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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 27 April 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 27 April 2018

The Scottish Parliament debated Brexit again and Scottish ministers have this week rejected the latest bid to settle the dispute over post-Brexit powers.  This comes despite the Welsh and UK governments striking a deal. The UK Government is to publish changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill in an effort to end the long-running row with the devolved administrations.

Welsh ministers have reached an agreement with their UK counterparts, but the Scottish Government said there was still a “key sticking point” and called for further changes to be made. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Prime Minister Theresa May accepting that “substantial progress” had been made in talks and setting out potential ways to settle the “remaining issue”.

As political pundits wait for a long-delayed ministerial reshuffle from Nicola Sturgeon (she hasn’t had one in two years since the last election), there was some movement in the tier below ministerial rank. The Scottish Government has confirmed changes to Parliamentary Liaison Officer (PLO) appointments which came through an ‘inspired’ – i.e. planted – written answer. Renfrewshire SNP MSP Tom Arthur replaces Ash Denham as PLO on Culture, Tourism & External Affairs. Coatbridge MSP Fulton MacGregor will take over as Justice PLO, which is a position he has previously held, but he also retains his role as PLO for Health & Sport. Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham no longer has a PLO role.

Labour’s Scottish Executive Committee has agreed the terms and timetable for the election of a deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party. The timetable is as follows: close of nominations – Monday 28th May; opening of formal hustings period and supporting nominations – Friday 1st June; ballots open – Thursday 26th July; ballots close – Thursday 30th August.  The result will be announced soon after that.  A candidate requires either 15 per cent of support from parliamentarians or 15 per cent of support of local councillors to be eligible to stand for the position of deputy leader. That means 5 parliamentarians (MPs, MSPs, MEPs) or 38 councillors.  Current acting Deputy, Lesley Laird MP, is the strong favourite to succeed Alex Rowley MSP.

Congratulations to client, Loreburn Housing Association which scooped Charity Employer of the Year for the second consecutive year.  This award-winning organisation was also recognised at Holyrood with a congratulatory Parliamentary motion from Finlay Carson recognising that the association competed against many other well respected national charities to win the award, praising the staff for their dedication and hard work throughout the year and noting that the housing association has invested in staff development programmes to further the association as a positive place to work.

Finally, following an integrated and sustained public affairs, PR and social media campaign, client Wavegarden Scotland successfully secured planning consent this week to turn Craigpark Quarry near Ratho to Scotland’s first artificial surfing lake, in time for surfing becoming an Olympic sport in 2020. The multi-million-pound facility promises to create 130 jobs and offer a range of other adventure activities.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch withJulie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or

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).

Wavegarden Scotland receives green light to develop Scotland’s first artificial surf park

Wavegarden Scotland receives green light to develop Scotland’s first artificial surf park

Wavegarden Scotland, the company which will develop Scotland’s first artificial surf park, received the news today (25 April) that the planning application to redevelop Craigpark Quarry near Ratho, Edinburgh into a world-class surfing and family leisure facility has been given the green light.

This major leisure attraction is a first for Scotland and Wavegarden Scotland will now transform the disused Craigpark Quarry near Ratho into a man-made lake with revolutionary new wave technology, developed by Wavegarden in Spain – the same company that developed the technology behind Surf Snowdonia, who welcomed over 155,000 visitors last year.

The proposal, which had already received overwhelmingly positive feedback from public consultation events held last year, has been masterplanned and designed by landscape architects HarrisonStevens, with engineering and technical consultation provided by WSP, and planning and development advice by Colliers International.

Alongside a world-class surfing facility, Wavegarden Scotland also includes a surf school, self-catering luxury guest lodges, glamping pods, a waterfront café and restaurant, retail spaces, zip line, water tubing area, integrated natural play, bike skills track, and a snow-sports training jump.

Andy Hadden, the co-founder of Tartan Leisure Ltd which is developing Wavegarden Scotland said: “We are thrilled that the plans for Wavegarden Scotland have been approved. We believe that this facility will deliver many benefits for the local community and for Scotland by offering world-class adventure leisure amenities alongside a wonderful country park, for walkers, runners and cyclists to enjoy. Alongside this, we expect to create up to 130 jobs and generate up to £11m for the local economy every year.

