Mar 242017
 

‘Diversification from Oil, Arms and Nuclear to Alternative Energy’ will be the subject of a public Meeting this Saturday at Aberdeen University. With thanks to Jonathan Russell, Chair of Aberdeen District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and member of Aberdeen Climate Action.

As part of Climate Action Week, Aberdeen Climate Action and Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament will be holding a public meeting on Saturday 25th March at New Kings 10 at the University of Aberdeen from 2.30 to 4.30pm.
The Aberdeen and North-east Economy is in crisis due to the downturn in the price of Oil.

Climate Change, a major part of which is caused by Fossil fuels is a veritable threat to the future sustainability of our planet.

With Trump in the Whitehouse and as tensions mount in the world the potential use of Nuclear weapons becomes much more likely. The use of Nuclear weapons would be devastating to our planet not only having the direct effect of killing millions but the indirect effect of leading to a Nuclear Winter with crops being ruined leading to mass starvation.

The Scottish Parliament has voted by a large majority to get rid of the Trident Nuclear system from Scotland. All over the world but particularly in China there is a massive growth in the use of Alternative Energy technologies. Is it not time that the Scottish and UK economy moves away from destructive technologies to alternative energy which would provide a non-harmful future.

What can the Anti-Nuclear and Climate Change movements learn from each other? Could Aberdeen be at the forefront of a move to Alternative Energy. Why given the concerns about Oil and Nuclear is this not happening to the extent it needs to? How would we move from the destructive technologies of Oil and Nuclear to Alternative Energy?

The aim of the meeting will be to kick start this process and get participants involved in thinking how could we make this happen.

The organisers intend this to lead onto larger meetings in the Autumn which would help in the process to change both in Aberdeen and across Scotland and the UK.

The meeting will start with the showing of an historic film on how a group of workers in the 1970’s when faced with redundancy at Lucas Aerospace put forward a plan to stop making armaments and move to making more socially useful products and will be followed by short presentations by a panel of four followed by a wider discussion with the audience.

The event will be Chaired by Fiona Napier Trade Unionist and Activist and the panel will consist of Veronika Tudhope Organiser with Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Jelte Hammeijer Hutton Institute, expert on community renewable energy, Erik Dalhuijsen, Aberdeen Climate Action and Myshele Haywood from the Green Party.

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Mar 242017
 

With thanks to Lisa Marley Press.

An award-winning Aberdonian wildlife filmmaker, hailed by renowned naturalist Mark Avery as ‘gifted’, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to produce a new documentary following an experimental human wolf pack in the Scottish Highlands.

Lisa Marley (25), from Westhill, has created an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to make the film, Project Wolf, which will highlight Scotland’s studies into reintroducing species and restoring ecosystems, known as rewilding.

The film will follow the activities of charity Trees for Life’s Project Wolf – a human wolf pack – as it investigates the environmental impact of reintroducing wolves to the Caledonian Forest in Glen Moriston, near Loch Ness. By recreating the behaviours of natural predators, the charity hopes to discover how this would affect the movements and grazing of red deer, in an effort to restore plant life and allow new growth to thrive.

Wildlife and conservation enthusiasts can donate to the campaign at www.indiegogo.com/at/projectwolf until April 19 to help bring the film to the big screen, in exchange for a series of perks ranging from guide books and gift cards to production credits and invitations to film festivals.

Lisa says,

“I have always been interested in rewilding. The idea of reintroducing species to an ecosystem in order to restore natural balance is inherently fascinating. It allows us not only to examine the interactions of flora and fauna, but also to evaluate our own relationships with nature.

“Trees for Life’s work in the Highlands is at the forefront of rewilding study in Scotland, and its work with a human wolf pack allows for a unique perspective on the issues surrounding rewilding. By following the wolf pack’s movements, and interviewing the key figures involved in the project, I hope to allow a greater understanding of the importance of this work.

