May 252017
 

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

Former Oil and gas worker Mark Cran undertook a barbering course at the Scottish Barbering School.

A former oil and gas worker has made the cut in a new barbering role at an Aberdeen-based luxury gents barber after being made redundant from his previous job.

Formerly a workshop technician at an oil and gas company, Marc Cran, from Insch, now works at Huntsman Barber after completing a specialist six-month course in barbering.

The 27-year-old is now a stylist at the city centre barbers, after he approached owner, Kyle Ross, on completion of the course.

Mr Cran worked in oil and gas for seven years, but lost confidence in the industry after he was made redundant from two separate companies within the space of six months. When deciding what career to pursue next, barbering immediately stood out to him, due to its creative and hands-on nature. 

To help improve his employability and skillset, he then undertook a barbering course at the Scottish Barbering School.

This involved living in Glasgow for three days a week and spending the remaining four days working at a local supermarket in Huntly.

Remarkably, he managed to juggle this heavy workload for four months without any days off, alongside looking after his two-year-old daughter. It was this hard work and dedication that impressed future employer, Mr Ross, and subsequently landed him the job at Huntsman.

Mr Cran said:

“I have really enjoyed my first couple of months at Huntsman, I am getting busier with clients every week and learning new skills on a daily basis. I am very grateful to Kyle for giving me the opportunity to progress within the barbering industry.

“It was the impact of the downturn that gave me the final push to try something different and take up a completely new career. I am actually really thankful that it did, as I am enjoying work a lot more and meeting new people every day. I get such satisfaction from seeing people leave my chair with a new-found confidence after getting their hair cut, I have never had that before.”

Mr Ross said:

“Marc is getting on really well at Huntsman, as he is both confident and competent in the role. I am very impressed with everything he has displayed so far and how quick he is to learn new skills.

“He has an eye for detail and is a complete perfectionist, which serves him very well in his new career as a barber. Our clients have really warmed to him and he is certainly a welcome addition to the Huntsman team.”

Huntsman is open from Tuesday to Saturday.  For more information on the hair salon visit:   

www.facebook.com/HuntsmanAberdeen 
www.twitter.com/huntsman_abrdn 
www.instagram.com/huntsman_aberdeen

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May 252017
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

A leading north-east charity has introduced three new support groups for people in Aberdeen and the surrounding area.

The new support groups, introduced by CLAN Cancer Support at its CLAN House base in Aberdeen, offer tailored support for carers, men and those wishing to explore the benefits of gentle exercise.

With the aim of providing peer support for men affected by cancer, CLAN has introduced a film night for men, with the relaxed and informal group open to CLAN clients, family members, carers and friends.

Taking place on the first Tuesday of each month from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at CLAN House, it is held alongside the charity’s Carers and Supporters Wellbeing Group.

Aimed at those supporting someone who has cancer, the carers and supporters group offers help in partnership with the VSA Carers Resource Service.

Iona Mitchell, CLAN’S head of cancer support services, said:

“Each of our new groups offers friendship and peer group support in a welcoming and supportive environment.

“The response to each group has been very positive. Our Men’s Movie Night and Carers and Supporters Wellbeing group run alongside each-other and offer the opportunity for individuals, or couples, to come to CLAN House on the same night and access support appropriate for their needs in a group environment.

“The Movie Night has been introduced as an informal way for men to relax and enjoy a film, with the option of speaking to others who may be in a similar position to themselves.

“In addition, by linking up with VSA we can deliver a programme of talks and information sessions which are specific to people caring for, or supporting an individual with a cancer diagnosis, ensuring they are aware of the resources available to them and giving them the chance to speak to people who are also caring for a loved one.”

And for those wishing to find out more about the benefits of light exercise, the CLAN/Macmillan Move More walking group is a great way to enjoy some fresh air and take part in gentle exercise.

Led by a trained walker, the group meets at CLAN House weekly on a Friday at 10.30am for a one to two mile walk, returning to CLAN House for refreshments.

