Dec 152011

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

The campaign undertaken by Nestrans, the statutory regional transport partnership for the North-east of Scotland, to urge the European Union to exert powers to protect the current level of slots to and from Aberdeen at London’s Heathrow Terminal 5 has received the support from the airports concerned.

Derek Provan, Managing Director at Aberdeen Airport, commented.

“The regular connection into Heathrow is essential to the area as it gives access to one of the major international airline hubs and also a short connection into the centre of London. Scotland is geographically distant from the main European hub airports and, particularly in the north of the country; we have no viable surface access to them. We are also seeking to rebalance our economy by growing our exports, increasing inward investment and attracting more tourists, in line with the UK Government’s Economic Strategy.

“We are building on the increasing exports derived from the knowledge and skills base of our energy supply chain expertise and from our premium food and drinks industry, both of which are making a substantial contribution to the UK economy with significant potential for growth.

“In addition, it gives easy access from the south to the international businesses located in and around Aberdeen and the economic benefit of having this link cannot be overestimated.”

These views are complemented by BAA Strategy Director Andrew Macmillan, who is based at Heathrow.

“Heathrow’s position as the leading international hub airport in Europe gives the UK, and the companies that operate here, direct access to the global markets upon which strong economic growth depends. Connectivity has been central to building and maintaining the UK’s global trading position over the past three hundred years, and it is essential in these difficult economic times that we maintain and improve links between as many different economies as possible.”

Nestrans is collating the views of businesses, politicians and individuals in advance of the UK Government’s aviation consultation, from which the EU will consider options for aviation policy going forward.

May 202011

Alan Gatt presents a transcript of a familiar, fictional, factual, farcical meeting which never happened, but might happen, or possibly already has – or may even be in progress at this very moment in time.

Good afternoon everyone.

All cleared print ID? Yes. If you could leave all your mobile gadgets – cameras, body-mounted vid-capture devices, smartcells, enhanced biros etcetera with Judy at the thumb-print-in desk please. And step through the magnetoarch… nobody got an old-fashioned metallic hip replacement – ha ha – no? Good. Thanks.

Everybody through OK? No anomalous readings, Judy? No? Good. If you could all find a seat – is there enough room? The room is quite small, em… sorry about that, but the EM suppression means that it has to be. Everyone got a seat now? Good.

Colleagues, on behalf of us all at the Trans-Conjectural Proposals Instigation Trust thank you for taking the time out of your energetic schedules to attend this brief stakeholder update presentation at this key watershed time for our iconic project. And yes, welcome along today to the splendid white-room facilities of the Querulant Suite at this new Idée Fixe Conference Centre.

We thank our hosts for the provision of these splendid facilities, not only for this windowless and unrecordable environment – just the thing! – but also for their reasonably-priced and exemplary underground car-park with its innovative numberplate and face-recognition technology demonstrator. All got your PINcards? Some of you have the subcutaneous upgrades, eh? Heh-heh. Good. Shouldn’t talk too much about car-parks, though.

To business…

You’ll all be familiar with the surprisingly rapid progress of our most recent Trans-Conjectural Proposal which has advanced in an inspirational and iconic fashion. Now is the time for us to transform this project into what we can now call a Global Trans-Conjectural Context-Framing Opportunity. To deliver this transformative, em, transformation, we have developed a delivery plan which will champion and shepherd this agenda. Stepping up to the plate on an interlinked basis, this plan is assured of delivering the appearance of three-hundred-and-sixty degree participation models within our context.

Our overarching management strategy will be driving forward our key activity delivery and measurement plan. The delivery plan will be in the form of an inspirational yet logical legal-entity action-plan vehicle which progresses up-front objectives emerging through this unique window of opportunity towards the delivery of our most ambitious and foremost logical key priorities. It safeguards the potential for a distinct opinionscaping context-framing outlook and will greenlight fund-channeling linkages into an entirely new dynamic.

A strategically central numbers game will provide a fundamental plank to access innovative fund sources underpinned by this transformational drive to manage ownership and own management of this delivery plan.

In due course, this special purpose vehicle will be enhanced and reinvigorated.

This development strategy is shared by key players and the uplift provided by the delivery plan mechanism is central to its delivery; it will unlock a more attractive, safer and better connected win-win managementscape and target-rich investmentscape for the key stakeholders here today.

And so contracts for community engagement initiatives will soon be in place, delivering on a range of public-relations improvements under the auspices of our best-practice masterplan which we outlined at the last presentation. These new community engagement contracts will provide us with the ideal public-realm participation management solution for the provision of the required consent-manufacturing services via this special purpose vehicle.

In due course, this special purpose vehicle will be enhanced and reinvigorated. This is expected to be fully available and framework-compliant within the context-framing consent-manufacturing mindscape which we have already achieved, all the while maximising shareholder value… Oh! Thank-you, no… em… yes, thank-you. Applause isn’t necessary –  no, ha-ha! Thanks.