“Project Wolf is something of a passion project for me: it’s a wonderful story that I feel is important to tell, and I’d love to be able to do that in my own way. But I can’t do that alone, and I hope that the wildlife and conservation communities will share my enthusiasm for learning more about this incredible project.

“By donating via Indiegogo, those with an interest in rewilding can help spread the word and bring the issue to the attention of a much wider audience.”

Alan Watson Featherstone, founder of Trees for Life, believes that the film will help to raise the profile of rewilding and bring it to the public’s attention. He says,

“Project Wolf is an innovative project run by Trees for Life, using enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers to patrol the edge of the native Caledonian Forest, to disturb deer that are grazing on native tree seedlings, preventing their growth.

“It seeks to mimic the natural disturbance effect of missing predators, such as the wolf, and has the potential to be replicated in many parts of Scotland (and elsewhere), greatly assisting the process of forest restoration.

“This film will play a crucial role in communicating the value, importance and effectiveness of the project, so please support it with a donation – you will be directly helping the recovery of the Caledonian Forest.”

Lisa’s last film, Red Sky on the Black Isle, also continues to make waves both in the film and wildlife communities.

Translated into multiple languages and screened around the world, it picked up the Little Audience Prize at the Raptor Filmz Short Scottish Film Festival last year.

This weekend it will be screened at the inaugural Wild Film Festival Scotland in Dumfries, and will be shown at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York in October.

The Project Wolf campaign runs on Indiegogo until April 19. For more information, and to donate, visit www.indiegogo.com/at/projectwolf

To follow Lisa’s progress, follow Project Wolf on Facebook at www.facebook.com/projectwolffilm or follow Lisa on Twitter @procuriosity

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Mar 242017
 

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

Local resident Heather Coull has been selected by SNP members in Westhill & District ward to join Councillor David Aitchison in seeking election to represent the ward on Aberdeenshire Council.

Councillor Mandy Allan, who has represented the Ward since 2007 is stepping down at the forthcoming election owing to work commitments.

Heather Coull was born in Aberdeen and has lived all her life in Aberdeenshire. Heather, aged 38, is married and is the youngest daughter of two school teachers.

Heather is committed to lifelong learning. She studied at RGU where she successfully achieved both BA and MSc degrees. 

As a former oil and gas industry worker, Heather has the experience and background to identify with a large number of residents in and around the Westhill area.

A member of Westhill & Elrick Community Council, one of Heather’s main priorities and areas of focus if successful in being elected will be in supporting and championing community groups in Westhill and the surrounding villages to achieve their ambitions via community choice budgeting.

Commenting, Heather Coull said:

“I am delighted to be selected as an SNP candidate for the Westhill & District ward and if elected I aim to carry on Mandy Allan’s good work and work together with David, and indeed the other Westhill councillors, as a strong team for our local area.”

David Aitchison was elected as a councillor at the 2012 election and was formerly a surveyor in the civil service. David who is married with 3 children grew up in Eyemouth and worked in Edinburgh, Nottingham and Durham before moving to Westhill over twenty years ago.

Since being elected David has served on the Infrastructure Services, Scrutiny & Audit and Education & Children’s Services Committees. Since June 2015 he has been Chairman of Aberdeenshire’s Infrastructure Services Committee and Vice-Chairman of NESTRANS, the North-east transport partnership.

Commenting on his selection David Aitchison said:

“It has been a privilege to represent Westhill & District and I am delighted to be a candidate to represent the ward again.

“In my two years as an administration senior councillor I have been able to oversee policies on regeneration, planning and economic development which will benefit Aberdeenshire.

“Westhill is now at a crossroads in terms of its development. It is time to consider what we want our community to look like in the future. If re-elected I will continue the dialogue that I am already having on this issue and work with partners and residents to create a vision for the future which Westhill deserves.”

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Mar 242017
 

With thanks to Leanne Carter, Account Manager, Tricker PR.

