May 192017
 

Duncan Sinclair, ASV CEO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Duncan Sinclair, ASV CEO, said:

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

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

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

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

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

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May 122017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Long-serving councillor Martin Ford was re-elected last Thursday (4 May) for a fifth term as a member of Aberdeenshire Council.

With 18 years on Aberdeenshire Council, Martin Ford is now the longest serving councillor in the Garioch Area.

Cllr Ford represented the Newmachar and Fintray ward from 1999 to 2007.

With the introduction of the single transferable vote system and multi-member wards in 2007, Martin Ford became one of the three councillors representing the East Garioch ward.

Further changes to electoral arrangements this time were down to a revision of council ward boundaries undertaken since the 2012 election by The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland. As of 4 May, the East Garioch ward (which includes Newmachar, Fintray, Blackburn and Kintore) is now larger than it was before.

The ward has been extended to the west by moving its boundary much closer to Kemnay and Inverurie. Reflecting the increase in population, the number of councillors representing the East Garioch ward has also been increased – from three to four.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“I would like to thank all 4,559 residents of East Garioch who voted in the election last Thursday.

“I am tremendously pleased to be starting my fifth term on Aberdeenshire Council. It’s a great privilege to have been re-elected again after 18 years as a councillor. So I would like to express my special thanks to those who put their confidence in me to continue as one of their local representatives.

“Locally, there are a range of priorities within the East Garioch ward. The Council has a key role to play in the delivery of the planned rail station in Kintore. Decisions are required about additional school capacity in Newmachar. The new school in Blackburn is due to open in August 2018.

“With the election last week, there has been a considerable change in the membership of the Council. Moving forward, I hope the Council as a whole will have effective working relationships between councillors of different colours, so there is a preparedness to accept suggestions and good ideas from all sides. There are undoubtedly going to be some tough choices during the next five years, so we need a Council that takes its decisions on the basis of evidence and in the public interest.”

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May 052017
 

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith has welcomed the upgrade to the footpath linking Morrison Place with Braehead Drive in Cruden Bay, an important access to Port Erroll School.

Following complaints late last year that the existing steps – which had been constructed from wooden logs by the developer of Morrison Place many years ago – were rotten and presented a slip hazard during wet weather, managed to get replacement steps installed by the council’s Landscape Services department.

Commenting, Cllr Stephen Smith said:

“This is an important footpath as it serves as a safe route to school and means primary school children avoid the busy A975 which runs through the village.

“The steps had served well since the developer installed them at the time Morrison Place was constructed but I was receiving complaints they were not only past their best but were now presenting a slip hazard during wet weather and were also rotting away.

“I contacted the council’s Landscape Services department asking them to assist and I’m pleased to say they have done a really excellent job in renewing and upgrading the steps.”

Fellow ward councillor Stuart Pratt added:

“This is a job well done and means that the most regular users of the path – the pupils and parents at Port Erroll School – can continue to have a safe route to use, away from heavy traffic.”

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Apr 282017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire Greens have launched their manifesto for the 2017 council election.

The manifesto sets out the priorities and approach for Green councillors elected to Aberdeenshire Council this May.

The Scottish Green Party is contesting five of the nineteen council wards in Aberdeenshire. There is currently one Green councillor on Aberdeenshire Council.

Rachel Shanks, Green candidate for Stonehaven and Lower Deeside, said:

“The more Green councillors elected to Aberdeenshire Council this May, the more influence they will have. We want to prioritise investment in education, better local public transport and protecting Aberdeenshire’s special environment.

“Inevitably, Aberdeenshire Council is going to face some tough challenges in the years ahead. Green voices need to be heard in the council chamber when the Council decides how to respond. The last five years have shown a Green presence has made for a better Council. We want to build on that this May.”

West Garioch Green candidate Richard Openshaw said:

“The election on 4 May is a local election. It’s about local issues, not national ones.

