Feb 022017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

Aberdeen city centre has been hailed as a shining example to the rest of the country after securing the prestigious Purple Flag accreditation for the fourth year in a row.

Led by business organisation Aberdeen Inspired, with support from Aberdeen City Council, Police Scotland, Unight, Street Pastors and other key stakeholders, the city has achieved the coveted standard in recognition of its commitment to promoting a safe and secure night time economy.

Aberdeen became the first city in Scotland to be awarded the accreditation in 2014 and has now been re-accredited for the fourth time, receiving praise for its strong partnership working alongside its lively mix of evening entertainment.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, welcomed the award and praised the ongoing work which goes into making this continued success possible.

He said:

“Securing the Purple Flag award for a fourth year is a great achievement and the result of a concerted effort by a number of organisations working in partnership to enhance Aberdeen city centre’s offering over a number of years.

“The assessors remarked that Aberdeen is a shining example to other cities across the country for all of the work that goes in to improving the city centre, which a fantastic acknowledgement of what has been achieved so far.

“We have developed strong relationships with our many partners over the years and this success is testament to the hard work that goes on, often behind the scenes, to create a better city for residents and visitors.

“The city’s night time economy has an integral part to play in helping us meet our goal of increasing footfall within the city centre and a safe and enjoyable environment is key to this continued success.

“If the city centre is to truly thrive, then fundamentally it must be seen to be safe. It is for all the partners to ensure that we continue to sustain this partnership approach, even through these challenging financial times.”   

The Purple Flag scheme is a town and centre award managed by the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) which looks at the wellbeing, movement, appeal and sense of place within a city centre.

Cities are rewarded for their ability to showcase a variety of initiatives aimed at attracting visitors to the area during the evening.

This year’s application was strengthened by a number of projects aimed at fostering a sense of pride within the city, with Aberdeen Inspired’s Summer of Art, the Painted Doors project and the Aberdeen Comedy Festival, Police Scotland’s Operation Oak campaign and the successful Aberdeen Christmas Village all playing a part.

Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Jenny Laing, said:

“Receiving Purple Flag accreditation for the fourth year is a testament to the strong partnership work undertaken by the Community Safety Partnership, Aberdeen Inspired, Police Scotland and number of other agencies.

“Aberdeen City Council works closely with a range of partners to deliver initiatives such as Unight, Best Bar None and the taxi marshals which play a huge role in creating a safe and welcoming night time experience.

“I would like to thank all involved for their hard work in making Aberdeen an even safer place to live and visit.”

Area Commander Chief Inspector Graeme Mackie, said:

“Police Scotland is delighted that Aberdeen has once again been awarded the Purple Flag for excellence in managing the night-time economy – an accolade that is testament to the well-embedded partnership working that exists to ensure your city-centre is safe.

“Our officers also work hard to make sure that the city is a safe and welcoming place live, work and visit and we continue to record reductions in crime figures year-on-year.

“A great deal of progress has been made throughout the years thanks to the willingness of organisations to work together, and initiatives like Operation Oak and the Best Bar None awards play a huge part in creating this safer and more enjoyable environment.

“Every city-centre comes with its own unique challenges, so we take great pride in achieving this recognition for a fourth consecutive year and maintaining our position as one of the UK’s safest city centres.

“We look forward to continuing this work alongside our partner agencies to support the great progress that has already been made.”

Stuart McPhee, general manager of Siberia Vodka Bar and chairman of Unight Aberdeen, said:

“Unight are delighted to be a partner involved in working towards and achieving Purple Flag accreditation for the fourth consecutive year.

“Through all the partnership working that goes into achieving this we have created a safe and welcoming environment throughout our city centre.

“All of our venues work tirelessly to ensure they are the safest they can be, so to know that this is a small part in achieving this award is a great satisfaction to our members.”

Graham Watson, Owner of the Grill Bar, said:

“It is thoroughly well deserved and I am delighted that Aberdeen inspired and partners have achieved this recognition for their hard work over the piece.

“Over the past several years, the city centre seems to be a much safer place and that makes it more appealing for people to visit.

