Oct 132017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

Organisers of Nuart Aberdeen have made a ‘call for walls’ to identify city centre sites for new street art murals to be developed when the festival returns in 2018.
The international award-winning festival made its debut earlier this year and a team of globally acclaimed artists showcased their talents by producing powerful murals attracting large crowds over the Easter weekend.

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

In anticipation of the festival returning next year, work is already underway to find prospective new walls to use next year and the festival project team are keen to hear from property owners and business that would like to be involved.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We had an overwhelmingly positive response to the Nuart Aberdeen festival and it has been truly transformational, attracting significant footfall over the summer months. 

“We are delighted that the festival will be coming back and the festival team has started work to identify prospective new walls in the city centre for street artists to use next year. I’d encourage property owners and businesses in the city centre who would like to be considered to contact us.

“Already we have noted interest from city centre businesses, however we want to maximise this opportunity to shape Nuart Aberdeen 2018.”

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

Martyn Reed, director and curator of Nuart, said:

“The artists, team and partners had an incredible first year in Aberdeen, a truly remarkable event that we took a lot of credit and accolades for alongside our partners, Aberdeen Inspired.

“It’s always a little humbling taking credit for Nuart, because the reality is, the event is a huge collaborative undertaking between so many different talented and passionate individuals and partners. This is where our ‘call for walls’ comes in. It’s a truly democratic way to have the public and local businesses involved in where the art might be placed.

“We can’t wait to see what comes in and to get feedback from artists who will be with us next year. We’ll be in town shortly to scout locations, and the more options we get the better.”

Shaun Hose, Assistant Director of Rockspring, which owns Aberdeen Indoor Market, which was the centrepiece of the inaugural festival has encouraged property owners to come forward.

He said:

“Rockspring have been fortunate enough to work with Nuart on three artworks which exceeded our expectations. The art is now an integral part of the Indoor Market space overlooking The Green and the trendy Merchant Quarter.

“We are proud to have worked with Aberdeen Inspired and Nuart by providing them with a canvass to enhance the urban landscape and breathe life back into our building.

“We and the stakeholders of the Merchant Quarter have benefited from Nuart Aberdeen and look forward to working with them again on other projects whilst continue to invest in Aberdeen.”

The call for walls comes as discussions with Aberdeen City Council are ongoing to secure Nuart Aberdeen for the future.

Councillor Jenny Laing, Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader, said,

“Aberdeen City Council was both proud and delighted to be the joint delivery partner for Nuart Aberdeen this year.

“The festival showed the very best of the Granite City and this is reinforced by the overwhelming response to the festival by residents and visitors alike. It is therefore right that discussions with partners are continuing as to how the council can best support this very special festival going forward.”

Walls must be in a good condition for paining and interested parties should contact the Nuart Aberdeen project team via: 01224 566291 or email: callforwalls@aberdeeninspired.com

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.

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

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Aug 252017
 

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

Aberdeen’s performance swimming team is celebrating after an impressive end of season medal haul, leading to 14 swimmers being called onto national squads.
The University of Aberdeen Performance Swimming (UOAPS), led by Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Games coach Patrick Miley, is a partnership between Aberdeen Sports Village, Aberdeen City Council, Scottish Swimming and the University of Aberdeen and seven of the city’s swimming clubs.

The ambitious programme, which was established to build on the city’s previous success with David Carry, Robbie Renwick and Hannah Miley, has seen early results, with swimmers bringing home an unprecedented collection of 12 medals at this year’s British Summer Championships.

In previous years, only a few swimmers from Aberdeen have qualified to be invited to the important end of season event, which invites swimmers ranked in the top 24 in their event. However, in July, 30 athletes from UOAPS headed to Sheffield.  The successful squad included swimmers as young as 13, with an impressive podium display of three golds, three silvers, and six bronze medals.

Rosie Morgan, 14, of Aberdeen won her first gold medal at the UK-wide competition, while fellow Aberdonian, Gaia Alcaras, 15, took home one gold, one silver and one bronze medal. 

As a result of this season’s success, 14 swimmers from Aberdeen have been invited to join the Scottish national squads, which will result in additional training and support for the potential champions.

