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Apr 202017
 

With thanks to Aberdeen/Shire Greens.

After famously standing a mannequin in the 2012 Aberdeen local elections, Renée Slater is back as a candidate in her own right, standing in the Torry & Ferryhill ward for the Scottish Green Party.

The mannequin, Helena Torry, emerged as an activist figurehead in 2010 in campaigns against the destruction of Union Terrace Gardens, and soon became popular in anti-austerity protests.

As Renée witnessed the effects of cuts to services for disabled people and young people, she wanted to bring these issues into the spotlight and challenge the antagonistic political climate with humour.

In the 2012 council elections, she registered Helena as a candidate to represent ‘the voice of the silent majority.’

When authorities realised that Helena was not a real person, Renée was arrested. She was held until a prisoner exchange took place, and Helena was locked up for a year. The story was covered across the UK, and further afield [links below]. After Renée’s acquittal, Helena continued to support local causes, including the campaign for Scottish Independence.

Renée has been involved in local politics and activism for more than 40 years, and she joined the Scottish Greens in 2014. In standing for Aberdeen City Council in 2017, she hopes to help address issues across the city, from housing and jobs to local pollution and public health.

After years of bitter conflict between Labour and the SNP, Renée and other Green candidates want to bridge the divide and work constructively across parties.

Renée said,

“I’m concerned about inter-party bickering. It’s time we pulled together for all the people of Aberdeen. It’s time to make a change.”

Links:

BBC Report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WRFl9jvOCw
Daily Politics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJEL56CMOzc
ITV: http://www.itv.com/news/2012-04-20/mannequin-removed-from-scottish-elections/
BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-20970395
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/04/20/shop-dummy-for-councillor-aberdeenshire_n_1440348.html
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/woman-arrested-after-entering-mannequin-into-council-elections-7665476.html
Other: https://lenathehyena.wordpress.com/tag/helena-torry/

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Apr 202017
 

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

Organisers of the Nuart Aberdeen festival have hailed the overwhelming response from members of the public to the city’s first ambitious international street art festival.
A team of internationally acclaimed artists showcased their talents by creating eye-catching murals around the city centre which attracted large crowds over the Easter weekend.

Nuart Aberdeen was brought to the city by business organisation Aberdeen Inspired and Aberdeen City Council, and was supported by main sponsor Burness Paull LLP.

Held in the Norwegian city since 2001 and widely regarded as the world’s leading celebration of street art, Nuart Aberdeen was the first overseas version of the festival.

Street artists Fintan Magee, Nipper, Add Fuel, M-City, Alice Pasquini, Jaune, Isaac Cordal, Martin Whatson, Herakut, Julien de Casabianca and Robert Montgomery all showcased their latest work.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to the Nuart Aberdeen festival and it was great to see so many people admiring the work, engaging and capturing it in the build up to, and throughout the weekend.

“All of the artists involved have caught the imagination of Aberdonians and we are very proud to have spearheaded this ambitious project with our partners to bring the festival to Aberdeen.

“We all know the granite shines in the sunshine but it can be a different story on gloomier days and we hope the influential art helps to enhance the area and offering for residents and visitors alike.

“The festival will leave a lasting legacy in the city, all of the street art will remain in place and we hope help to attract more cultural activities to the city and help Aberdeen as we encourage a transition through the city centre masterplan.”

As well as street art, there was also an extensive festival programme of activity including walking tours, talks, presentations, art workshops and the UK cinema premier of Saving Banksy at Belmont Filmhouse.

The festival artists also worked alongside local artists to create a lasting impression in the city centre by brightening up neglected spaces with their work.

Locations for the Nuart Aberdeen Festival work include: Market Village (Market St), Centro Court (Loch Street) Mackay´s (29-31 Queen St), The Illicit Still (Guestrow, Aberdeen), The White Screen (visible from Union Bridge), and Robert Gordon’s College Wall (Harriet Street).

Martyn Reed, director and curator of Nuart, said:

“It’s been amazing to see the diversity of those who participated in the festival, from young toddlers taking part in our Easter egg hunt to young people and adults engaging with the street art throughout the weekend.