Iona added:

“We also now have our Move More walking group in association with Macmillan, which gives individuals the chance to speak to CLAN personnel in an easy going environment while also reinforcing the benefits that low level exercise can have on a person’s wellbeing.

“These walks are open to all CLAN clients as well as anyone affected by cancer and anybody who feels they would benefit some companionship and relaxed exercise is welcome to join us.

“We’ve found that gentle activity like this can be beneficial to those experiencing a cancer diagnosis and our group is also a great way to meet people who are perhaps dealing with similar thoughts, feelings and challenges.”

For more information about any of CLAN’s new groups, please contact Jill Sharp on 01224 647 000.

For more information on the Moving More walking group, please contact movemore@sportaberdeen.co.uk or 01224 047925.

CLAN Cancer Support is an independent charity which provides comfort, support and information, free of charge, for anyone, of any age, affected by any type of cancer. CLAN aims to support people to reduce anxiety, stress and to increase their ability to cope with the effects of a serious illness.

Based in Aberdeen, the charity covers the whole of north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. CLAN has a presence in Ballater, Banchory, Elgin, Buckie, Inverurie, Fraserburgh, Lossiemouth, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Turriff, Kirkwall and Lerwick.

For more information about CLAN Cancer Support, please call (01224) 647 000 or visit www.clanhouse.org

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May 252017
 

Scott Findlay, Managing Director at CFF Contractors who have been awarded a £1.4m contract.

With thanks to Karen Stewart.

Local developer LOJJ Scotland has awarded a £1.4 million contract for the development of Loch Street property to local firm CFF Contractors.
The 30 bedroom student accommodation development is due for completion this year and will provide much needed accommodation in the heart of Aberdeen city centre.

LOJJ Scotland who have a number of other developments in the area is run by Aberdeen local Alana Stott who is passionate about supporting the local economy and fellow businesses.

Alana said:

“Having worked with CFF Contractors previously we are delighted to award them this contract; knowing their workmanship and reliability made choosing them an easy decision”.

Scott Findlay, Managing Director at CFF Contractors said:

“it’s a pleasure to be working with LOJJ Scotland on this exciting project”

“Aberdeen has seen more than its fair share of challenges recently so it’s great to see new developments taking place which will have a positive impact on the city and surrounding areas.”

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May 252017
 

By Ian Baird.

Every time a report is written about the Harbour Board’s expansion plans into the Bay of Nigg, there is invariably a reference to a Scottish Enterprise report which justified the project in economic terms, along the lines of, ‘An independent study, commissioned by Scottish Enterprise, estimates that the development will generate an additional £1 billion per annum to the economy by 2035 and will create an additional 7,000 equivalent jobs.’
But that Report was written in December 2013, three and a half years ago and therefore pre-dating the current prolonged oil downturn.

Before finally committing to the project in December when a contract was agreed with Dragados, surely in the light of what is acknowledged to be a significantly changed trading environment, the assumptions and projections made in the Biggar Report should have been reviewed?

Had this been done with any vigour, it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that the business case for £350+ million development no longer stands up to scrutiny and proceeding with the development on that basis cannot be justified.

Let’s look at some aspects of the Report from the perspective of 2017.

1) Harbour Capacity: One of the most compelling arguments emanating from the Harbour Board as justification for the expansion was that the harbour was working at or near full capacity. The argument was echoed in the Report which stated:

“It is clear additional capacity is required to retain activity in the oil and gas sector in Scotland.  If this capacity is not developed, then there is a risk that new and existing demand will be lost to Norway. Capacity constraints at the Harbour are also likely to hinder existing and potential users from developing new market opportunities in areas such as renewable energy, decommissioning, passenger ferries and cruise liners.”

As the construction of the expansion begins, is the existing harbour still running at or near full capacity? The Report noted that arrivals to the port in 2012 numbered in excess of 8,100. Based on the Board’s statements we have to assume this figure is close to maximum capacity. By 2014 arrivals were very similar at 7,937, but in 2015 they dropped to 7,428 and then precipitously to 6,462 in 2016 (unpublished).