“The city centre needs to see this type of nationally leading thinking and we are delighted to support the continued progress.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates.

It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and drive footfall to the zone.

More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available online at: www.aberdeeninspired.com

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May 132016
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

Aberdeen-Inspired1A leading business organisation has kicked off their campaign to enhance the beauty of Aberdeen by planting a fruity addition to a popular city centre greenspace.

Aberdeen Inspired is hoping to build on its success in last year’s Keep Scotland Beautiful initiative, which is celebrating 50 years of community environmental improvement.

The organisation is planting five apple trees in the Roof Garden on top of St Nicholas shopping centre, with the help of Plan A, a group set up by Marks and Spencer to help protect the planet by sourcing responsibly, reducing waste and helping communities.

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“Aberdeen Inspired is passionate about creating a more vibrant and appealing city centre and we believe efforts like this make all the difference to achieving that.

“The Roof Garden itself is a fantastic example of community groups and businesses coming together to transform an area and make it attractive for all ages and has been received very well so far. Planting the orchard is a further step in keeping that momentum going and will we hope be enjoyed by residents and visitors to the greenspace.

“We have been delighted with our success in Keep Scotland Beautiful in previous years and this orchard is one of many initiatives we have planned to keep that momentum going and continue trying to make a difference to the aesthetic of the city. This alongside the continuation of our floral enhancements, Adopt an Area projects and creative lighting scheme will continue to make a big impact in the city centre.”

Administered by Keep Scotland Beautiful, a member of the RHS Bloom Federation, Beautiful Scotland recognises the efforts of local authorities and communities which work tirelessly to improve their local cities, towns and villages.

Aberdeen Inspired achieved silver gilt status in the competition last year, as well as retaining the crown in the BID category.

Carole Noble, director at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said:

“Keep Scotland Beautiful is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and we are delighted that Aberdeen Inspired is taking part in Beautiful Scotland to help us celebrate.

“For half a century, local authorities and communities have been working together and we sometimes forget the massive impact that a clean and green environment has on people.  But, there is ample evidence that a good local environment can deliver a broad range of associated benefits in terms of physical and mental health and wellbeing, community cohesion and civic pride, and the creation of economic opportunities.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district. Further information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Feb 042016
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

Aberdeen Inspired renewal ballot

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired and Julie Haig of city centre butcher Haigs (an Aberdeen Inspired levy payer).

A leading business organisation is planning to invest a projected £6.5 million in Aberdeen city centre as voting opens today (February 04) for a crucial renewal ballot.

A wide range of city centre projects and initiatives have been outlined for the next five years as part of Aberdeen Inspired’s planning towards the renewal, with an estimated £1.3m budget forecast annually in its new business plan.

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Levy players will begin to vote from today (February 04) on whether the organisation returns for a second five-year term, with the ballot running until March 17. The majority must vote “yes” to allow Aberdeen Inspired to make these ambitious plans a reality.

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“The next six weeks are vital for Aberdeen Inspired as we look towards our future plans should the ballot be successful. We are proud of what has been accomplished in our current term and are even more excited about what lies ahead.

“As part of the renewal process we have set out our aims in a business plan for our levy payers which highlights our aspirations and level of ambition for our next term, along with budgets and projects that will be carried out if there is a positive ballot outcome.

“If we do return for another five years we have estimated that Aberdeen Inspired will have a minimum of £6.5 million to utilise on a variety of enhancement and improvement projects throughout the city. This is a great investment in the future of Aberdeen which equates to around £1.3 million per year – funds which could play a part in regenerating the city centre.

“We are passionate about building on the positive work that Aberdeen Inspired has already carried out and hope we are in a position to play a major role in ensuring a bright future for our city centre.”

The organisation has organised future projects under four main themes – attractive city centre, promoting our city centre, safe and welcoming city centre and helping your business – all of which aim to be beneficial to its 700 levy payers throughout the BID (Business Improvement District).

Planned projects to improve the city centre aesthetic for the year ahead (2016-17) include a variety of multi-faceted clean-up campaigns ranging from a concentrated focus on Union Street to an extended programme of decorative floral baskets and bedding to further creative lighting projects of a similar nature to the well-received installation within Golden Square.

