Feb 022017

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

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

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

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

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

He said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aberdeen City Council Leader Councillor Jenny Laing, said:

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

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

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

Area Commander Chief Inspector Graeme Mackie, said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graham Watson, Owner of the Grill Bar, said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jan 132017

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

The local business community has expressed its support for the Aberdeen Christmas Village, which helped boost trade during the festive period.

Spearheaded by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s, hundreds of thousands of people visited the winter wonderland over the five weeks it was open.

Organisers have received positive feedback from visitors, artists, craftsmen/women as well as local business owners, who commented on increased footfall through their doors and a rise in sales.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“The Aberdeen Christmas Village is exactly the type of event which is needed to drive increased footfall and dwell time in the city centre. It was our ambition, along with our partner organisations, to build on the success of last year and create an even larger festive event.

“It was brilliant to see the public get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy everything the Village had to offer. We have also been pleased with the response from the businesses in the city centre, a number of which have been in touch with us to comment on the positive difference they noticed throughout the festive period in terms of increased footfall. It was a key aim of ours to achieve a knock-on effect for local businesses, which further emphasises the tremendous benefits of big events like this in Aberdeen.”

Julie Haig, owner of Haigs Food Hall, Schoolhill, said:

“We were delighted with the footfall the Christmas Village brought to Aberdeen city centre and our business. It created a real buzz in the city and it was great to see so many people out and about enjoying the Christmas Village.

“We are looking forward to seeing it back again this year and would like to give a huge thank you to Aberdeen Inspired and Aberdeen City Council for all of their hard work making this event happen.”

Aberdeen City Council leader Councillor Jenny Laing said:

“The Aberdeen Christmas Village has once again been a tremendous success and we are delighted to have worked with our partners to provide what has become a mainstay of the city’s events calendar.

“Running alongside the village, Aberdeen City Council also brought the Christmas Tree Maze to Union Terrace Gardens and the response from the public was fantastic.

“By coming out and supporting these attractions in numbers, people have demonstrated they will support bright, engaging and innovative events and that provides great confidence as we seek to build on the foundations we already have in place.

“We are planning for a bigger, better and busier programme of events for 2017 than we have ever had before in Aberdeen. There are a number of major dates in the diary already and more to follow.

“Aberdeen City Council is looking forward to working with our many partners in the year ahead, investing in events and facilities, as the city’s role as a cultural hub and tourist destination continues to grow.”

Mr Watson added:

“This year we were also happy to offer stalls to up to 30 hugely talented local artists and designers to give them a platform to sell their products. It was fantastic to see their presence being enjoyed by the public.

“We would like to thank everyone who visited and enjoyed the Village, the stallholders and our staff and partners for all their hard work. Our talented team will continue to work hard to bring projects to fruition that will enhance the city centre and drive footfall. We are always looking to build on our successes and in doing so we take on board all constructive feedback. We are very excited about our current plans, which include the globally renowned Nuart street art festival in the spring.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and driving footfall to the zone.

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

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Dec 062016

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


Lord Provost George Adam with Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired.

North-east charities, community groups and people with additional support needs enjoyed a free festive event in the heart of Aberdeen today.

Aberdeen Inspired, which delivers the Aberdeen Christmas Village in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s, laid on a special Festive Fun Day and invited guests to enjoy the winter wonderland in a relaxed atmosphere.

Now in its second year, the Festive Fun Day attracted groups from Rosie’s social enterprises, Children First, Aberlour/Families First, Kaimhill School Rainbow Room pupils, Hazlewood School and Befriend a Child, to name but a few, who got into the Yuletide spirit at the attraction on Union Terrace.

They were treated to the rides, a session on the ice, free snacks and a soft drink in one of the marquees, where a disco took place all day.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We’re proud to host the Festive Fun Day at Aberdeen Christmas Village and it’s great to be able to give something back to good causes in the city and beyond.

“We were delighted with the response from charitable organisations and groups across Aberdeen and the wider north-east, the uptake has been fantastic once again this year.

“It’s been wonderful to see our guests smiling and enjoying themselves throughout the day and I hope they have lots of happy memories from their visit.”