Joining the 2017/18 Scottish national squad, which was announced this week, will be UOAPS swimmers Orla Adams, Fraser Agnew, Gaia Alcaras, Andrew Arthur, Thomas Beeley, Caroline McIntosh, Hannah Miley, Rosie Morgan, Connor Morrison, Yasmin Perry, Rebecca Reid, Anya Slessor, Jessica Thomson and Cameron Travis.

Mr Miley said:

“After just a few months, we have seen a tremendous change in the swimmers, resulting in much deserved medal wins. Taking 30 swimmers along to the championships for the first time made a real difference, as we had a fantastic team spirit, which really adds to the confidence of each individual performer.

“The swimmers have been training really hard, and everyone could feel the confidence growing with each new Aberdeen medal in Sheffield. We have been working on detailed training programmes, with every swimmer dedicating themselves to improving their performance. We have focused on a culture of success, and it was wonderful to see the results of our hard work on the podium at one of the most important meets in the country.”

Duncan Sinclair, CEO for ASV, said:

“The UOAPS programme has high ambitions, and it is working. Aberdeen was very well represented in Sheffield, and the outstanding medal haul is something to be proud of. Having a group of people dedicated to developing the very best athletes is a real benefit to the city and we hope to see this success continue into the next season.

“The aim of UOAPS is to produce the best, and with 14 young people representing Aberdeen in the Scottish national squads, and look forward to competing at Commonwealth and Olympic level, the programme is more than meeting its objectives.”

Councillor Jenny Laing, leader of Aberdeen City Council, said:

“Aberdeen City Council has made a significant investment in high performance swimming to help ensure that elite talent stays and is nurtured within the city. It is hugely encouraging to see that investment paying off at such an early stage with the team’s successful performance at the British Summer Championships. I am sure that this is just the beginning  of what we and our partners hope will be an amazing success story in establishing Aberdeen as a major centre for elite swimming.”

University of Aberdeen Principal, Professor Sir Ian Diamond, said:

“The team’s performance at the British Summer Championships demonstrates the level of talent we are developing here in Aberdeen as part of this ambitious programme.

“Their impressive medal tally is not only a testament to the swimmers themselves, but to the dedicated coaching staff headed by Patrick Miley.  On this form I expect the team to enjoy continued success, and I wish them all the best for the season ahead.”

Medal winners:

Gaia Alcaras, 15, gold, women’s open 400m IM; silver, women’s open 200m IM; bronze, women’s open 100m butterfly
Orla Adams, 22, bronze, women’s open 400m IM; bronze, women’s open 200m breaststroke
Kirsty Simpson, 21, silver, women’s open 100m backstroke
Thomas Beeley, 18, gold, men’s open 200m butterfly; bronze, men’s open 100m butterfly
Yasmin Perry, 16, bronze, women’s open 50m butterfly (16 yrs)
Connor Morrison, 20, silver, men’s MC 100m breaststroke
Aberdeen Performance A team, bronze, women’s 17 years/over 4 x 200m free team
Rosie Morgan, 14, gold, women’s open 100m free

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Jul 142017
 

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

Aberdeen athletics coaches gathered at a leading sports facility this week to celebrate the work of an early 20th century sporting official at a unique historical presentation.
Aberdeen Sports Village, based on Linksfield Road, held the opening ceremony in honour of the work of Andrew Ross Scott (A R Scott), a former Scottish Athletics judge.

Mr Scott’s great grandson, Andrew Walker, visited Aberdeen Sports Village with his wife, Hilary, to see the display featuring A R Scott’s original timepiece, a unique athletics record book, and the medal awarded to Mr Scott by Queen Alexandra, at the 1908 Olympic Games in London.

Mr Scott was a Scottish Athletics official for over 15 years, taking on the role of president of the organisation in 1903. The Summer Olympics of 1908 was to take place in Rome, but due to an eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the venue was changed to London, with each of the UK nation’s supplying officials.

The final of the 400m was declared void due to elbowing, and the final was rerun with only one runner, after the other athletes refused to take part. Wyndham Halswelle, a Scot, ran the race to win gold, becoming the only athlete ever to win an Olympic gold medal by a walker. A Ross Scott was one of the judges for the rerun.

Mr Walker was given his great grandfather’s memorabilia by his mother, and approached a current Scottish Athletics coach, Alex McGregor to find the best way to display the unique pieces. Mr McGregor decided to approach ASV, having run on the original Linksfield Stadium ash track as a boy over 60 years ago.

