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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 17 August 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 17 August 2018

A relatively quiet week politically, although Tuesday’s car crash attack at Westminster reminded us that the threat of terrorism is never far away.  Westminster was in recess at the time, resuming for two weeks on 4 September. Holyrood also resumes business on 4 September.

Gordon Brown took an Edinburgh Festival opportunity to say that Jeremy Corbyn should address concerns about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, saying the issue was a “running sore” that had to be dealt with. During an appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (which Devin Scobie attended and met with the former PM afterwards), Mr Brown was asked if he thought Mr Corbyn was a fit and proper person to be prime minister. He told the audience that there was a “problem within the Labour Party with anti-Semitism” and insisted that “Jeremy Corbyn has got to change”.

Still on business news, and the leading business body, SCDI, has confirmed that their Chief Executive, Mark Bevan, has resigned with immediate effect.  He joined the organisation last summer and his last day was last Friday, 10 August. Mark Bevan joined SCDI with a mandate to enhance SCDI’s relevance and importance to civic Scotland.  The organisation has said that, in the last 12 months, he has developed the SCDI team; made fundamental changes to our systems and processes; engaged members and stakeholders in SCDI’s core purpose; whilst supporting the Board to review and define our strategic direction.

FOCUS ON… the Department of Education and Skills: Headed by Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary JOHN SWINNEY, an SNP veteran since the first parliament in 1999 and former leader.  This department has three further Ministers, following the June reshuffle although the one covering Further Education (Gillian Martin) lasted just 24 hours following a controversial blog issue and her successor cannot be appointed until Parliament is back. The other two are much safer hands: MAREE TODD, a former pharmacist now responsible for Childcare and Early Years, and JAMIE HEPBURN, who was re-appointed to an expanded role covering Business, Fair Work and Skills.

 

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 julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 10 August 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 10 August 2018

All parts of the UK government system are now in recess until next month (4 September) yet matters Brexit continue to rattle along at a snail’s pace.  Bear in mind Article 50 commits the UK to exiting the EU at the end of March 2019.

The Fraser of Allander Institute has surveyed 350 Scottish businesses about the impact Brexit is having on their businesses. Around half of the businesses said that the decision had no impact on their business activity to date, with only 6% saying it had been positive and 44% saying the impact had been negative. With regards to impact on current investment activity, 33% of firms said that it has had a negative impact (only 4% said it had been positive). A third indicated that Brexit has had a negative impact on staff recruitment (with only 3% saying it has been positive). Respondents said it was extremely difficult for businesses to plan, with only one in eight of those firms surveyed saying the information provided on Brexit had been at least adequate to help with planning. Only one in 20 said they had approached the government for information. The Institute said the uncertainty about Brexit is holding back Scotland’s economic recovery.

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson continues to gather headlines a month after leaving the UK Government. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has backed calls for Mr Johnson to apologise over his “gratuitously offensive” comments on the burka. Ms Davidson said that while she agrees with the sentiment of the newspaper article in which Mr Johnson made the comments – that face-covering veils should not be banned – his remarks were offensive. Mr Johnson has refused to apologise.

The SNP continue to be a thorn in the Scottish Tories’ side over the so called ‘Dark Money’ payments made during last year’s general election.  This has escalated further this week as the SNP called for the issue to be investigated by a Commons Committee. Brendan O’Hara MP, a member of the Committee for Culture, Media and Sport, has written to the Committee Chair to recommend that Richard Cook, former Vice Chair of the Scottish Conservatives, provides evidence to the Committee’s inquiry into Disinformation and ‘Fake News’.

BBC Spotlight Northern Ireland reported the practices of Richard Cook, who is now chair of the Constitutional Research Council which helped fund the Leave campaign. It revealed that Cook was behind the DUP’s £435,000 donation during the EU referendum. The SNP has said the revelations added further weight to the need for the Electoral Commission to fully investigate the Scottish Unionist Association Trust, and its possible ties to the Leave campaign and the Scottish Conservatives.

Audit Scotland has reported that the The Queensferry Crossing project was managed effectively and delivered value for money. The £1.34bn bridge across the Firth of Forth was opened a year ago, coming in under budget but completed eight months later than first estimated. Audit Scotland praised Transport Scotland’s budgeting, governance and tendering for the project, but it said it was too early to assess the bridge’s wider benefits.

