Dec 232017
 

This is an attempt at satire. Any resemblance to a person living, dead or somewhere in between; competent or wholly incompetent; greedy or otherwise is purely and yugely coincidental. By Suzanne Kelly.

It was a cold November rain that fell on the glistening, gleaming, sparkly, shiny granite stone of the Granite City.

The rain even dared to fall on the city council’s Town House and Marischal College.

Inside said Town House, a vulnerable Willie Wonky was clearing out his desk. It was late at night and unusually he felt tired and emotional.

And indeed angry – too angry even to throw out a few enlightening tweets to his many admirers – though being agitated had never stopped him before.

“It was only a fence, a wall, pathways…” Willie thought to himself; he was feeling rather hard done by.

“What about everything Dean for instance got away with?”

He had been forced from his office and his post on the City Council unceremoniously.

He felt that the science-based evidence against him was insignificant – after all, there was Pete Leonard, the man responsible for the crematorium scandal, and on a lesser note, he had formally reported that the Tullos Hill deer should be wiped out to create a forest – cost neutral no less – when he already had a letter telling him it wasn’t possible to have a forest on the hill, a former rubbish-tip.

The man was soundly hated by 99.9% of his staff – yet got months of gardening leave with full pay and a golden parachute.

“If only the public knew how much we gave Leonard.” Wonky muttered to himself.

He opened his desk and began taking out the files, deciding which to keep and which to leave behind – or destroy.

‘City Garden Project’ was by far the largest folder in his desk.

“Humpf” Wonky thought

“What a load of old cobblers. F me that was a stupid idea – ramps going up to a steep height only to descend to the other side. So much for the excuse of ‘accessibility’ being the reason to turn the gardens into a parking lot with astroturf. You’d have to be a mountain goat to get up or down those f-ing arches. So much for anyone in a wheelchair.

“Anne Begg easily accessed the gardens as they are . The idea of spending £180 million on this drivel and expecting people to fly in from all over the world to walk up and down a ramp or sit in an outdoor theatre – an outdoor theatre no less – to shop at Next and Boots; old Ian Wood must have thought we were out of our minds.”

Willie pulled this thick file out of the drawer and unceremoniously heaved it on his desk.

Rifling through the file drawer was considerably easier with the bulk of the Union Terrace Gardens out of the way.

“Oh look, the Stewart Milne Stadium plan.” Willie snorted derisively.

This huge white elephant was going to be great for everyone, especially one Stewart Milne.

File after file Wonky pulled out of his desk, from cabinets; dust was flying. Outside the rain intensified and the wind howled.

With each passing file he found – ‘Tree for Every Citizen feasibility study’ (by the man who gained £100k if it went ahead), ‘Art Gallery renovation costings’ (a work of sheer fantasy Wonky thought to himself with a sneer), ‘Donald Trump impact study – benefits for Aberdeen City, by VisitScotland’, ‘Invitation to Trump’s doctorate celebration’; ‘Benefits for Torry of having a breaking yard and incinerator’ – dozens of reports, papers, invitations and so on were piling high on Wonky’s desk now.

The wind moaned louder and the windows rattled, but Willie ploughed on.

‘Gerry Brough – curriculum vitae and list of academic credentials’; Wonky laughed aloud as he found this file; Brough was the bully who shouted down all opposition to the Garden project and stopped the public having a vote on just fixing the gardens up.

“F this wind and rain.” Willie thought as he turned on his computer – well, it was still his for a day or maybe two, as he decided to have some Netflix and chill.

The computer warmed up, and the next thing Willie heard was an old familiar voice

“Ahn tae all me friends – comrades – I should say – This is Alex Salmond, welcoming you to another instalment of McRussian TV. Have I ever told ye about the time I was doon te Balmoral and was singing with Prince –“

“F that!” shouted Wonky at his computer and closed the tab for the Alex Salmond show,

“how the f did that get on my computer?”

He opened an new tab and waited for Amazon videos to load up; he swiped haphazardly at the screen and hit the Christmas movies button.

Willie unlatched the window; as rainy and windy as it was, he had unaccountably become clammy, hot and excitable.

When he crossed the room to return to his desk, he could see there was a big box still on top of the cabinet, a yuge box.

“F that, I’d better see what the F’s in that F-ing thing.” Willie said, his anger growing.

A random Christmas movie whirred into life on his laptop; ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ had started. He could hear it play in the background.

