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Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

This week’s political highlights

 

Fiona Hyslop and Nicola Sturgeon travelled south to France and England respectively in the SNP’s latest ‘EU Referendum result’ tour, with both continuing to make their feelings on Scotland’s EU position clear. Elsewhere, Theresa May put pen to paper in an exclusive article for Holyrood magazine while the Labour Party met for its annual conference. While the party continues to tear itself apart from the inside, reforms to give Scottish Labour more autonomy were announced, with greater detail included below. More on these stories and others, including the latest Scottish Housing Survey are included within this week’s Scottish Political Insider.

 

Housing and Construction News

 

Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown announced that the construction contractor for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route project, AWPR Construction Joint Venture, is to help deliver the Prince’s Trust ‘Get into Civil Engineering’ programme. Elsewhere, the latest Scottish Household Survey showed 14 per cent of all households rented their property, compared to 5 per cent in 1999. Andy Wightman MSP, Housing spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said: “These figures show how dysfunctional our housing supply has become. Far too many people are being forced into renting due to unaffordable property prices and a lack of genuine housing tenure.”

 

Political news

 

The start of the week saw External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop meet the French Government’s Minister of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir. Scotland’s position on the EU referendum result was made clear. The theme was further evident as the week progressed with Nicola Sturgeon speaking at the Institute of Directors’ Annual Convention in the Royal Albert Hall. She called on the UK Government to step in and prevent a “race to the bottom” in the wake of the referendum result. Meanwhile, writing in Holyrood magazine, Theresa May argued her Government “will engage fully with and are willing to listen to options from the Scottish Government as we formulate our negotiating position for leaving the EU.”

 

Reforms to give the Scottish Labour Party greater powers were approved at the Party’s annual conference. Newly (re) elected UK leader Jeremy Corbyn had earlier said that the plans to give Scottish Labour greater autonomy and a seat on the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) were to be approved. What he didn’t add was ‘whether he, or left wingers in the party like it or not’. Kezia Dugdale will take up the NEC position herself, a decision which Mr Corbyn had told BBC Scotland on Monday that he would be “very happy” about. This move angered many of the Party’s left with Vince Mills of The Campaign for Socialism arguing that “placing someone on the NEC is an exercise in patronage not democracy.”  Despite the best efforts of the Labour leader, he is finding it difficult to water down Scottish Labour’s autonomy. Elsewhere at the conference, Labour’s shadow Brexit minister Emily Thornberry claimed she would be happy to speak to the SNP about how best to keep the UK in the EU, a move which may yet ruffle the feathers of supporters north of the border.

 

Finally, not only do many Scots rate their neighbourhood as a good place to live, many also have strong sense of belonging to their neighbourhood.  The findings were announced in the Scottish Government’s Scottish Household Survey.  Elsewhere, it was announced new business hubs will be delivered in four local communities, thanks to the Local Economic Development fund.

 

Parliamentary activity:

 

Lead committee to report by 30 October 2016

 

First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber and Upper Tribunal for Scotland (Composition) Regulations 2016.

 

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 Devin Scobie on 07900 397 872 or devin.scobie@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Strong Kier Construction Scotland performance contributes to Kier Group plc full year results

Strong Kier Construction Scotland performance contributes to Kier Group plc full year results

Strong Kier Construction Scotland performance contributes to Kier Group plc full year results

  • Kier Group announces £4.2bn revenue, up 26% (2015: £3.4bn)
  • Underlying profits before tax* of £150m, up 44% (2015: £104m)
  • £8.7bn order book

Kier Group plc, a leading UK property, residential, construction and services group, and the parent company of Kier Construction Scotland, has today (22 September) announced its full-year results for the year to 30 June 2016.

A strong performance from Kier Construction Scotland, which has a turnover in excess of £150m per annum and employs over 200 people from its offices in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Newcastle, has underpinned this latest set of results.  As a leading Scottish contractor, Kier has continued to grow the business, expand its order book, and provide diverse local employment and training opportunities throughout the country.

Commenting on the results, Brian McQuade, managing director of Kier Construction Scotland, said:

“We have a solid pipeline of work, largely from our partnership on a number of significant health and education frameworks. Most recently we have become a partner on the £125m Aberdeenshire Council Capital Works Framework, been reappointed to deliver over £25m of minor works projects as part of the £1.5bn Scape National Minor Works Framework and are providing building works as part of Glasgow Airport’s framework over the next three years.

“In Scotland we are delivering major build projects across education, healthcare, commercial and retail sectors. We are also working on an exciting range of heritage projects, restoring some of the country’s most important landmarks for future generations to enjoy. Notably, we are managing the £25m restoration of the fire damaged, world-renowned Mackintosh Building for Glasgow School of Art, where we are combining ancient heritage skills with modern engineering expertise.