 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 julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 27 July 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 27 July 2018

The anti-Semitism row against Labour has continued this week with the MP and MSP for the constituencies with Scotland’s largest Jewish population writing to Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard calling on him to end his silence on the ongoing issues within the Labour party. Paul Masterton MP and Jackson Carlaw MSP raised their concerns about the anti-Semitic developments emanating from the Labour party that are causing alarm within the Jewish community. The letter asks Richard Leonard to speak out against this decision, and calls him to immediately state his ‘unambiguous support for the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism’.

Donald Trump’s brief visit to Scotland ended but he left behind news that the Trump Organisation will submit a planning application for 500 homes at its golf resort in Aberdeenshire. It said £150m will be invested in the development at the Menie estate. The original vision for the golf resort included two courses, a large hotel, and hundreds of houses and holiday cottages. To date, one golf course, a clubhouse and a small hotel at the original estate house have been created. The plans will be considered by Aberdeenshire Council.

New figures this week have suggested that Scottish construction firms have experienced strong growth despite “significant headwinds”, according to the Federation of Master Builders. The FMB found small firms’ (SMEs) performance rose by 17 percentage points in the second quarter of 2018. The trades association praised the resilience of the sector.

Gordon Nelson, the director of FMB Scotland, said: “The second quarter of this year carried a lot of bad news for the Scottish construction industry with the loss of hundreds of jobs after some well-known firms collapsed. However, beneath these headlines, the outlook for most small construction firms has remained relatively bright.”

And finally … And as Westminster drew its session to a close for the summer, a Scottish MP (who is on maternity leave) has accused the government of a breach of trust over a key House of Commons vote on Brexit. Lib Dem Deputy Leader Jo Swinson was “paired” with Tory chairman Brandon Lewis so she could be at home with her new baby son during a Trade Bill vote. This should mean neither MP votes so their absences cancel each other out, but Mr Lewis did vote with the government – the row continues….

 

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 julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 20 July 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 20 July 2018

With Scottish Parliament recess now well underway, political news this week has been dominated by a prominent US political figure visiting Scotland and we don’t mean Donald Trump’s well documented visit to his Turnberry resort. The former First Lady, Michelle Obama, arrived in Edinburgh on Tuesday evening for her first official international appearance since leaving the White House.

Along with 900 guests Perceptive attended The Hunter Foundation’s charity dinner at Edinburgh’s EICC, eager to listen to Michelle Obama, as she gave some insight in to life in the White House and the importance of girl power, saying that it is a dangerous world for girls and by turning a blind eye to leaders who treat women with disrespect, we are all complicit.

It could be said that girl power was a theme for the evening as Olympic gold medallist and Scottish rowing legend, Dame Katherine Grainger moderated the 90-minute conversation, asking Michelle Obama a range of questions which included, will the former First Lady run for office, to which she replied: “Will I do it? No.”

On the west coast of Scotland, Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, has had a busy week which included a visit to Ayrshire College to promote a £10m investment from Scottish Government to the Flexible Workforce Development Fund. The fund, which is going in to its second year, supports the upskilling and reskilling needs of Scotland’s workforce and is available to eligible levy paying employers.

On Wednesday, Mr Hepburn visited Dumfries & Galloway College to learn more about Perceptive client, Loreburn Housing Association’s pioneering Youth Foyer project in Stranraer. The innovative development aims to provide safe and secure housing, support and training for young people in Dumfries and Galloway by 2020. The project will aim to significantly improve the lives of people aged 16-25 who are at risk of homelessness and will provide a stable, secure environment, with support from trained staff.

Over the summer, we will look in turn at what might be coming up at various committees, starting with the Committee for Mr Hepburn’s domain (Economy, Jobs & Fair Work).   The Economy Committee is one of the busiest in Parliament and its upcoming work already looks substantial. In a follow-up to the inquiries into Scotland’s economic performance and bank closures (which are still to be debated in the Chamber), the attention turns to the support provided by Business Gateway. Expect attempts to discuss the alternatives which businesses might choose those instead. The Damages (Investment Returns and Periodical Payments) (Scotland) Bill will be considered, as well as the potential implications of a publicly-owned energy company as a driver or hinderance to green and cheaper energy. Underpinning all this will be its consideration of the Draft Budget, which, like winter, is now beginning earlier and earlier.