The Aberdeen Christmas Village is open until Sunday, January 8. Union Terrace is closed until Sunday, January 15 to accommodate the village, with a number of traffic measures in place until then. For more information visit: www.aberdeenchristmas.co.uk/plan-your-visit

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

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

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

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Nov 172016

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

Aberdeen-Inspired1Aberdeen Inspired has secured three year deals with both Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s to manage the Aberdeen Christmas Village up to 2018.

The leading business organisation introduced the festive wonderland last year in partnership with the council and the family amusement firm, and has now committed to further delivery of the Yuletide event.

The Aberdeen Christmas Village will open to the public from November 25 to January 08.

The hugely popular ice-rink will make a return to the pocket park as part of the Christmas offering and has been doubled in size. Other attractions will include funfair rides, food vendors and an entertainment marquee as well as double the amount of market stalls offering a wide selection of goods.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We are thrilled to be bringing back the Aberdeen Christmas Village this month, which will be even bigger and better than last year.

“Codona’s did a fantastic job in managing the event last year and we are pleased to have now secured a three year commitment up to 2018. Now this has been finalised we are looking forward to working with them and Aberdeen City Council to deliver a fantastic Christmas experience for Aberdeen.

“Work has now begun on the build and we can’t wait to see the festive heart of the city centre start to take shape. We have worked hard to offer something fun for the people of Aberdeen and create something they will really enjoy. As well as building on the offering of last year, we will be introducing some new aspects to the village in association with local groups and look forward to sharing details on that in the near future.

“Part of Aberdeen Inspired’s remit is to increase footfall within the city centre and the Aberdeen Christmas Village will help towards that, with the hopeful knock-on effect of bringing in benefits to local shops, restaurants and businesses. To achieve this aim, we need to support of the public and visitors to Aberdeen, so I would urge everyone to enjoy what is being offered on their doorstep and support their city centre.”

Union Terrace will be closed from November 18 in the evening to January 15 to accommodate the village, while the slip road between His Majesty’s Theatre and Union Terrace was closed from November 12 to allow construction of the open air ice rink to begin in the pocket park.

Deputy council leader Councillor Marie Boulton said:

“The Christmas Village was a major attraction last year and will be a popular part of the Winter Festival again. With work beginning on construction, we look forward to the opening of the village and are pleased to be working with our partners to deliver what is a fantastic addition to Aberdeen’s festive offering. For Aberdeen City Council the Christmas Village is part of a clear focus on ensuring a wide and varied programme of high quality events and attractions, both for the people of the city and with the aim of attracting visitors from at home and abroad.”

Alfred Codona, director of Aberdeen-based family amusement firm Codona’s, said: “We are delighted to have secured a deal with Aberdeen Inspired to deliver the Aberdeen Christmas Village, which was popular with locals and visitors alike to the city centre last year.

“At Codona’s we take great pride in ensuring fun and excitement for visitors to our attractions and we are looking forward to revealing more about our plans for the Village. This three-year deal will allow us to keep building on the event each year and we are looking forward to working with Aberdeen Inspired and other partners to bring together a festive experience on Union Terrace.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and driving footfall to the zone.

For further information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired visit www.aberdeeninspired.com

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May 132016

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

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

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

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

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

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

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

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

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

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

Carole Noble, director at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said:

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

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

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

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

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Feb 042016

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

Aberdeen Inspired renewal ballot

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

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

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

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

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

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gary Craig added:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jan 142016

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

The world's largest mobile thrill ride, Bomber Mac 2, reaches speads of up to 60 miles and hour at 55 metres tall at The Hoppings, Newcastle's legendary fair on the Town Moor. PHOTOGRAPH: Dirk van der Werff / AQphotos.com

Standing at 50m high, one of the biggest thrill rides in Europe, ‘the Bomber’ was a focal attraction at Aberdeen’s Christmas Village.

Organisers have hailed the Aberdeen Christmas Village a success after more than half a million people enjoyed the spectacular attraction. Spearheaded by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s, the winter wonderland proved incredibly popular, attracting 515,972 people throughout the festive period. The village was open for a total of 37 days.

The organisation’s aim was to create an attraction bigger and better than Aberdeen has ever had before and they are thrilled by the high number of visitors to the village.