…Where was I? Ah yes… The continual securing of this self-referencing self-certified procedural approval feedback mechanism will unlock further yet imaginative, bigger, brighter and iconic leadership obscurantism.

This opportunity to shape the future with self-referencing enriched vitality is truly strategic, truly innovative and the radical transformation will not only provide fascinating narcissistic appeal within our own little circle of friends – ha ha – but also wider heritage compliance lipservice services outwith it. Inspirational inclusion misdirection initiatives when appropriate via incremental rearward-facing commitments once progressed will create the appearance of a real iconic international buzz.

our established undertaking of prioritising strategy themes and status updates will continue towards the feedback-enabled enhancement of project engagement resources

In conclusion, then, when we look back on what has been achieved so far in the shaping of the civic mindscape, the manipulation of the investment opportunityscape and the creation of a public opinionscape which is largely characterised by confusion if not ennui, we can look back on an approach – a resource – which we will continue to leverage towards the achievement of ever more enhanced shareholder value and stakeholder satisfaction.

So long as key deliverables are progressed in accordance with opportunities within the supply chain to anchor our central objectives with respect to this clear strategy, our established undertaking of prioritising strategy themes and status updates will continue towards the feedback-enabled enhancement of project engagement resources. This provides both measurable internal accountability and vital external obfuscation services.

The vision for this exciting journey is an innovative yet highly robust process which every stakeholder here will enjoy participating in. Every stakeholder here today is part of the process. The process is the future and the future is the process. We are the future. This is a very real possibility. It is within our grasp, we are nearly there. With your continued support and with the compliance and consent we have already engineered, rates of return much higher than those available in any other investmentscape will be assured. Thank you all.

…Ha-ha, thanks, yes, thank-you. Too kind… too kind. Thanks.

…Thank you for your time today. Questions will not be necessary. And now I think Judy’s got some special drinks and nibbles ready for us in the Dependency Suite… if you’d like to go through… please… thanks…

Oct 222010

By Dave Guthrie.

As the public purse-strings draw tighter, local government has been looking at alternative financing to carry through development and redevelopment projects. After many years of borrowing and spending beyond their means, the obvious – perhaps the only – source remaining is the private sector.

Last year Oxford Economics, in a report on Aberdeen, said that during the economic downturn opportunities would present themselves with quality resources being available to businesses and organisations much cheaper than at the city’s economic peak in 2007 and that a lower cost-base could be achieved without trade-off against quality of location or accommodation.

By definition the private sector – business and commercial interests – exist to make a profit, expand and pay dividends to shareholders. There can be public benefits – increased employment etc. – but these are essentially by-products. Any public/private partnership will therefore involve some compromise on both sides. Aberdeen City Council has been exploring several innovative funding mechanisms with the aim of carrying through their City Masterplan.

The three main ones are:

Tax Incremental Funding [TIF],

The City Development Company [CDC],

and the Business Improvement District [BID].


This is a financial model pioneered and now widely used in the US. It allows a local authority to borrow money for specific infrastructure developments. The loan is secured against expected tax revenue increases resulting from the development. [new businesses attracted to the area, higher taxes etc.] allowing repayment over a 10 to 20 year period. The Scottish Government has sent out encouraging signals about this scheme and in January of this year Edinburgh City Council’s proposal to borrow £84m for the redevelopment of Leith Port was approved. Glasgow City Council and North Lanarkshire Council have similar plans in the pipeline. As does Aberdeen City Council.

Borrowing against future unknown tax revenues is not without its risks, however. Responsibility for any shortfall would be an important issue and councils are likely to choose partnership with a commercial developer thus sharing the risk. Another danger is that a TIF-supported development may not actually produce increased tax revenue, just move it from one area to another. In the US, TIF projects compete with one another. [In Chicago there are now 500 such schemes].

So, TIF is a tried and tested model for kick-starting large development schemes but like other funding models it is complex and not without its dangers.


A City Development Company is a mechanism which allows local authorities to use their assets to attract long-term investment from the private sector to finance regeneration projects. Also known as a Local Asset Based Vehicle [LABV], it provides a route whereby public and private sectors pool land, finance, expertise and powers and allocate risks and returns from targeted projects

An Aberdeen CDC [AC/DC?] would seek to identify and ‘remediate’ pockets of ‘market failure’ within the city, capturing value for targeted beneficiaries. Suggested examples so far include; Union Terrace Gardens, Bon Accord Baths, Denburn Health Centre and Park, St Nicholas House, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, Chapel Street Car Park, Summerhill Education Centre, Granitehill and Greenferns. The City Council would be encouraged to ‘leverage’ these assets through the CDC in partnership with the private sector.


Aberdeen Business Improvement District is a proposal being implemented by Aberdeen City Centre Association in partnership with the City Council. Funded jointly by a compulsory levy on businesses within the area supplemented by the local authority, the BID aims to provide a more vibrant and viable town centre and encourage more input from business managers and owners towards regeneration of the area.

The area covered by BID is likely to include Union Street and most of the city centre from Union Square and Guild Street in the south to John Street in the North.