Aberdeen Inspired intends to bring forward a number of ‘Adopt an Area’ and street art projects – as well as utilising vacant properties in the city centre by lobbying owners to consider providing free and discounted space for pop-up enterprises and exhibitions.

The organisation also plans to build on the success of the Aberdeen Christmas Village, which welcomed more than 500,000 visitors, by increasing the size of the Village and attractions as well as organising a bigger programme of festivals throughout the city centre. This includes the recently announced Play Me, I’m Yours street piano exhibition – which aims to encourage people to engage with their city by providing pianos for the public to express themselves and interact with each other.

Other plans that will be carried out if Aberdeen Inspired is voted through include further backing of the city’s Purple Flag status – an accolade which recognises a safe and secure night time economy – as well as a follow-up to the current wayshowing project, which would involve suspended signage installed throughout the city centre to identify specific streets and quarters.

Gary Craig added:

“All of the projects we have outlined for the next five years would bring tremendous benefits to Aberdeen. If we are lucky enough to be voted through for another term we promise to bring forward major enhancements to the BID and city centre, all of which aim to drive footfall to the zone and increase dwell time. This is of huge benefit to our levy payers, as well as to residents and visitors to the city.

“We work closely with our levy payers on a very close basis and have taken on board their ideas and concerns when devising our projects, paying particular focus to the aesthetic of the city centre, as well as bringing new events to Aberdeen as part of our festival plans and continuing to help towards safety and security.

“Everyone in the Aberdeen Inspired team is passionate about making the city a better place and we are confident that we will be given the chance to carry out our plans and continue to revitalise the city centre.”

Aberdeen Inspired has led key projects over the past five years, with the Aberdeen Christmas Village and the rooftop garden at the St Nicholas centre particularly popular. The organisation has also been involved in key infrastructure initiatives, such as the installation of Big Belly Bin solar compacting technology throughout the city centre in addition to funding deep cleans of Union Street, floral enhancements across the BID and shopfront improvements.

The organisation is currently finalising two major projects in the city centre – installing over 50 street information signs and lighting up the Colonnade at St Nicholas Kirk.

Further information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Jul 212014
 

By Ken Hutcheon.

Provost Skene's House by Stanley Wright

Provost Skene’s House – Credit: Stanley Wright

The date for lodging any comments/objections to the Marischal Square and/or Provost Skene Developments has now passed with 146 formal comments/objections having been received by Aberdeen City Planning Dept.

The Council are now considering whether to have a public hearing regarding this development.

The Planning Committee will meet next Thursday 24th July to decide.

Unfortunately it appears that leading councillors are confident they can push this present development plans through WITHOUT a public hearing. If we can get enough councillors to understand that they should be voting to support the wishes of the people that put them in power we can achieve a public hearing to get the developers to think again.

The developers can surely produce a far more innovative design that will open the magnificent view of the shining granite of Marischal College and the historic frontage of Provost Skene’s House for generations of Aberdonians and tourists to the city.

To condemn the centre of Aberdeen (the silver city) to a series of boring square boxes which hide the beauty of Marischal College and Provost Skene’s House is a terrible act of vandalism by our council.

Anyone who is understandably concerned regarding this development should email the Councillors for their area to suggest they vote to hold a public hearing. Over 1100 Aberdeen citizens stated at the exhibitions of this development they do not want these plans to go ahead.

To find your councillor and their email address, the easiest way is to put your postcode into the Aberdeen City Interactive map.

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Jun 232014
 

Provost Skene's House by Stanley WrightBy Ken Hutcheon.

The Marischal Square Development objections closing date may be gone, but MUSE developers have further plans in mind.
Proposals to remove the historic archway, stairs and wall in front of Provost Skene’s House are being considered. The plans can be viewed here.

This is despite the fact that on MUSE’s own website it states:

“Provost Skene’s House will be at the heart of the Marischal Square project……. The role and setting of Provost Skene’s House will be given special consideration in the new development. It will be protected from the demolition then re-opened at an appropriate time.

“Money is being set aside for conservation work.”