They also unveiled the world renowned art installation Intrude, which consisted of large illuminated rabbits at Union Terrace Gardens in December, adding an extra dimension to the crowd pleasing attractions.

The first term of Aberdeen Inspired, the banner under which the BID has operated since 2012, is now drawing to a close and the organisation hopes to use the positive response to the village as a springboard for future projects if it achieves renewal ballot success.

Between February 4 and March 17 levy-payers will vote in a re-ballot to determine whether or not the business-led initiative within the city centre returns for another five-year term.

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We were absolutely delighted with the public’s response to the Aberdeen Christmas Village, which was way beyond our expectations and proves there is appetite for events on this scale in the Granite City.

“The footfall figures for the village are incredible, with over half a million people enjoying everything it had to offer. It was fantastic to see everyone get into the festive spirit in the heart of the city centre and we are determined to carry this positive momentum forward as we continue preparations for our renewal ballot.”

Aberdeen City Council Deputy Leader Councillor Marie Boulton said:

“2015 was Aberdeen’s biggest winter festival and the Christmas Village helped to make it a huge success. We would like to thank everyone who visited and enjoyed the Village, the stallholders, musicians and comedians for their contribution and our staff and partners for all their hard work.”

Gary Craig added:

“In order to build on initiatives like the Aberdeen Christmas Village we need the support of our levy players in the upcoming ballot. As a close knit team we are dedicated to the work we deliver throughout the city centre and we know that passion for Aberdeen is mirrored by our electorate – the businesses we represent.

“Our hard-working and talented team wants to continue to bring forward projects to enhance the city centre and are hugely excited about our current project plans. Our ultimate aim is to drive footfall and improve the area for our members, with the Christmas Village a great example of that.”

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

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

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Nov 162015
picture mark runnacles 17.07.06 ..... pictures of sun worshipers having fun in the sun at m&d's amusements at strathclyde park ....... see hot weather copy.......

The ‘Bomber’ will become a focal attraction. Picture: Mark Runnacles.

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

One of the biggest thrill rides in Europe will swing into action at Aberdeen’s Christmas Village later this month.
Standing at 50m high, the Bomber will become a focal attraction in the village, which is being spearheaded by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s.

The Bomber is a hugely popular high rise, high speed ride bound to attract thrill seekers looking for an adrenaline rush. Reaching a maximum force of 3.6gs riders are thrown forward at speeds of up to 90mph.

Spinning gondolas add to the adrenalin inducing sensation as visitors race towards the sky and “bomb” to the ground at top speed.

The Aberdeen Christmas Village is part of the Winter Festival, which is being organised by Aberdeen City Council. As well as a Miami family ride and festive themed cups and saucers and carousel provided and staffed by Codona’s, the village on Union Terrace will feature a spectacular outdoor ice-rink and traditional German style market made up of retail outlets and festive food and drink stands, as well as an entertainment marquee.

Breakneck Comedy has organised the line-up for the venue, which will include a host of talented comedians, bands, singers and choirs who will take to the stage to entertain the crowds.

Visitors will be able to indulge in a number of festive treats ranging from a German Bratwurst Artisan Grill and hog roast pulled pork baguettes to Christmas doughnuts and hot chocolate.

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We are sure that the fantastic rides provided by Codona’s will be a hugely popular part of our Aberdeen Christmas Village. Part of our remit is to increase footfall within the city centre and all the family fun that will be on offer ticks all the boxes.

“We want people to be excited about being in Aberdeen at such a lovely time of the year and the bright lights of all the rides, along with the ice-rink and other offerings will certainly bring a feel-good factor to the heart of the city. What we have created will be unique and very different for Aberdeen and builds on the attractions we have put on in previous years.”

Alfred Codona, director of Aberdeen-based family amusement firm Codona’s, said:

“We are pleased to be playing our part in bringing some fun from our usual home at the beach to the heart of the city centre. The Aberdeen Christmas Village will be a wonderful attraction which will create a great festive atmosphere.

“The rides we have chosen will provide something for everyone, whether you are looking for a thrill or something to take your family on. At Codona’s we take great pride in providing fun and entertainment for locals and visitors alike and we are looking forward to bringing that to Union Terrace.”