Organisers of a major two-day exhibition in Aberdeen this week are on course to break attendance records – and believe the response to the event could be indicative of the first green shoots of economic recovery in the region.
Langstane Press Ltd expects over 600 delegates to attend its two-day business show at Aberdeen Beach Ballroom, during which businesses will learn how they can make efficiencies in challenging trading conditions.

The firm has already attracted more pre-registered delegates than for its last event in 2015, and there is still time to sign up in advance to Lean and Mean in 17 taking place on Wednesday and Thursday.

Langstane has been staging its biennial business show for the past 25 years, but decided to overhaul the format this year. In the past, it has largely been a trade event, but it was felt there was a need to use it as a platform to equip businesses with knowledge to help them during the north east economic downturn.

Managing director Colin Campbell (pictured) says he has been surprised at the level of interest in the event, and by the range of companies coming forward to sign up to attend. He says,

“The companies that are attending are from a wide range of businesses and it is clear that the event has real appeal across the board from public sector to small start-ups.

“I think the response to the show could be down to a combination of factors, one being that the first green shoots are beginning to show across the city. In the current climate, not everyone has the time to attend events like these but they are making the effort to attend as they want to be able to come and learn.

“The other contributing factor is the change in the style of the event. What we have picked up from customers over the past 18 months is that they need to make savings across all areas of their operations.

“As suppliers, there comes a point where it is impossible to discount any further, so we thought it would be useful to show businesses how they can be creative in making efficiencies, whether that is through a long-term investment in IT solutions or reducing print runs on stationery.

“Langstane has seen the impact of many downturns in the oil and gas industry over the years and we feel that we can share a huge amount of knowledge about how to survive in these challenging times and how to emerge on the other side.”

Lean and Mean in 17 will bring together 35 of Langstane’s leading partners across the office supplies, print, healthcare, interiors and promotional product sectors to meet with delegates and give advice on how to save money.

In addition to the exhibition, a number of keynote speakers will be giving presentations to give delegates further ideas on how to approach efficiencies. Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, will talk about the organisation’s Buy North East campaign – a project that has been supported by Langstane – on Thursday.

Jason Llewellyn of global IT specialists HP will also take to the stage on Wednesday and Thursday, and will explain how investment in new technology can reduce print costs. John Black and Claire Smith of Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP will be presenting on the theme of Survive and Thrive on Wednesday morning.

The show runs from 10am until 4pm on Wednesday and from 10am until 3.30pm on Thursday. Lean and Mean in 17 is free to attend, and delegates should register in advance at www.langstane.co.uk. There will be opportunities for networking throughout the two days, and many suppliers can offer allotted appointments.  

Family-run firm Langstane celebrates 70 years of trading in 2017, and has a product range in excess of 30,000 items, from printer paper to toilet paper and from tubs of coffee to packs of lightbulbs. As well as traditional office supplies, the firm has diversified its product range to provide office furniture and patient care furniture.

Langstane is Scotland’s largest independent office products company and is one of the largest in the UK. Langstane, established in 1947 in Aberdeen remains a family business and has further branches in Dundee and Livingston. Langstane employs over 120 staff and has a turnover of £15m. More about the company can be found at www.langstane.co.uk.

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Mar 172017
 

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With thanks to Eoin Smith, Tricker PR.

North east businesses leaders are being asked for their views on whether a high-profile local procurement initiative should continue and how funding might be generated to enable it to expand.

Russell Borthwick (pictured), chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, will ask delegates at a major exhibition later this month whether there is an appetite to continue with the Buy North East campaign.

Mr Borthwick says the Chamber has been “overwhelmed” by the level of support for Buy North East, which was launched last year in a bid to encourage local firms to do more business with companies based within the region.

He will tell delegates at the Langstane Business Show taking place at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen on March 22 and 23 that it is important to gather the views of the business community before reaching a decision.

Langstane Press Ltd – one of the first companies to sign up to Buy North East – has changed the format of its biennial business show, which has been running for 25 years, in response to the economic downturn.