Finally, our political, PR and social media efforts with client Wavegarden Scotland, creating Scotland’s first artificial surfing lake have been recognised as one of the best construction, property and infrastructure  campaigns in the country by Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

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 julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 13 July 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 13 July 2018

Harold Wilson famously said that a week was a long time in politics, and we can seldom remember a start to the Holyrood recess where UK politics continued at such roller-coaster pace that most news items were out of date as soon as they were written.

So Boris is gone, taking with him David Davis and various junior ministers and committee chairs.  Theresa May continues to battle on with every other party (and half her own) practically dancing on her political grave as she tries valiantly to avoid a second, snap election or a leadership crisis.   This latter option is looking increasingly likely with Sajiv Javid and Jeremy Hunt being talked about as likely runners.   All this and Donald Trump coming to Scotland this weekend.  So much for the quiet summer…

Holyrood has started its summer recess, of course.  Normal business resumes on 4 September which means no debates, with written questions and motions published just once a week.  We thought this would be a good opportunity to review the current list and range of responsibilities of Special Advisers many of whom, some would say, run government policy.

The SPAD list has been updated following last week’s Ministerial reshuffle.  There are no new additions (yet) and former MP Callum McCaig has had planning added to his remit. Kate Higgins’s title no longer includes ‘early years, further and higher education’.

NamePortfolio
Liz LloydChief of Staff to the First Minister

First Minister’s Strategic Programme in Government including inter-governmental relations

Co-ordination of the Special Adviser team

Stuart NicolsonHead of Communications

Senior Political Spokesperson for the First Minister

Strategic communications

Colin McAllisterHead of Policy Programme for Government

Programme for Government

First Minister’s Questions

Senior Special Adviser to the Deputy First Minister

Education

John MacInnesSpecial Adviser

Political Research

Support for First Minister’s Questions and parliamentary debates

Support to Communications and Policy Special Advisers

Davie HutchisonSpecial Adviser

Health & Sport and Broadcasting

First Minister’s Questions

John McFarlaneSpecial Adviser

Justice and Transport

Parliamentary Business and Parliamentary liaison

Jeanette CampbellSpecial Adviser

Communities, Social Security, and Equalities (apart from Local Government & Planning)

Kate HigginsSpecial Adviser

Rural Economy & Connectivity

Katy BowmanSpecial Adviser

Culture, Tourism & External Affairs

Policy support to the Chief of Staff

Support for the First Minister and the First Minister’s Private Office

Outreach and stakeholder engagement

Ross IngebrigtsenDeputy Political Spokesperson for the First Minister

Strategic communications planning

David MillerSpecial Adviser

Energy, Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform

Ewan CrawfordSenior Special Adviser

Europe and Constitutional issues

Government Strategy

Stewart MaxwellSpecial Adviser

Business, the Economy, Skills & Fair Work

Business and Economy outreach

Callum McCaigSpecial Adviser

Finance and Local Government & Planning

And finally … We are looking forward to the charity dinner with Michelle Obama next week. Several senior politicians and celebrities are expected to attend, but two special guests are 14 year old girls, Melissa Croft, 14, of Mearns Castle High School in East Renfrewshire and Cerys Gough, 14, of Langholm Academy in Dumfries and Galloway. Both won a competition to share their recommendations if they ruled Scotland.  Cerys’ video focused on bullying and prejudice, while Melissa’s film was about child poverty in Scotland.

 

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 julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 6 July 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 6 July 2018

The Scottish Parliament has now started its long summer recess and Chamber business resumes on 4 September.  Westminster continues for a few more weeks and the SNP’s Commons Group of 25 MPs has seen a reshuffle, with a shake-up of the front-bench team and MPs taking on new responsibilities. Policy groups, of which all MPs are a member, have also seen changes. This follows the reshuffle of the SNP Scottish Government’s cabinet last week, and the reappointment of Ian Blackford MP and Kirsty Blackman MP as the group’s leadership team at their AGM last week.

Ian Blackford has appointed Stuart McDonald MP to the front bench team to cover Immigration. Deidre Brock MP will take on the role as spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – with Pete Wishart as her deputy- and Gavin Newlands MP will be the SNP’s spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Office – covering these key policy areas as the UK attempts to negotiate on Brexit.  Other recent appointments include Hannah Bardell MP as the group’s spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Stewart Hosie MP has taken up the role of spokesperson for International Trade and Brendan O’Hara MP is now spokesperson for Social Inclusion.