The world's largest mobile thrill ride, Bomber Mac 2, reaches speads of up to 60 miles and hour at 55 metres tall at The Hoppings, Newcastle's legendary fair on the Town Moor. PHOTOGRAPH: Dirk van der Werff / AQphotos.com

The Aberdeen Christmas Village will be open to the public from November 26 to January 03. A number of traffic measures will be in place for the duration of the Aberdeen Christmas Village. Please ensure you plan ahead and for more information visit http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/

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

It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

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

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Dec 312014

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryTally ho, cheerio etc. ‘Tis the season of peace on earth, goodwill towards men and so on.

Well, it probably is the season of goodwill somewhere.

The North Koreans are apoplectic, the Pope is not happy, and most importantly, Aberdeen Inspired does not want anyone to question its operations, finances or plans.

Olive branches seem to be in short supply as does transparency. Alas!

Despite a well-thought out plan to hack Sony, North Korea’s dictator has failed to stop release of satirical film ‘The Interview‘. In the film fun-loving dictator Kim Jong-un was meant to have been assassinated.

As if. It’s not as if he were in any way unpopular; and he is kind to his dogs after all, feeding them frequently.

Of course he feeds his dogs people including the odd uncle or two, but at least Kim’s kind to animals.

There is a great tradition of lovely military parades in North Korea, and even if there’s nothing to eat, there is great emphasis on jobs creation, with a nuclear weapon programme we can all be proud of. Hacks into Sony’s systems revealed such bombshells as not all actors and actresses are well loved by studio execs, and not everyone likes everyone.

George Clooney stuck his nose in as he so often does this time to defend Sony, satire and free speech. Clooney is well known for standing up for Tibet, which as far as I can tell is just some rebellious part of China. He really should stick to acting. After all, we can’t have our celebrities getting involved in causes, even someone like Clooney who grew up in a family where journalism was valued and activism encouraged.

He now has a duty as a role model to be as good-looking and as bland as possible. I’m mostly surprised the North Koreans bothered to get involved; it’s not as if there is any power in a satirical movie, song or even column. Except the other week when the American right wing got upset by John Fogarty, Bruce Springsteen and David Grohl performing ‘Fortunate Son.’

The Pope made a speech with thinly veiled criticism of those who seek power, scheme, climb and plot. Maybe we should invite him here to Aberdeen so he can experience a society without toadying, crawling, and scheming; where merit trumps money, and virtue triumphs over value for money.

As to Aberdeen Inspired, I am certain now that this transparent organization will answer the questions I put to it (first in August) any day now.

I asked about its finances, how one director seemingly awarded a hefty pay increase without any checks to their spouse, and why measuring ‘footfall’ by recording our every move and our mobile phone signals is more important than data protection and our right to freedom. They of course have more important things to do I’ll grant, like deciding on the next bunting colour scheme.

Alas! For some reason not every retailer remains enchanted by the BiD programme. Even stranger, some of these retailers would like to opt out now that they’ve seen the reality as compared to the promised outcomes.

I’ll never forget this great success and neither should you

Thankfully, the scheme was arranged in such a way that one you sign up to BiD, you apparently can’t decide to leave. Kind of like the Hotel California, or like a salmon swimming into one of the gargantuan funnel nets near Montrose.

I’m as sure that Santa will arrive down the chimney with a case of BrewDog as I am that I’ll get answers from Inspired.

Aberdeen’s Christmas lights are lovely; I particularly enjoyed the Union Street lights. Giant deer are silhouetted against a red background. This commemoration of the Tullos Hill Deer Slaughter in our holiday festivities reminds us all of the many sacrifices Aileen ‘HoMalone’, Chris Piper, Ranger Talboys and Peter Leonard made to bring us our Tullos Hill Forest. As such it is most welcome.

Remember pretty soon that dense forest of towering trees on Tullos will be offsetting our C02 emissions, and in a hundred years or so will offset the energy required to plant the trees in the first place. I’ll never forget this great success and neither should you. There is still time to sign a petition asking the city to fully come clean on the costs – and to save any remaining deer that may be left.

Our experts who were so certain there were too many deer (and killed 34 or 35) are now less certain of the facts, and have no clue how many deer are left in the city.

