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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 28 April 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 28 April 2017

Campaigning in the Scottish local government elections has reached its final week, with polling due next Thursday (4 May).

As the 2017 Westminster campaign warms up, none of the major UK political parties have been able to provide a firm date for the publication of their manifestos. The Lib Dems expect to be able to set a date within the next couple of weeks and the Labour manifesto should be finalised in the second week of May, as should be the Conservatives.  The SNP manifesto will be published around the same time as the main UK parties.

Rumours the Conservatives will include an energy price cap for lower paid workers emerged this week, and a new Labour government would seek to create four new UK-wide bank holidays. The holidays would be on each nation’s patron saint day – including St Andrew’s Day on 30 November. Labour has also pledged to introduce a “radical extension of devolution” after Brexit which would include Holyrood, although no further details were forthcoming at this time.

All the parties have been scrambling to select candidates and that has been the main focus over the past seven days.  Four Tory MSPs have stepped forward with Borders MSP John Lamont, resigning his constituency seat to try and unseat SNP MP Calum Kerr.  This will be his third attempt but polls suggest he will overturn the wafer-thin 328 majority.

Former Labour MSP Cara Hilton hopes to retake Dunfermline, having lost her parallel Holyrood seat to SNP last May.  And two former Lib Dems MPs, Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire and Alan Reid in Argyll and Bute, are seeking a comeback.

The prospect of a second independence referendum is never far away and another new (Kantar) opinion poll suggests a sharp drop in support. 37% said yes and 55% said no, but once ‘Don’t Knows’ were stripped out, the split was 60%-40% in favour of remaining in the UK.  In the equivalent poll last August, the split was 53% to 47% against independence. Significantly, 30% of those who voted Yes at the last independence referendum and Leave in the EU referendum are among those who do not want to see another Scottish poll.

Our focus next week will be on the council elections but after that all eyes will be on the Westminster poll on 8 June.

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 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk


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Perceptive adds to portfolio with three new client wins

Perceptive adds to portfolio with three new client wins

Glasgow-based specialist communications consultancy Perceptive Communicators is continuing to grow after adding three new clients to its portfolio.

Perth & Kinross Council has appointed Perceptive to deliver an integrated media relations and social media campaign aimed at attracting new carers into paid roles across its locality. Wavegarden Scotland has selected the agency to support its public consultation and profile development as it seeks planning approval to create Scotland’s first wave park at Craigpark Quarry near Ratho, and purpose built student accommodation provider true Student has chosen Perceptive to help raise its profile as it brings more than £40bn investment to Scotland.

Existing client Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has also extended its relationship with Perceptive through a part-time cover arrangement where Perceptive staff are providing flexible in-house website, social media and events support while the Centre completes recruitment for two marketing roles.

Marc Carter, Managing Director of true Student said:  “Since appointing Perceptive to handle PR for true in Glasgow and Newcastle, we have been hugely impressed by both the creative and imaginative way that Perceptive have approached the brand, and the significant success they have achieved in creating traction for true through a wide range of media. It’s clear that great attention has been paid to our brand philosophy, and the pieces and positioning subsequently created by the Perceptive team have captured our message most eloquently. The reach into the media that was promised has been more than achieved, and we are delighted with the consistent and personal interest taken in our project and brand.  We see Perceptive as a key part of our team now in Glasgow, and look forward to working closely with them as we continue to develop our presence in Scotland.”

Andrew Hadden, co-founder of Wavegarden Scotland said: “Perceptive was recommended to us by trusted advisors. We have really appreciated the team’s experience and help in guiding us through this process.”

Julie McLauchlan, founder and Managing Director of Perceptive Communicators, said: “Our exclusively expert team who have all been clients themselves means that we deliver not only higher quality client results, but also achieve these results more quickly.  We’re glad this shone through in our proposals to Perth & Kinross Council, Wavegarden Scotland and true Student, and are delighted with the results we are already delivering with them.”

Perceptive Communicators recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and was also named Outstanding Small Consultancy at the recent CIPR Pride Scotland Awards.