Pushing his swivel chair close to the cabinet, Willie stepped onto its seat, reached for the huge cardboard box high on the shelf and started to pull it towards him. At that moment several things happened all at once.

The wind suddenly gusted, blowing the windows wide opened. This caused the papers in the room and on his desk to spring to sudden life and swirl through the air.

“Waa F!” Willie thought as this sudden commotion caused him to lose his footing and the chair started to wheel away. Alas, he had not lost his grip on the giant box.

The box Willie had grabbed slid off the shelf, knocking him straight between the eyes, causing him to wince and howl in pain as he fell backwards. Then to cap things off, a long-forgotten trophy ‘Aberdeen – best employer in Scotland’ made of faux granite and cheap metal clonked Wonky straight on the head. Down and out he went.

#          #          #

A voice in Wonky’s head was saying: “Congratulations! You’re the final winner of the Aberdeen Art Gallery renovation lottery Golden Ticket contest!”

“What the F?” Willie thought, then he opened his eyes. He was in a vast crowd in front of the Aberdeen Art Gallery.

Crowds cheered. There was a podium on which were about 8 of the most ridiculous-looking people Willy had ever seen. The man who congratulated him was a tall, thin man of about 70.

The man, dressed in a top hat, tails and with a big bow tie kept speaking.

“I better cut down on my order” thought Wonky as he was helped to his feet.

The oddly dressed man was addressing the crowd:

“Friends, thank you for buying the 7 million Aberdeen Art Gallery refurbishment tickets in a single afternoon! We will have the art gallery back opened in no time – say 3 to 5 years! Result!”

The frenzied crowd roared with its approval.

The man fixed his top hat, adjusted his satin waistcoat, and continued:

“The art gallery lottery promised there would be six winners whose golden tickets would get them an amazing prize! More about that in a moment. We’ve raised £7 million pounds! Hooray us!”

The crowd cheered some more.

“We’re going to raise even more money through some – ah efficiencies! We’re going to stop the Youth Festival – that’ll save £100k! No more kids wandering around town in the summer! No need to thank me or your councillors!”

The crowd were delirious with joy.

“Back to the Art Gallery Golden ticket winners” said Ian Wood – for it was he,

“These lucky people are the winners who will get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to come inside Marischal College and see where all the great ideas you love are dreamed up!”

There was more cheering, as you’d expect.

“The final winner is Willie Wonky here, who won the final golden ticket when he bought his Art Gallery lottery ticket. He too has won this vibrant and dynamic look behind the scenes at Marischal.”

“The other winners are Donnie Trump from America, who loves watching television and playing with guns; He is with his lovely assistant and spokesperson Sarah Malone Bates!”

Again with the crowds cheering.

“We also have Professor Bill Ritchie, former Head of Housing Peter Leonard, and… Stewart Milne!”

The crowd was delirious by now with joy.

“And friends” continued Sir Ian, bowing and tipping his top hat,

“Before I take the lucky winners on the tour of the dream factory that is Marischal College, I just want you to know it is pure coincidence that most of the people who have won are friends of mine – but then again – who isn’t?”

The crowds cheered more furiously than ever, as the lucky winners – Donald Trump, Sarah Malone, Willie Wonky (who was still feeling groggy and confused), Professor Bill Ritchie, Peter Leonard and Stewart Milne all stepped away from the crowds and past the statue of Sir Robert The Bruce towards a revolving door which would lead into the magical Marischal College building, where the magic happens.

Willie looked at the statue. For an instant he thought the horse snorted and Sir Robert bowed his head to expose a tear, but the fancy lasted only a moment.

Here we are! All pack in now! And Sir Ian stepped into the revolving door.

The other guests did their best to cosy up to him.

“Easy Stewart, if you get any closer you’ll be behind me.” chuckled Sir Ian.

Willie didn’t see why they all had to crowd into the same section of the revolving door, but no one else complained; they just looked adoringly at Sir Ian.

“ARGH!” shouted Willie – “What the F-’”

“-No need to worry my boy, it’s just one of the Troompa Loompas who run Marischal College.” Smiled Sir Ian Wood.

“But it’s hideous! Why is its hair that colour and doesn’t it own a comb or a mirror! Why is its skin bright orange? Is it human?” said Willie, pointing

“That’s my reflection you’re pointing at pal.” Said Donnie Trump angrily

“I’ll be tweeting about this, mark my words!”

“No, that other hideous thing!” said Wonky, pointing to another orange skinned creature that looked only half human.