“It seems like people have taken it upon themselves to explore the city centre throughout the festival which is a positive outcome.

“We are really pleased to have trusted custodians in our partners to continue the work of the festival, and we look forward to seeing the city flourish creatively.

“We’re also looking forward to working with Aberdeen Inspired, Aberdeen City Council and our partners to develop Nuart Aberdeen 2018.”

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

For more information about the Nuart Aberdeen Festival, please visit: www.nuartaberdeen.co.uk

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Apr 202017
 

80s Hollywood hair metal legends reunite for an evening of rock to a small, but appreciative, audience. Craig Chisholm reviews.

Fate can be funny but also cruel at times.
Take the case of a couple of 80s rock bands that have seen members come and go but recently reunited their singers and lead guitarists for the first time in years. One of these bands is called Guns n’ Roses. You’ve probably heard of them and you know their story.

Singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash are touring together for the first time since the early 90s.

It’s a huge, lucrative, money-spinning event that takes in stadiums all over the globe. If you want to see them then their only British dates are at the London Stadium in June where they’ll play in front of 160,000 fans over two nights.

The other band are their former peers – the similarly titled LA Guns.

Their origins are intertwined – Tracii Guns was the original guitarist for Guns n’ Roses back in 1984 before falling out with Axl Rose and departing the band. He then formed a new band and worked with various singers before teaming up with vocalist Phil Lewis and having some minor commercial success in the late 80s and early 90s.

The commercial peak didn’t last long though, mostly due to the rise of Nirvana and grunge, before Lewis and Tracii Guns finally parted company in the late 90s.
Weirdly, both toured as separate incarnations of LA Guns for most of the early noughties before, like Axl and Slash, reuniting again last year. They too are currently on a UK European tour and if you wanted to see them then you could have wandered down to The Assembly where they played in front of less than 160 people.

Fate can definitely be cruel and you have to wonder if Tracii Guns ever wondered what could have been if he hadn’t fell out with Axl 30 years ago. But, if he does, he doesn’t show it in front of the sparse crowd on this occasion.

In fact, the band put on a solid and professional performance that goes down well by the fans in attendance.

The band, wisely, stick to the early albums for most of the set – their self-titled debut providing almost half of the main set alone – from openers ‘No Mercy’ and ‘Electric Gypsy’ though ‘Sex Action’, ‘Bitch is Back’ and more.

Lewis and Guns look to be enjoying themselves and put on an energetic performance that has sections of the crowd head-banging or singing along all night. Lewis in particular interacts and chats with the fans at the front in a colloquial and friendly manner.

During encore track ‘The Ballad of Jayne’ he even hands the mic to fans in the front row to sing along – kudos to the first two of the singers for pretty good performances that leaves the band impressed. However, the third audience member given the chance to shine probably only deserves praise for his enthusiasm, if not his voice, and his heroic level of drunkenness. 

The band finish their set with a boisterous ‘Rip and Tear’ from their second album ‘Cocked And Loaded’ before leaving the stage and on to the next gig of their reunion.

Whether there are more in attendance than in Aberdeen remains to be seen but those diehard fans who do attend will appreciate what they witnessed on stage.

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Apr 202017
 

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

As the closure date of Monday 8th May draws nearer for the Fraserburgh Branch of the Clydesdale Bank, local campaigners are calling for the bank to reverse its decision to withdraw services from the town.

A key issue is the retention of the cash dispenser (ATM), given that in other towns where the Clydesdale Bank has closed branches and withdrawn its ATMs, other banks have followed suit, reducing service provision and customer choice.

Fraserburgh man and SNP candidate for Fraserburgh & District David Donn, who organised a petition, commented:

“We’ve seen recent examples of bank closures where Head Office have pointed to the existence of other banks and ATMs in the town and basically said to the local community, ‘You’ll be fine as our rivals are still here’.

“Within sometimes a very short time thereafter, we’ve seen closure announcements from other banks in the same locality.