If you or your organisation would benefit from our expertise on any aspect of PR, social media and communications, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Loreburn’s chief executive is only Scottish finalist in UK-wide ‘Inspirational Leader’ award

Loreburn’s chief executive is only Scottish finalist in UK-wide ‘Inspirational Leader’ award

Loreburn Housing Association’s chief executive, Lorraine Usher, has been named as the only finalist from a Scottish organisation in a major national award for leadership in social housing.

Lorraine has been shortlisted in the “Inspirational Leader of the Year (under 5,000 stock)” category of the UK-wide Housing Heroes Awards 2017, which is organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing and Inside Housing.

Loreburn Housing Association, which manages around 2,500 homes across Dumfries and Galloway, has had a remarkable turnaround since coming out of a two-year period of intervention by the Scottish Housing regulator in 2015, which was when Lorraine joined the organisation. Within 18 months, Lorraine had implemented a new vision and strategic objectives, completed a successful organisational restructure, and had led the organisation to triple Investors in People Gold status. Loreburn’s Hallam House development also won the Excellence in Development for Rented Properties Award at the CIH Excellence Awards 2016.

Lorraine’s new culture and vision has resulted in an improvement in the majority of Loreburn’s key performance indicators, including 91% overall customer satisfaction levels, 93% customer satisfaction with being kept informed, and 95% of customers saying their rent represents value for money.

Loreburn – which is now rated low-risk by the Scottish Housing Regulator – has just released its annual plan for 2017/18, which includes a new homes programme with a value exceeding £18m, an investment in technology for older persons’ accommodation to help people live independently for longer, a modern apprenticeship programme, and an innovative partnership with Microsoft and the University of Strathclyde to offer free WiFi in all Loreburn properties.

Lorraine said: “I’m very proud to have been named as a finalist at these prestigious awards. I was born in Dumfries so the area is really close to my heart, and since I began my role at Loreburn I’ve been passionate about ensuring Dumfries and Galloway is a great place to live for our customers.

“While this award shortlisting may have my name on it, the changes that have been brought in at Loreburn, such as an increased customer focus, innovative projects and the introduction of modernised ways of doing business, would not have been a success without the commitment and talent of the fantastic team of people here at Loreburn and the tremendous support provided by the Management Committee and our customers. If I am lucky enough to win this award, it will be a win for the whole organisation. Loreburn is a wonderful place to work.”

The winner will be announced at the Housing Heroes Awards ceremony in Manchester on 26 June with around 1,000 people expected to attend.

 

Planning permission granted for £17m Paisley housing development

Planning permission granted for £17m Paisley housing development

AS Homes (Scotland) Ltd, one of Scotland’s prominent house builders, has been granted planning consent for a new £17m development of 132 homes for social rent and sale at Love Street in Paisley.

The homes are being built for Sanctuary Scotland Housing Association, one of the country’s leading social landlords. Plans and information about the development were submitted to Renfrewshire Council in December 2016.

The 132 units will be two and three bedroom, two storey terraced and semi-detached houses. The homes will be built using timber frame construction, which brings many benefits including quicker build times and energy efficiencies.

Paul Kelly, Managing Director of AS Homes (Scotland) Ltd said: “We’re delighted to be working together with Sanctuary on this large housing development.  This is great news for Paisley as it will deliver a major economic boost, creating jobs and much-needed new social housing for the area. We plan to start work on site in the summer, with completion due in the summer 2019.

Gillian Lavety, Sanctuary’s head of development – Scotland, said: “Our Love Street homes will provide a significant boost to Paisley’s affordable housing stock.

“As with previous projects we are confident these high quality homes will be popular with buyers and tenants.

“Sanctuary has more than 350 properties planned for Renfrewshire, making us one of the area’s biggest developers.

“We look forward to beginning the build at Love Street later this year.”

25th award win for City Legacy is a Royal affair!

25th award win for City Legacy is a Royal affair!

The consortium behind the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village wins prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise. 

City Legacy Homes – the consortium of four Glasgow housebuilders that developed the 2014 Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village – has scooped the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

The Awards are presented to UK businesses for outstanding achievement in the categories of innovation, international trade, sustainable development and promoting opportunity through social mobility. They are known as being the highest official UK awards for British businesses, with all award winners invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace, which is hosted by HRH The Queen.