“Ah, that’s Valerie Watts, the old Chief Executive. She’s been stuck in this revolving door for years now, one executive appointment after another, going around in circles.” Said Sir Ian.

“Stick with me everyone, you’re on the ride of your lives!” Ian said, as the real Troompa Loompas, orange skinned minions with frizzy white hair started to make the revolving door spin faster and faster.

The revolving door was jam packed, the Troompa Loompa s made it go faster and faster.

Willie Wonky could see shapes as the revolving door spun round – there were flowers, birds, meadows of grass, gorse and birds. The elevator slowed, and out the occupants all spilled onto Tullos Hill.

A deer ambled past. A quick gunshot rang out, and the deer fell dead.

“Isn’t it beautiful?!” asked Sir Ian. Wonky looked at the dead deer, but noticed Ian was pointing at a parking lot by a new building.

“Wood House and its new parking lot!” Sir Ian sighed.

“I’d like to thank you Pete Leonard for helping me. Aside from the unfortunate crematorium debacle – which we won’t talk of .” Wonky said, noticing the obsequious yet bullying Leonard had coughed,

“if not for how you handled the Tullos situation, I might not have got that parking lot made.”

“I have to hand it to you Pete. You knew there was no chance of growing a ‘Tree for every Citizen’ forest on this hill – it’s a rubbish heap, and you were sent a letter proving it. But, on you went – and here’s the genius thing – you told everyone in a report it was – cost neutral! Brilliant!”

Everyone laughed and clapped. The deer made a further spasm. Gunshots echoed all around.

“Pete, I like your spirit. You not only got rid of these deer, the migration of which was also a stumbling block for other projects – more of that soon – but you let the land donated to the city fall into such disrepair that the private owners took it back. If there’s now coincidentally a parking lot I need for my beautiful new building, then I thank you.

“And all that money paid to the consultants – what was that guy’s name – Chris Piper? Then well done you” Sir Ian said pinching and shaking Peter’s cheek.

“I hope if any crumbs fell off that table, you swept them up Pete.”

As the group surveyed the parking lot, the now barren hill save for a few dying saplings in tiny tree guards, a group of the Troompa Loompas marched into the scene.

As the Troompa Loompas gathered the group together to go to the next destination, they broke into song.

Troompa Loompa doopity dee
If you are wise you’ll listen to me
If Ian Wood wants a new parking lot
Wildlife and habitat don’t matter a jot

Let the land he needs fall into disuse
So he can get it – use any excuse
Kill a few deer and ignore the public outcry
Peter Leonard, you’re our kind of guy

You lied to the public
You lied to the public
You can live in luxury too
Like Sir Ian and Helen doopity do.

As they were getting ready to leave the hill, Willie was sure he saw Sir Ian give Pete a bag marked ‘swag’. The deer’s tiny back leg gave its final twitch.

“And now if you’ll all pile onto this magic bus” said Sir Ian as the Troompa Loompas helped the guests get on a Number 3 Stagecoach.

All the while Willy Wonky felt something was wonky.

The next stop is Loirston Loch! Where I’ve got a surprise for my friend Stewart!

“Sir Ian,” asked Sarah Malone-Bates.

“That’s like great an’ all, like, but it will take ages in this traffic?”

She pointed to the gridlocked cars on Wellington Road.

“I have a nail appointment at 5, Botox at 8, then my colonic at….” She droned on

Willie started to ask whether the new Wood building with its full parking lot was a good idea for this already congested road (which was and still is one of Scotland’s most over-polluted Roads) but a Troompa Loompa shot him a dirty look.

“It will take us no time to get to Loirston, isn’t that right Stewart?” said Sir Ian with a wink.

The doughy, sweaty kitchen fitter Stewart Milne nodded emphatically:

“Yes, anything you say Sir Ian, you look wonderful today. Yes, that’s right. In my plan to build a new stadium on top of Loirston Loch, we told the public and the planners that you could get to Loirston Loch by bus from the centre of town when a football match was on in 15 minutes.”

“Fifteen minutes? It takes that longer than that to get to Torry as it is.” Willie thought as the last of the entourage climbed on the magic No. 3 bus which sped off and to Willie’s amazement flew through the air over the gridlocked cars.

Before the group knew it, the Troompa Loompas were helping them off the bus and out onto a construction site near a lake. Not a bird could be seen or heard amid the rising girders and hum of machinery.