“We are also working with the Edinburgh College of Art to refurbish its Grade A-listed sandstone building in Lauriston Place in a £14m project – another scheme which has both local and international importance.  Next month, work begins on the £6.7m contract to carry out restoration, redevelopment and upgrade work at one of Scotland’s oldest and most historic concert halls – the A-listed Aberdeen Music Hall.

Commenting on the results, Haydn Mursell, chief executive, said:

“I am pleased to report a good set of results reflecting the evolution of the Group during the year following the completion of the integration of Mouchel.

 

This year, we have successfully focused on our commercial and capital disciplines and are pleased to report a significant improvement in our net debt, further strengthening our balance sheet and the delivery of a key Vision 2020 target: net debt: EBITDA of less than 1x, a year ahead of our expectations.

 

The Group continues to perform well in growing market sectors including infrastructure, housing and regional building, providing a breadth of capabilities to our clients.  For the first time, 50% of Group profit now comes from our Services division where essential day-to-day services are provided to clients and we have long-term visibility of our future pipeline of work.

 

We remain focused on growing the business through improving operational efficiencies and investing in new technology to support our operations. We believe that our range of complementary businesses underpins the resilience of our operating model and the strength of our order book. Having completed the integration of Mouchel, we are well progressed with the simplification of our portfolio of businesses and are focused on capitalising on the growth opportunities available to the Group. We remain confident of achieving our goal of double-digit profit growth on average each year to 2020.”

 

Permanent, Full time and Part Time PR and Social Media Account Manager

Permanent, Full time and Part Time PR and Social Media Account Manager

Would you like to join a winning and growing team with fantastic clients?

Perceptive Communicators helps clients communicate more effectively to achieve commercial results.  Whether it be marketing, PR or social media, our team delivers results to help clients succeed.  We have won awards in our field in 2015 and 2016 and have been shortlisted for the CIPR awards in 2016, ranking among the top PR agencies in the UK.

Unlike many consultancies, all those who undertake the work are at a senior level, so clients can be assured of expert advice. We don’t field the big guns to win the work only to pass it to junior staff.  With us, it is the experts hired who actually do the work.

We currently have a fantastic opportunity for a driven candidate looking for their next career move into a well-respected, forward thinking growing agency.

Working at Perceptive Communicators will give the chosen candidate the opportunity to work with exciting clients on a variety of projects with a supportive team beside them.  There is the opportunity for flexible working and great benefits alongside the competitive salary.  All this along with 33 days holiday per year makes the role a good move for a career conscious, forward thinking PR professional.

The role
As a PR and Marketing Account Manager, under the guidance of an Account Director, you will be responsible for the delivery of several client contracts from the development of the communications strategy to implementation.  Your role will include the following:

  • Working with the Perceptive team to develop and implement successful communications strategies for our clients that deliver results
  • Building positive relationships with clients
  • Attending monthly client meeting and ensuring actions are delivered and agreements are adhered to
  • Identifying appropriate contacts and then developing and maintaining good working relationships with the media, key stakeholders e.g. community leaders to help implement client strategies successfully
  • Arranging and project managing events on behalf of clients and Perceptive Communicators and representing clients and Perceptive Communicators at events
  • Writing and editing leaflets, publications, brochures, press releases, award submissions, speeches, newsletters, websites and social media
  • Monitoring the public and media’s opinions of clients in the media and online
  • Representing clients and Perceptive Communicators in person and online e.g. Perceptive Communicators’ website and social media channels e.g. LinkedIn company pages
  • Identifying potential new business opportunities
  • Attending networking events on behalf of Perceptive Communicators, including external and internal events e.g. Perceptive Communicators and Perceptive Directors Clubs
  • Contributing to new business activities e.g. tenders

 

Essential skills

  • PR and social media experience
  • Proactive and proven ability to work in a fast paced environment
  • An understanding of and an ability to implement PR and social media
  • An ability to deliver high quality written content and marketing material strategy over various platforms including Press, Websites and Social Media
  • An ability to deliver agreed goals and work to tight deadlines to ensure clients’ targets and expectations are met
  • Organised work processes and ability to prioritise tasks and manage time effectively
  • Flexible can do attitude
  • Ability to work on own and as part of a team
  • Driving Licence

Work experience
Candidates will have more than five years’ work experience in a PR or communications role.  Experience of working in a PR agency and delivering successful results on behalf of clients is desired but not essential.