That’s more than a 20% drop in traffic activity from the 2012 high to 2016. In short, the harbour is no longer working at or near to full capacity. Of course, had the arrivals levelled off at around the 8,000 mark, it could be legitimately argued that capacity issues were inhibiting expansion but with a 20% drop in activity it is clear that this is quite simply a downturn in business.

To update, the first 4 months of 2017 are no better than the equivalent period last year; and so just as the heavy plant moves in to the Bay, annual arrivals are around 1600 fewer per year than when ‘at or near maximum capacity’.

When challenged about declining arrivals at the 2016 AGM, Chief Executive Colin Parker argued lost business because of larger vessels being unable to enter the harbour were the main cause of the decline. This seems a curious statement given that vessels as large as 20,000 tonnes have used the harbour and yet the average gross tonnage is only about 4,000 tonnes. Two of the largest ships using the harbour are the passenger ferries plying to the Orkney and Shetland Isles. They each have a gross tonnage of 11, 720.

How many arrivals were there of vessels with a gross tonnage of over 10,000 tonnes, other than the ferries, using the port in a year? In 2015, only 21 out of 7,428, or .002%; in 2016, ever fewer at 11. Apart from the ferries, the upper 50% of the tonnage capacity range (10,000 to 20,000 tonnes) is virtually unused.

Where is the evidence that lack of size capacity is inhibiting business?

Fig. 1: The Harbour Board claims the existing harbour is too small for larger vessels. This graph shows that, apart from passenger and freight ferries running to the Northern Isles, the upper end of the tonnage capacity range from 7000 tonnes upward is barely utilised by oil-related, cargo or other vessels.

2) The new market opportunities identified in the Reportrenewable energy, decommissioning, passenger ferries and cruise liners – are central in the projections of increasing traffic to the expanded facility. How well does potential success in these markets stand up to scrutiny from today’s perspective? Let us look at each in turn:

Renewable Energy: Despite initial enthusiasm for chasing business in this market, the Harbour Board has been very quiet about prospects in this sector since the Report’s publication.

There has probably been a belated recognition that weaknesses in the local infrastructure (inadequate roads network for heavy and wide loads, lack of fabrication facilities) and being close to neither centres of turbine and blade manufacture nor to the offshore areas identified as potential for offshore wind arrays, means that there are no specific advantages, and several disadvantages, for suppliers of renewable energy components considering using Aberdeen as a transport base.

Biggar suggests a need for creating industry clusters around key infrastructure investment locations, and that one such cluster should incorporate the supply chain for offshore renewables by developing the land beside Nigg Bay as a marine renewable cluster in Aberdeen City and Shire.

Fine words, but despite the fact that construction of the harbour expansion is under way, there seems little action towards this suggested initiative and there seems inadequate land available to develop a suitably well-equipped cluster as proposed.

Decommissioning: Although the total decommissioning market is huge, Aberdeen’s potential to handle significant elements of it will again be limited by onshore infrastructural weaknesses and by the lack of deep-water berthing. Since the Report was published, many other ports in Scotland, North-east England and Norway have signalled their determination to secure a share of the decommissioning market.

Many, such as Dundee, Cromarty, Kirkwall and Scapa Flow are already well ahead in extending infrastructure and capacity. In what will be a highly competitive scramble for work, it is difficult to see Aberdeen, coming late into the game with improved facilities in 2020, attracting any more than relatively minor contracts.

Ferries: Apart from its inclusion in the Report as one of the potential markets for the expanded court, no evidence or research is offered to substantiate the sector as a potential market. The Northern Isles are the only destinations with a regular ferry service to Aberdeen. The existing ferries are large and, although running near to full capacity at peak holiday periods, for much of the year they are running well below.

At current passenger and freight usage levels, larger ferries plying those routes would not be cost-effective. NorthLink have not identified any need, nor expressed any interest, in introducing larger ferries to Kirkwall and Lerwick.