Show your support for these pocket-lining, gun-happy, self-serving political opportunists – sorry – pillars of the community by asking them to explain: sign up here. (Any problems signing up, as many people have had – send me an email and I’ll help). There is a deadline; your signature will help if you live in our fair city.

It may be the season of good will, but alas! Someone’s stolen meat (again) this year in Aberdeenshire: turkey, beef, ham and so on. Had it been venison, we could have looked to HoMalone and co for leads.

Police are said to be looking for a wealthy suspect or suspects. After all, it is a universally acknowledged truth that poor people don’t know how to cook – or so Baroness Jenkins said. She’s right of course, but this position has unfairly got her into hot water with people saying her logic is half baked. Her reasoning is that poor people go to food banks because they don’t know how to cook.

Granted, the press gave her quite a roasting (not in the football sense of the word), and she found herself in a bit of a stew. If you’re like Baroness Jenkins you’ll have a firm hand on how to prepare a meal. For the rest of us, here is a seasonal recipe you might find useful.

1. Decide what you want to eat – pheasant, turkey, steak, etc.
2. Ring bell to summon staff.
3. Give instructions to your cook.
4. Have butler select appropriate wines
5. Have ghillie shoot and pluck pheasants, hopefully taking out any lingering birds of prey that may be haranguing other birds on the estate. If no phesants can be easily found, take one of the breeding pheasants you’ll have cooped up in a squalid shed and kill it instead. Have butler set table and ring bell when dinner is ready.

I hope that will help all the lazy miscreants who have been using those food banks. Merry Christmas Baroness Jenkins. If you’re out there, please do get in touch and I’ll take you to one of Aberdeen’s food banks and the Cyreneans so you can have a word in person with the culinary-challenged poor. I am sure they’d love a chance to chat with you and all.

But with all the commercialism, controversy, poor people and so on, we’re in danger of losing the real meaning of the holiday season.

Thankfully, NHS Grampian is on hand to remind us all why we celebrate. Having solved all of their problems in the boardroom, in the slightly dirty wards, their small economic woees and so on, they have given us a Christmas gift: they have put the Sex back into Sexmass. And with that, it’s time for some definitions.

The 12 Days of Sex-mas: (Modern Scottish NHS Noun) Video made to combine the obvious synergy of a Christian religious festival and safe sex.

Hark! I bring unto you great tidings of joy, etc. etc. NHS Grampian has decided that Christmas is the best vehicle for promoting safe sex. Why didn’t we think of this before? Joy to the World, a new sex ed video has come (as it were).

The P&J reported on this really cool, hip, seasonal video.

“”Inspired by the “necknominations” that dominated the internet earlier this year, NHS Grampian has taken to social media to raise awareness of sexual health.

“In a video rendering a rewrite of the traditional festive anthem, Twelve Days of Christmas, staff from sexual health clinics in Aberdeen have tried promote safe sex in a modern way. Penny Gillies, health improvement practitioner, said:

“We wanted to pass on the message in a fun way without being preachy.

“At this time of year it’s important to remember your sexual health and if you think you may be at risk you should seek advice.

“It’s not scary and all our staff are really friendly.” “

Old Susannah doesn’t actually see the link clearly between ‘necknominations’ and this tasteful, high-class video, but there you go. The video is nearly as cool as ‘necknominations’ and no doubt the kids will be down with this, man. You can tell right away from the quote from Gillies that this won’t at all be a patronising dumbed-down video at all.

Wondering whether or not there would be similar sex videos made for Jewish, Muslim and/or other faiths, NHS Grampian was asked to give further information. Questions about cost, whose decision it was to make this brilliant film, whether or not the NHS management thought that hijacking the holiday and replacing ‘Christ’ with ‘sex’ was a sensitive thing to do, etc. were submitted. Alas!

As Aberdeen Voice is only a blog, and not a classy, established newspaper, the NHS decided that it was smarter not to answer right away, but to make us wait 30+ days. Mind you, some of the wider press (not to mention some religious types) became interested, and eventually an NHS spokeswoman wrote back to me to say:

“The video has been incredibly well received and has generated a lot of postive feedback from both the public and the media alike.  It has been viewed well in excess of 5000 times so far. No complaints have been made. The video cost nothing to produce.”

