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14,000 schoolkids to shape Paisley 2021 bid via special story

Every school pupil in Renfrewshire is getting the chance to shape Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 – through a specially-commissioned children’s short story written by an award-winning author.

Ross Mackenzie penned ‘Grace’s Big Idea’ – which aims to make culture and Paisley’s bid relatable to the young audience, and includes Paisley-themed illustrations from artist Neil Slorance.

A copy is going to all 14,000 primary pupils in Renfrewshire as part of a massive community engagement push which will have seen more than 30,000 people join the conversation around the Paisley 2021 bid when it is lodged at the end of April.

Schoolchildren are being asked to nominate one thing they like about Paisley and submit one idea they would like to see as part of the bid – with the results to be collated by bid bosses to inform future work.

Members of the bid team have already toured every high school in Renfrewshire.

The Renfrewshire town is bidding for the culture title as part of wider plans to transform the area’s future using Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage story.

Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: “From the start of Paisley’s bid we said it would be by the people of Paisley for the people of Paisley – and when the bid goes in at the end of April it will be their voices contained within it.

“Once this schools exercise has been completed we estimate around 30,000 people will have had the chance to feed ideas into the bid – that’s a number equivalent to more than half the town’s population.

“That could only have happened with the hard work of our dedicated community engagement team, who have toured every corner of Renfrewshire over the past year to capture the views of cultural, business and community groups about the town and what culture means to them.

“The bid and related work aims to create a lasting legacy for the Renfrewshire our children will inherit – so it was crucial we captured their views, and Ross’s wonderfully-written story is a great way to do that.”

Renfrew-based Ross – a former winner of the Scottish Children’s Book of the Year award – was at St Catherine’s Primary in Paisley to meet the school’s 2021 committee and read section of the story, written from the point of view of a young girl who loves to dance.

Ross said: “I’m very proud to have been able to play a tiny part in the Paisley 2021 bid. Paisley has such a rich history and a wealth of cultural heritage.

“I think it’s very fitting the Paisley 2021 team are asking children all over Renfrewshire to contribute their ideas to the next chapter of the town’s story.”

The UK City of Culture competition is run by the government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport. For more information on Paisley’s bid, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk

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Lisa Kowalski – Freespirits EP

Lisa has a big event coming up with the launch of her first EP (funded by 2021) on 20/21 April.

photos courtesy of Allan Borland Images

There is a launch gig with Lisa and some guest artists at Callums Cavern on the 20th and the EP will be available for download  on 21st.

Paisley 2021 are behind the project as part of the run up of events prior to the next stage of the bidding process and St Mirren FC are great friends of Lisa Kowalski Music, having had Lisa along to play  at the ground several times and promoting the EP on the pitchside screens.

By coincedence Lisa was booked to play at the Brewers Tap for the first time last Saturday, which was packed with SMFC fans after the cup game and she had the pub singing along to Oh when the Saints and the fans shouting “Lisa, Lisa!”

Braehead and West College are also plugging/ getting involved with the EP launch and Brick Lane Studio have helped her put a band together to  perform her original songs on the stage at the Beer Fest.

Initial feedback to prelaunch promotion of the EP has been great, with airplay on Pulse FM, KA Radio, Radio Saltire, Your Radio and Amazing Radio (Jim Gellatly). STV have also listened to the songs and  expressed an interest in having Lisa on the Riverside show.

The four songs on the EP were written from age 14 to 16 and reflect teenage experiences of growing up and Lisa’s personal journey as a musician and someone who has always stuck  her head well above the parapet.  It includes the track Hearts of Gold as in “the streets are paved with hearts of gold” which is all about how much she loves busking in Paisley.

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Paisley Comic Con at Paisley Town Hall on 8th April

Paisley Comic Con is a family friendly, fun-filled event all about comic books!

A whole day in Paisley’s stunning Town Hall dedicated to celebrating and enjoying the art and culture of comic books, exploring and discovering new and exciting comic creations, and showcasing a range of local Scottish creative talent.

Writers, artists, publishers, as well as over 50 tables of comics, books, toys, collectables, arts, crafts and creators. We’ll also have comic book panels, workshops, cosplay, games and activities, and lots of family fun!

Paisley’s very own Hail The Villains will be there to exhibit their fantastic range of Comic Heroes and Villains T-Shirts, accessories, and jewellery.

A special discount code called PAISLEYORG has been created for subscribers of Paisley.org.uk.  You can use it to get 15% off all purchases on www.hailthevillains.com. Or you can use the code at the Paisley Comic Con by simply saying “PAISLEYORG” to get 15% off your purchase there.  If ordering from our website  – Delivery is FREE.

Invite your friends to like the page, join the event and spread the word!

In partnership with Comicrazy, Paisley’s only specialist comics and gaming store, and Les Hoey MBE DreamMaker Foundation SCIO – making dreams come true for some very special children with life-threatening illnesses.