Cruise Ships: The Report predicts that up to 40 cruise ships could be attracted to the new harbour each year but there are quite a number of qualifications to that figure:

“If a new harbour is built and [if] improvements are made to surrounding roads infrastructure then this may make the harbour a more attractive destination for visiting ships. For example road improvements may make it easier for coaches to access to the quayside, which would make it easier for cruise companies to organise excursions for passengers. The additional space may even make it possible to create dedicated visitor reception facilities. [My emphasis]”

The projection of 40 cruise ships per annum is therefore very speculative. While it is true that the average size of cruise ships is rising, ruling out many of them from the opportunity of docking in the existing harbour, it does not follow that a sufficiently large harbour will attract those larger ships. A bigger swimming pool doesn’t necessarily mean more (or larger) swimmers, perhaps just more space per swimmer.

If we compare the new harbour with, for example, Shetland’s port at Lerwick, which is projected to attract 80 cruise ships in 2018, there must be some doubt about its attractiveness as a destination, requiring as it will a bus journey with views (and possibly smells) of a sewage works, possibly an incinerator, Altens industrial estate and a complex onward route to get to either Aberdeen city centre or to Deeside.

In fact, all of the Report’s projections of future economic gains are qualified by the recognition that for their predictions to be realised it would be necessary ‘to upgrade the roads infrastructure in the surrounding area’.

We are now embarking on a £350 million development, not only in the absence of any such planned upgrade, but with the economics of the North Sea oil industry considerably changed for the worse, and with technological changes and innovations which lessen Aberdeen’s ability to attract certain kinds of business (for example the commissioning of the Pioneering Spirit vessel which can lift and transport complete platform topsides of up to 48,000 tonnes to a limited number of deep-water berths).

There is no doubt that on the completion of the new harbour, some additional types and sizes of vessels will visit the port.

The question is: will they do so in sufficient numbers and frequency to justify a £360 million investment and the permanent loss of a valuable amenity to the local community?

To fulfil the expectations of the Biggar Report, harbour activity not only has to regain the current 20% loss of traffic but has to utilise to near capacity the additional 25% berthing the expansion will enable. That’s 45% above current activity.

Given that the mainstay of the harbour is oil-related business and that it is not contested that it is an industry in decline, there must be a huge question mark over the prediction that in Year 20 of the Report’s projections the net economic impact of Aberdeen Harbour in the City and Shire will be 12,350 jobs and £1.8 billion GVA (Gross Value Added).

The questions are these therefore. What re-evaluation of the Biggar Report was undertaken prior to the final decision to proceed with the expansion into the Bay of Nigg? Is anyone from the Harbour Board, Biggar Economics or Scottish Enterprise prepared to stand by the projections in the 2013 Report? If not, on what basis is the project proceeding?

Sources: Economic impact of Aberdeen Harbour Nigg Bay Development – A final report to Scottish Enterprise, Biggar Economics, December 2013

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May 242017
 

Review and Photographs by Dod Morrison.

Iron Maiden were formed in 1975 by bassist and songwriter Steve Harris.

They’ve released 38 albums including 16 studio albums, 11 live albums, 4 EPs, and 7 compilations – probably making them the world’s most famous heavy metal band.

The band were returning to Aberdeen after a five year gap as part of their ‘The Book Of Souls’ tour.

Released in 2015, this was the band’s sixteenth studio album as well as their first double studio album and at 92 minutes, their longest to date. It also contained the band’s longest track, ‘Empire of the Clouds’ at a staggering 18 minutes.

The album was actually recorded in 2014 but the launch was delayed to allow Bruce to recover from the removal of a cancerous tumour on his tongue.

The album was a commercial success reaching number 1 in 24 countries. They started the tour in February 2016 and it will go through until July 2017.

When Iron Maiden come to town it’s not just to play a gig, it’s an EVENT!

They are known for  their extravagant stage shows which usually feature a huge Eddie The Head (the band mascot). Eddie is a perennial part of Maiden, appearing on all the covers of their albums, and he appears in the live shows in various guises.