“We’re proud of the Green successes on Aberdeenshire Council since 2012, like funding for youth work, traffic calming, cycling and walking. Our manifesto for the next five years sets out what we will prioritise going forward.

“The forecast rise in pupil numbers in Aberdeenshire schools means additional resources for education are essential. I was appalled at the education cuts advocated by the Lib Dems and Conservatives in their proposed 2017/18 Council budget. Green councillors will give priority to spending on schools and resist education cuts.”

Mearns candidate Karen Allan said:

“I particularly welcome the manifesto commitments on road safety and tackling climate change.”

East Garioch councillor and Green candidate Martin Ford said:

“A significant number of proposals from the 2012 Aberdeenshire Green manifesto have been agreed by the Council and have become Council policy. Greens elected to Aberdeenshire Council this May will similarly seek cross-party support to get Green proposals adopted.”

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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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Apr 132017
 

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

(L to r) Pastor Neil Cameron of Apex Church; Cllr Stuart Pratt and Cllr Stephen Smith.

Local SNP councillors Stuart Pratt and Stephen Smith have shown their support for Peterhead FC’s impressive range of community engagement programmes.
The club launched a new initiative with Peterhead Boys Club to give away 200 free season tickets and made presentations to the latest graduates of the ‘Football Fans In Training Programme’ at an event at Balmoor this week where the various national football trophies were also on display.

Commenting, Cllr Stuart Pratt – a regular at Balmoor Stadium – said:

“Peterhead Football Club do a huge amount throughout the year in terms of youth engagement and supporting their local community.  But even someone like myself who manages to attend most of Peterhead’s home games didn’t realise quite how much the club actually does.

“It is a very impressive list and the initiatives launched this week can only further strengthen the link between club and community.”

Cllr Stephen Smith, who made the trip to Hampden last April to support Peterhead in the final of the Petrofac Cup versus Rangers, added:

“The event was a very good showcase for the club and I’m grateful to General Manager Martin Johnston for inviting me, along with others who are active in the community, which helps strengthen those community links.”

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Apr 012017
 

With thanks to Julia Heys, Marketing Executive, VisitAberdeenshire.

Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy 2010 © Kathy Mansfield

Aberdeen Festivals has announced the addition of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy to further strengthen its portfolio of local member festivals.

Aberdeen Festivals, set up in 2014 to collectively promote festivals, develop audiences and strengthen the cultural sector, has welcomed the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival to its ranks.

The renowned festival, which takes place from 24-25 June 2017, will join 10 existing and diverse festivals including; SPECTRA, Aberdeen Jazz Festival, Look Again, May Festival, Aberdeen International Youth Festival, TechFest, True North, North East Open Studios, DanceLive and sound.

Roger Goodyear, co-chairman of Scottish Traditional Boat Festival commented:

“Joining Aberdeen Festivals has been on the festival’s horizons since the collective was formed in early 2014. We have since watched the success of Aberdeen Festivals through its facilitation of collective marketing and collaborative efforts to profile the cultural offering of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”

In its 24 year history, the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival has become well known locally and internationally as it uniquely showcases the local marine and cultural heritage of North-east Scotland. The annual festival reports on average 16,000 visitors each year with a high proportion of international attendees.

Roger continued:

“We already have a well-established audience and brand but, of course, there is always room for growth and we are looking forward to the various cross-collaborations with other festivals as well as taking part in the extensive and successful Aberdeen Festivals marketing campaign.”

Festivals in the Aberdeen Festivals group have consistently reported significant increases in audiences and ticket sales. In February this year, SPECTRA welcomed 63,000 visits, up by 28,000 on 2016 whilst Aberdeen Jazz Festival, which took place earlier this month, has already reported a 100% increase in ticket sales.