The award for the City Legacy consortium – which comprises CCG, Cruden, Mactaggart & Mickel and WH Malcolm – is in the Sustainable Development category.  This reflects the numerous energy efficiency measures that were incorporated at the Athletes’ Village, such as solar panels, a ventilation and heat recovery system to recycle air and heat, and a district heating scheme that supplies instant heat and constant hot water and is around 40 per cent more efficient than normal heating schemes.

The Queen’s Award is the 25th award that the Athletes’ Village has won for its high quality design, sustainability, and the role it has played in the regeneration of Glasgow’s east end. Previous awards include Best Sustainable Development at the Scottish Business Awards, winner in the Large Scale Housing Development category at the Scottish Saltire Design Awards, and the Regeneration winner at the Scottish Design Awards.

The Athletes’ Village provided accommodation for 6,500 athletes and officials during the Commonwealth Games, before being converted to 700 homes – 400 for social rental and 300 for private sale. The Village has been a huge success story, with private homes selling out in early 2016, almost two years ahead of schedule.

It is also part of a real community, with a 120-bed care home, plans for a new primary and nursery school, and direct access to the Cuningar Loop, a new £5.7m, 15 hectare riverside woodland park provided by Legacy 2014 funding. Also close to The Village is the Dalmarnock Legacy Hub – a centre for the local community with a GP surgery, children’s nursery, chemist and shop.

John Gallacher of Cruden and Director of City Legacy said: “The Village has won many awards in the past, but this one is extra-special. To be given a Queen’s Award for Enterprise is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the wonderful journey that The Village has taken us on here at City Legacy. It really is the icing on the cake.

“The success of The Village could not have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of my fellow directors, Calum Murray at CCG, Ed Monaghan at Mactaggart & Mickel and Martin Kiely at WH Malcolm and their teams – not to mention my own team here at Cruden. We were always confident that the Village would be an exceptional project, but even we were a little surprised by the speed at which the homes sold, and the extent which it has sparked the wider regeneration of the surrounding area.”

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, who were partners in The Village project, said: “The 2014 Games really were the greatest games ever and the Athletes’ Village is one the most prominent examples of the lasting legacy for the East End of Glasgow. I am over the moon that this project, which the council has delivered in partnership with City Legacy, has been acknowledged with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. You cannot get a higher level of recognition than that.”

 

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 21 April 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 21 April 2017

The Scottish Parliament has resumed after a two-week Easter recess – and found itself plunged straight into a snap General Election campaign.  We will be covering this in much more detail as we get closer to 8 June, but we still have the small matter of all-out local government elections to get through on 4 May.  They will be a critical bellwether in terms of poll just five weeks later.

The SNP almost swept the boards in 2015’s council elections, winning 56 out of 59 seats, and they must start as strong favourites to retain at least 45-50 of those.  As we start day four of the campaign, none of Scotland’s 59 MPs have indicated they will be standing down.  The three non SNP MPs (Carmichael, LD, Murray, Lab and Mundell, Con) have said they will stand again as will the vast majority of the 56 elected as SNP MPs in 2015.  Two likely casualties, even if they stand as independents, are Natalie McGarry and Michelle Thomson. Both have lost the SNP whip and alternative SNP candidates will be selected in their respective Glasgow East and Edinburgh West seats.

All the parties are now scrambling to select candidates as literally none were in place across any party at the time the poll was called.  The SNP National Executive are meeting this weekend to agree a fast-track reselection process.  The Tories are set to impose candidates in all but a handful of ‘better’ seats and the LDs have prioritised four seats where they believe they can recover ground lost in 2015.  And just this very morning, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has written to members across Scotland to ask them to apply. Following last year’s annual conference vote on more autonomy for Scottish Labour, the selection process will be handled by the Scottish Executive Committee.

The PM has refused to take part in a televised leaders’ debate, although BBC and SkyNews have confirmed they will still organise one.  Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP has called for a Scottish leaders’ debate in the upcoming general election, citing that parties wishing to win seats in Scotland should be exposed to public scrutiny as much as possible over the next seven weeks.