The Scottish Government is planning a crackdown on junk food in a bid to turn around the country’s “stubbornly unhealthy” diet. Two thirds of adults in Scotland are overweight and 29% are obese, and this has not changed over the last 10 years. Ministers have set out a new diet and health strategy, with a particular focus on cutting childhood obesity, and they are to consult on detailed plans to restrict the promotion and marketing of foods high in salt, sugar and fat. This would target confectionery, biscuits, crisps, cakes, pastries, sugary soft drinks and potentially ice creams, and include restrictions on multi-buy offers, meal deals, unlimited refill deals and where products can be displayed in shops.

IPPR has published a report on the costs associated with a hard Brexit. The price of food and non-alcoholic drinks could rise by 5.3% and the cost of transport by 7.7%. Researchers noted that areas outside of London and South East England tended to be more likely to export goods to the EU, potentially leaving them more exposed to Brexit. The group also concluded that the impact of a soft Brexit would be split broadly equally between men and women, but that women would lose out more from a hard Brexit due to the indirect impact on the service sector.

IPPR has suggested the EU referendum result was partially attributable to “deep and sustained inequalities in the UK” and has called on the UK Government to tackle this issue rather than allowing Brexit to further entrench the problem. The SNP pointed out that cost increases in transport and other areas could disproportionately affect people in Scotland.

And finally … Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster MP has called on Scots to back proposals for a bridge to Northern Ireland. Ms Foster said there was “growing support” for the idea as she addressed an Orange parade in Fife, where she was the main speaker at the Cowdenbeath event, organised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland. The DUP proposed a feasibility study into building a bridge to Scotland in 2015.

 

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 julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 29 June 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 29 June 2018

The Scottish Parliament closed its doors last night for the two-month summer recess.  Chamber business resumes on 4 September.  The big news this week was Nicola Sturgeon’s long anticipated ministerial reshuffle, her first since the May 2016 elections.  SNP Deputy Leader Keith Brown left the government to take over an enhanced campaigning role for the party and under fire Health Secretary Shona Robison resigned (to be replaced by Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman). Full Cabinet details including new responsibilities: https://news.gov.scot/news/new-cabinet-appointed

In other news Education Secretary John Swinney was heavily criticised for using the backdrop of the reshuffle to address the Chamber with an update, effectively amounting to a postponement, of the Scottish Government’s proposed Education Bill. Mr Swinney said that key reforms can be introduced more quickly without changing the law, but it faced opposition from teaching unions and some opposition parties. Some of the proposals will now be introduced through an agreement with councils instead.

Still at Holyrood, and there was the traditional rush of non-contentious business in the last few days, with the key one being news that a bill will be introduced in early 2019 to implement the recommendations of the Barclay Review of Non-Domestic Rates. In advance of this, a consultation has been launched on ways to enact the recommendations from the review. It will close for evidence on Monday 17 September. Green MSP Andy Wightman said the Government should investigate ways of raising additional revenue, while Labour criticised the “shambolic” implementation of the rates revaluation.

The First Minister has appointed one of Scotland’s best-known businessmen, Benny Higgins, as the strategic adviser for the establishment of the Scottish National Investment Bank. Mr Higgins, former CEO of Tesco Bank, developed an implementation plan for the bank and the Scottish Government has accepted all 21 of his report’s recommendations. His new role will build on this work. As strategic adviser, Mr Higgins will play the leading role in the development of the bank, providing advice to and working with the First Minister and other ministers, and building support for the bank among civic and business organisations.

And as the NHS prepares to celebrate its 70th birthday, a majority of Scots would be prepared to pay more tax to help the NHS, according to a new poll published this week. 46 per cent believe standards in the NHS in Scotland have become worse while about a quarter (26 per cent) think they have improved. The Sunday Times Scotland survey found that 52 per cent of Scots would be willing to pay more in tax to better fund the health service, with less than a third (29 per cent) opposed to a tax hike and 18 per cent are unsure.

And finally, one of the new Ministers named in Nicola Sturgeon’s new Cabinet lost her role as Junior Education Minister before it even began as a result of “offensive and inappropriate comments” in a blog from 2007.  Opposition parties questioned the appointment and it was later confirmed the Aberdeenshire East MSP was out of the running for the role.