To apply
If you are interested in this opportunity, please send a CV and covering letter detailing why you would be good for this role to emma.fair@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk.  No agencies please.

Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

This week’s political highlights

A Scottish Parliament debate on housing resulted in heated debate leading to a large number of housing and construction related articles this week. Elsewhere, David Cameron left UK politics by resigning as an MP, a new poll showed support for Scottish independence remaining static and Theresa May and John Swinney outlined their respective plans for education. Meanwhile, the ongoing Brexit debate – with an increasingly frustrated SNP-  continued while the Fraser of Allander Institute released economic figures which would raise alarm bells if they came to fruition. More on these stories and others are included within this week’s Scottish Political Insider.

 

Housing and Construction News

In the week the Scottish Government announced that the number of affordable homes approved over the year to the end of June 2016 has increased by 26 per cent on the previous year, MSPs met on Tuesday to debate housing. During the debate, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced a new Island Housing Fund of up to £5m over three years, while noting that targets to build 30,000 affordable homes over the last parliament had been “smashed” by more than 10 per cent. The Island Housing Fund was welcomed by the Scottish Liberal Democrats with the party noting it would make a “positive difference” to housing stock. Elsewhere, the Scottish Greens took the opportunity to urge Scottish Ministers to stop developers inflating the cost of land. Going full circle, the Conservatives pounced on figures released showing 15,854 residential properties were completed in 2015/16, a two per cent fall on the previous year.

 

Political news

It was another eventful week in politics with David Cameron stepping down as MP for Witney and Nick Clegg warning Unionists that they faced a difficult challenge from the Scottish independence movement now that there was a “compelling” case post-Brexit. His comments may yet ring true but not according to a Kantar TNS poll which showed support for Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom had remained static following the EU referendum vote. While not yet on the same level as Tony Blair’s “education, education, education” mantra, the ongoing debate came out of the classroom and into the media spotlight. Theresa May outlined new grammar school plans and north of the border, John Swinney launched a new consultation designed to empower Scottish teachers.

 

The Fraser of Allander Institute released a report claiming Scotland’s budget could be cut by between 3 per cent – 4 per cent in real terms by 2020-21 and up to 6% – around £1.6 billion. They did include the “worst possible scenario” caveat but the findings were enough to cause headaches at Holyrood. Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament’s European Committee met with Nicola Sturgeon claiming the “least worst option” of remaining in the single market should be a key objective. Meanwhile, The Scottish Government’s new Brexit minister Michael Russell was the latest to question the Prime Minister arguing it was simply “not good enough” that Theresa May had still not made clear her Brexit plans. Mr Russell also called on the UK Government to end their “confused and damaging” messages and provide clarity and direction on their plans for leaving the EU or risk damaging confidence in the UK.

 

New council ward boundaries across Scotland have also now been agreed, Scottish unemployment fell and SNP MPs called for the reinstatement of Edinburgh West MP Michelle Thomson despite her suspension over a police investigation into her property deals.

 

Parliamentary activity:

 

Andy Wightman (Scottish Green Party, Lothian): To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making in meeting the target it set in 2007 of raising the rate of new housing supply to 35,000 per year by the middle of the current decade.

 

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

 

 

Kier Construction Scotland announces Aberdeen Music Hall contract win

Kier Construction Scotland announces Aberdeen Music Hall contract win

Kier Construction Scotland announces Aberdeen Music Hall contract win

  • £6.725m contract value
  • Work to begin in October 2016

Kier Construction Scotland has been awarded a £6.725m contract by Aberdeen Performing Arts to carry out work at one of Scotland’s oldest and most historic concert halls.  The multi-million transformation of Aberdeen Music Hall includes the restoration, redevelopment and upgrading work on this historic A-listed building.

Work will begin on site next month and is expected to be complete by summer 2018.   Kier will carry out complex demolition and excavation work, restore the concert hall’s original features and build new public areas with improved access.  The ambitious plans will allow the classic auditorium with its renowned acoustics, historic Willis organ and Strachan murals to be safeguarded for future generations.

The announcement builds on Kier’s extensive cultural expertise, working on a number of iconic buildings including the Royal Opera House and, closer to home, at Edinburgh College of Art and the world-famous Glasgow School of Art.

Kier Construction Scotland’s area operations director Sean O’Callaghan, said: “We are delighted to be working on restoring and transforming the Aberdeen Music Hall – a national treasure that lies at the heart of Aberdeen city centre.

“This technically challenging project really highlights our capabilities and expertise in this field.   We have a solid record of successfully completing major projects of this scale and we will build on our relationships with the local supply chain to help create a range of employment opportunities in Aberdeen and the north of Scotland to deliver this important project.”