In terms of what happens next, these key dates may be of interest, including two of note which have already passed:

  • Monday 27 March – Local government Purdah began for 4 May local elections
  • Thursday 13 April – UK Government civil servants Purdah began for local elections
  • Wednesday 3 May– Dissolution of UK Parliament (Parliament is dissolved at the beginning of the 25th working day before polling day)
  • Thursday 4 May– Local elections (34 councils in England, all 32 councils in Scotland and all 22 councils in Wales, 6 combined authority mayors, 2 local authority mayors – Manchester Gorton by-election was originally also scheduled)
  • Thursday 8 June– General Election to the UK House of Commons

Outside party politics, Scotland’s economy remained “subdued” in the first quarter of the year, according to a new survey of businesses. The Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) found profitability and cash flow continued to be “challenging”, while pressure on prices was high.  However, there was a mixed picture in terms of firms’ optimism.  It was in negative territory in retail and wholesale and tourism, but finance and business services had the most positive outlook since the end of 2014.

And finally … a rare show of unity during an election campaign period as Scottish politicians across all parties have pledged to support a campaign to “celebrate, promote and defend” science. The “March for Science” has been organised by scientists and members of the public and will culminate in a rally in Edinburgh tomorrow, 22 April. It joins 400 similar initiatives taking place around the world. The group said it wanted to show support for evidence-based policy as well as highlighting the importance of funding for science.

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 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk


Did you enjoy this issue of Scottish Political Insider? Sign up online to receive it direct to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

Run4It runs off with the triple

Run4It runs off with the triple

Run4It, the specialist retailer of running shoes and accessories, has outpaced the competition to win prestigious UK running awards for the third year in a row.

Voted for solely by the running public, Run4It scooped Best Customer Service and Best Independent Retailer at the 2017 Running Awards, announced last night (20 April) in London.   It won the same categories in 2016 and 2015.

With a network of eight stores in Scotland and a growing online presence, Run4It’s philosophy of providing top quality running gear and, exceptional customer service is proving a winning combination.

David McCorquodale, Retail Partner at KPMG, said: “It is encouraging to see a Scottish independent retailer bucking the trend in the High Street. Run4It is demonstrating what can be achieved with the right location, a strong web offering and exemplary customer service.”

Duncan Riddoch, director and co-founder of Run4It, said: “This means the world to us. To achieve the triple is a tremendous achievement and testament to the relationships we build with our customers in store and online. Our fantastic team make the business what it is, so these awards are theirs to celebrate.

“Every member of the Run4It team across all our shops is focused on providing expert and friendly advice to help customers improve their running. This approach strikes a chord with runners and drives repeat business.

“There are certainly challenges facing the retail sector at the moment, but I am convinced there is a bright future for retail businesses who are prepared to break the traditional mould.  For us, this means adding value and providing a consistently positive and encouraging experience for customers.

“We have exciting plans to expand our estate of shops in future so this recognition give us further confidence that it’s the right move for us.”

Around 1,000 guests attended the Awards at the O2 in London on 20 April 2017 celebrating alongside some of the biggest names in running including Olympic Gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes.

Robertson Group helps Clyde Gateway pupils kick-start a career in construction

Robertson Group helps Clyde Gateway pupils kick-start a career in construction

School pupils from the Clyde Gateway area are celebrating their graduation from a course designed to introduce them to the construction industry.

Fifteen budding engineers from Eastbank Academy, St Mungo’s Academy and Trinity High School took part in the ten-week ‘Get Into Engineering’ programme, run in collaboration between Robertson Group, Clyde Gateway, Glasgow Kelvin College and the University of the West of Scotland (UWS).

Designed to provide academic and practical insight into the application of engineering, participating students were assigned project work on live Robertson projects.

Gemma Gourlay, director of social sustainability, Robertson Group, said: “This is the third year that we have delivered this programme, working in partnership with Clyde Gateway and the schools to introduce the pupils to the diverse careers available within engineering and the wider construction industry.

“The ‘Get Into Engineering’ programme offers varied activities, allowing the pupils to identify their strengths and interests through practical work, hands-on classroom exercises and talks from industry experts. It’s brilliant to support such a positive initiative that has a lasting impact on the next generation of construction engineers.”