That no one put their head above the parapet to complain may be related to the fact people don’t want the NHS angry at them. It is a marvel though that the NHS, where a Band-Aid can cost in excess of ten quid to supply and apply, can make a video with no cost. No materials, no staff time, no props and no processing were required. Now that’s what I call a Christmas – sorry – Sexmas – miracle.

Christmas sales: (English compound noun) – marketing based around the winter holiday season to increase profits.

Ever notice how the sales start earlier and earlier? Me neither. But let’s not forget that the NHS – the same people who brought us the 12 days of Sexmas – have been selling our patient data. Anonamised of course – so the data purchasers can’t tell who you are.

It’s just your postcode, age, medical history and funny cough that the pharmaceutical companies – and others – can buy.

And in the same way that Inspired promise that no one can ever match up your mobile phone number, image, time spent in a store and your credit card purchases from that time period to identify you, the NHS promises that no one will ever cross-reference your illness, age and post code to identify you. Yet another Christmas miracle.

But what we should remember is the generosity of NHS Grampian at this time of year: they decided not only to agree to selling our data – they were in full Christmas spirit when they literally gave our personal medical histories away.

By leaving confidential files in supermarkets, they’ve really made it easy to pick up a quick Christmas present. It’s good to know that despite a few minor concerns – patient welfare suffering, locum doctor bills going through the roof and so on, there is still time to leave presents around for people to find.

Before leaving the happy subject of NHS Grampian, let’s spend a moment considering Malcolm Loudon, the whistle blower who has left his post.

For some reason, Mr Loudon thought that the many problems within our local NHS were severe. I guess clean wards, morale, errors and administration problems are the kind of minor details nit-pickers like Loudon think need attention. Now if he’d only help make the SeXXXmas video or something, he’d have been a happier man.

I hope that whistle-blowers like Loudon eventually get everything they deserve. And that goes double for those who persecute people like him. Let’s forget all this nonsense about patient confidentiality, dirty instruments, malpractice and so on. After all, we can watch a funny video instead! Result!

Oil Summit: (Modern Aberdonian Noun) – A plan by Aberdeen City Council to save the world’s oil industry.

More Christmas miracles! Aberdeen City Council will hold an oil summit! This will be summit else!

With Aberdeen city council lending its expertise to the oil price/employment crisis, a permanent solution is immanent. Expect crowd barriers to be erected around oil companies for starters. We can take the brilliant idea used on George Street’s closed down shops where we put up giant posters in the windows to make it look from far away as if it’s business as usual.

If we hang giant posters around any shut oil rigs or companies like we do elsewhere to make it look as if things are still running, that’s half the battle I’m sure.

Hopefully we’ll deploy a flotilla of fluroescent tabard wearing security guards to each oil company for health and safety. Perhaps we should outsource running of the oil industry to Inspired? After all, it’s amazing what a bit of bunting can do. Then again, the salary-rising policies apparently used by a certain Bid/Inspired bigwig to give her husband a pay rise might just work for our offshore energy industry as well.

And there we leave it for now. A happy 2015 to all; may your days be merry, bright, connected, vibrant, dynamic, smart and successful. And mind the crowd barriers.

On a personal note

This has been an interesting year; there have been disappointments such has having to battle and wait ages for information requests to come through.

The police don’t have to tell me anything more about the raid on George Copeland’s flat for instance – on a technicality I should have got right. The good news is that the police complaints commission have questions about how an empty flat was surrounded, eventually searched, and a man with health issues treated like a terrorist. The police will soon have to answer (I hope) questions on some other issues – more as and when.

I was honoured to have been of some small help to Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney; thanks gentlemen for giving me a film credit. Here’s to them, the Menie residents, Tripping Up Trump and its supporters for standing up with dignity. Alex Salmond continues to refuse to visit the estate and see what his support of Trump has actually done.

Don’t worry though, other people in positions of power are very keen to come. For me though the best two stories I worked on are ones that won’t be published because after a little investigation, there were happy outcomes. Things like that make my day. I wish everyone a great New Year, and all I can say is Bring It On.

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Sep 062013

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryTally Ho! It’s been such a pleasant summer in the Deen, and there is no sign yet of the great weather retreating. The Braemar Games are set for this weekend, and it should be another great year for these particularly enjoyable games.