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Paisley’s global weaving story to be retold during festival

Paisley will host a weekend-long celebration of the town’s radical weaving heritage and international links – and is looking for artists to help tell that story to the world.

Sma Shot drummer Tony Lawler with weaver Mariam Syed and artist Paria Goodarzi in Paisley’s Abbey Close (outside Abbey and Town Hall).

The town’s traditional Sma’ Shot Day celebration – one of the world’s oldest workers festivals – is this year joined by a two-day arts programme called Weave.

Weave – on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 July – is one of Visit Scotland’s signature events for the country’s Year of Heritage, History and Archaeology 2017.

Part of Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid, the event will reconnect the town’s weaving heritage and global connections via a programme of music, design, art, poetry, dance and theatre, set against Paisley’s historic town centre.

As part of that, visual artists can apply for awards of £1,500 to create temporary public artworks in the town centre telling Paisley’s unique global textile story in new and innovative ways. For more info and an application form, email events@renfrewshire.gov.uk

Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: “Sma’ Shot Day is a much-loved part of Paisley’s events calendar – and this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever with the addition of Weave.

“The weekend will combine the traditional family elements of Sma’ Shot Day with a two-day programme of top-class performers telling Paisley’s unique historic story as a global textile hub and centre of radical political thought.

“Through the public art commission we want visual artists and makers to help us tell that story in exciting, creative and original ways which can be enjoyed by all.

“The event will help show off everything Paisley has to offer as a key destination within Scotland for heritage tourism.”

Annique Armstrong, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories and unique experiences as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology celebrations.

“Scotland’s history and heritage is defined by its people, both past and present and is an integral & iconic part of our national identity.

“The wide-ranging programme for Weave will celebrate a wealth of exciting cultural heritage through music, poetry, dance, workshops, crafts and design, presenting a fantastic opportunity for visitors and locals to experience Paisley’s vibrant personality.”

A full Weave programme is still being developed and will be released later in the spring – but to publicise the call-out for participants, a Sma’Shot Day stalwart was joined by two artists already signed up to this year’s Weave bill.

Tony Lawler will this year mark his 25th year as the man banging the Charleston Drum at the head of the traditional Sma’ Shot parade through the town from Brodie Park to the festivities in Abbey Close on the Saturday afternoon.

He was joined at Paisley Abbey and Town Hall by Mariam Syed, who will give free drop-in demonstrations of traditional weaving skills on the looms at Paisley Museum.

Also involved in Weave is Iranian textiles artist Paria Goodarzi, who will exhibit work from her solo show Mass Movement, inspired by her journey to Scotland as a refugee, plus a joint show about identity and heritage with Indian photographer Arpita Singh called The Routes We Thread, both at Paisley Arts Centre.

Sma’ Shot Day marks the victory of Paisley’s weavers in an industrial dispute over payment for the Sma’ (small) Shot thread, which was unseen but held the famous Paisley-patterned cashmere shawls together.

A long fight and political battle ensued which the weavers eventually won and saw the traditional first-weekend-in-July holiday renamed Sma’ Shot Day.

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Paisley welcomes MasterChef – The Professionals winner to food fiesta

Gary Maclean, the winner of MasterChef – The Professionals 2016 will teach Buddies how to prepare top class meals at the upcoming Paisley Food Festival.

Chef extraordinaire Gary will host a series of cooking demonstrations at the free event which will take place on Saturday 22 April at Abbey Close from 12pm – 7pm.

Also confirmed to attend is CBeebies star Katy Ashworth who will entertain children and families throughout the day and give them the chance to participate in fun, interactive games, stories and sing-a-long songs.

Now in its third year, the festival will showcase the breadth of Scotland’s vibrant street food scene, with traders using the very best seasonal ingredients and sustainably sourced produce in their dishes. This event also forms part of the push for Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

The event has a wide selection of producer traders serving hand reared produce, including The Kitchen Farmer from Perthshire with their gourmet lamb burgers, and outdoor reared Pork and apple burgers from Duntarrin Farm in Argyll. The event caters for both savoury and sweet pallets, with Indian street food from Bombay Kitchen, and exquisite French patisseries from les Plaisirs d’Odette and artisan crème brule from Crema Caravan.

All traders will offer smaller portion sizes at reduced prices for children and the event will offer a range of halal, gluten free and vegetarian options. Visitors will also be able to sample a wide range of craft beers, small batch gins and prosecco on tap.

The Cooking Demonstration tent offers a jam-packed programme of free workshops around the theme of food and where it comes from, including showstopping dinners from Gary Maclean, a fermentation workshop on how to make your own healthy ginger beer from Bottle of Ginger, Asian cooking from STV’s Julie Lin Macleod, and how to conquer your fear of cooking fish from the chefs at seafood restaurant A’Challtainn. Demand for the demonstrations is expected to be high, so pre-booking is recommended.