“Portsoy and Cullen are good examples where the Clydesdale Bank closed and locals were told you still have other banks to fall back on. Now, there are no banks at all in these places. If the Clydesdale Bank can close down its Fraserburgh Branch there’s no guarantee other banks won’t follow suit.

“We need a minimum of a cash machine locally to continue to provide Clydesdale customers with a service. We can’t rely on other financial institutions to still be here.”

Fraserburgh SNP councillor Brian Topping said:

“Bank closures have been a feature of the last few years but many of us thought a town the size of Fraserburgh would be immune from this so it’s come as a real blow to the community.

“We know that once the decision is made it’s unlikely to be unmade but the least the Clydesdale Bank can do is give some consideration to its loyal customers in the Broch and maintain the ATM service.”

Fraserburgh SNP councillor Charles Buchan added:

“I really commend David on the petition he organised and I hope the bank bosses will pay heed to the view of those who signed it.

“It’s very disappointing that the Clydesdale Bank has so far failed to give any kind of commitment to its customers in Fraserburgh except for pointing them in the direction of the Post Office.”

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Apr 202017
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Austen Clark, managing director of Clark Integrated Technologies.

A major UK business survey revealing that a fifth of British businesses have been hacked by cyber criminals hammers home the need for all firms to ramp up their defences against cybercrime.

With only a quarter of firms surveyed by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) saying their business has security measures in place to guard against hacking, Austen Clark of Clark Integrated Technologies warns that too many firms could be exposing themselves to the very real danger of being hit by cybercrime.

Mr Clark, managing director of the Turriff-based ICT firm, says that the BCC report published this week drives home need for all businesses ramp up security defences to protect against hacking – and there are simple, tangible actions that all organisations can follow to reduce their risk of becoming a victim.

Larger companies – defined as those with at least 100 staff – are more susceptible to cyber attacks, according to the report, which found that 42% of big businesses had fallen victim to cybercrime, compared with 18% of small companies. Only a quarter (24%) of the survey’s 1,200 respondents said their business had security measures in place to guard against hacking.

Cybercrime can jeopardise a firm’s finances, confidence and reputation as well as causing disruption to business and productivity, warns Mr Clark, adding that while data breaches at web giant Yahoo, telecoms firm TalkTalk and the dating website Ashley Madison are the ones to grab headlines, the BCC report shows how worryingly widespread the problem is across the economy.

Mr Clark says:

“The internet brings huge opportunities but it also brings risks and every single day businesses face cyber-attacks, with attempts to steal information and money, or disrupt business. It is increasingly important to manage these risks to take advantage of the internet whilst protecting your business.

“As cybercriminals become more determined and better organised, no business can afford to take its eye off the ball. Firms of all sizes, from major corporations to one-man operations, can be victims so all need to be proactive about protecting themselves from cyber-attacks.

“Cybercrime is a bit like the elephant in the room – everyone has heard of it and has stories relating to ‘other businesses’ but no one wants to admit they have been hit by a cyberattack as there seems to be a stigma around being a victim of a scam or con. But reports like this one show the alarming extent of the problem, and its impact on the economy.”

The good news is that there are regular and simple actions that can be taken to help businesses promote good cyber health and Clark IT advises the following:

  1. Install and update anti-virus, anti-spam, and firewall/s
  2. Carry out regular updates on all software and devices
  3.  Change your password regularly (make it difficult to ever guess)
  4.  Secure your network
  5.  Provide clear and concise procedures for handling email, internet and mobile devices
  6.  Train your people in good security practices
  7.  Implement and test backup plans
  8.  Carry out regular security risk assessments to identify important information and systems
  9.  Carry out regular security testing of your business
  10.  Be suspicious – not everyone is a prince with $100 million dollars to send your way

Hacking attacks on British businesses has been said to cost investors £42bn.

Clark IT is based near Turriff in Aberdeenshire and is one Scotland’s leading independent providers of managed ICT solutions with a broad range of corporate and commercial clients not only in the North-east but across Scotland and beyond.