Unfortunately, a pending dispute about ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ song credits means that the fan’s favourite song (and my own favourite) had been removed from the current The Book Of Souls tour set list.

The Book Of Souls tour came to Aberdeen where the faithful filled the AECC and prepared to worship. The stage was made to look like an Inca style lost city. A half rectangle shaped wall surrounded and contained the stage with several braziers along its length and moving backdrops, flanked by pyramids on either side.

After a rousing version of ‘Doctor, Doctor’ by UFO was played to get the crowd going, the set commenced with Bruce Dickinson standing on the wall above and behind the drum kit.

Bruce inhaled the vapours from a cauldron on a pedestal as the first chapter of Book of Souls plays.

He then launched into a magnificent, energetic rendition of ‘If Eternity Should Fail’.

Flames erupted from the braziers along the city walls as Bruce dashed across them from side to side. Beneath him Nicko McBrain was drumming up a storm on his impressive and very shiny drum kit.

In front of him guitarists Janick Gers, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith covered the stage, adopting the usual foot on monitor poses.

Janick used the furthest forward set of speakers as a seat, and also enjoyed giving it the odd kick just to show it who’s boss.

Of course, amid all of this, the iconic figure of Steve Harris strode across the stage brandishing his bass.

As the set progressed the huge backdrops behind the band changed to reflect each new song.

Bruce also changed costumes to suit the songs.

At one point he sported a gorilla mask and brandished bananas at the other band members! For ‘Power Slave’ he wore a leather mask, which must have been incredibly sweaty on the warm May night, but it didn’t slow him down at all.

He charged across the city walls above and behind the rest of the band.

As all of this unfolded before our eyes, our ears were treated to a very well chosen set list which covered the entire career of this magnificent band. They played oldies such as ‘Wrathchild’ and ‘Iron Maiden’.

During a magnificent version of ‘The Trooper’ Dickinson was clad in a red ‘Trooper’ jacket and he charged along the walls brandishing a huge Union flag.

At one point he amusingly draped it over Janick Gers as he played his guitar below. It was hard to discern how much ‘playing’ Janick actually did as he spent a lot of time throwing his guitar around on its strap, dancing with it.

We were treated to ‘Fear Of The Dark’ and then on to current masterpieces from the ‘Book of Souls’ album, including a blistering rendition of ‘Speed Of Light’ during which the crowd sang impressively along with the chorus.

It was a well chosen, well thought out set list.

You didn’t want to look away even for a second in case you missed something spectacular, such as the huge sporadic flames that erupted from the braziers along the city walls, or the massive inflatable Eddie figure that floated up from behind the set.

During ‘Book Of Souls’  a giant Eddie figure appeared on stage and ‘attacked’ the band.

Janick ran through its legs, then when Eddie tried to chop him with his axe he responded by hitting Eddie between the legs with his guitar.

Eddie then moved on to attack Dickinson who fought back and pulled out Eddie’s heart. Bruce squeezed the blood from it before throwing it into the crowd – most entertaining!!

At the end of the song Bruce said “this isn’t something you see every night, the stage on fire” – and it was! There was a flame about 2 feet high burning up on the top of the set! The band carried on regardless whilst the fire was put out.

The main set finished with ‘Iron Maiden’ before an encore of ‘Number Of The Beast’ (which involved the appearance of a huge inflatable Satan figure), ‘Wasted Years’ and ‘Blood Brothers’.

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May 192017
 

Duncan Harley reviews Wonderland at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen.

A hard-working cast make this Musical an entertaining and at times a truly magical experience.

When Lewis Carroll ran an early draft of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland past fellow fantasy writer George MacDonald of Huntly, neither man could have had the remotest idea that the tale would still have currency some 150 years on.
The original story-line has seemingly never been out of print and literally hundreds of adaptations have emerged from a myriad of genres over the years.

Film, stage and parody head the long list; with comic book, opera and even Xbox 360 take-ons not far behind.

