled against the Scottish Government’s Named Person Scheme.

Parliamentary activity

Scottish Parliament is in recess until early September although some questions and motions will be published on a weekly basis.

 

Written questions and answers:

 

Jackie Baillie (Scottish Labour, Dumbarton): To ask the Scottish Government how many new affordable homes it plans to deliver over the next five years.

 

Kevin Stewart (SNP, Aberdeen Central): Over the next five years, the Scottish Government will deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes. While the majority of these will be new build homes, the Affordable Housing Supply Programme includes initiatives such as the Town Centre Empty Homes Fund which encourages owners of empty homes to bring these properties back into use as affordable housing. The Open Market Shared Equity Scheme allowing people on low to moderate incomes to buy existing homes for sale on the open market also contributes towards the Affordable Housing Supply Programme. The exact number of homes delivered in each year of the next five years is dependent upon progress made by councils and housing associations in each local authority area over the five year period. For the current year, we expect to deliver around 8,000 affordable homes. All councils are required to submit their strategic housing investment plans in November 2016, and this will give a clearer indication of delivery in future years.

 

Jackie Baillie (Scottish Labour, Dumbarton): To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the capacity of (a) housing associations, (b) local authorities and (c) the building industry to assist in the delivery of the target to build 50,000 new affordable homes in each of the next five years. (S5W-01395)

 

Kevin Stewart (SNP, Aberdeen Central): The Scottish Government works closely with all housing stakeholders to ensure that we make the best use of all our resources and expertise to deliver more affordable homes. The Joint Housing Policy and Delivery Group brings together stakeholders from across housing and the group’s delivery plan captures a crucial set of delivery actions which we collectively agree are vital at this time. We have listened to what housing partners need to increase the pace and momentum of housing delivery. These discussions have helped us to develop our More Homes Scotland approach. Through this approach, the following additional measures will further support the increase in the supply of homes with focus on four key areas: More investment for more housing – we will invest over £3 billion in affordable housing to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years – a 76% increase on our current five-year investment; A flexible grant and loan Housing Infrastructure fund with up to £50 million available in 2016-17; A wide-ranging review of the planning system to improve the effectiveness of planning processes; and identify with stakeholders any critical skills and expertise gaps that could prevent delivery of our ambition. We are determined to increase and accelerate housing supply across all tenures and support the industry and local authorities to deliver their housing priorities with quality homes in mixed communities that fit local needs.

 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Cumbernauld Community Enterprise Centre hands over

Cumbernauld Community Enterprise Centre hands over

This month (14 July 2016), saw a brand new Cumbernauld Community Enterprise Centre handed over to North Lanarkshire Council and Culture NL.

The project was delivered by development partner hub South West, with construction works completed by Kier Construction Scotland.

This modern new facility, which will be named the Muirfield Centre replaces the previous building and includes office space designed for small businesses, including social enterprises and third sector groups, as well as a nursery, hall space, a café and a range of multi-function rooms for local organisations.

Once the final exterior landscaping phase is complete, the new centre will be surrounded by a brand new re-energised town centre green space, including play provision for people of all ages.

The new structure creates a strong presence within the area, forming a new civic realm and parkland that aims to serve the wider Cumbernauld community and enhance the town centre.

Michael McBrearty, Chief Executive of development partner hub South West added: “We are delighted to have collaborated with North Lanarkshire Council and Kier Construction Scotland to deliver this important multi-purpose community centre to Cumbernauld.

“The new Muirfield Centre will integrate the needs of the local community in terms of leisure, local services and event space, whilst providing support for local business and social enterprises, reflecting the desired public nature of the building.

“This fantastic new facility is a prime example of how partnership working can really benefit local communities.”

North Lanarkshire Council’s regeneration convener, Cllr Allan Graham said: “The Cumbernauld Community Enterprise Centre is a superb example of what can be achieved through a collaborative approach to improving community assets.

“I have no doubt the innovative mix of social enterprises, small businesses and third sector groups along with the traditional facilities and services associated with community centres will be a huge success.”

Kier Construction Scotland’s business development manager, Gordon Reid, said: “Our framework involvement with hub South West and close working partnership with North Lanarkshire Council has helped to deliver this successful project.

“The Muirfield Centre offers a mix of community, business and play and we are sure it will appeal to both the Cumbernauld and wider North Lanarkshire community.”

Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

 

 

 

With the dust barely settled following her cabinet reshuffle, Theresa May visited Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh last Friday in a meeting which has generated a number of this week’s stories. The Prime Minister faced her first PMQs on Wednesday – with the aforementioned visit leading to questions on Scotland’s place within the EU. Elsewhere, Nicola Sturgeon said she was “making preparations” for a second referendum and Alex Rowley, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, said he would “not oppose” a new vote to leave the UK. More information on these stories and more, as well as some of the key stories from the sectors we operate in, can be read in this week’s SPI.

 

Housing and Construction News

The Scottish Government announced the average time for a planning decision to be made on major developments has fallen by 17% on the previous year. The average decision time for major developments in 2015-16 reduced by more than 6 weeks on the previous year, while major housing development decisions are now almost two weeks faster than in 2013-14.

 Technology

The UK’s largest tech firm was sold to a Japanese firm for £24bn this week. ARM Holdings was bought by the Japanese group SoftBank in a deal which Philip Hammond, the chancellor, said showed “Britain has lost none of its allure to international investors.”

 

Life Sciences

George Freeman has left his position as Minister for Life Sciences to become the chair of the Prime Minister’s Policy Board. His successor is Lord Prior of Brampton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health.

 

Professional services

PricewaterhouseCoopers has said that the UK’s real GDP growth is projected to slow to around 1.6 per cent in 2016 and 0.6 per cent in 2017.

 

Political news

Theresa May visited Edinburgh last week to hold discussions with Nicola Sturgeon, a meeting which led to a number of questions as she faced her first PMQs this week. The SNP’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, when insisting Scotland would fight to stay within the EU, asked the Prime Minister: “Did you discuss this when you met with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon when you were in Edinburgh, and will you do everything to ensure that remain means remain for Scotland?” However, Ms May’s response was cutting. “As I have been clear, the Union is very important to me. I was also clear with the First Minister that some of the ideas being put forward are impracticable but I am willing to listen to options that are brought forward and we will be engaging fully with all the devolved administrations.”

 

And so to Scotland’s own independence debate. Appearing on the Sunday Politics show, Nicola Sturgeon said she was “making preparations” for a second referendum if article 50 was triggered in December without the Scottish Government being “on board.”  Meanwhile, Alex Rowley, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, said he would “not oppose” a new vote to leave the UK.

 

Elsewhere, official figures showed unemployment in Scotland fell by 18,000 between March and May to stand at 152,000, MPs voted to renew Trident and Labour announced it had 180,000 applications during a 48-hour window for new membership registration.

 

Parliamentary activity

Scottish Parliament is in recess until early September although some questions and motions will be published on a weekly basis.

 

Written questions:

 

Jackie Baillie (Scottish Labour, West Scotland): To ask the Scottish Government how many new affordable homes it plans to deliver in each of the next five years.

 

Jackie Baillie (Scottish Labour, West Scotland): To ask the Scottish Government how many housing associations there are, and how many have live housebuilding development projects (a) in place and (b) planned for each of the next five years, broken down by the number of units.

 

Jackie Baillie(Scottish Labour, West Scotland): To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the capacity of (a) housing associations, (b) local authorities and (c) the building industry to assist in the delivery of the target to build 50,000 new affordable homes in each of the next five years.

 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

 

Perceptive Communicators Celebrates its Ongoing Success

Perceptive Communicators Celebrates its Ongoing Success

Specialist communications consultancy Perceptive Communicators continues its run of success with a shortlisting in not one but two categories at the CIPR 2016 Pride Awards.

The Glasgow based industry leader – which operates across the UK – has been nominated for the best Public Affairs Campaign for its work with BioCity as well as being shortlisted in the Outstanding Small Public Relations Consultancy category.

Perceptive Communicators’ work has been recognised through multiple awards and nominations and most recently brought home the Best Healthcare and Pharma Campaign Award for the BioCity campaign at this year’s PR Moment Awards ceremony in Manchester.   Perceptive also won the UK Construction Marketing Award for Best Press & PR for its work with City Legacy at the Athletes’ Village.

This year marks Perceptive’s tenth year in business supporting clients in construction, technology, life sciences, professional services, economic development and travel achieve commercial success through more effective communications.

Julie McLauchlan, managing director and founder of Perceptive Communicators, said: “This is great recognition of the consistently high standard of work from our team who help our clients achieve their goals through better communication and influencing. Employing exclusively senior people who have all been clients themselves and specialising in just a few sectors means that we can deliver these excellent results time after time.”

Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

A week may very well be a long time in politics, according to Harold Wilson, but for Theresa May, her wait is over, as she was appointed Prime Minister on Wednesday afternoon.  And within hours she had put a clear line in the sand from the Cameron era by appointing Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary (see attached 1 page UK Cabinet overview). Meanwhile, the UK Labour party continues to tear itself apart with the parliamentary party lining up against leader Jeremy Corbyn – whilst the wider membership appear to be clambering for his re-appointment. An SDP-type split seems all but inevitable.