“Another very exciting aspect of Wavegarden Scotland is the opportunity to nurture surfing and sporting talent. With Scotland’s own surfing team starting to make a mark on the global surf scene, we hope to inspire the next generation of surfers, life guards, and active outdoor enthusiasts.”

Using recently released, state-of-the-art wave generation technology called The Cove, Wavegarden Scotland will be among the most advanced surfing and water sport facilities in the world, with the capability to enable elite-level sports training and development.

Josema Odriozola, founder and CEO of Wavegarden, the company which created the wave generation technology that will power Wavegarden Scotland, said: “It’s great to see that the planning application has been approved, so now Edinburgh will have its own surf spot for everyone to enjoy. We designed our technology to create up to 1000 waves per hour, from slow moving white water for beginners through to powerful barrels up to two metres high for experts. This now means Scottish locals and tourists alike can experience the exhilarating feeling of surfing, regardless of their level.”

Mark Boyd, captain of Scotland’s national surfing team, said: “We welcome Wavegarden Scotland’s visionary project and look forward to practising our sport in safe and consistent waves. Having this facility will give the Scottish surfing team a huge edge when it comes to future competitions, to have this as a base will do wonders for the sport.

“Scotland’s surf scene is growing and we have some exciting home grown talent breaking onto the scene. With surfing making its debut as an Olympic Sport at Tokyo 2020, Wavegarden Scotland will play a key role in encouraging and developing future Scottish surfers and putting this fantastic sport in the spotlight.”

Christine Jardine, MP for Edinburgh West, said: “As the local MP for Ratho, I am delighted the village could play host to Scotland’s first surfing lagoon. This will be a great attraction West of the city creating up to 130 new jobs. It will be a fantastic facility for locals and tourists alike.

“Surfing is becoming increasingly popular and in 2020, it will be an Olympic event for the first time. Approving the surfing centre now ensures we, in Edinburgh West, will be able to make the most of the enthusiasm.”

Located beside the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, Wavegarden Scotland will develop existing integrated transportation and leisure links, including with the nearby canal network, into the heart of Edinburgh as well as the wider central belt.

Andrew McNab, director of Colliers International, handled the development’s planning application said: “Wavegarden Scotland will provide a huge economic boost to Ratho and the surrounding area. We welcome the decision and we are thrilled with the outcome, from the very beginning the consultations received a very positive reception, so to hear that the application has been given the green light is fantastic.”

Martin Stevens, director of HarrisonStevens, the landscape architects behind Wavegarden Scotland’s design said: “This is a unique and exciting project, combining the natural ecology, heritage and character of the area with world-class leisure and sporting facilities. Wavegarden Scotland will be a positive community asset for generations to come and help put Scotland on the map in adventure leisure whilst showcasing the benefits of truly landscape-led, context-driven masterplanning.”

Paul Robertson, Principal Engineer at WSP, said: “Wavegarden is an exciting and ground-breaking project, which will require complex technical support.  WSP has a solid track record of delivering complex multi-disciplinary projects and we keenly anticipate tackling the engineering challenges associated with this exciting addition to the leisure sector in Scotland.”

Located beside the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, Wavegarden Scotland will develop existing integrated transportation and leisure links, including with the nearby canal network, into the heart of Edinburgh as well as the wider central belt.



Citizens Theatre announced today, Monday 23 April, that following a competitive tender process Kier Construction has been confirmed as the preferred contractor to deliver the first stage of the Citizens Theatre’s £19.4m redevelopment project.

This will be the most comprehensive redevelopment of the Victorian building since it opened as a theatre in 1878, with works due to commence on site in September 2018.

The building is owned by Glasgow City Council and leased to the Citizens Theatre Company for more than 70 years. The Category B listed building, will close in the summer and re-open in late 2020. Over the next two years the Company will produce shows and provide learning activity at Tramway, Scotland Street School Museum and other venues throughout Scotland and beyond.