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 julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

 

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 June 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 June 2018

The requirement for the Scottish Parliament to consent to UK Government legislation affecting devolved areas should be embedded into law, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell MSP has said. In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Mr Russell called for parliamentary discussion on the best way forward. This follows the UK Government’s decision to push ahead with the EU Withdrawal Bill despite the Scottish Parliament refusing to consent to legislation that could see its powers frozen for up to seven years without agreement. Mr Russell also confirmed the Scottish Government will continue to identify and draft the legislation needed to prepare for Brexit, while making the case for Scotland to remain within the Single Market and Customs Union.

Please note there will be a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday 3 July on the motion: That this House has considered the implications for Scotland of leaving the EU. It will be led by Ayrshire (SNP) MP Patricia Gibson and doubtless will have extensive contributions across all four main parties.

A cross-party Holyrood committee has published a critical review of Scotland’s economic performance under the SNP administration and call for an urgent review of economic strategy. The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee has unanimously agreed a report which recognises that economic growth in Scotland under the SNP is significantly below growth rates in the UK economy as a whole and is falling far behind historical growth rates in Scotland. The report “Scotland’s Economic Performance” also concludes that ”levels of GDP growth are marginal, productivity low and wages are stagnant’’.

The Holyrood Committee highlights that ‘’the future will be equally challenging given the independent Scottish Fiscal Commission’s revised forecast of lower tax revenues, of as much as £1.7 billion, and already low GDP growth has been revised downwards to less than 1%.’’ It recommends that in order to reverse the decline in Scotland’s economy  “the Scottish Government must use all of the levers at its disposal to bring a sharper focus on growing the economy” starting by reviewing and updating the Economic Strategy “as a matter of urgency.’’

In related news, Scotland’s Chief Statistician published Scottish Annual Business Statistics 2016. GVA in the services sector was £49.8bn, compared to £12.7bn in manufacturing and £7.1bn in construction. Between 2015 and 2016, manufacturing GVA increased by £610m (5%) but there were reductions in a range of other sectors due to the downturn in the oil and gas industry.

And finally …we were delighted to welcome MSP Johann Lamont, who plans to stand as MP for Glasgow South, to Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre. SMS-IC brings together industry innovators, clinicians and world-class researchers together to work on precision medicine.  Precision medicine ensures drugs arespecifically targeted to a person’s genetic makeup rather than a “one size fits all” approach.  This helps get the right treatment to the right person at the right time, improving outcomes for patients and slashing the costs of ineffective treatments, saving lives and scarce NHS resources.

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 

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 June 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 June 2018

The global news of the week, of course, was the Trump/North Korea summit in Singapore.  Now that the circus has moved on from Singapore, experts will take months to work out if this is a real breakthrough moment for world peace – or just more Trump theatrics.  That’ll be a good lunch topic if Nicola Sturgeon gets to meet him in Scotland next month.

Matters Brexit continue with a sharper edge as the May 2019 deadline draws closer. There was drama at Westminster as SNP MPs walked out en masse from Prime Minister’s Questions after their Commons leader was thrown out of the chamber in a row with the Speaker. Ian Blackford refused to sit down when ordered to by John Bercow having asked for the Commons to sit in private – this was in protest at a lack of debate on what he said was a “power grab” in the EU Withdrawal Bill. Mr Bercow said MPs could vote on the request for a private sitting at the end of PMQs – but when Mr Blackford refused to sit back down he was suspended for the rest of the day’s sitting.

Back at Holyrood, there has been a sense of urgency to get business through before the two-month summer recess.  Monday saw the somewhat flat launch of the long-expected Transport Bill (predicted last week). The ‘highlight’ was a proposal that local authorities could more easily takeover bus routes abandoned by commercial operators.  The Greens were quick to attack the Bill, not least for the lack of a single reference to rail issues.

There was some good economic news as a new report from business consultancy EY said that foreign investment projects in Scotland have risen by 7% in the past year. It found that Scotland retained its position as the second most attractive part of the UK for foreign direct investment (FDI), after London.

The research found evidence that the UK as a whole was losing ground to France with foreign investors and covers 2017, which is the third consecutive year in which Scottish FDI has set a new high. The EY Business identified 116 projects, up from 108 in 2016. There was also a marked increase in research and development projects. The increase of 70% confirms Scotland as the best-performing part of the UK in this area, with Scotland’s share representing 24% of the UK total.