It will move away from being a trade show and this year’s event – called Lean and Mean in 17 – will focus on giving delegates information to help get their business into shape by cutting costs and saving money.

Mr Borthwick will be one of the keynote speakers on the second day of the show. He says Buy North East was set up with a number of partner organisations to try and reach a position where local procurement becomes the accepted way that good business in the region works.

He adds,

“At a time when many businesses and individuals are feeling the impact of the oil and gas downturn, it is more important than ever that we collectively do all we can to help the regional economy with the aim of protecting and creating jobs here.

“Reflecting at the end of November, the steering group agreed that the concept had gained remarkable traction in a short period, with over 500 businesses signing up and lots of talk-ability through press coverage.

The general mood of the meeting was that having established the initial stimulus, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the momentum and brand equity that has been created but that any future phases should probably take some new directions rather than simply repeating the recipe.”

Mr Borthwick says the success of the campaign has meant that it is often perceived as an organisation with staff and resources, rather than as a campaign run by five partners.

“We need to understand the level of support out there for continuing the activity in 2017 – what type of activities people believe could be introduced to keep the campaign fresh, relevant and effective, and whether this is an appetite to help fund this,” he adds.

Langstane – Scotland’s largest office supplies company – has been trading for 70 years and has a product range in excess of 30,000 items, from printer paper to toilet paper and from tubs of coffee to packs of lightbulbs. As well as traditional office supplies, the firm has diversified its product range to provide office furniture and patient care furniture.

The show will bring together its leading partners across the office supplies, print, healthcare, interiors and promotional product sectors to share top tips on how to make money-saving changes. All aspects of efficiency will be covered, from overhauling print processes to janitorial supplies to help cut down on staff sick days.

Jason Llewellyn from global IT firm HP will give a talk on both days of the event on how short-term investment in technology could help reduce operating costs in the longer term. On the first day of the show Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP (AAB) will also give a presentation.

John Black, the firm’s partner in charge of audit, and Claire Smith, management consulting associate, will be presenting on the theme of Survive and Thrive.  They both have extensive experience in working with businesses as they adapt to challenging trading conditions, and believe that communication is key.

Mr Black says AAB has carried out more presentations in Aberdeen over the past 18 months on the theme of cost saving and surviving a downturn than at any other point in his career. 

“Events like the Langstane Business Show are excellent platforms to share ideas – face-to-face – that will drive efficiencies and find new practices. Without people talking to each other, that kind of sharing of experience does not happen,” he says.

“I think that the approach Langstane is taking with this year’s show will be very useful to all the delegates who attend. They will be able to see that making savings is not always about cutting the cost and getting a discounted price – it is often about changing behaviours and finding more effective and efficient ways of doing things.”

Miss Smith adds,

“I think the event being staged by Langstane is an outstanding opportunity for businesses to learn from peers and others who will be attending. One of the areas that we will be focusing on is working capital, including managing customers, suppliers and stock– for example, does a company need to hold six months, or even one month, of supplies of stock.

 “John and I will be available after the presentation to meet with anyone who would like to discuss any of the points we raise.”

Lean and Mean in 17 is free to attend, and delegates should register in advance at www.langstane.co.uk. There will be opportunities for networking throughout the two days, and many suppliers can offer allotted appointments.  

Langstane is Scotland’s largest independent office products company and is one of the largest in the UK. Langstane, established in 1947 in Aberdeen remains a family business and has further branches in Dundee and Livingston. Langstane employs over 120 staff and has a turnover of £15m. More about the company can be found at www.langstane.co.uk.

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Mar 172017
 

With thanks to Karen Stewart.

Ex Scottish and UK Enduro/Trails Champion Gavin Johnston is gearing up to expand his innovative digital tourism solution UrPal into Glasgow and Edinburgh this April.

UrPal is a unique mobile application to Scotland having already been successful in Inverness with 7,000 users and recently launched in Aberdeen.