Clark IT clients benefit from the specialist knowledge of the firm’s 26-strong team to support their systems and through managed IT services. Clients also benefit from Pro-active IT Support, 24/7 Monitoring, A virtual IT Manager, predictive IT costs and a strategic IT plan tailor-made for their business.

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Apr 202017
 

With thanks to Emma Brown.

Today sees the launch of a stunning new photo book showcasing one of Britain’s favourite mammals and at the same time making the case for the expansion of its native woodland home.

The Red Squirrel: A future in the forest features jaw-dropping imagery by award-winning wildlife photographer Neil McIntyre, who has spent the last 20 years documenting the lives of the red squirrels near his home in the Cairngorms National Park.

Neil’s astonishing portfolio of images, captured deep in the heart of one of Scotland’s largest remaining fragments of Caledonian Pine Forest, is accompanied by insightful and evocative words from celebrated writer Polly Pullar, to create a beautiful and thought-provoking book which aims to raise awareness of the plight of the red squirrel.

With native woodland covering just 2% of Scotland’s land area, red squirrel populations are fragmented on isolated islands of trees and their long-term future remains uncertain.

Conservation photographer and Director of SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, the book’s publisher, Peter Cairns said:

“Neil’s beautiful images shine a unique light on one of Scotland’s best-loved mammals, but squirrels need forests just as much as forests need squirrels. I hope this book will ignite fresh conversations about that crucial link.”

The publication of The Red Squirrel: A future in the forest follows a successful crowdfunding campaign, which ran throughout November 2016 and was supported by over 500 backers.
It is the first in a series of stunning conservation books from SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, a project which works to amplify the case for a wilder Scotland.

The Red Squirrel: A future in the forest is available now from www.scotlandbigpicture.com.

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Apr 202017
 

Young fans pack The Garage out for a triple bill of rock. Review and photos by Craig Chisholm.

The Garage on Windmill Brae was the place to be for rock fans where they were treated to a triple bill of British rock bands as part of their extensive UK tour.

First up, at the very un-rock n’ roll time of 7:15pm are Scottish rockers Fatherson.

The band are no strangers to Aberdeen having played The Lemon Tree, The Garage and, most recently, Café Drummonds at Christmas time.

Their folky rock is similar to fellow Kilmarnock band Biffy Clyro with shades of Frightened Rabbit thrown in for good measure.

Despite the line of people that are still queued up outside the venue there are diehard fans pressed hard against the barrier and already a good crowd have filled the dance floor to see the band.

Their short seven song set is over in a flash and leaves the crowd wanting more. In all honesty, bottom band on the bill does them a disservice – a recent headline performance at Glasgow’s iconic Barrowland’s Ballroom show they are capable of bigger things.

However, there’s no time to mourn Fatherson’s short set time as Cambridge band Lonely The Brave are next up after the briefest of switch overs.

The band are an altogether heavier proposition than the openers whilst still retaining a stadium rock commerciality to it.

The five piece are tight and heavy throughout their set which, again goes down a storm with the packed venue’s crowd.

Vocalist David Jakes is actually the least animated of the band – he stands to the rear clutching his mic stand for dear life whilst spitting the lyrics out to each song.

Between songs, however, the hardcore image is slightly punctured as he fills a mug from a kettle he has sitting in front of the drums. It’s an unusual sight and provides a bit of light relief to the bands otherwise hard sound.

Headliners Mallory Knox take their name from Juliette Lewis’ character in Natural Born Killers – however their sound isn’t as hard, or indeed downright violent, as the character in question. Instead they provide a hook laden, hard rock that appeals to their legions of fans.

By this point, the barrier has a high number of young females pressed against it and they sing along to every word of every song and cling to each bit of between song banter from frontman Mikey Chapman.

Their latest album, ‘Wired’, released only a week or so earlier, provides a fair chunk of the set –  from opener ‘Giving It Up’ to the final encore track ‘Better Off Without You’. Despite the album being out for only being out for 10 days the young crowd are familiar with the tracks and receive each rapturously as if they’d known them their whole lives.

Overall the three bands provide an entertaining, lively and good value for money night that will have left the crowd satisfied on their way home and probably wanting even more.