As part of London Tech Week on Wednesday evening at Downing St, Theresa May announced £1.6m investment in a new Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Accelerator for start-ups in Edinburgh, building on the city’s reputation as data capital. The joint venture with University of Edinburgh and Wayra, part of Telefonica will create up to 400 jobs.

And finally .. we look forward to welcoming Johann Lamont on Monday to Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre(SMS-IC), at the University of Glasgow’s Clinical Innovation Zone at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus in Glasgow.  SMS-IC brings together industry innovators, clinicians and world-class researchers together to work on precision medicine.  Precision medicine ensures drugs are specifically targeted to a person’s genetic makeup rather than a “one size fits all” approach.  This helps get the right treatment to the right person at the right time, improving outcomes for patients and slashing the costs of ineffective treatments, saving lives and scarce NHS resources.

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 julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk 

CONSTRUCTION SCOTLAND INNOVATION CENTRE APPOINTS PERCEPTIVE COMMUNICATORS AFTER COMPETITIVE PITCH

CONSTRUCTION SCOTLAND INNOVATION CENTRE APPOINTS PERCEPTIVE COMMUNICATORS AFTER COMPETITIVE PITCH

Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has appointed Perceptive Communicators to handle its external communications.

The one -year contract, which Perceptive won following a competitive tender against four other agencies, includes both PR and public affairs.

The Glasgow-based agency will help CSIC highlight the resources and opportunities available to all construction firms in Scotland via its experienced business partnership team and £2 million innovation factory at Hamilton International Technology Park in Lanarkshire.

CSIC helps construction related businesses to innovate, collaborate and grow by matching innovation requirements with business support and academic specialists. It offers training, programmes, partnership management, and a state-of-the-art production and prototyping facility which can be booked on a membership or pay-as-you-go basis.

Perceptive has provided ad hoc communications support to CSIC in the past, but had to compete against the four other agencies, via a written submission and presentation of ideas for the brief.

Wendy Rizza, marketing and communications manager at CSIC said:  “Perceptive really impressed us with their creativity and solid industry insight. They stood head and shoulders above the rest of the submissions in terms of industry knowledge, experience and practical suggestions for making the most of our budget.”

Julie McLauchlan, founder and managing director of Perceptive Communicators, said:  “Construction is a key sector for us and one in which we believe our experience is unparalleled in Scotland. We’re passionate about helping businesses and organisations achieve the best results possible, and are looking forward to supporting CSIC increase its share of voice and influence across Scotland and beyond.”

ONE OF SCOTLAND’S LARGEST OFFSITE TIMBER FRAME COMPANIES LAUNCHES PRESENCE IN ENGLAND WITH NEW SHOWROOM IN SWINDON

ONE OF SCOTLAND’S LARGEST OFFSITE TIMBER FRAME COMPANIES LAUNCHES PRESENCE IN ENGLAND WITH NEW SHOWROOM IN SWINDON

Scotframe, one of Scotland’s largest offsite timber frame specialists, has launched a permanent showroom and sales office at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC) in Swindon, as it targets a larger share of the English self-build housing market.

Headquartered in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Scotframe is an industry leader in the supply of full kit packages for housing and commercial projects in the UK. Established in 1989, the company now has 160 employees and a £35m turnover. It has two manufacturing facilities in Inverurie and at Cumbernauld as well as sales offices and showrooms at Inverness and Dundee.

Scotframe was acquired by Saint-Gobain – a global group with 18,000 employees in the UK alone – in November last year, a move which Scotframe believes will help accelerate its expansion into English markets. Scotframe’s annual turnover in England is currently £2.5m, and the company hopes to treble that figure over the next three years.

The National Self Build and Renovation Centre is the UK’s only permanent venue for independent advice and support on self-build, renovation and home improvements. It offers free and impartial advice to anyone looking to undertake such a project, as well as access to a range of exhibitors.

Scotframe’s show home was launched at the centre’s National Self Build and Renovation Show on 11th May. The company is currently recruiting a new member of staff who will be based at the centre.

Malcolm Thomson, sales director at Scotframe said: “Scotland leads the way in timber frame construction, with 83% of new build homes in Scotland using timber frame, compared to just 23% in England. However, the market share for timber construction in England is steadily rising and I believe this trend will continue.

“Timber frame is a particularly attractive option for self-build, which is growing in popularity south of the border, thanks to the recent Right to Build legislation. We hope having a presence at the NSBRC will help us tap into this burgeoning self-build market in England, especially as we have over 28 years of experience and expertise, during which time we have supplied over 30,000 houses.