The app fills a gap in the market for both tourists and locals alike, giving them comprehensive up to the minute information at their fingertips on everything happening in an area including entertainment, eating out and in, tours, attractions, fitness, accommodation, activities, shops, health, transport and current news.

As well as being valued by users who access the app for free, UrPal is also a valuable source of promotion to local businesses and organisations, statistics say that 70% of online users now use mobile devices to access the web so it’s crucial that businesses are visible on such platforms. Visitors to Scotland are reported to have increased to 15 million annually and UrPal is ideally positioned to serve the growing digital tourism marketplace.

Gavin along with his partner Caren the founders of UrPal met almost 4 years ago in Romania, Gavin had been competing in the Redbull Romaniacs World Extreme Enduro Championship and Caren at the time was travelling for her work in architecture. The couple have now given up these roles to focus solely on UrPal and their other business Aberdeen and Inverness Taxis.

Gavin said

“working on UrPal couldn’t be more different to riding bikes and running a taxi company; I identified the need in the market from hearing  taxi passengers deliberate how to source information they required; Caren and I then put our heads together and planned and launched UrPal in Inverness and Aberdeen in 2016.”

He continued:

“with 7,000 users in Inverness UrPal is proving successful and as well as expanding by location we begin physical tours in April this year, 4 in Aberdeen and 8 in Inverness are already planned to destinations such as Peterhead Prison, Brewdog, Dunnottar and Crathes Castles, Glengarioch Distillery and Castle Fraser; we are really pleased that UrPal is fast becoming the go to place for people looking for things to do, and that it’s having a positive impact on the local economy.”

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Mar 102017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

The University of Aberdeen rowed to victory on Saturday (March 4) at the 22nd annual Aberdeen Boat Race, which is sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management.
Breaking rival Robert Gordon University’s five-year winning streak, the University of Aberdeen triumphed in a time of 7 minutes 03.8 seconds, winning by 4 lengths.

The Robert Gordon University crew followed close behind, with a time of 7 minutes 16.3 seconds.

The University of Aberdeen also celebrated success in the alumni and second crew races – marking the first ever clean sweep in the event’s history.

Hundreds of spectators braved the weather to line the banks of the city’s River Dee to cheer on the teams as the old opponents battled it out on the river. Due to water levels, the 3.5km course was shortened by 300m.

Fiona Bell (21), president of Aberdeen University Boat Club, said,

“It feels amazing to have brought the Aberdeen Boat Race trophy back to the University of Aberdeen. I think we’re all still in shock a little; we set out to break RGU’s five-year hold over the title and we did it! I’m incredibly proud of my team and their performance today. We’ve been training hard in daylight and darkness, so it’s brilliant that all our hard work has paid off.

“Erin and the RGU crew were formidable opponents, and made things very difficult for us out on the water. It was a fantastic race to row in, and I hope those watching from the banks enjoyed it too. I’d also like to thank Aberdeen Asset Management for their continued support – without their backing the Aberdeen Boat Race couldn’t happen.”

Erin Wyness (20), president of Aberdeen University Boat Club, added,

“Congratulations to all of the University of Aberdeen crew on their win today. It was a hard race with both crews on form beforehand, so it would have been hard to call before we set off. Even though we didn’t win this year, I’m still very proud of all the effort the crew has put in over the last few months, and it doesn’t take away from our five-year streak. We’ll be back next year!

“The whole day has been brilliant both for the rowers and spectators on the shore – from the alumni and second crew races right up until the title race – and I’d like to thank Aberdeen Asset Management for their amazing continued support of this historic event.”

The alumni boat race was won by the University of Aberdeen in a time of 8 minutes 02.5 seconds. The universities’ second crew boat race was also won by the University of Aberdeen in a time of 2 minutes 36.6 seconds. Original 106fm clinched the media challenge title in a time of 1 minute 30.1 seconds over a 300m course.