Thanks this week to the brilliant team at Swan Vets for dealing with my ailing cat; they are compassionate, efficient, benevolent and plain speaking.  As such, they are unique in almost any field of endeavour. If only we had more people like this in the public sector (or printed press).  If only everyone respected animals as much.

For instance, things are as bad as it gets for any cetacean life near to Taji Cove, Japan – the Japanese have started their annual slaughter and hunt of these intelligent, family-orientated animals. 

We now know that dolphins communicate on a very sophisticated level; they have identifiable names for individual animals in their pod.

The Japanese however want to slowly butcher these animals (you don’t want to know how slow and painful their death is) – or worse, after being weakened and starved, some are flown (courtesy of Japan Air Lines or China Air) to aquariums around the world. Against this backdrop of unnecessary violence and sadism, India has stood up and passed new legislation against the slaughter and transport of dolphins.

This was an important and bold step; cetacean charities and experts around the world applaud this move. More information here http://www.wdcs.org/

Closer to home, the badger cull continues; science is again thrown out the window, just as it was with the ‘contiguous cull’ which saw millions of livestock destroyed, now admittedly a horrific, unnecessary act of a desperate government.

As pointed out, vaccines were an option; American technology could have seen portable diagnostic equipment used.  Instead, we had massive bonfires and animals often destroyed inhumanely, and completely unnecessarily. http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/news-analysis/foot-and-mouth-10-years-on-culling-was-pure-madness/37404.article

We need to re-examine how DEFRA and other animal/environmental agencies always leap to culling as the solution when vaccination and other remedies to animal-related problems exist and are possible.

There is a poisoning of a bird of prey being reported nearly daily now; endangered, rare species are being deliberately targeted. Given the plight of wild animals in the UK, you’d almost think a powerful pro-hunting/culling lobby existed that pressured these organisations from the outside and infiltrated them, working inside them to make pro-culling policy take precedence.

It must be very gratifying writing these endless pro-city garden project stories

But surely not. As long as you’re not a seal, a badger, an ailing cow which could have been inoculated, a bird of prey or any form of deer, this is a great island to be a wild animal. (I hope to get back to my series on ‘cull of the wild’ soon, but recent developments at Menie and UTG have kept me a touch busy).

It’s also been a confusing week, with free paper Metro reporting a decrease in support for the ‘YES’ campaign, and our very own Evening Express claiming the reverse.  It’s almost as if you can’t believe what you believe in some papers sometimes.

The EE’s chief reporter David Ewen went on an investigative journalism binge this week. He’s broken the story that John Michie, owner of avant-garde chemist Michie’s on Union Street wants to build in the garden. Hard to believe that Michie has come down in favour of such an act; after all there was barely any sign of enthusiasm from him for the previous proposals (except for the frothing at the mouth).

More on this altruistic Aberdeen Journals Ltd. campaign to ‘mend our broken heart’ (ie building something in UTG) shortly.  With his command of economics, city planning, environmental issues and surgical spirit, we’re as good as saved now. He’s of course been on ACSEF for years, a fact that the EE neglected for some reason.

It must be very gratifying writing these endless pro-city garden project stories; I do wonder whether the editor subtly suggests them to his reporters, or if they all clamber to be the one chosen to write more pro web prose. More on that in a moment.

Finally, that poor Mr Cameron hasn’t managed to convince his own MPs let alone Parliament that the best way to help the Syrian people is with airstrikes. In fact there was open hostility when the idea of intervention went to the vote. You could be forgiven for wondering if the LibDem / Conservative coalition has a few stress fractures. But don’t worry, the ever-strategic Ken Clark is coming to Cameron’s rescue.

So, nice weather and nice veterinarians aside, perhaps it is time for some definitions with that.

Military Action: (Mod Eng. compound noun) Waging battle, physical intervention in a problem. (Clearly not waging war of course)

That poor Mr Cameron; he’s going to start wondering who is friends are. All he wanted was a bit of support in the House of Commons from his fellow Torys to help the Syrian people – with a little bit of military action.

Children in Syria are being tortured, starved, orphaned, and recently burnt to death in a school. Old Susannah would love to tell you how this amounts to a ‘civil’ war, or indeed what wars have ever been civil. Over a million people have been made homeless; unknown numbers have been killed, tortured, disappeared.