“This is the moment we’ve been waiting for,” said Jane Spiers, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts. “Appointing Kier as contractors for our Music Hall Transformation project makes the project real. It’s been in discussion now for 3 years, in blueprints and plans for a couple and preparing for work to start has dominated the landscape for the whole team for the last year. Local people shared fond stories and memories at our Your Hall Your Story closing events and we know they are excited to see the next chapter unfurl. Opening the doors to let the contractors in is the first step of bringing the plans to life.”

Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

This week’s political highlights

 

Holyrood and Westminster returned to business after the summer recess with the ongoing Brexit debate generating the most column inches. The SNP went on the offensive with an attack about the UK Government’s alleged lack of strategy for leaving the EU. On Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon outlined her Programme for Government with a £500m package to promote private sector business investment stealing the headlines. More on these and other stories including an update on the Schools for the Future programme and the launch of the Westminster SNP Coordination Group are included within this week’s Scottish Political Insider.

 

Housing and Construction News

 

Key housing and construction related points announced in the Programme for Government include increased working with local authorities and housing associations, investing more than £572 million this financial year in affordable housing and the introduction of Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme in 2018. As well as this, Simplified Planning Zones will be introduced to support investment and increase new housing delivery. Prior to the announcement, the Scottish Conservatives issued a call for fuel poverty to be significantly reduced and for work to begin as soon as possible to insulate properties across the country.

 

Political news

 

Nicola Sturgeon outlined her Programme for Government on Tuesday with a £500m package to promote private sector business investment one of the key proposals.  It was argued that the three-year Scottish Growth Scheme would help support investment. During the debate following, Kezia Dugdale argued that the Scottish Government was getting more powerful but less ambitious.

 

Meanwhile, in the week Holyrood and Westminster returned after the summer recess, criticism appears to be mounting against Theresa May’s government over a lack of clarity over a Brexit timetable. In a news release, the SNP claimed the Government was “devoid” of any clear strategy for Brexit. Stephen Gethins MP, the SNP spokesperson on Europe also noted that this current position was “unsustainable” and was causing “huge levels of uncertainty”. Prior to this, Theresa May had made clear that she would not give a “running commentary” on the UK Government’s Brexit plans.

 

On Wednesday Nicola Sturgeon gave a statement on the country’s position on Europe, in which she took the opportunity to outline why Scottish independence may provide the best solution to remain in the EU. Kezia Dugdale said she supported the Scottish government’s efforts to remain in the European bloc, but hinted that she felt all Nicola Sturgeon wanted to do was remain in the single market. Ruth Davidson took things a step further when she mockingly asked if the First Minister could let the chamber know under what circumstances she did not consider Scottish independence to be the best option.

 

It was also announced that 29 newly built or refurbished school buildings will open across Scotland during this academic year under the Scottish Government’s £1.8 billion Schools for the Future programme, the Westminster SNP Coordination Group was launched to review the impact of the UK leaving the EU and 13 Scottish business organisations, including the CBI, asked the finance secretary to review the decision to increase taxes on large organisations.

 

Parliamentary activity:

 

Pauline McNeill (Scottish Labour, Glasgow): To ask the Scottish Government how it is using its powers under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 to improve the standard of private sector housing.

 

Pauline McNeill (Scottish Labour, Glasgow): To ask the Scottish Government how many homes have received support from the Rural Poverty Task Force.

 

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

A room with a view . . . but not as you know it

A room with a view . . . but not as you know it

Cruden Homes launch virtual reality show home viewings – a first for Scotland

 

Homes for Scotland Housebuilder of the Year 2016, Cruden Homes, has launched a unique new home viewing experience which looks set to revolutionise Scotland’s housing market.

 

In a first for the country, Cruden is now offering virtual reality (VR) tours of its new Baron’s Vale development in Glasgow’s thriving east end. From the comfort of the sales and marketing suite, a VR headset will allow anyone using the device to experience and feel every imaginable detail of their potential new home.

 

Many new homes are now being purchased off plan and it can be difficult for people to visualise how their home will feel and look like.  Cruden’s virtual reality software takes the customer into a 3D world and really brings off plan properties to life, much more than a glossy insert or CGI image, so that people can make informed decisions before reserving a home.

 

This modern virtual reality technology is the perfect showcase to view Cruden’s innovative and contemporary homes.   Once the user puts on the headset, they will feel like they are standing within the home and simply by moving their head, they can walk from room to room and between floors of the property, all whilst sitting in the Baron’s Vale sales suite.  All of the rooms of the Maple and The Honeysuckle house types can be viewed with the VR headset, capturing every detail of the space and layout.