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Apr 202017
 

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

Michelle Ferguson, Cash for Kids charity manager.

An Aberdeen-based children’s charity has distributed over £17,500 of funding to 24 families and community groups to improve the lives of children living in north-east Scotland.
Cash for Kids, which supports sick, disabled and disadvantaged children living in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, has made the awards as part of its quarterly grant funding programme.

The programme’s broad remit ensures the charity is able to fulfil a diverse range of applications each year, some of which are not eligible for funding from other sources.

Two of the beneficiaries in the recent funding round are the Community Resources Hub at Aboyne Academy and local charity KidsOut – both provide activities for children with physical and learning disabilities.

The Community Resources Hub at Aboyne Academy caters for children with medium to severe and complex educational needs.
Unable to participate in mainstream education, they are taught a life skills orientated curriculum that meets their individual needs. The hub has been granted over £300 to give the children a one-day sailing session at Loch of Skene with Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust.

This session will allow the children to sample a new activity and develop their self-esteem and personal and social skills.

KidsOut is a local charity run by 17 Rotary clubs based in Aberdeen and the surrounding area.

The charity has received £3,500 to help stage its annual fun day at Craibstone Estate. Last year, around 600 children with disabilities from 35 local primary schools attended the event and enjoyed a range of activities and experiences. The funding will be used to help cover the cost of transporting the children to the event in June.

Cash for Kids distributes grant funding at the end of January, April, July and October each year, with applications assessed by its board. All applications must be endorsed by a third party, such as a social worker or health visitor, and applications for the next funding round must be submitted by Wednesday, 19 April.

Last month, in order to help fulfil future applications, Cash for Kids launched a major appeal to raise £50,000. The 500 Faces campaign looks to recruit 500 people from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire who will each commit to raise £100 for the charity by the end of December. A number of tradespeople, schoolchildren and local shops have already signed up to the initiative.

Michelle Ferguson, Cash for Kids charity manager, said:

“Cash for Kids’ quarterly grant funding programme is a central and important part of what the charity does. We look to support as diverse a range of requests as possible each quarter and encourage applications from across the region.

“All of the money Cash for Kids raises is distributed locally. It is always great to assist projects such as those run by Aboyne Academy and KidsOut that provide disabled children with fantastic new experiences that can help with their development.

“The grant programme gives families and community groups access to a source of funding that can support the purchase of items that are often not eligible for funding through other sources. For some families that can mean facilitating the purchase of specialist equipment to improve the quality of life of their sick or disabled child.”

To register to take part in Cash for Kids’ 500 Faces fundraising initiative, visit www.northsound1.com/faces.

Cash for Kids is Northsound Radio’s listeners’ charity. It makes grants to individuals, families, children’s groups, organisations and projects throughout the Northsound transmission area. All money is raised locally and spent locally to benefit local disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under 18.

More information on Cash for Kids can be found at www.northsound1.com/charity, or telephone 01224 337010.

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Apr 132017
 

Port of Malaga. Photo by Daniel Bichler.

By Ian Baird.

When in December Aberdeen Harbour Board’s Chairman Alistair MacKenzie signed the contract with Dragados’ representative in Scotland – Daniel Paunero Alonso – to build the harbour’s £350 million expansion into the Bay of Nigg, it was the culmination of an an idea which had been conceived six years earlier.

Against stiff local opposition, with multiple planning and maritime applications to overcome, and complex loan agreements to negotiate, Chief Executive Colin Parker, the Chairman, and his fellow Board members must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when finally reaching the stage where building could commence.

But Daniel Alonso would have had a smile on his lips too. He had helped secure a huge contract for his firm in his operating region of Scotland.

Three years earlier, Daniel’s star wasn’t shining so brightly. In October 2013 in his then capacity of Manager of Dragados in Spain, together with Sanchez Domines, President of Dragados’ parent company Sando, he was summoned to testify as a defendant in a tribunal case in Malaga. The pair’s presence was required to answer allegations of irregularities in projects undertaken by the two companies at the Port of Malaga in 2008.