There is also a picture of Provost Skene House as it is now, complete with arch and surrounding wall, on that page. Presumably the money that is being set aside is for the removal of part of the frontage of Provost Skene’s House.

You still have time, till 3rd July to comment on, or object to these changes.

You will find more information on my website at www.marischalsquare.weebly.com. Note reference for this plan is 140755.

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Oct 182013
 

With thanks to Kenneth Watt.

UTG displayThe Friends of Union Terrace Gardens held their AGM on Saturday Oct 12. The meeting celebrated the group’s achievements over the past year, and discussed plans being proposed for the future of the gardens.

Robin Mcintosh was re-elected as chair of the group which seeks to campaign and act to improve and preserve the city’s green heart.

The group discussed John Halliday’s proposals to raise the gardens and voted to reject the outline plans on the grounds that it would involve too much structural change as well as the possibility of a car park under the park.

Also on the agenda was a discussion with council leader Barney Crockett who reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to keeping UTG as a Victorian park. He took on board feedback from the group who continued to express an appetite for more council-supported investment and improvements.

Robin Mcintosh said:

“Today’s meeting allowed us reflect on our successes from the last year: hundreds of new plants; secured funding for new furniture; sound relationships with council gardeners as well as being taken seriously in decisions being taken about the park at administration level.”

“The group was unanimous in its rejection for Halliday’s plans and instead looked to develop further our own alternative vision for the Gardens. Councillor Crockett was keen to hear our views and provided an insight in to what the administration in considering about city centre regeneration.”

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May 172013
 

With thanks to Anne Florence.

The many changes that have taken place in the Beacon Community Centre over the past couple of years have left many in the Bucksburn community wondering if we still have a building to call our own.

The inclusion of our community centre in the 3Rs project left us with a refurbished building, but with a smaller programme of activities as many did not continue after the building re-opened and much of the time and space was given to Sport Aberdeen.

The management committee (the only four remaining) have been faced with meetings (across the present and last Administration) while the Council try to work out how volunteers can take the place of the community learning staff that they have effectively disbanded.

The Council also expect these groups to maintain their “lifelong learning” programme in centres across the city. The remaining committee would like to see the centre used for all the activities it served before – sports for all ages and abilities and crafts and learning for adults and children – but we do not have the time between us to put in the work that that would entail.

We have had a very constructive talk with Sport Aberdeen and were pleased to learn that they share our view that the centre should once again provide a wide range of activities. They are prepared to help that happen and, for our part, we have agreed to do all we can to find out what the community would like to see happening in their centre and help bring it about.

You can do that by e-mailing beaconcommcentre@gmail.com or by leaving a letter for the management committee at reception in the centre. Tell us what activities and groups you would like to see, or better still become a part of the local forum that will continue to have a role in the centre.

It is now called the Beacon Centre – it’s up to you to put the community back into it.

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Sep 132012
 

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Since opening in August 2009, Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV), the North East of Scotland’s premier sports facility, has welcomed over 1.74 million users through its doors and has increased its visitor numbers by over 30% in three years.

The premier sports facility has played host to a number of exciting events this year including the Hydrasun Mini Olympics, Denis Law Soccer Tournament, Cameroon v Scotland Women’s football match and being chosen as the venue for the Cameroon Olympic Team training camp.

February of this year boasted the busiest month for ASV with membership peaking at over 7,000 and almost 71,000 people using the state of the art sporting facilities.

In order to accommodate the centre’s increase in users, a number of development plans are in place for the near future.

The £22 million Aquatics Centre development is progressing well. The new facility on King Street, which is on track for opening in early 2014, will offer world-class swimming and diving facilities to both members of the community and elite athletes.

David Beattie, chief executive at Aberdeen Sports Village said:

“The popularity ASV has experienced since opening has been phenomenal. A cutting edge sporting facility hosting activities for people of every fitness level was clearly exactly what the area needed. The feedback received has been incredibly positive with all the facilities including the gym, sports hall, indoor pitch, athletics area, studios and classes all being consistently busy.

“This level of use and interest in the centre has enabled us to put a number of exciting plans and developments in place that will allow us to provide even more activities and opportunities for our users.” 