Herein lies a huge problem. Inevitably, reinterpretations trading on the back of this classic tale of literary nonsense will invite comparison with Carroll’s original.

If the Cheshire Cat fails to grin cheesily enough or if there are too few tarts at the tea party then heads will invariably roll.

Happily, theatre audiences are not as fickle as literary critics and if the stand-up-ovation enjoyed by the cast of Wonderland at HMT last Tuesday is anything to go by, then this latest anthropomorphic adaptation has ticked many of the boxes.

With Britain’s Got Talent Finalist Rachael Wooding as Alice and Coronation Street’s Wendi Peters playing the Queen of Hearts this musical is off to a stomping start. Add in Dave Willetts of Phantom fame as White Rabbit and Natalie McQueen as the Mad Hatter and things can only get better.

And get better they do. From shaky beginnings, down to the script and not to the cast, Wonderland soon gets into its stride.

Alice, in this adaptation, is a divorced single mum who after five years of separation clings to the past and, despite admirable encouragement from teen-daughter Ellie, is experiencing what can only be termed an extreme bad-hair-day.

Aside from losing her beau, she has lost her job and some scumbag has pinched her car. Ellie (Naomi Morris) and love-interest Jack (Stephen Webb) are at pains to comfort the stressed-out Alice but to no avail.

Predictably, a white rabbit appears and they all head downwards in a council high-rise lift to meet with the entire Lewis Carroll cast including a talking mirror. After typical Alice type adventures, the heroine is bundled through the looking-glass and her life takes a turn.

The musical numbers here are great, the dialogue is perhaps not so. At points I almost expected a harassed Compere to rush on stage to ask the audience if there was a scriptwriter in the house.

Music and movement is where this production is at. With around twenty numbers packed into two hours there is plenty for all including pounding rock, laid back jazz and heart-warming duets.

A hard-working cast make this Musical an entertaining and at times a truly magical experience. By the final curtain one could almost imagine an appreciative Dickens clapping softly from the Gods.

Directed by Lotte Wakeham and adapted from the works of Lewis Carroll, Wonderland plays at HMT Aberdeen until Saturday 20th May.

Tickets from Aberdeen Performing Arts Tel: 01224- 641122

– Words © Duncan Harley and Images © APA

May 192017
 

Duncan Sinclair, ASV CEO

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia.

A leading sports facility is forecast to bring over £2million to Aberdeen this year, as it welcomes high-profile national and international events. Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV), which is based on the city’s Linksfield Road, is holding four national and international competitions in 2017, which are predicted to bring the significant economic boost

Each year, ASV holds over 200 events at the prestigious venue, from local festivals to international competitions, by working closely with community leaders and national sporting bodies.

The first of this year’s prominent events, the Scottish National Age Groups Swimming Championships (SNAGS), took place at ASV at the end of March.

The event, one of the largest under 18 swimming event in the UK, brought an estimated £1million of economic benefit to the city. 1000 of the best swimmers in their age group competed, from over 90 clubs across the Scotland. For many, the prestigious event offered the chance to gain consideration times for the Commonwealth Youth Games, taking place in the Bahamas in July.

Netball Europe, which came to Aberdeen between 11-14 May, saw eight national and international teams compete in a series of matches, with spectator seats sold out for most matches. The four-day international under 21 championship featured 100 competitors from England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, as well as an open challenge section, introducing teams from Bermuda, Gibraltar, Israel and The Republic of Ireland.

ASV won the right to host Netball Europe after a sustained campaign by Aberdeen Sports Village and Netball Scotland, supported by VisitAberdeenshire.

In June, the British Masters and Senior Age Group Championships  will be hosted at ASV’s Aquatics Centre, featuring swimmers from the across the UK. Over 800 competitors will take advantage of ASV’s impressive 50m pool, competing in a series of races, medleys and relays.

The busy swimming season culminates with the Scottish National Open Swimming Championship between 27 June and 2 July, showcasing the best of Scottish swimming, with over 300 current and future champions competing at ASV.