Kier is a leading property, residential, construction and services group. The group operates across a range of sectors including defence, education, housing, industrials, power, transport and utilities.

Commenting on the appointment of Kier, Judith Kilvington, Executive Director of Citizens Theatre, said: “This appointment marks the next phase in our Redevelopment Project. Kier has a wealth of experience in delivering theatre and heritage projects and it’s hugely exciting to be welcoming them to the team, led by architects Bennetts Associates, to realise our vision for the Citizens Theatre.

“Kier will work alongside Citizens Theatre and our Design Team in achieving the Second Stage tender and will then go on to carry out the required building work to overhaul our Victorian home – alongside overseeing the demolition of our foyer and back offices to make way for a new wing, including a new studio theatre and learning spaces.

“Our new building has been redesigned to create level access for staff, participants and audiences members. When we re-open to the public they will easily be able to visit and view some of the best examples of theatre heritage in Europe.”

Brian McQuade, Kier Construction Scotland and North East managing director, said:

“We’re delighted to restore, improve and protect the iconic Citizens Theatre.  This builds on our solid record of working on major heritage projects, including The Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art, Aberdeen Music Hall and most recently, The Burrell Collection.

“As with all the work we carry out, we will provide jobs for the local community by working with our supply chain to offer a range of diverse employment and training opportunities throughout this exciting project. “

The Company has already successfully secured £17.8m in pledges towards the redevelopment project from Creative Scotland, Glasgow City Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Government (Culture Budget, Regeneration Capital Grant Fund and Historic Environment Scotland), The Robertson Trust and a variety of other trusts and individuals. The theatre’s ‘We Are Citizens’ public fundraising campaign is inspiring, engaging, and encouraging others to help raise £1.6 million for the building redevelopment.


Loreburn Housing Association named best charity employer for second year running

Loreburn Housing Association named best charity employer for second year running

Dumfries and Galloway social landlord, Loreburn Housing Association, has been named Best Charity Employer at a major national recruitment awards for the second year in a row.

The s1jobs Recruitment Awards, which have been running for the past seven years, were presented by comedian and presenter Russell Kane at an event in Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza on 19th April. The awards reward businesses and organisations who deliver a great candidate experience as well as an innovative approach to recruitment.

Loreburn Housing Association, which manages around 2,500 homes across Dumfries and Galloway and is building new homes every year, beat off stiff competition from fellow charity finalists Enable Scotland, The Butterfly Trust and The Simon Community Scotland to take home the prize.

According to the judges, Loreburn’s victory was down to “placing employees at the heart of their business.”

Since her appointment three years ago, chief executive Lorraine Usher has brought in a major transformational change programme to Loreburn, which has seen it go from an organisation coming out of a period of regulation to one that has gained triple Investors in People Gold status and a cluster of award nominations. Lorraine Usher was also named as a finalist in the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Housing Heroes Awards 2017 in the Inspirational Leader category.

Some of the benefits Loreburn offers its employees include flexible working hours, career breaks and the opportunity to work from home when required. Its comprehensive staff health and wellbeing strategy includes private healthcare, fitness trackers for all employees, a lunchtime walking group, an after-work running club and occupational health support.

Chief executive Lorraine Usher said: “We are all delighted with this tremendous achievement. I know Loreburn is a great workplace, but to have that recognised nationally for the second time is a real bonus. I’d like to thank my entire team for helping us win this award, and the management committee for their continued support towards achieving our ambition to become the best performing housing association in Scotland.

“As part of our drive to deliver an amazing customer experience, we invest in staff development programmes with a special focus on management and future leaders. The results of that, along with the positive can-do culture within the organisation, make it a fantastic place to work.

“The wellbeing of our staff will always be a core objective for Loreburn. In 2017, our staff survey showed an 89% satisfaction rating with us as an employer. While this was a great result, we are hoping to use the feedback we received from our staff about how we can be an even better employer to aim for an even higher satisfaction rating in 2018.”

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 20 April 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 20 April 2018

Scottish Parliament business resumed this week, following a relatively peaceful two-week Easter recess.