 

Elsewhere, Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon held important meetings post-Brexit, while the three devolved finance ministers sought to arrange one of their own. The trio want to meet with new Chancellor Philip Hammond to discuss their concerns around the EU referendum result and its resulting impact on devolved budgets. All these stories and more are included within the latest Scottish Political Insider.

 

Housing and Construction News

The Scottish Government has identified 10 immediate actions which it said will help deliver more homes and speed up the planning process. One of the areas would see strengthening skills and capacity, and consulting on enhanced fees to ensure planning authorities are better resourced to deliver more homes.

 Technology

Could Theresa May launch an attack on privacy and internet surveillance? Campaigners including Privacy International suggested this week that she could. More can be read: here    

       

 Life Sciences

George Freeman, the UK Government’s minister for life sciences, gave a speech this week where he announced the formation of a joint government-industry steering group to “set out key priorities for the U.K. life sciences sector [post-Brexit].”

 

Professional services

A survey released by Grant Thornton found 46 per cent of global companies expected an uplift in their revenues over the coming year. However, this would rely on domestic consumer spending rather than an increase in exports.

 

Political news

A week which saw David Cameron’s last PMQ’s before he passed the country’s leadership baton to Theresa May, also saw an already fractured Labour party on the cusp of a potentially fatal leadership contest. The PLP’s attempted coup d’état failed with the news thatJeremy Corbyn will be on the Labour leadership ballot alongside Angela Eagle and Owen Smith.  Elsewhere, Ruth Davidson met withTheresa May to hit home the message that she should have “positive engagement” with the Scottish government, while Nicola Sturgeonmet with the Bank of England governor Mark Carney to discuss the post-Brexit economy. The meeting followed all three finance ministers from the three devolved administrations writing to outgoing Chancellor George Osborne seeking an urgent meeting to discuss their concerns around the EU referendum result and the resulting impact on devolved budgets.

 

On Tuesday, it was announced that the Scottish Government would get new welfare power transferred from Westminster in the next few months. One Department of Work and Pensions source, said: “That includes the power to create new benefits. Powers over existing benefits, such as Disability Benefit, will take a lot longer.” Elsewhere, Minister for Employability and Training, Jamie Hepburn confirmed that Scottish businesses will now be able to have their say on how Scotland should use its share of the funding from the UK Government’s apprenticeship levy. And Wednesday saw Citizens Advice Scotland issue a report in which it called for urgent government action as it revealed a 47% increase in food bank inquiries.

 

Parliamentary activity

Scottish Parliament is in recess until early September although some questions and motions will be published on a weekly basis.

 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

There can have been few more momentous weeks in British politics than the last one. As UK politicians struggle to deal with a referendum outcome that only a small minority of elected representatives actually wanted, the new Conservative leadership race hots up and Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership continues to hang by a thread. Nicola Sturgeon lobbies Brussels to remember Scotland, which voted solidly to stay IN the EU, as the wider UK stumbles towards Article 50 and the exit door. But, despite it all, some semblance of normal business continues – and Holyrood packs up for its long summer recess.

 

Housing and Construction News

A report by the Scottish Government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals, claimed the City of Edinburgh Council’s proposed Local Development Plan should not be modified to include further housing land release at a strategic level.

Technology

As if the economic, cultural and social implications of Brexit weren’t enough to worry about, news emerged this week of a new email scam phishing attack targeting users with worrying subject lines relating to the vote.

 

Life Sciences

If still alive today, Dolly the sheep would have celebrated her twentieth birthday on Tuesday. As she returns to public display in Edinburgh, her creator, Sir Ian Wilmut, this week called for the building of an ‘ark’ to hold tissues from endangered animals.

 

Tourism

Could the drop in the pound against the dollar support increased American tourism to the UK? News the week from across the pond – which sent 3.3m tourists to the UK in 2015 – suggest it could. The pound hit (another) 30 year low on Wednesday.

 

Political news

UK political news mirrored the next series of ‘The Thick of It’ with a number of front page stories, not least the long overdue Chilcot report into the Iraq war. It’s been a week of movers and shakers, but all to a very different beat. Following Boris Johnson’s failure to stand,Theresa May won the first round of the Conservative leadership race, with Liam Fox and Stephen Crabb eliminated at the first hurdle. On Thursday, Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom became the final two candidates following the last round of voting.