“Well Stewart my dear friend” started Sir Ian

“We might not have got you that football stadium at Loirston you wanted – yet – but look at all these houses and businesses going up! More office space! Just what we need!”

Willie looked around, and noticed he was standing on a faded, splintered wooden sign that said: ‘The City of Aberdeen recognises the importance of Loirston Lake both to wildlife…. A first view of our city… agree it should never be built on…’

“But Sir Ian, er, don’t we already have a glut of office space? asked Willie Wonky, whose head was hurting and spinning now.

We can’t even fill the new Marischal Square, even though it does have a giant leopard statue in it?”

The looks of the rest of the assembly were of scorn and derision, but Sir Ian said:

“My boy, Willie – when I say ‘we’ need office space – I mean WE. The construction industry, Scottish Enterprise – we have to keep building stuff so we have work to do and can brag about new buildings.

“Then there’s all the – ah – associated benefits – consulting work, subcontracting… We definitely need this building. Who’s going to let a few threatened species of birds stand in our way?”

Everyone laughed and Willie smiled weakly.

Stewart Milne toddled forward, and hugged Sir Ian – although this amounted to hugging him by the waist given the height differential.

“I’ve got a wee something for you in your Swiss account Stewart, see you at the next ACSEF meeting after this tour’s over.” Said Sir Ian winking again

“You mean the next First meeting don’t you, Sir Ian; we changed the name and the logo – remember?” asked Stewart Milne?

“Whatever.” Said Sir Ian.

And the Troompa Loompas again broke out into song, which was beginning to wear thin thought Willie.

Troompa Loompa doopity doo
I have another conundrum for you
What good’s a loch and a birdie or two
When there’s money to be made for you-know-who?

If a bird can’t earn enough to feather its nest
Making it clear off is definitely best
More office space is what we all really need
A ‘Smart successful Scotland’ well, and maybe some greed

You can live in luxury too
Like Sir Ian and Helen doopity do.

The group were ushered awa from the lock, and Sarah humpfed as her 6” Jimmy Blahnik dolphin-hide heels sank into the grass.

A helicopter was waiting for them marked Scottish Enterprise

“All aboard, and I’ll show you places where Aberdeen city and Shire have made several dreams come true!” said a jubilant Sir Ian Wood

“Who’s the pilot?” asked Sarah, who looked a little green with envy at the tall blond woman.

“Everyone, this is Jennifer Claw.” Said Sir Ian with a wink to the pilot.

“She’s got a degree in nutrition and the cutest little dimples when she – ah – smiles. So, as she had a degree in nutrition or something, so I made her the head of Scottish Enterprise Grampian and put her on the board of my Wood Family Trust – is it holding £25 million now? I forget.”

“Jennifer’s also on the Robert Gordon University board – no need to thank me just now Jennie darling – and– look you can see it down there as we fly over!” said Sir Ian, distracting everyone away from Jennifer who had blown him a kiss by pointing out the sprawling campus

“And that’s the Sir Ian Wood building” he said as all the assembled marvelled and clapped.

Except for Willie. Willie was beginning to sense a link to all these Aberdeen City Council projects, and he wasn’t sure he liked it.

“So, where’s Lady Helen today Sir Ian?” Willie asked. You could have heard a pin drop.

“Ah, she’s off playing tennis; her ball control’s improved, and her strokes are decidedly better.” Sir Ian said as he mopped his brow with a hugely oversized hanky.

“We’re not going to stop in, but look over to your right as we fly up the Aberdeen Coast – that’s Torry and Nigg, near where we were at Tullos – isn’t it beautiful?”

Sir Ian gesticulated towards the coast south of the city centre which the copter was now flying over.

All Willy saw was a plume of smoke, lots of lorries, barbed wire and a huge construction project on the bay of Nigg.

“The people there are so lucky Aberdeen City and its Harbour Board helped come up with these huge improvements” said Sir Ian – “well, with a little help from Scottish Enterprise and ACSEF.”

Again all those aboard laughed and clapped.

“Hey, isn’t this the same helicopter youse guys paid me to fly in to the Menie Estate in when I came over looking for a place for a golf course?” asked Donnie Trump.

“The very same.” Sir Ian replied.

“The wonderful, important golf course at Menie, the wonderful, important cruise line for Torry – does everyone know who we have to thank for these developments?”

Professor Bill Ritchie gave his head a jaunty tilt and a little shake of false modesty.