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management, commented,

“On behalf of all at Aberdeen Asset Management, I would like to congratulate the winning crew from the University of Aberdeen. I would also like to recognise the effort of the Robert Gordon University Boat Club rowers, who put in a sterling effort on the water. Both teams should be rightfully proud of their achievements today.

“The university experience is about more than classroom learning, and the boat clubs are a real testament to that. Being founded in Aberdeen, we are very proud to continue to support the Aberdeen Boat Race in what is our 17th year.”

Follow the Aberdeen Boat Race on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aamboatrace, on Twitter @2017boatrace or Instagram @aamboatrace

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Mar 102017
 

Organisers of Celebrate Aberdeen are aiming to hold their largest ever parade in the city this year and are urging a range of new groups to sign up for the weekend event. With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

As well as local third sector organisations, social enterprises and voluntary groups, musicians and city sports groups have been invited to take part in the event which will be held on Saturday, August 26 and Sunday, August 27, alongside the Great Aberdeen Run.

More than 70 third sector organisations have already ensured their place in the celebratory parade since the date was announced last month, but organisers are urging others to ensure they don’t miss their chance to take part.

The parade was first held in 2011 and has brought together more than 3,500 people from 130 diverse third sector organisations for each event in recent years. The cut off-date for third sector registration is Friday, April 28.

Morven Mackenzie, director of event management company 46 Degrees, and the leading force behind Celebrate Aberdeen, said:

“Preparations are well underway for this year’s event already which we hope will be the biggest and best yet. To ensure that it is, we need as many third sector groups, sports groups and musicians as possible, so I would urge them all to sign up soon.

“The organisations that are on board already are truly remarkable in the work they carry out, and being able to offer them an opportunity to celebrate and gather support is great. We are delighted to have another parade this year as well as a range of activities and performances throughout the weekend, which will be fun for all the family.”

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen, councillor George Adam, said:

“Celebrate Aberdeen is a fantastic event, which provides an excellent platform for local third sector organisations and clubs to be seen and to promote their work in a carnival atmosphere. 

“The city has many third sector organisations, which provide first-rate services because of the dedication of their volunteers. With the event being held alongside the Great Aberdeen Run the whole Celebrate Aberdeen weekend is guaranteed to be entertaining, informative and fun so I would encourage organisations to sign up as soon as possible.”

Third sector organisations wishing to take part in the Celebrate Aberdeen weekend can sign-up at: www.celebrateaberdeen.org

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Mar 102017
 

On of Juane’s artworks at the Union Bar, Luxembourg City. Pic used with kind permission.

By Red Fin Hall.

With only about a month to go until the ‘Nuart’ event comes to Aberdeen, the final selection of artists have been added to the added to the roster.

I am particularly looking forward to seeing Belgium born artist, Juane. 
Hailing form Brussels, the stencil artist uses ordinary people, mainly sanitation workers, as his prime subjects.

His work examines the invisibility of this profession despite the fact that their job keeps them in the public eye.

He displays them in unusual situations, always in their work gear, such as walking tightropes over washing lines, marching as Roman legions etc.

Since he used to work in said profession, one may wonder how he day-dreamed of being in the position of some of his subjects. Or, is that, like his pieces, fantasy? 

Martin Whatson comes from Norway, was born in 1984 and studied graphic art in Oslo and has exhibited, both in solo and joint exhibitions in Tokyo, London, Paris, Australia, and also in the USA. His graffiti and stencil work, using urban decay as part of his inspiration. Thirteen years into his career he will be making his Scotland debut, in Aberdeen, thanks to Nuart.

Gdynia born Mariusz Waras, aka M-City is another stencil artist. But this time with a difference.

He uses hundreds of small cut outs to make larger constructions, again using the urban environment he grew up in as his main inspiration. Being an industrial city, his work features images of mechanical origin as well as natural origin. Often his pieces are made on a grand scale, one of the largest being 85 metres in size. This very prolific artist, having created well over 700 works, is currently a lecturer in art in Gdansk.