“Sometimes the hardest part about a self-build project is knowing where to start, so now we have a permanent home at the NSBRC, we’re here to help anyone who might have any questions about any aspect of self-build.

Kier Graham partnership secures a place on £750m Clyde Commercial Framework

Kier Graham partnership secures a place on £750m Clyde Commercial Framework

The Kier Graham joint venture (JV) has recently been appointed to the Defence Infrastructure Organisation’s (DIO) prestigious new £750M Clyde Commercial Framework (CCF). Working in partnership, Kier Graham Defence will deliver building, civil engineering and mechanical and electrical works to the main HMNB Clyde at Faslane in Scotland, which is home to the nation’s core Submarine Service.

The JV is one of only three contractors to have been appointed to the DIO’s framework, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. The ten-year programme includes a wide spectrum of project types, typically ranging from £10m – £90m in value; from standalone, new-buildings including accommodation and training facilities, through to complex refurbishments on nuclear infrastructure in high security and operational areas.

The Clyde Commercial Framework supports the DIO’s Commercial strategy that was launched in 2017, and supports the Ministry of Defence’s £1.3bn Clyde programme, ensuring personnel responsible for delivering the UK’s Continuous at Sea Deterrent (CASD) are able to live work and train in safe, state of the art facilities.

Brian McQuade, Managing Director for Kier Construction, Scotland, said: “We are thrilled to have been appointed to the DIO’s new Clyde Commercial Framework working in joint venture with Graham. Kier was one of the first companies to sign the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant in 2013, putting it at the heart of its policy, and understanding the importance the construction industry plays in supporting the nation’s defence and security. Together we look forward to providing high quality buildings and infrastructure to HMNB Clyde, which will allow the Ministry of Defence to continue to carry out its vital operations effectively.”

Gary Holmes, Graham Managing Director, Building Scotland said, “The DIO’s pioneering new approach to this major contract stresses the necessity for collaboration, transparency and trust. Securing our place on the framework in the face of major competitors is testimony to the seamless nature of the Kier Graham Defence partnership. Together we understand the complexities of working within secure environments and this appointment underlines our expertise within the defence sector and builds on our combined success in delivering first-class projects throughout the UK.”

Ian Arbuckle, DIO Assistant Head of Commercial Services, said: “We are incredibly pleased to launch our new framework for the Clyde. We have successfully selected three reputable industry partners who have demonstrated a commitment to delivering better value for Defence.”

Cdre Mark Gayfer, Naval Base Commander Clyde, said “I am delighted that today we have put in place the framework to deliver the right infrastructure to ensure that we are able to continue to provide high quality support to our submarines and also our sailors and their families for the foreseeable future.”

Independently the two organisations have strong track records working across the UK within the defence infrastructure as well as numerous core production facilities for the Ministry of Defence’s clients. As joint venture partners Kier Graham Defence already has a growing defence portfolio delivering several schemes through the DIO’s Next Generation Estates Contract (NGEC), National and Regional Frameworks.

The Clyde Commercial Framework adheres to the NEC4 model, a unique process for collaboration, fair dealing and project management. The two other contractors appointed to the Clyde Commercial Framework are Morgan Sindall and VolkerStevin.

 

Mactaggart & Mickel secures planning permission for second English housing development

Mactaggart & Mickel secures planning permission for second English housing development

Mactaggart & Mickel Homes England, part of the Mactaggart & Mickel Group, have received planning permission for their second English housing development at East Challow, near Wantage in Oxfordshire.

The five-star Home Builder Federation (HBF)-rated housebuilder also recently opened an office in Cheltenham, where they will initially create around 20 full time jobs for local people, as they expand into the English housebuilding market.

The housing development at East Challow received planning consent for 38 new homes – a mixture of 25, two- to five-bedroom private homes and 13 one- to three-bedroom affordable homes. The private homes will be two-, three- and four-bedroom homes.

This marks an important step for the company, following their move into the English housebuilding market as they plan to broaden their geographical reach to a UK wide audience.

Craig Ormond, Company Director at Mactaggart & Mickel Homes England Ltd, said:

“We look forward to starting work at this exciting new quality development at East Challow. As well as providing new quality housing, we will be working with local suppliers and contributing to the local economy. We plan to be on site later this year.”

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.

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