It wasn’t peaceful at a rare Monday meeting of the Social Security committee which had UK Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey MP, as a witness.  Outbursts from the public led to the suspension of the committee. Convener Clare Adamson had to twice put on hold the session on UK welfare reforms. A second disruption came after Ms McVey was questioned by Green MSP Alison Johnstone on the so-called rape-clause.

Legal matters seldom feature in our weekly newsletter, but this week saw the UK government begin a legal challenge to the Scottish and Welsh governments’ Brexit bills. The two devolved parliaments passed legislation last month that is intended to act as an alternative to Westminster’s EU Withdrawal Bill, but the UK government has asked the Supreme Court to rule whether the legislation is constitutional and within devolved powers. Scotland’s Lord Advocate James Wolffe, the Scottish government’s top legal advisor, argues the bill is competent, and recently took the unusual step of making an address to MSPs on this point.  Nicola Sturgeon said Brexit was nearing its ‘endgame’ on Wednesday.

There was some good news on the economy this week. Levels of investment are rising across Scottish businesses amid growing expectations of a strong year, according to a new economic survey, published yesterday. The Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) found that many firms were looking to invest in capital and training to improve their prospects – despite some sectors remaining “fragile” in terms of overall business confidence.

The survey, produced in collaboration with Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute, covers construction, tourism, retail and wholesale, manufacturing and financial services. It suggested that every sector expected to see sales revenues increase in the second quarter, with firms anticipating that investment will gain rapid returns.

And the next Spring conference starts today as the Lib Dems gather in Aviemore for the weekend.  They are in relatively good spirits after a rare council by-election win, from the SNP, two weeks ago in a Highlands seat. Devin Scobie from Perceptive has his sandals packed ready …  Agenda: SLD agenda April 2018

And finally … Tory MP Ross Thomson has been in the news again posting misguided social media messages about a trip to Iraq. The Aberdeen South MP posted pictures and joked about channelling his “inner dictator” during a trip to Baghdad. A constituent, who lost her son in the Iraq conflict in 2006, expressed her horror at photos which included Mr Thomson smiling while sitting on Saddam’s throne and also pretending to hold the notorious Victory Arch – a symbol of Saddam’s brutal rule – in his hands. Oops.

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

If you enjoyed this issue of Scottish Political Insider, sign-up to receive it directly to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 13 April 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 13 April 2018

Another relatively quiet week, politically, as Holyrood concluded its two-week Easter recess.  Business resumes next Tuesday 17 April.

The week’s ‘big idea’ is news of the launch of major new campaign which will put Scotland in the international spotlight and showcase the country’s world-leading assets to a global audience. Launching simultaneously in North America, London and China, ‘Scotland is Now’ is designed to put the country firmly at the top of everyone’s list of places to live, work, study, invest and visit. According to the First Minister (in China), attracting more migrant talent, international students, expanding overseas businesses and high-spend tourists will grow Scotland’s economy and further cement its reputation as an open, diverse and welcoming country.

Closer to home, and Scottish ministers are weighing options for setting up a new state-owned company that would supply household power and potentially invest in renewable energy.  This follows First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s pledge last October to set up a household energy supplier. The model set out in a consultancy report could extend in the long term to providing broadband. One of the options is for a national provider to sell electricity and gas through local councils.

In more traditional political territory, the SNP hold a 12-point lead over the nearest rivals, according to a Panelbase poll conducted for the Sunday Times Scotland. The poll finds that 40% of voters would back the party at a Holyrood election, ahead of the Tories at 28% and Labour at 22%. The detailed figures are: SNP 40%, Conservatives 28%, Labour 22%, Lib Dems 6% and Greens 3%.

Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan, Convener of Holyrood’s Education committee, has withdrawn his nomination for the SNP Deputy Leadership.  Mr Cathcart said he wants to spend more time on his anti-sectarianism campaign and has endorsed Julie Hepburn for the contest.