From her first show in Loughborough in 2000 through to her latest in Madrid this year, Alice Pasquini has exhibited and worked in various cities throughout Europe as well as The Americas and China. Not only is she a graffiti artist, painter, set designer and illustrator, she also works in the 3D medium and sculptures using found objects.

She rarely sits still in her pursuit of work, constantly keeping herself busy in more than 100 cities world wide. This also is her first time working in Scotland.

The final artist participating is Isaac Cordal.

Born in 1974, this sculpture graduate was born and studied in Pontevedra in Spain. His sculptures generally are usually not on a grand scale. An examples of his work can be found on tops of bus shelter and on cornices and windows , averaging only 15cm in size. This makes the viewer work to see them. He has many strings to his bow. Playing guitar in a rock band, publishing a heavy metal fanzine and heading a digital art collective. He has also worked in the photography medium.

As well as these guests coming to Aberdeen, local artists and schools will be involved in the project during and before the Easter Weekend special event.

Note of Correction:

In my last article on Nuart, I intimated that James Finucane was the man behind this art group. This is not so.

Although he is the public face of the Aberdeen venture, he actually heads up the day to day running of the company, a position he took up two years ago. Nuart is actually the brainchild of Martyn Reed who relocated to Stavanger from Leeds over 20 years ago. Apologies for any misunderstanding relating to this.

Mar 102017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

The confidence and supply agreement between Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors – Martin Ford and Paul Johnston – and their council’s Partnership administration has delivered significant benefits for Aberdeenshire residents. That is the view of both the DIGG and the Partnership.

The agreement was struck in 2015. The DIGG remained an independent opposition group but guaranteed limited support to the minority Partnership administration, allowing it to take office and bringing stability to the Council.

In return, the Partnership committed to supporting a range of specific policies and other changes put forward by the DIGG. 

The agreement has worked well and been adhered to by both sides. It is the first such arrangement in Aberdeenshire.

One provision in the agreement is that an annual, objective, assessment of progress with it be requested from the Council’s chief executive. The assessment for 2017 has now been received. 

The assessment shows the specific provisions in the confidence and supply agreement have either been delivered or are ‘work in progress’.

In addition to the policy changes in the confidence and supply agreement, the Partnership has adopted suggestions from the DIGG in the Council budget put forward by the Partnership.

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“The DIGG’s aims in reaching a limited agreement with the Partnership were to bring stability to the Council at a time when no grouping could form an administration by itself, and to secure policy changes and service improvements for residents.

“The DIGG has remained an independent opposition group – but one that has been able to deliver significant policy change. I’ve been particularly pleased that the Council has taken steps towards genuine budget consultation and is working towards further improving links with the third sector, charities and voluntary oganisations.”

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The cross-party co-operation between the DIGG and the Partnership has brought some significant progress. There have been been specific improvements, such as the investment in active travel.

“The adoption of the carbon budget is a governance measure of genuine significance – a Scottish first – that should deliver long-term benefits, and may provide a model for other councils.”

Council co-leader Cllr Richard Thomson added:

“The willingness of the DIG Group to offer political support to the Partnership where they could and constructive criticism where they couldn’t, has made this an extremely effective administration. Their willingness to engage and negotiate has shown just what can be achieved where politicians decide to concentrate on meaningful outcomes rather than just headlines.

“I hope that Aberdeeenshire is able to continue benefitting from this constructive approach to politics after May’s elections.”

Council co-leader Cllr Alison Evison said:

“We have fundamental aims in common with the DIGG – to provide quality public services to all residents in Aberdeenshire and in consultation with residents, and to develop effective partnership work with others in order to achieve this.

“Our agreement with the DIGG has in particular helped us to develop links with local credit unions. It has enabled our aspirations to develop more cycling and walking routes to become real projects.

In 2015 it was crucial for services in Aberdeenshire, and for the people dependent on these services, that we were able to form a stable Administration after a long, unsettled period. The Confidence and Supply Agreement secured this.”

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