As part of the programme, the pupils carried out project work at Robertson Central construction sites, including piling and steelwork activities at Collegelands in Glasgow and an introduction to civil engineering at the Huntershill sports complex in Bishopbriggs.

They also attended training sessions held by Robertson Central, where they received an introduction to mechanical and electrical engineering.

As part of efforts to promote the construction industry and careers it has to offer, Robertson Group provide a variety of different activities and programmes with numerous stakeholder groups, engaging with over 23,500 young people between April 2016 and March 2017.

Ann-Marie Burns, project manager (education, business and community growth), Clyde Gateway, said: “It’s great to see these young people successfully graduating from ‘Get Into Engineering’ – just one of the many programmes we carry out with Clyde Gateway schools to help prepare pupils for the world of work.

“‘Get Into Engineering’ has proven to be a very popular and successful part of our on-going efforts, and in previous years a number of the young people have pursued engineering further in terms of work, college or university.

“There is no doubt that the involvement of Robertson has been a key component in the achievement of such excellent outcomes, including the enjoyable, interesting and informative site visits.

“The programme also focuses on the essential skills that employers are looking for, such as team working, leadership, problem solving, planning and organising. The selection process that pupils need to go through to get onto the programme, including taking part in an interview, really helps prepare them for what will happen in real life.”

Dr Ashwini Konanahalli, lecturer in construction management, University of the West of Scotland, said: “The ‘Get Into Engineering’ programme is a great opportunity for secondary school participants to develop their engineering and scientific prospects.

“During the programme, UWS academic staff and researchers from the Engineering and Computing department explained, demonstrated and promoted their research and discipline areas through presentations, tours and workshops.

“We at UWS are strongly committed to this initiative and hope to inspire and encourage young pupil to take up engineering.”

Anne Porter, head of faculty, engineering, construction and science, Glasgow Kelvin College, said: “We are delighted to be involved, for the second year running, with the ‘Get Into Engineering’ initiative.

“The pupils attended the college for a hands-on workshop experience, introducing them to the skills involved in electronic and electrical engineering, providing pupils with experience of a workshop environment and helping develop employability skills.

“The programme is a fantastic opportunity for pupils to learn about the wise range of careers in engineering.”

 Cara Allan, a fifth year pupil at Trinity High School said: “I enjoyed everything about ‘Get Into Engineering’, especially the visit to Kelvin College where we learned about all the different paths there were into engineering.

“I’ve always been interested in engineering, but this has shown me all the different types of jobs that are out there, and I am now certain that I want to pursue a career in civil engineering.”

First release of homes now available at sovereign gate in Peterhead

First release of homes now available at sovereign gate in Peterhead

A choice of 2 and 3 bedroom homes are now available to buy

Muir Homes has announced the first release of homes at its latest development, Sovereign Gate, in the thriving seaside town of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.

A superb selection of high-quality two-bedroom cottage apartments and two and three bedroom semi-detached homes are now available to buy, with prices starting from £136,000.  Additional house types, such as two-bedroom terraced homes and three and four bedroom detached homes, will also be available to buy soon.

A flourishing coastal community around 30 miles from Aberdeen, Peterhead offers a selection of shops, bars and restaurants, excellent schooling and beautiful beaches. The town is one of the busiest fishing ports in Europe, with a daily seafood market and a 100-berth leisure marina. Residents can also enjoy the nearby golf clubs and fishing spots.

Around a mile from Peterhead town centre, Sovereign Gate located off Waterside Road is in an ideal location for commuters, thanks to easy access to the northbound and southbound A90.

The bright and spacious homes at Sovereign Gate offer excellent value for money, featuring stylish kitchens and bathrooms with high-quality white sanitary ware and premium ceramic wall tiles. Like all Muir homes, they are built with exceptional care and attention to detail, using the latest building techniques and materials.

Buyers also benefit from a 10 year Premier warranty, maintenance-free windows and external doors, and energy efficient features such as gas central heating, double glazing and high levels of insulation.

Grace Brownlow, Sales and Marketing Director for Muir Homes said: “Sovereign Gate in Peterhead is an ideal location for house hunters who want a high quality home in a peaceful location that’s close to the coast, but are keen to remain within easy reach of Aberdeen.