 The facility, which opened in 2009, is the result of a joint venture by funding partners the Universityof Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council and sportscotland.

Aug 232012
 

Candy Belle Vintiques will be showcasing vintage fashions and home-wares in a unique weekend pop up boutique in Aberdeen’s Academy Shopping Centre in Belmont Street, this weekend. With thanks to Camilla-Erika Campbell.

Following the success of the first vintage event in April, Candy Belle girls Janet, Angie, Emma and Jill decided to host a new, more intimate, shopping experience in the form of a pop up boutique.

During the two day event visitors will be able to buy from the carefully sourced collections of vintage fashion, accessories, home-wares, furniture and crafts.

Visitors can also take part in craft workshops provided by I Heart Art on Sunday.

Local business owner and co-founder of Candy Belle Vintques Janet Shek says:

“We are really excited to be bringing Candy Belle to Aberdeen in the form of a pop up boutique.  Our first fayre was such a success it is exciting to bring the experience to the next level with the boutique and provide our customers with all the nostalgia in a much more intimate and homely set up”.

The Candy Belle Vintiques pop up boutique will be in the Academy Shopping Centre from 9.30am until 6.00pm on Saturday 25th August and from 12 noon until 6.00pm on Sunday 26th August.

For more information please call Janet on 01224 905909 or find Candy Belle Vintiques on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/candybellevintiques

You can also email Candy Belle Vintiques at candybellevintiques@hotmail.co.uk

Aug 172012
 

As Wednesday 15th August this year marked National Relaxation Day, a free service that promotes serenity by giving children a chance to keep in touch with both parents after relationships break down is appealing for volunteers. With thanks to Claire McBain.

VSA, the UK’s largest city social care charity supporting people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, runs the Richmondhill-based Family Contact Centre.
It is a calm, safe and neutral ground where separated mothers, fathers and grandparents can stay in a youngsters’ life without them having to see one another.

The centre, one of the oldest meeting places of its kind in Scotland, recently celebrated its longest serving volunteers by highlighting the achievements of people who have dedicated as much as 20 years to the service. 

But increased service demand means an urgent need to recruit the next generation of volunteers.

Cathy Maxwell, family support co-ordinator at VSA’s Family Contact Centre, said:

“It may sound clichéd but, without them, maintaining the service really won’t be possible.

“It’s a welcoming place where people don’t feel they’re being judged.  I’m looking for family-friendly volunteers, both male and female, to join the team that welcome people to the centre on a Saturday.  Parents aren’t supervised, but volunteers are on hand to offer assistance if necessary. 

“Usually, it’s a case of offering refreshments and providing reassurance about the principles of the centre.  Often it just means emphasising the fact that parents don’t have to come face-to-face.  Essential volunteer qualities are a sense of humour, a desire to help and a clear understanding of confidentiality.

“On-the-job training is provided and credible, local volunteering experience is a great way for people to boost their employability, particularly if they have an interest in working with children or families.  Once they decide this type of volunteering is for them, I’d urge our new recruits to make a commitment to stay with us for up to a year.”

There are more than 45 child contact centres in Scotland.  Last year, 1650 children met their non-resident parent, or other significant family member, at one of these centres.  This was an increase of 22% on the previous year.  More than half of these children were under five years old and 85% aged below eight.

Cathy continued:

“Some parents find it very difficult to agree to share their children’s time with their ex-partner.  But visits need not be awkward and distressing. 

“Visits facilitated by a contact centre can lead to improved communication between the non-resident parent and their children, reduction or prevention of conflict and, in many cases, decision by parents to work together in the best interests of their children.”

VSA’s Family Contact Centre is based at the Maisie Munro Centre, 18 Richmondhill Place, Aberdeen, on a Saturday.

  • To find out more about becoming a volunteer or using the service contact Cathy Maxwell, family support co-ordinator, on 01224 358638 or e-mail her at cathy.maxwell@vsa.org.uk
  • For more information, photographs or to get the perspective of a current volunteer, contact Claire McBain on 01224 358611 or e-mail her at claire.mcbain@vsa.org.uk