The Port was claiming losses amounting to a total of €5.3 million as a result of work carried out which subsequently proved not to be done to specification. The prosecution in the case, which is still ongoing after 5 years of investigation, is demanding a total of 26 years of imprisonment for 5 directors and engineers of the two companies for the crimes of document falsification, embezzlement and fraud.

Is this important as far as the Harbour Board is concerned?

Well, it may be the end of the planning and approval stage, but it’s only the beginning of what will be, at a minimum, three years of construction. Entrusting Dragados with this major project should mean that the Harbour Board has exercised due diligence in satisfying itself that the company has a sufficiently impressive record to give them confidence that the construction will be completed on time, on budget and to the required specification.

Is it possible that in their haste to ensure that planning, financial and contractual matters all fell into place, the Harbour Board, inexperienced in awarding such a large contract and struggling to raise the necessary finance, were overly hasty in agreeing a deal with Dragados, lured by the most attractive tender price to the exclusion of other considerations?

Had the Harbour Board investigated the details of the problems in Malaga, they would have found that there were two projects that ran into problems after their completion.

what happened in Malaga should, at the very least, have sounded a warning bell or two

The first was at the South cruise ship mooring in the Port which had been built in a joint venture between Sando and Dragados. Following a slight collision with the mooring by a cruise ship in 2008, an investigation into the damage to the pier established that fewer, and thinner, pilings had been used in its construction than had been specified.

In this case a State General Inspection concluded that the discrepancy in value between what was paid for by the Port and what was built by the two companies amounted to €1.8 million.

The second project which ran into trouble at the Port was at container dock no. 9. This was also a joint venture with Sando, but in this case Dragados was the leading partner.

After a particular vessel was unable to access the dock, it was discovered that the excavated depth of the mooring was less than had been specified and, additionally, that debris had been dumped in it. In this case the discrepancy between what was charged for by the companies and what was delivered was estimated at €3.6 million.

In addition to these very specific problems with a failure to build to specifications, there were also in both cases significant cost hikes.

The budget estimate for building the South mooring was €8 million but eventually cost €12.21 million – 50% over budget; the budget estimate for container dock 9 was €28.2 million but eventually cost €35.9 million – 25% over budget.

From the perspective of Aberdeen Harbour Board what happened in Malaga should, at the very least, have sounded a warning bell or two. Of course it is true that Dragados have been involved as contractors in many major projects without landing in court as in this highlighted case. But globally their record of completing projects on time and on budget where they are a major contractor on very large projects is very patchy [1].

By giving Dragados the major responsibility for a £350 million (budgeted) project (almost 10 times as much as the budgets for the two Malaga projects combined), has the Board considered a) the likelihood and b) the implications, of a cost increase and/or a delayed completion time?

Let’s say there was a 20% increase in costs and a 30% increase in construction time. Can the Board finance, for example, a £420 million project which takes four years to build instead of three?

Even if they can, will future business be able to service the loan or will the cruise ship and decommissioning markets prove to be elusive in the face of aggressive competition and a possible severe economic downturn? The combination of a cost escalation, a delayed completion date and a continuation of the oil downturn in the North Sea could prove to be a fatal combination for the Harbour Board’s ambitions.

if the Bay is to be lost it should at least be for very tangible benefits for Aberdeen

This article does not accuse Daniel Alonso of being complicit or having any knowledge of the failings in the two projects in Malaga and perhaps not too much should be read into the fact that he is now in Scotland rather than managing the company’s home territory.

But it seems extraordinary that with so much at stake, the Harbour Board is totally reliant on a company which has proved in the past that its management team failed to ensure adherence to specifications on two major harbour projects and exceeded budgeted costs so spectacularly.

Historically, one of the benefits to local communities of Trust Ports has been that no profits are dispensed to shareholders. That has meant that all profits have been re-invested in port improvements to help increase traffic and enhance local economic activity, as indeed has been the case with Aberdeen Harbour Trust until now.