“We expect demand to be high for our newly-released homes, especially as buyers who reserve early will be able to choose their own high-quality kitchen and bathroom from a range of options. Some of the homes at Sovereign Gate are also eligible for the Government-backed Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme which allows purchasers to own a home with only a 5% deposit.”

To find out more about Sovereign Gate, visit http://www.muirhomes.co.uk/new-homes/sovereign-gate-peterhead/ or call the sales team on 07747 616571.

Loreburn Housing Association named best charity employer at major awards

Loreburn Housing Association named best charity employer at major awards

Dumfries and Galloway social landlord, Loreburn Housing Association, has been named Best Charity Employer at a major national recruitment awards.

The s1jobs Recruitment Awards, which have been running for the past six years, reward businesses and organisations who deliver a great candidate experience as well as an innovative approach to recruitment. The awards were presented by comedian Kevin Bridges at an event in Glasgow on 13th April.

Loreburn Housing Association, which manages around 2,500 homes across Dumfries and Galloway, beat off stiff competition from fellow finalists Sense Scotland and Venture Scotland to take home the prize in the Best Charity Employer category.

According to the judges, Loreburn’s victory was down to their recent transformation and highly successful restructure of the organisation. The judges’ comments said: “In February 2016 a new vision was launched which included a complete restructure across the whole organisation within an eight month period. Loreburn’s performance during the restructure remained high and customer satisfaction increased from 83% to 91%.”

Prior to the Chief Executive, Lorraine Usher’s appointment, Loreburn Housing Association had been in a very challenging two-year period of intervention by the Scottish Housing Regulator. Within 18 months of the CEO’s appointment, the organisation had gained triple Investors in People Gold status. Loreburn’s Hallam House development also won the Excellence in Development for Rented Properties Award at the CIH Excellence Awards 2016, and their Galloway Gateway project is a finalist in the UK Housing Awards 2017, to be announced later this month.

Lorraine said: “We are very lucky to have a fantastic, hardworking and dedicated team and hopefully this award for being an employer of choice will help us attract even more talented staff to join us. The award is the icing on the cake of what is a really positive time here at Loreburn Housing Association, as we continue our transformation. Loreburn is undoubtedly a very exciting place to work at the moment, with a fast paced, innovative, supportive culture. One of our ambitions is to become the best performing housing association in Scotland and by being named Charity Employer of the Year I would like to think that we are well on our way to achieving that.”

Scottish Political Insider – GENERAL ELECTION SPECIAL EDITION

Scottish Political Insider – GENERAL ELECTION SPECIAL EDITION

Just when you thought some semblance of normal business was resuming after the Easter break…  Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans to call a snap General Election for Thursday 8 June.  This will require a two thirds majority vote by MPs, given the fixed term parliament act, but both Labour and the SNP have said they will not oppose it.

The current session, elected in May 2015, will therefore be dissolved on the eve of the all-out Scottish local government elections, Wednesday 3 May.

And albeit through gritted teeth, Scotland’s political parties have welcomed the Prime Minister’s statement.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said: “This announcement is one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history, and it shows that Theresa May is once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country. She is clearly betting that the Tories can win a bigger majority in England given the utter disarray in the Labour Party.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “I very much welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement. The Scottish Conservatives are ready for a campaign, we are organised, and we are optimistic about the prospect of increasing our number of seats. In Scotland, we will have a clear election message – only a vote for the Scottish Conservatives will ensure we get the strong leadership we need to get the best Brexit deal for the whole country.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “This country faces a significant and historic choice as we approach the UK leaving the EU. At the last election in 2015 we said this would be a clear choice between a destructive Tory Party and a better future with Labour. Since then we have seen the dangers of a Tory government. We will work tirelessly to elect Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister and deliver a Labour Government.”

Please note that the announcement will have a major impact on local election campaigning and, by necessity, on scheduled Holyrood business which must observe an unscheduled month of purdah effectively from the May elections onwards. We will, of course, keep you informed throughout the campaign.