Duncan Sinclair, ASV CEO, said:

“ASV has been able to attract this year’s national and international competitions by working closely with VisitAberdeenshire, Scottish Swimming and Netball Scotland. VisitAberdeenshire has calculated the swimming and netball events alone will bring an estimated £2million in financial benefit to Aberdeen, proving that leisure and tourism activities are a vital  part of our local economy.

“The Aquatics Centre is now classed as an official Performance Centre by Scottish Swimming, as ASV can confidently deliver large, exciting swimming events.

“ASV is ideally placed to host high-profile competitions, and we are proud to welcome teams and their supporters from across the world to our outstanding facility.”

ASV boasts a state-of-the-art gym, sports hall, indoor and outdoor athletics facilities, indoor football pitch, and a range of exercise classes, as well as the Aquatics Centre, which includes an Olympic standard 50m pool and 25m diving pool.

For more information, contact a member of the team at ASV on 01224 438900.

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May 192017
 

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

One of the biggest shake ups of European privacy legislation which is expected to have a significant impact on the way business is done comes into force in 12 months’ time.

It’s going to have a huge impact on how businesses store and process data and carries tough penalties and hefty fines for breaches.

The Government will implement the General Data Protection Regulation and it is expected that the UK will continue to comply with GDPR after Brexit – so all businesses should be assessing how they use personal data and how this legislation will affect the sector in which they operate.

Advanced planning is key to ensuring compliance with the new legislation which comes into force from 25 May 2018, according to Austen Clark, managing director of Clark Integrated Technologies.

 “The changes that will come with the 2018 deadline will have implications for businesses of all sizes that handle the personal data of EU residents, regardless of location,” Mr Clark states.

“The GDPR is going to have a huge impact on how businesses store and process data and they need to act now to make sure they are properly prepared for this major overhaul of data protection legislation which will impact on us all. Dedicating time to this now will ensure businesses have procedures in place to be able to comply with the new regulation.

“This isn’t just for big businesses – a gym that offers a members’ loyalty scheme or a one-person chiropractor that asks patients to complete a wellbeing form will have to ensure that personal data is stored in line with the new regulations and not breach them.”

GDPR will directly apply in EU countries and replaces ageing European and national data protection legislation, with companies given until until May next year to adopt the measures and become compliant.

Influenced by technological advances, it introduces new accountability obligations, stronger rights and ongoing restrictions on international data flows. GDPR seeks to protect individuals whose personal data is handled by companies. Data processing refers to the handling, storage, evaluation, reference or general use of information relating to individuals. Businesses should only be collecting necessary data and discarding it when it is no longer required to protect data subject rights.

So an online retailer running a small e-commerce site that holds customers’ personal details is subject to GDPR regulations. And any company or individual providing marketing, IT, accountancy or business support that may have access to a wealth of client and customer data needs to ensure this is collected, stored and protected in specific ways.

One of the biggest considerations of the new regulations is ensuring sensitive data is handled correctly.

Government help to prepare for the regulation is available, with webinars, training courses and data flow audits and Mr Clark suggests a good starting point is to carry out a gap analysis of current processing in line with GDPR.

“Understand what data you hold, how you are using it, and make sure that you are practising good data hygiene by limiting access to data to only those who need it, and ensuring that authentication protocols are up-to-scratch for those users,” Mr Clark advises.

“Businesses should also consider deleting data that is no longer required so that it does not become an unnecessary risk.”

Clark IT is already working with clients to assess how GDPR will impact on them and the sector in which they operate, to guide them through the complexities of the legislation and to ensure they become fully compliant. The IT specialists can take clients through the process from start to finish using its unique portal and working with partners to cover legal, datacentre, insurance and finance matters.

While it may seem like a daunting process, GDPR should not be viewed as unnecessary red tape says Mr Clark, who predicts that the legislation has the ability to bring benefits to both businesses and individuals.

Mr Clark states:

“This creates a new single data protection act, and has scope to bring increased consistency to data protection practices, eliminating problems arising from the existence of different national variations.