“Oh, I’m just happy to help my friends Donnie and of course you Sir Ian.” The professor started,

“I was once on the board of the East Grampian Coastal partnership. I used to think we needed a public marina, wildlife habitat, and a place to educate young people for maritime careers. But (he said looking at Sir Ian) I changed my way of thinking.

“I was proud to be helpful to you too Donnie when you wanted your golf course. I said it was easy to build 900 homes, a hotel, 2 golf courses and a country club – as well as living quarters for the lackeys – without harming the environment or the protected sites. I’m so happy to have been proven right.”

Professor Ritchie’s chest puffed out, he was filled with self-satisfied pride and almost everyone on the chopper applauded him.

“F me not another F-ing song” thought Willie as those Troompy looking hobbits geared up for another verse.

Troompa Loompa doopity da
If you’ve no scruples you’re sure to go fa
What does an expert get whose opinions for hire?
Consultancy cash from SE, ACSEF and Aspire

Using his titles to feather his nest
Swearing to everyone that he knows best
Just don’t talk to reporters
Don’t talk to reporters

You can live in luxury too
Like Sir Ian and Helen doopity do.

Willie Wonky was starting to get fed up with his golden ticket tour of all the magical things Aberdeen City was making happen. And that bloody singing.

Willie asked:

“Professor, weren’t you supposed to lead an environmental monitoring group with Sarah to protect wildlife, and isn’t it true that since the monitoring fell apart you won’t answer any questions from the press about your role?”

He immediately sensed he had overstepped the mark with this question; for a moment a shadow passed Sir Ian’s face and Sarah wrinkled her expensive nose. The professor scurried away and didn’t say a word for the rest of the trip. Donnie was turning blue in the face.

Sarah spoke.

“Oh, we did that, but it was too cold for me to go outside in my Prada, and besides, it’s the world’s greatest golf course on the world’s largest sand dunes.”

At her words Donnie Trump calmed down a bit, his face returning to its orange hue.

“Sarah’s right” started Sir Ian;

“She’s smart as a whip. Why everything’s fine and just how we want it. Sarah’s so smart I had one of my little groups invite her to give a talk, isn’t that right honey?” he asked her.

“Sure, it was fun too,” Sarah Malone-Bates said, “I got to give a talk called “’The Bigger the Vision, the Bigger the Opposition,” and the event – held at the Sir Ian Wood building of course at RGU where Woody – I mean Sir Ian – runs things. I must thank whoever wrote that speech for me sometime.”

Sarah continued to list her accomplishments, how she was whisked out of the Gordon Highlanders Museum to be Trump’s first ever Scottish Executive Vice President, how good she was at moisturising and accessorising, and how much her husband, coincidentally who used to edit the local newspaper, loved her [surely some mistake? – editor].

Willie audibly groaned as the Troompa Loompas circled Sarah Malone, whose shoulder pads were a marvel to behold, as he knew another song was coming; he felt he was going to be sick.

Troompa Loompa doopity de
I have another puzzle for ye
What’s more important than designer clothes,
Having the right hair and a beautiful nose?

Attracting the right man, obviously
Especially if that man has lots of money
She’s the Face of Aberdeen
She’s the Face of Aberdeen

What do you get when you tell lots of lies
If you are Sarah then you get a pay rise
Trading your looks in for cash is her solution
So what if other people think it’s prostitution?

(Sarah’s a Vice President)

You can live in luxury too
Like Sir Ian and Helen doopity do.

Willie Wonky’s brain was putting together all the puzzle pieces from the day, and was starting not to like the picture they were forming.

But on the copter flew, and just before they started to land on a helipad with a giant letter T, Donnie Trump exclaimed:

“There they are, the world’s largest sand dunes! I even made a plaque, didn’t we Sarah Malone honey, to say so! Biggest! Bestest! Yugest!”

A tumbleweed blew past as the rotor blades slowed, and out the lucky Aberdeen Art Gallery golden ticket winners scrambled into the freezing air.

“Anyone for 18 holes?” bellowed Donnie in the freezing winds as the rest of the group ran for the shelter of the clubhouse.

Once inside this building on an empty parking lot, Sarah snapped her fingers, and waiters and waitresses appeared with bottles of whisky and glasses.

“Trump whisky – £50 a glass or £500 for a bottle. £250 a bottle if signed by Donnie.” She hawked.

“Later Sarah Dear” said Sir Ian, adjusting his top hat and billowy bow tie.

“No one’s here, aren’t there supposed to be golfers – what’s going on?” asked Willie; everyone smiled at him.