 

Elsewhere, Jeremy Corbyn finalised his shadow cabinet (again) in the face of repeated calls to quit and put an English MP in post as Shadow Scottish Secretary.  Nigel Farage resigned as UKIP leader and Angus Robertson announced he was to stand for the SNP’s deputy leader role.

 

Meanwhile, the UK government’s Europe minister met with Scotland’s Standing Council on Europe as he attempted to show Scotland’s involvement would be key in Brexit negotiations, while David Mundell and Nicola Sturgeon met separately with business leaders – including the IoD and CBI – to reassure them and quell market fears. The latter also branded the UK Government as inhumane after it failed to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Scotland to remain here when the UK leaves the EU. Later in the week, six business groups including the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, Scottish Financial Enterprise, Scottish Council for Development & Industry, Confederation of British Industry and IoD issued a joint statement calling for Scottish businesses to continue to collaborate and identify the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead post-Brexit.

 

With calls for so-called ‘Indy Ref 2’ increasing, Ruth Davidson claimed any such referendum should not be blocked by the UK Government, terminology which may not only split her party, but which could encourage the SNP to portray her comments as a concession.

 

Parliamentary activity

Scottish Parliament is in recess until early September although some questions and motions will be published on a weekly basis.

 

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

CONSTRUCTION WORK BEGINS ON ABERDEEN’S NEW EXHIBITION AND CONFERENCE CENTRE

CONSTRUCTION WORK BEGINS ON ABERDEEN’S NEW EXHIBITION AND CONFERENCE CENTRE

Work to create a world class new exhibition and conference centre for Aberdeen and the north east began with a ground-breaking ceremony today (Tuesday, July 5th 2016).

 

Aberdeen City Council and its development partner, Henry Boot Developments Ltd, broke ground on the multi-million pound project – which will also include an innovative energy centre and three hotels on the former site of the Rowett Research Institute at Bucksburn. The project is a joint venture between Aberdeen City Council and development partner Henry Boot Developments and will bring an extra 31,000 business tourists to Scotland.

 

Generating 600 new jobs during the construction period and 352 full-time-equivalent permanent positions by year 10 of operations, the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre is a key element of Aberdeen City Council’s Strategic Infrastructure Plan to grow and bolster the Granite City’s economy. The new arena and conference centre has a strong role to play in delivering the Regional Economic Strategy, by anchoring existing international events and competing nationally and internationally for new events, as well as by broadening the appeal of the North East to a global audience. Over the next ten years, the new exhibition and conference centre is expected to attract major artists and events to the city, and contribute an additional 4.5 million visitors, £113 million of visitor spend and £63m net GVA to the Scottish economy. It will provide four times the exhibition space available at the current AECC, and increase the maximum capacity to 12,500 in the arena. It is due to open in 2019.

 

Council Leader Jenny Laing said: “The City of Aberdeen is currently undergoing one of the largest regeneration programmes in its history and it is fantastic that work has now started on the AECC which is a key part of Aberdeen City Council’s overall Strategic Infrastructure Plan. The new venue will ensure that Aberdeen retains events such as Offshore Europe which brings £140million to the local economy, and the significant economic benefits they bring, while securing new events for the city. It will provide a step change for the future by providing a modern and fit-for-purpose facility, which will be the most sustainable of its kind in the UK.

 

“The new AECC is a vital facility that will ensure Aberdeen can compete not just with other Scottish and UK cities, but with other global energy capitals. It will attract bigger names in entertainment, and more major international events and conferences to the north-east region and I am looking forward to watching the new building take shape over the coming months.”

 

Nick Harris, Director at Henry Boot Developments said: “This is a very exciting moment for Henry Boot Developments, and for everyone else involved in what is a hugely significant project for Aberdeen and the North East. We’ve worked very hard with our design team to ensure that this new facility will be a world-class leisure and business destination, and starting work on site to turn these plans a reality is another major step forward.”

 

He added: “As well as being a place for the people of the North East to be entertained, this new facility will also be a key element of the business structure needed to promote Aberdeen as a World Energy City and the Energy Capital of Europe, and will provide a strong platform for sustainable economic growth for the area.” Scottish Enterprise has contributed £10 million towards development of the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. Infrastructure director at Scottish Enterprise, Allan McQuade, said: “Today marks a significant milestone for Aberdeen and the North East, which has faced some considerable challenges following the downturn in the oil and gas sector. We are pleased to support Aberdeen City Council and its development partner, Henry Boot Developments, with their significant investment which aims to put Aberdeen on the global stage for international events and bring much needed jobs and investment to the area.”

 

ENDS

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