Steve Harris, chair of Aberdeen Festivals commented:

“Aberdeen Festivals has made substantial strides in its three years of existence. This has been recognised with continued local and private funding, audience and sales increases for each festival and numerous prestigious award shortlisting’s. The addition of the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival to the collective, with its well-connected, high profile festival and large international audience, will bolster this success of Aberdeen Festivals further in profiling the North-east as a top cultural tourism destination.”

Aberdeen Festivals has to date secured private sponsorship from energy company, Nexen, major funding from VisitScotland’s Growth Fund along with ongoing support from VisitAberdeenshire, Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council. The group recently secured an E Award, organised by EventIt, for its excellence in digital marketing.

For more information about Aberdeen Festivals, please visit www.aberdeenfestivals.com.

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Apr 012017
 

Cllr Fiona McRae and Cllr Anne Allan at the new Peterhead Travelodge in Chapel Street.

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

Local councillors Fiona McRae and Anne Allan have hailed the opening of the new Travelodge in Peterhead as a tremendous boost for the Town Centre.
The new hotel in Chapel Street officially opens on Tuesday at a ceremony to be attended by Aberdeenshire Provost Hamish Vernal, amongst others. 

The development has transformed a semi-derelict part of the Town Centre and has saved the eastern façade of the street from demolition.

Commenting, Cllr Fiona McRae said:

“The former flats in Chapel Street have been a long-running issue and it’s great to see this development come to fruition with a new business coming to Peterhead and redeveloping the site.

“This is a huge boost for the regeneration of Peterhead Town Centre, brings life back to what was previously a very run-down building, and also brings another quality brand to Peterhead.”

Cllr Anne Allan added:

“While I’m delighted that Aberdeenshire Council has over £1.5Million allocated to assist with regeneration in Peterhead, private investment is a huge part of the process and this is an excellent example of that. 

There’s a lot going on currently in terms of investment in Peterhead. Work will begin shortly to upgrade the area at the Clerkhill shops; we’re seeing plans for a new academy move forward; Peterhead Port Authority are continuing their expansion, assisted by Scottish Government funding; and we’re seeing new businesses such as Travelodge moving into the Town Centre.  It’s all very encouraging and I’m keen to see more done, but this is a good start.”

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Apr 012017
 

A guitar once owned by Hendrix has been put up for auction in Aberdeen, following a council hunt for heirs. Duncan Harley reports.

When council housing officer Dennis Potter was called to the home of a council tenant on Aberdeen’s Kincorth Housing Estate he thought that it would be simply a routine house clearance.

The elderly male who had lived there for over 30 years had passed away and, with no relatives on hand to see to his affairs, it fell to the council to clear the flat and prepare it for a new tenant.

“I was pleasantly surprised” said Dennis “to find that the place was clean and in good order.”

“It’s not unusual for us to enter a property where someone has died and find that they had perhaps not been coping during what may have been a difficult end of life period. But, in this case that was definitely not the case and our tenant had taken really good care of the property.”

Initially, the council had assumed that relatives would come forward to claim possessions and see to the estate, but after a three-year hunt for heirs no-one came forward.

“We knew that Mr Brown had no surviving friends in the locality” said Dennis “but we thought that maybe he had relatives somewhere who might have kept in touch.”

“But as his birthdays came and went, there were no cards, and even at Christmas the deceased only received a few begging letters from the likes of the Salvation Army and a charity specialising in promoting paintings made by limbless artists from North Korea.”

Eventually council bosses asked Dennis to dispose of the few possessions left by the tenant and an Aberdeen auction firm was asked to provide a valuation.

“We needed to cover the costs involved” says Dennis.

“There was a very small amount of outstanding rent, but on top of that there was the matter of the burial; and we felt we had a duty to recover what we could to protect the public purse.”

The valuation, however, far exceeded expectations, for in amongst the few possessions left by Mr Brown there was a guitar.

“I had assumed that it might be worth just a few pounds” said Dennis.

“I mean, it was badly scratched, the frets looked worn and the strings had seen better days. But you never know at auction since maybe someone is looking to get a real bargain.”