Several seasoned officials from Aberdeen Athletics Club met Mr Walker to hear the unusual story, which is now on display in a specially produced pod at ASV.

Duncan Sinclair, CEO ASV, said: 

“The story of A Ross Scott and Wyndham Halleswelle is unique, and so we are delighted to display the beautiful timepiece, book and medal at our facility. It is fascinating to hear about sporting endeavour from over one hundred years ago, and it was a great pleasure to meet with so many experienced judges and coaches who came to welcome Mr Walker to Aberdeen.”

Mr Walker commented:

“The display pod is everything I could have wished for. My mother and my great grandfather would be very proud to be part of this tremendous facility, encouraging young people to achieve their best.”

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Jul 032017
 

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

One of Scotland’s top swimming coaches is to head up a new high performance swimming team in Aberdeen, aiming to produce medal-winning swimmers. Patrick Miley, father and coach of Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Hannah Miley, will train elite swimmers for the newly formed University of Aberdeen Performance Swimming programme.

UOAPS is a new partnership between the Aberdeen Sports Village, Aberdeen City Council, Scottish Swimming, the University of Aberdeen and seven of the city’s swimming clubs.

The programme has been established to grow on the rich crop of swimming talent to have emerged from the north-east in recent years, including Hannah Miley, David Carry and Robbie Renwick.

Swimmers across the city will try out to join Team Aberdeen, training with Mr Miley and his team at the Aberdeen Sports Village Aquatics Centre, in order to form the elite UOAPS competition squad.

Mr Miley said:

“With the financial investment and commitment from our partners we have an incredibly exciting opportunity to develop a strong performance pathway for swimming in the north-east.

“Our aim is to build a world-class performance swimming programme, and I am confident we have the backing, the will and the talent to succeed.”

University of Aberdeen Principal, Professor Sir Ian Diamond, said:

“As a University we are committed to helping our student athletes reach their full potential, both academically and in their chosen sport. 

“The University of Aberdeen Performance Swimming programme is yet another example of how we are working alongside our partners to bring through the next generation of world-class athletes, right here in Aberdeen.” 

Duncan Sinclair, chief executive of Aberdeen Sports Village, said:

“In the past, our home grown swimming talent had to move to the central belt or an English University to advance their swimming careers. 

“However, the city now has an Olympic standard Aquatics Centre at Aberdeen Sports Village, and with this new performance programme, Aberdeen offers a real alternative and opportunity to our local athletes. 

“ASV is now classed as a Performance Centre by Scottish Swimming, in recognition of the excellent level of facilities and training we provide.

“Our aim is for Aberdeen to be seen as a world class destination for performance swimming, which will retain our best swimmers in the north-east, and attract athletes to study, live and compete here.”

Aberdeen City Council’s education and children’s services committee convener, Councillor John Wheeler, said:

“By working in partnership, we created the state-of-the-art Aberdeen Sports Village including a world-class aquatics centre, with its 50m pool, to give local people the opportunity to participate in swimming and water sports, to maximise the social, educational and physical opportunities for everyone in the city. 

“The launch of the University of Aberdeen Performance Swimming programme and the recruitment of Commonwealth Games coach Patrick Miley, highlight that, by working together, we are creating opportunities for local elite swimmers. 

Instead of having to travel great distances, or move away entirely to get access to the best facilities and coaching, they will be able to try out for a place on Team Aberdeen. By providing these opportunities we will be able to nurture future swimming sensations who will represent Aberdeen, the north-east, Scotland and the UK.”

Ally Whike, performance director of Scottish Swimming, said:

“This programme has been established through the hard work of the University of Aberdeen, local clubs, Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeen Sport and Leisure, highlighting the importance that a strong partnership approach brings to delivering high performing environments.

“Scottish Swimming looks forward to the continued development of the programme, and its positive impact in taking swimmers through the pathway and onwards to international level.”

May 192017
 

Duncan Sinclair, ASV CEO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Duncan Sinclair, ASV CEO, said:

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

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

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

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

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

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Apr 202017
 

With thanks to Aberdeen/Shire Greens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Renée said,

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

Links:

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

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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 232016
 

With thanks to Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Aberdeen Branch.

