Jun 022017
 

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

A leading north-east cancer support charity is urging people to snap up its last remaining places for Aberdeen’s inaugural Great Aberdeen Run.

CLAN Cancer Support currently has limited spaces remaining for both the 10km and half marathon races which take place on Sunday, August 27th.

Ruth McIntosh, CLAN Cancer Support’s Fundraising Coordinator, said:

“We were delighted to be able to secure charity places at the first Great Aberdeen Run. To be part of such an important day for the city is really special and lots of our supporters are already well into their training for the event.

“If the recent Baker Hughes, RunBalmoral or Edinburgh marathon events have inspired you why not sign up and support a local charity in the process.

“Every pound that our runners raise during events like the Great Aberdeen Run help us to make great strides in continuing to grow and develop the wellbeing and support services we provide, free of charge, to anyone affected by cancer throughout north-east Scotland, Moray, Orkney and Shetland.”

To secure one of the remaining places, please contact ruth.mcintosh@clanhouse.org or 01224 647000.

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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Jun 022017
 

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

Andy Buchan and James Farquhar of Hiretech with Michelle Ferguson from Cash for Kids.

An Aberdeenshire man has raised over £1,000 to help support sick, disabled and disadvantaged children living in north-east Scotland.
Andy Buchan, managing director of oil and gas equipment rental, service and maintenance firm Hiretech Limited, presented Aberdeen-based charity Cash for Kids with £1,076.50 following a series of fundraising events.

The big-hearted businessman used the occasion of his 50th birthday to raise money for the local children’s charity, requesting donations in lieu of presents. 

A subsequent fundraising motorcycle ride with friends and colleagues to the west coast helped to swell the final total.

Eight fellow bikers joined Andy on the return trip from Hiretech’s office at Hatton of Fintray to Applecross, with the route also taking in Ullapool and the Bealach na Ba. On the 450-mile journey the bikers received light-hearted fines for any misdemeanours and breakdowns. Andy stipulated that all bikes should be pre-1979 models, a rule he himself broke – and was fined for – by choosing to ride a 1986 Yamaha RD125LC.

The group was supported on the trip by Hiretech apprentice engineer James Farquhar. His services were put to use within minutes of the journey commencing when one of the bikes broke down around two miles outside Hatton of Fintray.

A keen motorcyclist, Andy has supported many charitable causes in recent years and was inspired to support Cash for Kids due to its local nature, with all funds being raised and distributed in the north-east. Andy first became aware of Cash for Kids 20 years ago when he played the guitar in a friend’s punk band at an event that raised money for the children’s charity.

Cash for Kids will use the donation to help fulfil applications to its unique quarterly grant funding programme. The scheme provides grants to individuals, families and community groups to support children and improve their quality of life. Applications need to be endorsed by a third party, such as a social worker or health visitor, and the deadline for applications in the current quarter is Wednesday, 19 July.

Michelle Ferguson, Cash for Kids charity manager, said:

“We are very grateful to Andy and his family, friends and colleagues for their generosity. The bike trip sounds like it was an eventful journey from the outset and illustrates how fun and imaginative fundraising can be.

“Andy’s efforts will enable Cash for Kids to continue to support a wide range of children, families and community groups in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.  Our aim is to improve the life quality of these children, whether that is a result of disability, illness or poverty.”

Andy added:

“Cash for Kids makes a positive impact on the lives of thousands of children and their families in the north-east every year. The funding it provides can be invaluable. I am very thankful to everyone who has helped me to fundraise for the charity over the past month, particularly those who were penalised for their unknown misdemeanours on our bike ride.”

To help fulfil future applications to its grant funding programme, Cash for Kids is running a major appeal throughout 2017. It is encouraging 500 people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to sign up to its 500 Faces campaign and commit to each raising £100 before the end of December 2017. Further information is available at www.northsound1.com/faces.

Cash for Kids is an Aberdeen-based charity that works to improve the lives of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under 18 living in north-east Scotland. The community-focused organisation is Northsound Radio’s listeners’ charity. Along with running a number of campaigns throughout the year, including its annual Mission Christmas children’s gift appeal, Cash for Kids operates a unique quarterly grant giving programme. 

Grants are made to individuals, families, children’s groups, organisations and projects throughout the Northsound transmission area. All of the money that is distributed to these local families and projects has been raised locally.

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

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Jun 022017
 

With thanks to Future Choices.

Local Charity Boss, David Forbes is calling on city Councillors to bring back the much loved Taxi Card Scheme.

Mr Forbes who is Chair of Local Voluntary Disabled Charity Future Choices is hoping something can be done.