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 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk


Did you enjoy this issue of Scottish Political Insider? Sign up online to receive it direct to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

Scottish Political Insider – LOCAL GOVERNMENT SPECIAL

Scottish Political Insider – LOCAL GOVERNMENT SPECIAL

As the Scottish Parliament concludes its two-week Easter recess, we are focusing this week’s Insider on the all-out local government elections, taking place in three weeks’ time.

The starting point

All 1227 of Scotland’s council seats will be up for grabs across each of the country’s 32 local authorities.  Just 775 of the 2,550 people standing are female, and no party has a 50/50 gender split in its candidates – with fewer than one in six Scottish Conservative candidates female.  The Scottish Greens had 45% female candidates, followed by the SNP on 41%, Scottish Liberal Democrats on 33% and Scottish Labour on 32%.

The last all-out election was in 2012 and that was notable for the collapse of the Lib Dems, who lost more than half their council seats, and the continued rise of the SNP, coming just a year after their 2011 landslide.

The elections are contested with a form of proportional representation and, as such, make outright majorities difficult for parties to achieve.  Going into this year’s election, Labour have majority administrations in Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire. The SNP have a majority administration in both Dundee and Angus and Independents have majority administrations in Shetland, Orkney and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.  All other councils are coalitions or minority led.

The campaign

As of today, the ‘short’ campaign begins. Although polling day is just three weeks away, so far only the Greens and Lib Dems have published their Scotland-wide manifestos.  The LD local pledges are summarised here: LD summary and the Greens here: Greens   Expect to hear from lots of smiling candidates that you will have never heard of and Holyrood business to be mysteriously ‘local’ in its focus after the Easter recess.

Opinion polls have been lights over the last few weeks, but the big story looks set to be a repeat of the Holyrood outcome with the SNP coming out as the largest party and the Tories overtaking Labour.  The LDs will be fourth in terms of seats but the Greens could push them close by vote share.  UKIP has still to win a single seat in Scotland – and that won’t happen this time.

So what will happen in three weeks?

Political predictions are notoriously dangerous to make (just ask Hillary Clinton) but a few trends are clear.  Labour is set to lose control of Glasgow to the SNP, slip from first to third place in Edinburgh and also see the loss of potentially half its councillors across Scotland.

The SNP are likely to maintain their current position in Scotland by gaining seats from Labour, but losing others to the Conservatives, including in Perth and Kinross. We may have passed ‘peak SNP’.

The Lib Dems will make modest gains, albeit from a shocking night back in 2012.  They will make progress in Edinburgh and potentially the north east and Highlands.

The Greens may increase their share of the vote but face a classic small party squeeze situation.  They are defending just 14 seats a few more from Labour.

But the story of the night – apart from Glasgow – will be another good night for Ruth Davidson’s Tory councillors.  They should defend South Ayrshire, the one council they control by a whisker, and become the main opposition in a number of areas.  If you want to know exactly where, ask Devin on 5 May!

And finally … Please remember to vote!  Polls are open 7am to 10pm – but you are too late for a postal vote.

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 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider

Scottish Political Insider

The Scottish Parliament has continued its two-week Easter recess but Nicola Sturgeon has been busy, spreading the love across the USA as part of a Tartan Week trade visit.  Some cynicism over timings were expressed after she ‘delivered 44 new jobs’ on the first of many photo calls of the week, but overall the trip seems to have been a success.

On Wednesday, Scotland’s six MEPs have voted to approve a European Parliament negotiating mandate in response to the UK commencing the Article 50 process to leave the EU.  The mandate is not about the merits of Brexit, but about the response of the EU institutions to it. The Resolution makes explicit reference to Scotland and recognises the pro-EU vote in Scotland.

The Resolution was adopted by 516 votes to 133 with 50 abstentions. There were a number of proposed amendments but the text was approved unchanged, giving the Parliament a strong and united negotiating mandate as the talks start in earnest.

Earlier this week, the Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis has said that Spain would not attempt to stand in the way of an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU, confirming what other leading Spanish politicians have said previously.   The intervention is the latest comment from a senior European figure to be highlighted by the Scottish Government that Scotland’s position in the EU as an independent member could potentially be relatively straightforward.