Clearly what we need to do is bomb them.

Some weak-livered hippies think we need to be sending medical aid, shelter, food, rescuing people and working round the clock for a diplomatic end to this civil war. How disappointing that some of this ilk seem to have got into the House.

Poor Cameron must have been feeling down as dozens of his own MPs voted against him. Luckily, that nice Mr Clarke as come to the rescue. He’s said Cameron was only doing what the Americans wanted him to do by raising the vote.

“Mr Clarke, the Minister Without Portfolio, has disclosed that the Americans “wanted us to make this vote very quickly”. He said that the Government “did not have time” to ensure that it had enough support from MPs to win the vote. “

 Well, the coalition may have lost control of the House, but thankfully, the Americans are still setting the House’s agenda. Phew. For anyone who thinks blankets rather than bombing is the answer (with food and medicine thrown in), more info here. http://www.redcross.org.uk/syriacrisis

Broken Heart Campaign: (modern Aberdonian media propaganda phrase) To make everyone in Aberdeen happy by building something – anything in UTG.

When all is dark, when you can’t get a good VAT deal on regenerating brown field sites (which we have just a few of in central Aberdeen), when billionaires aren’t getting their way by commandeering common good land  for their cronies to manage, who ya gonna call? Evening Express!

Using all of its muscle without a thought of trying to sell more papers or keep its advertisers happy, Damian Bates’ organ is going to mend our broken heart! I didn’t know we had one, but there you go. Shops will fill up – we just have to build in the garden.

Perhaps a train stop makes some kind of sense for accessibility obsessives, but then again, if wheelchair users can get in the gardens now, what is the point.

When we have some specific actual architectural drawings, we can see what they’re on about. These, unlike those pretty web drawings, will show any safety features, HVAC details, and any underground structures (which will be opposed if they alter the park). However much cheerleading Wood, Michie and their pals do, there are just a few minor obstacles to consider.

There will be adherence to EU and UK procurement procedures. Aberdeen City Gardens Trust is not going to automatically get control of so much as a blade of grass: the whole thing is going out to tender (architecturally too, Halliday Fraser  Munro take note).

There will be environmental impact studies. There will be a public design vote with completely transparent results, which will include the chance to vote for improving the gardens, not building in them.

There is a difference between mending a broken heart and fixing something that’s not broken

There will be, unlike the lovely web, something called a project. A project, for the benefit of any ACSEF members still reading, requires a defined scope of the work to be carried out, a timescale for the work, and (sorry ACSEF) a detailed budget which will be adhered to.

There will be no further expenditure by ACSEF or any other quango on propaganda (we spent £125 or so on a photo ‘showing the gardens are inaccessible’ just for openers) and no more public money doled out to consultants (if you want to know more about the half million pounds of public money swallowed so far for this proposed land grab – sorry heart-mending project – is, have a look at  https://aberdeenvoice.com/2012/02/the-great-city-gardens-project-gravy-train/ )

The moral authority of the Evening Express is beyond reproach – or is that beyond the pale? Considering Mrs Bates makes her money from the much trumpeted Trump course which the EE and P&J are always happy to talk up, you have to wonder. Perhaps there is a Bates uncle or auntie on ACSEF? Is it the advertising revenues and the dwindling circulation rate that’s behind this heart propaganda?

I think we should be told (but we won’t be).

There is a difference between mending a broken heart and fixing something that’s not broken. Lower the business rates, start some initiatives to give our talented fashion, craft and arts students and practitioners empty store space to regenerate the town centre, stop building new stores (the mall didn’t exactly help the high street, and a first year economic student could have told us that).

But we need that green space, and what’s more we own it. We don’t need Smith managing it for us. Regenerate the brown field and in so doing stop the urban sprawl.  No open heart surgery required.

One way or the other, EE involvement, ACSEF involvement or not – there is going to be no more cronyism, no more secrecy and no more propaganda. And that’s a shame for a few people. Sorry.

Well, if they’re going to continue with the monomania, so must I.

Next week:  more on recent Trump-related developments, possibly some city of culture bid skulduggery uncovered too…

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