The room started to spin as he sipped one of those whiskies.

“We don’t want anyone here.” said Sir Ian quietly, the others faces started to look mean and contorted.

Willie Wonky stumbled and fell into a chair – a chair with a big Donald Trump crest on it. The other winners, the Troompa Loompas leaned in closer.

Willie felt quite ill now, as these ghastly, grotesque faces sneered at him and laughed. Sir Ian spoke.

“We don’t want anyone here; never did. Another few years of tax write offs in the USA for Trump – if he doesn’t get impeached or jailed yet – no offence Donnie, but you’re not quite as subtle as you should be sometimes – and then it’ll be sold off. Donnie – we’ll talk about that international charity US tax break later.

“It will go to housing – we’ll all see to that. And what housing developer is favoured in this neck of the woods? That would be my good friend Stewart Milne.

“And what organisation would get involved with such a huge or if you will ‘yuge’ undertaking? Why Scottish Enterprise of course. I may have retired, but after decades as head of the thing, don’t you think I still have my claws still in it one way or the other?

“Think of the construction jobs, the consultancies, the money to be made. And Willie, the granite web is making a comeback; do you think I give up that easily? And when the idea was being promoted so hard, ask yourself two questions – who stood to benefit is one.

“Stewart owned the adjacent Triple Kirks, and he needed parking; we could have got that for him, but it’s not all over yet. The other thing to ask yourself – what did the public miss while we were distracting them with a design consultation vote when we already knew what design we wanted – the ludicrous web design.  And they fell for it.

“We have Donald Trump in charge of the USA; over here he will be allowed to do as he pleases.

And while tens – hundreds of millions are moving through Scottish Enterprise, land deals – like when the city sold that land to you Stewart for a peppercorn, and while public land is snapped up – we’ll get people to focus on other things.

“Either we’ll threaten to take away what little arts provision they and their children get, or the more mean-spirited ones will be convinced that people from abroad are taking their land, money and jobs – not you Donnie though” Ian winked, any previous trace of gentility gone from his features.

“While we’re at it, there’s one more item on the agenda for your tour Willie Wonky – we’re going to look at the City of Culture Bid.

“All aboard the helicopter for gigs on oil rigs! How much public money and time did that nonsense soak up? Well, here’s Rita Stephen to tell you all about it!

“Remember Willie – whether it’s a football stadium, a parking lot, a breaking yard, Trump’s golf course – and his honorary degree from the University I own that has a building with my name on it – you now know who’s behind everything in this town. Nothing, I mean nothing goes on in this town without my say so.

“I said as much to people before, and I’m telling you now.”

Oor Willie whined as, while his eyes fluttered open and closed, the Troompa Loompas broke into one last verse of their song:

Troompa Loompa doopity do
I have final question for you
Who in Aberdeen is behind everything
That is environmentally damaging?

ACSEF, First, RGU and SE.
As the saying goes, ‘follow the money’
Sir Ian is behind it
Sir Ian is behind it

You can live in luxury to
Just do what Sir Ian Wood –

tells

you

to!

#          #          #

Willie’s eyes had glazed over; the other golden ticket winners’ laughs had turned to a huge roar of noise, and he fluttered his eyes.

As if he hadn’t been through enough, standing over him was… Rita Stephen

“NOOO!” shouted Willie,

“Anything but the City of Culture bid! – Anything!”

“Willie, are ye alright mon?” She said.

“I was just going to re-write the symphony for orchestra, ship’s horns and horses that was part of me great City of Culture bid tonight, when I saw yer door open.

“I’d seen you passed oot and thought it was the usual, but I noted the gash on yer heid.”

His eyes focused and leaning over him was Rita Stephen, the woman behind among other things the City of Culture bid that made Aberdeen the laughing stock of the western hemisphere – again.

“AIEEEEE” Willie screamed, and sprinted out of the office, leaving all of his paperwork behind.

He didn’t stop running until he was safely locked in his house and under his covers.

The sun was shining. Willie woke up as the phone rang.

He remembered with a sudden start his horrible nightmare. He shook his head violently from side to side and answered the phone.

“Hi Willie, well, you’ve been gone long enough; what’s it been, a few days now? Fancy being deputy Lord Provost?”

Willie thought of all the corruption he knew about; he thought of all the pieces that had fallen so neatly into place in his fevered dream. He took a deep breath.

“Sounds great Barney; I’ll be over in a few hours. I’ll want a bigger office with a view mind.”

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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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