The local government election campaign is now in full swing and polling cards have been landing across Scotland.  The main parties have been launching their campaigns to minimal public interest, but the elections are important given the level of local services managed by councils. Although no new council polls were published this week, various surveys suggest that the Tories are set to do well in key battlegrounds like Perth and Kinross and Aberdeenshire, and will probably nudge Labour into third place in the capital. The SNP remain optimistic that that will – finally – win Glasgow but are cautious about gaining other councils outright.

Next week’s Insider will be a local election special and will be sent on Thursday, ahead of the Easter long weekend.

And finally … Former US president Barack Obama is to make his first visit to Scotland when he addresses business leaders in the capital next month.  The dinner in Edinburgh on 26 May is thought to be one of his first major addresses since his term as president came to an end. The event at the EICC is being organised by The Hunter Foundation, set up by businessman and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter.

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 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

“Why Should I Care?” campaign launched to recruit carers in Perth & Kinross

“Why Should I Care?” campaign launched to recruit carers in Perth & Kinross

A new campaign has been launched in Perth and Kinross to find additional care and support workers to help meet the needs of the area’s growing elderly population, and allow them to continue to live independently at home.

The campaign – called “Why Should I Care?” – highlights the importance of care workers and the vital role they play in allowing so many people to live as independently as possible  by supporting them at home.

By telling the stories of people who care and the people they care for, the campaign will show that it is an extremely rewarding long-term career.

The number of people over 65 in Perth & Kinross who require care at home is rising steadily – over 1,500 people now receive support from care at home services.

Care is provided by a wide range of companies in Perth and Kinross and many have job opportunities for people who want to make a difference to the lives of others. A career in care is varied, interesting, extremely rewarding and it really makes a difference. Carers work closely with many different people to make sure they are well looked after and have a good quality of life.

All companies who provide care services for the Council have now signed up to the Living Wage and fair working practices, so carers now receive a minimum of £8.25 per hour and are paid for travel time and mileage.

Carers also receive full training and will be supported to gain their SVQ qualification in Health and Social Care. The job offers flexibility – care jobs can often be fitted in around other demands such as children and family.

Diane Fraser, Head of Adult Social Care in the Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership explained: “We want to make sure people in Perth and Kinross who need care and support can live at home independently, and have the high standard of care they deserve. To achieve this we need all the companies who provide this care and support to have the caring staff they need to fill current vacancies. To help them with their search, we’re launching a campaign that asks people to consider a career in care at home – one that will really make a difference to the lives of elderly people and vulnerable people here in Perth & Kinross.”

She added: “We are looking for people of all ages and background – the main thing is that they would make an excellent carer, with qualities such as kindness, empathy, patience and being a good listener. It is very important for a carer to be compassionate and to be able to offer reassurance and support.”

Lyndsay Clark, a senior care assistant with My Care Tayside said: “Caring is not just a job, you have to really want to do it, but it can be the happiest career in the world if it’s the right one for you. I’ve never been as happy in a job as I am now. To be a good carer I would say you’ve got to be charismatic, empathetic and open minded. It sounds obvious, but you really do have to care to be a carer.”

Anne Graham, a service user who receives care at her home in Perth, said: “Because I have MS, I am in a wheelchair, so I have people who help me at home with things like getting washed and dressed, and it also means I am never on my own for too long.  I have different carers coming to see me, and I hear a lot of great stories from them – they are like a real breath of fresh air!”

Dr Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive of Scottish Care said: “Working in care is one of the most rewarding choices an individual can make. Being with someone at their point of need, helping them to live their life to the full and achieve what they want to, is immensely satisfying. You meet people who you will never forget and you gain memories which will never leave you.”

The “Why Should You Care?” campaign will involve advertising, posters, flyers, recruitment roadshows, social media and press activity which will direct people who are interested to a new web page where they can fill in one simple online application form. This will then be passed to every company who is recruiting in their specified locality – making the application process much quicker and easier.

To find out more about becoming a care at home worker in the Perth & Kinross area, please visit www.pkc.gov.uk/caring.

You can also text ‘CARING’ to 60777 to register your interest

Alternatively, you can call the team on 01738 475000

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