David explained:

“Since the scheme ceased in 2010, so much has changed, disabled people are struggling even more, so if the council can relieve some financial pressure to help disabled people, that can only be a good thing”

Mr Forbes is in the process of contacting Local Councillors to see what they think and if they back his calls

David added “Disabled people can find themselves extremely isolated and prisoners in their own homes, if the council can find a way to make things better, im all for it.

Mr Forbes has set up a Facebook page, for those wishing to support his campaign, you can find the link here

https://www.facebook.com/TaxiCardScheme/

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Jun 022017
 

With thanks to Clare Scott, Communications Consultant, CJS Communication & Marketing.

An Aberdeen-based family support charity is using Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June 2017) as a springboard to successfully conclude its 30th anniversary campaign to recruit 30 new volunteers within 30 weeks.

Home-Start Aberdeen has been supporting families who are vulnerable, or who may be at risk of isolation, for the past three decades.

This support is largely provided by volunteers, who are trained by the charity and matched with a family who they visit on a weekly basis.

Having started life as a small project operating from a box room within Mastrick Church, Home-Start Aberdeen is now one of the largest Home-Start schemes in the UK.

The charity provides over 220 families and 360 children with around 27,500 hours of support each year, however it continues to operate a growing list of those who are in need of help.

“We have had a tremendous response to our 30 in 30 campaign since launching it in February,” said Georgette Cobban, scheme manager (pictured).

“Our second new cohort of volunteers are currently undergoing training, which will bring our tally to 20 out of the 30 new volunteers we would like to recruit by September.

“We plan to run our next volunteer preparation course in August and we would urge anyone who thinks they might be interested to get in touch for an informal chat. Full training is provided by Home-Start Aberdeen – all we ask for is a time commitment of 2-3 hours per week to provide a local family with emotional and practical support in their home setting.”

For further information on volunteering opportunities with Home-Start Aberdeen, email volunteering@homestartaberdeen.org.uk or telephone 01224 693545.

Home-Start Aberdeen is a voluntary organisation, offering support and friendship to vulnerable families. Its small staff team trains and co-ordinates over 100 volunteers who provide families with emotional and practical support in their own homes. Those who are referred to the charity must live within the city and have at least one child under five years old, otherwise there are no barriers to access. To find out more, visit www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.

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Jun 022017
 

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

Organisers of the hugely popular inaugural Nuart Aberdeen have hailed the response of visitors, as research reveals that 80% of attendees agreed the event increased their pride in the Granite City.

The festival, brought to the city by Aberdeen Inspired, attracted crowds of thousands and set the arts and cultural scene in Aberdeen alight.

A survey put together by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce has revealed the thoughts of visitors to the event, which reflect the fantastic feedback received throughout the festival and in recent months.

Nearly 90% of respondents to the survey agreed that Nuart Aberdeen, which was supported by Aberdeen City Council and Burness Paull LLP, demonstrates that Aberdeen is a progressive city, with three in four also stating that the artistic extravaganza was their main reason for coming into the city centre.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“The response we have received to Nuart Aberdeen, both in the city and around the world, absolutely blew us away. We knew the ambition of the event was high, so to receive such an amazing reaction was incredible after all the hard work that went into bringing it here.

“These findings are wonderful to look at, as they reflect what we strive to achieve, increasing footfall to the city centre and bringing a sense of pride and joy back to our wonderful city.

“Feedback in recent years from our levy payers has highlighted a demand for more large scale events to be held in Aberdeen and we are pleased to be delivering this, and seeing the benefits that it is bringing in terms of economic impact and the aesthetic of Aberdeen.

“The survey also showed that 76% of respondents agreed that the festival brought communities together, which is very much what we felt throughout the weekend, as families, individuals, couples and visitors to our city came together to enjoy and celebrate street art and the transformation it brought to the city.”

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.

Elaine Farquharson-Black, partner and head of planning at Burness Paull said:

“The Nuart Festival has reenergised the city centre, igniting a pride in Aberdeen and promoting a real feeling of inclusivity.

“The stunning artworks and the stories they tell are reimagining our built environment, but what is more important is the positive vibe Nuart has brought to Aberdeen and its people, and the long-lasting effect this will have.”

The popularity of Nuart Aberdeen has led Aberdeen Inspired to introduce regular walking tours throughout the summer. These will be held every Saturday at 11.30am, led by expert Jon Reid, with a meeting point outside Contour Café on the Green.

Mr Watson added:

“The numbers at our walking tours during the festival were absolutely incredible, with more than 1,600 people taking advantage of them, and we are thrilled to be introducing them in the summer months.

“The tours will give visitors the full Nuart Aberdeen experience, taking attendees to the smaller pieces of art as well as the bigger murals created for this year’s festival. Our dedicated tour guide Jon Reid will also give background on each of the 11 international artists that took part, as well as an insight into their inspiration for the work they created.”

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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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 port, 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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