The auctioneers were initially unimpressed with the item and consigned it to the weekly general sale in expectation that it might be worth something to someone willing to restore the neglected instrument. However, and quite by chance, musicologist Jim Hawsworthy came to preview the lots for sale.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes” he said “at first I thought I was dreaming, but there right in front of me was a genuine Strattofaster!”

“I mean these instruments are the Stradivariuses of the guitar world. There are probably only around fourteen known examples worldwide, and this one is completely genuine.”

Seemingly Jimi Hendrix owned two of these instruments, but after his death aged 27 in September 1970, it emerged that one was unaccounted for.

In a strange twist, it transpired that Mr Brown had been drinking red wine with Marmalade stars Gary Farr and Jimmy Cregan, together with Eric Clapton at the Scotch of St James bar in Mayfair on the night of Hendrix’s death.

“When Jimi came in” said Clapton “he had no dosh and neither had the rest of us.”

“So we asked Bennie the roadie to bung us a few quid – just to keep the party going you understand. By that time the bar bill was astronomical and to be honest we were all a bit keen to get more wasted, so to calm Bennie Brown down, I suggested that we bung him a guitar as collateral. That’s how it all happened really. He was pleased as punch and went off strumming Jimi’s guitar.

“I know that ‘cause I was there. Or at least I think I was. That is until I awoke to find that Jimi had, well you know – gone off somewhere and died basically. Never forget that night really. What year is it today anyway?”

Be that as it may, the auction of the Hendrix Strattofaster takes place at Aberdeen Auction House on East Silver Street on April 1st with all proceeds going directly to the council.

The sales catalogue reads as follows:

LOT 405
FENDER STRATTOFASTER, JIMI HENDRIX SIGNATURE MODEL, 1967
Serial number CZ510969, maple tarnished finish, maple neck with skunk-stripe routing, red paper dot on back of headstock beside “Sandy Klaus Fender Custom Shop” transfer, twenty-two fret fingerboard with dot inlays, three pre-Vintage Noiseless pickups, three rotary controls, selector switch, tremolo/bridge tail block and white pick guard; and a black Harry Fender hard-shell bright-contour case with black plush lining and cream cloth sticker inscribed in hazy purple felt pen “Good luck Jimi from your good old pals Otis, Eric and Shanker” and tie on paper label inscribed on both sides in black felt pen “FENDER STRAT CZ510969 MAPLE  1”, one red and one green paper dot on two case latches.”

A reserve price of £2,500 has been placed on the item and international interest is expected.

Words and images © Duncan Harley
Additional reporting by April McGinty

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Mar 242017
 

Aberdeenshire’s Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors – Paul Johnston and Martin Ford – have welcomed a report on ‘Augmented provision for young people’ being considered at a meeting of their Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee. 

The report recommends how to use the additional £100,000 for ‘youth work’ included in Aberdeenshire’s 2017/18 revenue budget passed on 9 February.

The DIGG included £70,000 for youth work (re-allocated from within the community learning and development budget) in its draft 2017/18 budget proposals published last November.

Following budget discussions, £70,000 of new money for youth work was included in the Aberdeenshire administration’s 2017/18 budget proposals published on 2 February.

The amount for youth work was then increased from £70,000 to £100,000 after the Scottish Government announced additional funding for councils on 2 February and further discussions took place between the DIGG and the administration regarding the extra Government grant.

The DIGG argued that new Council funding for youth work was required to support activities that now fall outside the scope of community learning and development, and suggested either direct provision by the Council or grants to community groups would be appropriate.

Both direct provision and grants are now being recommended by officers. 

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The DIGG identified funding for youth work as a budget priority and we are very pleased £100,000 has been included in the 2017/18 revenue budget.

“The report to the 23 March meeting of the Education and Children’s Services Committee means a decision can be taken on how to use the additional money before the financial year starts at the beginning of April.”

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