 

This state-of-the-art technology offers a fantastic new way to view homes being sold off plan at Baron’s Vale before they are complete early in the New Year. The VR images come from the housebuilders’ King’s View development in Glasgow’s south side which offers the exact same property types and has been sold out completely off plan.

 

Cruden’s latest new development, Baron’s Vale, is only three miles from Glasgow city centre in Glasgow’s thriving East End.  It offers affordable luxury, first-class transport links, high quality local amenities and some of the best woodland walks Scotland has to offer on its doorstep.

 

Prices range from £125,000 to £160,000 for two and three bedroom terraced and three bedroom semi-detached homes. The properties are well-designed, spacious and offer excellent value for money.

 

Liz Mallon, Sales & Marketing Director of Cruden Homes West, said:

 

“Our virtual reality headsets offer a real step change to the Scottish housing market.  People visiting our Baron’s Vale sales suite will be amazed by how realistic it is to ‘virtually’ walk around what could be their dream home. This new development caters for first-time buyers, families and downsizers and demand has already been high, with only 10 homes remaining available for sale.  Cruden has a reputation for being innovative and we expect to be very busy in the coming weeks with the introduction of this incredible new technology!”

 

Cruden’s structured purchase plan can advise those looking to buy of their estimated monthly mortgage payments, deposit required and other costs associated with home ownership. Purchasers may also be able to take advantage of the Government-backed Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme which allows buyers to own a home with only a 5% deposit.

 

For more information on Baron’s Vale, just visit the sales and information suite to discuss your individual needs at MacDuff Street, off London Road, G31 4PN – open Thursday to Monday, 11.00am – 4.30pm.  See www.crudenbaronsvale.co.uk or call us on 07818 596 693.

Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

This week’s political highlights

 

Theresa May and her Cabinet met following the summer break to discuss how best to progress Brexit, the outcome of which led to anger and criticism for delays among some opposition parties. Meanwhile, following Scottish hustings, Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith claimed he would not oppose a second independence referendum in a week where a new poll suggested his party trailed the Conservatives by 14 points. Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale announced her party’s ‘alternative programme for government’ which has a strong focus on education. Elsewhere, survey findings issued by the Scottish Chamber of Commerce found many businesses wanted to see renewed investment following the Brexit vote. More on these stories and more from the week are included in this week’s Scottish Political Insider.

 

Housing and Construction News

 

Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for local government and housing, announced that Mike Dailly was to be reappointed to the Scottish Housing Regulator board. Elsewhere, Scottish Annual Business Statistics found that in 2014, approximate Gross Value Added (GVA) in the services sector amounted to £51.4 billion, compared to £13.4 billion in manufacturing and £6.6 billion in the construction sector.

 

Political news

 

Theresa May and her Cabinet met following the summer break to discuss how best to progress Brexit.  While it was agreed that talks will not begin this year, a statement issued after the meeting announced that the government was set to “push ahead” with Brexit without Parliamentary approval. This may distance the involvement of Scotland in negotiations, a move which a spokesperson for Nicola Sturgeonclaimed was an “increasingly unacceptable and irresponsible position”. Elsewhere, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberryclaimed the government was guilty of “high-handed arrogance.”

 

Owen Smith, who last week gained the support of Kezia Dugdale, told the BBC that “of course” he would not oppose a second independence referendum while reiterating that it was up to the Scottish party to decide its positon. His response may damage support for his leadership campaign from party members north of the border. The party also took a battering in an ICM survey for The Guardian which showed the Conservatives held a 14-point lead over Labour. Kezia Dugdale announced her party’s ‘alternative programme for government’ which placed education as a top priority and would include the introduction of a Work and Trade Unions Bill to recognise the “positive contribution of trade unions in the economy.”

 

A survey from Scottish Chambers of Commerce found that most companies wanted to see a renewed focus on investment to drive growth following the Brexit result. Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “The Scottish economy was faltering even before June’s EU referendum and the result has sparked another period of uncertainty.”

 

Elsewhere, a report by Barclays Wealth found the number of Scottish millionaires had fallen by ten per cent, Paisley’s Ferguslie Park was named Scotland’s most deprived area and the Scottish Government announced the Council Tax Reduction scheme supported 498,750 households last month.

 

Parliamentary activity:

 

The Scottish Parliament resumes on Tuesday after the summer recess. The first item of Chamber business will be a statement from the First Minister on the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2016-17. This will be followed by Scottish Government led debate on the Programme.

 

David Stewart (Labour, Highlands and Islands): To ask the Scottish Government by what date it will introduce the mandatory public register of land and how the register will be implemented.

 

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

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