“There are enhanced powers given to data protection authorities in tackling non-compliance and it will also be easier for individuals to claim against data controllers where their data privacy has been infringed.

 “GDPR will also give individuals greater control and rights over their personal data. As a result, individuals will be able to request that businesses delete their no longer necessary or accurate personal data.

“The regulation could also prove to be an advance in the war against cybercrime, given mandatory breach notifications. Taking GDPR seriously will see businesses invest in, and demonstrate, high levels of security which could in turn raise customer trust.”

Clark IT based near Turriff in Aberdeenshire 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.

Its clients benefit from the specialist knowledge of its 26-strong workforce 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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May 192017
 

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

Lisa Thomson, owner of Hardy’s Chocolates

A new Aberdeen-based independent chocolate shop has invested a five-figure sum into the start up and renovation of a city centre premises.

Recently opened in the Rosemount area of the city, Hardy’s Chocolates was established by former IT operations director, Lisa Thomson, and specialises in bespoke and ‘free-from’ chocolates.

To coincide with its launch, Hardy’s has also agreed to become an exclusive stockist of chocolate from a Shetland-based chocolatier.

Hardy’s Chocolates is the only shop in the North-east to stock Mirrie Dancers chocolates from artisan chocolatier, Dave Williams. It also sells high-quality chocolates from Belgium, as well as bars, truffles, speciality chocolates and sweets from across the UK and Europe.

The deal between Mirrie Dancers and Hardy’s Chocolates resulted after Mrs Thomson, 44, noted the high demand for Scottish-made confectionery from her customers. After reaching out to the Lerwick-based company, it was agreed the shop would start exclusively stocking a variety of the brand’s luxury chocolate selection.

Launched in 2016 by former military chef, Mr Williams, Mirrie Dancers specialises in unique flavour combinations, including port and stilton and lime and prosecco, and has distributed its chocolate to countries as far as South Africa, Switzerland and Australia.

To celebrate the collaboration between the brand and Hardy’s Chocolates, a selection of Mirrie Dancers chocolates will be available for the public to sample from Friday, 19 to Saturday, 20 May.

Lisa Thomson, owner of Hardy’s Chocolates, said:

“After a very exciting first few months for Hardy’s Chocolates, I am thrilled that we are continuing to increase the shop’s selection of high-quality confectionery by stocking Mirrie Dancers chocolates.

“Dave is a master in his craft and we both share the same values when it comes to chocolate and how it is made. We believe that to truly appreciate the taste, chocolate needs to be of the highest quality.

“Working with Mirrie Dancers will also help us grow the business and what we can provide for our customers, as we are now able to offer an even wider made-to-order service for corporate gifts and events.”

Dave Williams, owner of Mirrie Dancers, said:

“Mirrie Dancers has come a long way since it first launched at the beginning of last year. I am absolutely thrilled that Hardy’s Chocolates will now be the sole stockist of our products in the North-east and I am looking forward to hearing the feedback from people within the region.

“I founded Mirrie Dancers with the support of local businesses and friends, since then it has grown to employ three others, so I am extremely supportive of small, independent businesses like Hardy’s Chocolates.”

For more information about Hardy’s Chocolates, visit:   

www.hardyschocolates.com
www.facebook.com/HardysChocolates
www.twitter.com/hardyschocs
www.instagram.com/hardyschocs

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May 192017
 

With thanks to Future Choices.

Future Choices, which is a local, voluntary charity based at Inchgarth Community Centre, Garthdee, supporting adults with a physical disability to gain social inclusion, has launched a new fundraiser, where everyone can get involved, to support such a vital cause.

David Forbes, Chair of the charity explained:

“One of the main jobs running a charity, is raising much needed funds to keep funding what we do within the local community”

Future Choices is in it’s 9th year now and is growing from strength to strength by continuing to reach out to more people within the community.

David added,

“I would encourage as many people to get involved, the first prize we have up for grabs is superb and it’s only £5 per number”

If you wish to support Future Choices, please follow the link https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/futurechoices/bonusball-2017

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