In a victory for free speech and democracy, December 14th saw a significant defeat for forces attempting to silence criticism of Israel , as a motion raised by Councillors Greig and Boulton of Aberdeen City Council was debated at a meeting of the full Council.
At first viewing, the motion had much to commend it, roundly condemning racism and xenophobia and calling for tolerance and diversity in the city.

However, on a more thorough reading, aspects of the text raised concerns with a number of individuals and organisations, who recognised the potential for the motion – if passed unamended – to actively lead to suppression of freedom of speech and political protest.

The concerning points stated that (author’s emphasis):

“That this Council..
3. Believes that the best way to promote peace and harmony in the world is to build cultural, academic and economic bridges.
4. Rejects any attempt to drive individuals, families and legitimate businesses away from Aberdeen on grounds of race, religion or country of origin and condemns any organisation that pursues such a policy.”

Any person of conscience who was involved in the international campaign of boycott against apartheid South Africa, or the current campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, will recognise the danger inherent in those innocuous-looking paragraphs – indeed, if passed in the 1980’s, the motion would have put the Council not only in a position opposing the international boycott campaign against the South African apartheid regime, but also actively condemning any organisation who did!

These concerns were proved well-founded when the joint proposers of the motion were quoted in the press, directly linking the motion to current BDS activity in Aberdeen, specifically the ongoing campaign by SPSC Aberdeen Branch against Jericho Dead Sea Cosmetics’ stall in Union Square.

The councillors voiced vague unsubstantiated accusations of ‘anti-Semitism masked as anti-Israel sentiment’, a charge robustly challenged by Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell, who responded:

“We hope the city councillors will continue with the city council’s proud historical record of opposing racism and apartheid in South Africa and by also opposing the racist apartheid policy of the current Israeli government. Criticism of the crimes committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people is not being anti-Semitic.”

SPSC members contacted councillors ahead of the debate to voice their concerns over the motives behind the motion, i.e. the bid to stifle criticism of Israel and prevent legitimate protest.

The campaign to criminalise BDS activity and support for Palestinian rights is not new, but is relentlessly gathering pace, with Theresa May’s new definition of anti-Semitism the most recent threat to legitimate criticism of Israel, openly conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.

Fiona Napier from Aberdeen branch of SPSC said:

“The national boycott campaign against Jericho (targeted due to its exploitation of the Dead Sea, highly symbolic of the apartheid nature of the Israeli occupation) has been the subject of increasingly sinister attack from the pro-Israel lobby and their supporters.

“A malicious campaign of unfounded claims has seen SPSC activists in court on ‘racially aggravated’ charges, and the campaign here in Aberdeen has been subject to unwarranted constant police attention, due to a constant stream of ‘anonymous’ calls reporting alleged ‘hate crimes’. Despite this opposition, we have refused to be silenced, and it is clear from Cllrs Greig and Boulton’s remarks that this motion is being used as yet another attempt to shut us down.”

Aberdeen Trades Union Council (ATUC) responded to the motion via a robust statement sent to all councillors before the debate, pointing out:

“The councillors putting forward the motion have been clever with their words, but if passed, we are concerned that this motion will put the City Council and its councillors in direct opposition to legitimate human rights campaign groups that are supported by many local individuals and organisations – and we presume many councillors too. Given the recent press comments from Cllr Greig, the motion is clearly directed at opposing such human rights groups and the ATUC as well.”

On the day of the Council meeting, an amendment to remove the two controversial paragraphs was tabled and following a vigorous debate, was passed overwhelming by 32 votes to 9.

During the debate, numerous speakers paid tribute to Aberdeen’s proud record of opposing apartheid and oppressive states, and urged colleagues not to allow that record to be compromised. Councillors recalled Aberdeen’s contribution towards fighting fascism in the Spanish civil war and the city’s active opposition to apartheid South Africa, and there were repeated calls to resist any attempt to stifle the right of individuals to speak out against injustice and oppression.

The amended motion which finally passed is certainly one that Aberdeen City Council can be proud of – one that celebrates diversity and tolerance and condemns racism and intolerance, but in no way attempts to curtail the right to lawful, legitimate protest. SPSC congratulates the Council on this principled position, and encourages others to take courage from this resounding defeat of the pro-Israel lobby in its attempt to subvert local democracy.

SPSC Aberdeen Branch
15 December 2016
aberdeen@scottishpsc.org.uk

7 minute video of highlights from Aberdeen City Council debate Wed 14 Dec 2016

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