But the absence of shareholders can have an adverse effect when projects that require external financing are considered. Because there is no financial risk to any individual Board Member or employee, the Board is in a position to back projects knowing that it is risk-free from their own personal perspective. That same phenomenon was responsible for the reckless trading by bankers prior to the 2008 crash.

If this project fails badly, either because of delays, escalating costs, unpredicted market conditions, or a combination of all three, the individuals who currently comprise the Board and the Executive will quietly retire (Chief Executive Colin Parker has already announced his imminent retirement), leaving a badly crippled Trust Port to recover from a gamble which didn’t pay off.

The residents of Torry who opposed the harbour development in the Bay of Nigg did so because of the loss of the Bay as an amenity, and the resulting general degradation of the local environment through increased traffic and pollution.

Whether the harbour would ultimately prove a commercial success or not has not been a major consideration. But now that it appears about to become a reality, I’m sure the concensus will be that if the Bay is to be lost it should at least be for very tangible benefits for Aberdeen and the wider community.

It would be a cruel blow indeed if the Bay was sacrificed for a speculative project which ultimately proves under-utilised and a financial millstone to the Harbour Board, and the Bay of Nigg is destroyed for no useful gain.

Notes:

  1. To cite just three examples, Dragados USA is 3 years behind schedule and $223 million over budget in a tunnel-boring project in Seattle; the company was removed from the Florida Department of Transportation’s list of qualified contractors because of project delays and other problems, it being stated that on some projects they “have a variety of materials and workmanship issues that will have to be addressed before FDOT will accept the work.”; and Los Angeles Metro Agency refused to give a major contract to Dragados, despite being the cheapest bidder, because they considered they had a high probability of exposing the agency to cost overruns and project delays,

Sources:

Dársena Case’ by Marta Sánchez Esparza / Malaga, El Mundo,  23/10/2013
http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2013/10/13/andalucia_malaga/1381659778.html

Article, by Agustin Rivera, El Confidencial, 5/10/2013
http://www.elconfidencial.com/espana/andalucia/2013-10-05/el-presidente-de-sando-imputado-por-el-agujero-del-puerto-de-malaga_37380/

Article by S. Sánchez, Málaga, Málaga Hoy , 16/10/2013
http://www.malagahoy.es/malaga/presidente-Sando-descarga-tecnicos-puerto_0_743925794.html

‘Sacramento sewer contractor faced delays, minority hiring violations’ The Sacramento Bee, June 4, 2016
http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/the-public-eye/article81843937.html

‘Beleaguered Seattle tunnel project facing $223M cost overrun, 3-year delay’, Construction Dive, July 25, 2016
http://www.constructiondive.com/news/beleaguered-seattle-tunnel-project-facing-223m-cost-overrun-3-year-delay/423164/

‘The prosecution asks for 26 years of imprisonment for five people responsible for port works’, Ignacio San Martin, La Cadena SER, 16 November 2016 http://cadenaser.com/emisora/2016/11/18/ser_malaga/1479473619_856001.html

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Apr 132017
 

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

(L to r) Pastor Neil Cameron of Apex Church; Cllr Stuart Pratt and Cllr Stephen Smith.

Local SNP councillors Stuart Pratt and Stephen Smith have shown their support for Peterhead FC’s impressive range of community engagement programmes.
The club launched a new initiative with Peterhead Boys Club to give away 200 free season tickets and made presentations to the latest graduates of the ‘Football Fans In Training Programme’ at an event at Balmoor this week where the various national football trophies were also on display.

Commenting, Cllr Stuart Pratt – a regular at Balmoor Stadium – said:

“Peterhead Football Club do a huge amount throughout the year in terms of youth engagement and supporting their local community.  But even someone like myself who manages to attend most of Peterhead’s home games didn’t realise quite how much the club actually does.

“It is a very impressive list and the initiatives launched this week can only further strengthen the link between club and community.”

Cllr Stephen Smith, who made the trip to Hampden last April to support Peterhead in the final of the Petrofac Cup versus Rangers, added:

“The event was a very good showcase for the club and I’m grateful to General Manager Martin Johnston for inviting me, along with others who are active in the community, which helps strengthen those community links.”

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