Still on people news and Scottish Enterprise has announced the appointment of Steve Dunlop as its new chief executive. He takes up the post in May, joining the economic development agency from Scottish Canals where, as chief executive, he has been described as ‘the driving force that has transformed Scotland’s inland waterways and made them a catalyst for economic and social regeneration.’

And finally … Spare a thought for the City of Edinburgh’s Finance Director Norman Strachan.  He tops the poll council employees’ salaries in Scotland, taking home in excess of half a million pounds per annum with a published salary of £563,000!

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch withJulie McLauchlan on 07734 932 578 or

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 6 April 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 6 April 2018

A relatively quiet week, politically, as Holyrood enjoyed week one of the two-week Easter recess. Business resumes on Tuesday 17 April.

One Scottish Government announcement which did attract a few headlines was news that the Help to Buy scheme is to be extended for another two years from April 2019. The scheme helps people to buy new-build homes without the need for large deposits. Since 2013, the scheme has helped more than 12,000 households buy a new home, with Housing Minister Kevin Stewart saying it had also supported about 9,000 jobs.

A total of £100m will be invested over two years, helping up to 4,000 households to purchase a new home, but Scottish Labour’s housing spokeswoman Pauline McNeill MSP called for an urgent review of the scheme to establish if it is “fit for purpose”. She said householders with incomes of more than £100,000 were getting help with a new home deposit and efforts must be directed to low income households.

There was some modest news for the Scottish economy, which grew by 0.3% during the final three months of 2017, according to new official figures. After four quarters of positive growth, Scottish gross domestic product (GDP) was up 1.1% by the end of the year compared to the same point in 2016. Equivalent UK growth was 1.4% over the same period, and 0.4% for the quarter.

Further afield, as the Commonwealth Games started in Australia’s Gold Coast, a new report this week suggests that Glasgow continues to benefit from the 2014 Commonwealth Games but there has been little impact on the number of people who are physically active. The report found that although visitor numbers were up and the Games venues remained popular, sport participation levels in Scotland has remained stable. A clear highlight was the Athletes’ Village, built by Perceptive client, City Legacy. This landmark development which has scooped a record 25 awards was deemed to have created a lasting legacy, helping to transform lives in the East End of Glasgow. The report was compiled by Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government and highlights the benefits of hosting such a huge sporting event. Full report via this page:

Scotland’s Sports Minister, Aileen Campbell MSP, who has also been leading on the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol in her other role as a Health Minister, is in Australia to help hand over the baton from Scotland to the Gold Coast. Ms Campbell attended Wednesday evening’s opening ceremony as a principle guest of the hosts.

And finally… Do spare a thought for Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie this weekend. Whilst the rest of us were tucking into our Easter eggs, Willie spent his Easter break running the 115 miles of the Fife coastal path (most of which runs through his NE Fife constituency) and, in so doing, raised nearly £10,000 for mental health charities.

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

If you enjoyed this issue of Scottish Political Insider, sign-up to receive it directly to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

We’re hiring! Join our award-winning team as a PR & Social Media Manager

We’re hiring! Join our award-winning team as a PR & Social Media Manager

Would you like to join an award-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 are multi-award winning, ranking among the top PR agencies in the UK.

We currently have a fantastic opportunity for a driven candidate looking for their next career move into a well-respected, forward thinking, fast paced and growing agency which operates like a close-knit, in-house team.

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 34 days of holiday per year makes the role a good move for a career conscious, forward thinking PR professional.

The role
As a PR & Social Media 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 meetings 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
  • Proven track record of implementing successful PR and social media campaigns
  • Digital communications experience and evidence of delivering successful digital content
  • An ability to deliver high quality effective 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 project management with ability to prioritise tasks and manage time effectively
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Flexible can do attitude and a willingness to learn
  • Google and social analytics skills, even if basic, are a huge plus
  • Ability to work on own and as part of a team
  • Driving licence

Our values are:

  • Focussed on results
  • Trusted experts
  • Straightforward and reliable
  • Great energy and team spirit which extends to our clients

If you think you fit the bill, do get in touch.

Work experience
Candidates will at least 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 No agencies please.


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