Gary said: “I love everything about cooking from preparation through to patisserie but I also get a real buzz from teaching others how to be a success in the kitchen. I look forward to sharing my passion with Paisley’s cooking enthusiasts and showing them how to create showstopping meals at Paisley’s Food and Drink Festival.”

In addition to the cooking demonstrations taking place there will be plenty to keep the kids entertained. Children will be able to take part in hands on cooking fun with free chocolate treat workshops, fruit bouquets and challenge each other on the smoothie bike.

CBeebies Katy Ashworth is ready to entertain families on the day. She said: “Events like this are a great day out for the whole family. I’ll be bringing a burst of silliness and fun for all through fun-packed games, songs and giggles and I’m looking forward to being part of the day.”

The festival is just one of three food and drink events taking place that week. Scotland’s largest beer and ale festival, the 30th annual Paisley Beer Festival, will return for another year to Paisley Town Hall from Wednesday 19 to Saturday 22 April. While Paisley Restaurant Week, being delivered by local business improvement district Paisley First, will run from Saturday 15 to 23 April, with discounts and deals available at eateries throughout the town centre.

Paisley 2021 Bid Director Jean Cameron said: “The range of food and drink events taking place in April is likely to attract around 15,000 visitors to the area over the course of the week demonstrating our capacity for hosting large-scale, national events that bring visitors to the area and I for one can’t wait to head along and try some of the tasty treats on offer.

“The timing of the events gives us even more reason to celebrate as they take place one week before Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 is due to be lodged with the UK Government.”

To book a place or find out more about the cookery demonstrations on the day visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/foodfestival2017

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Paisley to celebrate trio of food and drink events

Paisley is getting set for a food and drink extravaganza next month – with three great events taking place over the same week.

(left to right) – David Cassidy (Renfrewshire CAMRA), Tony Fitzpatrick (St Mirren), Linsey Reith (Three Sisters Bake), Rachna Dheer, (Babu Bombay Street Kitchen), Jason Smith (The Bankhouse Bar) and Hollie Stark (Kilty Kilty’s)

The 30th annual Paisley Beer Festival – Scotland’s largest – will return for another year to Paisley Town Hall from Wednesday 19 to Saturday 22 April.

On the Saturday the Paisley Food Festival brings a one-day culinary carnival of street food from across the globe plus free family entertainment to Abbey Close.

And Paisley Restaurant Week, being delivered by local business improvement district Paisley First, runs from Saturday 15 to 23 April, with discounts and deals at eateries throughout the town centre.

The events are taking place one week before Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 is due to be lodged with the UK Government.

The beer festival is organised by the Renfrewshire branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, who are marking the event’s 30th anniversary by celebrating St Mirren’s 1987 Scottish Cup win – which took place on the same day as the first festival – on their logo and pint glasses.

To promote the event, beer festival organisers were joined by St Mirren chief executive and 1987 cup-winner Tony Fitzpatrick, plus some of the vendors from the food festival, and local businesses taking part in Paisley Restaurant Week.

David Cassidy of Renfrewshire CAMRA said: “When we first started we had no idea we would still be going 30 years on – back then we just had 30 beers and one hall.

“Now we are the biggest real ale festival in Scotland with more than 250 beers over three bars, plus a cider bar and foreign beer bar.

“A few of us are St Mirren fans and it was an easy decision to celebrate the link with the 1987 team in this year’s festival. We also want to thank our sponsors, the Bungalow Bar and Callum’s Cavern.”

The food festival is run by Renfrewshire Council and is taking place for the third time, as part of the area’s major events programme, which aims to attract visitors to the town centre and showcase it as a vibrant destination, alongside the town’s UK City of Culture bid.

It will run from noon to 7pm and will include a wide range of food vendors, from global cuisine to the best of the Scottish larder, with smaller-sized portions at reduced prices for children, and all dietary options catered for. There will also be live music, children’s entertainment, cookery demos and workshops and more – all free.

Rachna Dheer of Babu Bombay Street Kitchen said: “We are absolutely delighted to be taking part in the Paisley Food Festival – we’ve done a lot of these events and they are a great way for people to try lots of new things.”

Paisley Restaurant Week is running for a second year and will be backed by more than 20 businesses in the town centre.

Andrew Mitchell, Paisley First manager, said: “Paisley town centre has a wide range of fantastic restaurants and cafes to suit every taste and budget, and during restaurant week these businesses are putting on some amazing deals which can be found on our website, so don’t miss out on Paisley culinary delights and visit Paisley”.

You can find more information on Paisley Food Festival at www.paisley2021.co.uk, on the beer festival at www.paisleybeerfestival.co.uk and on the restaurant week at www.paisleyfirst.com

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The Pride of Paisley…The Lion roars again!

A Lion is on its way back to Paisley this summer…and the hunt is on for a local artist to help bring back the magic back to life.

Following the success of the Pride of Paisley Public Art Trail during the summer of 2016, Paisley First has been donated a lion by local company MacAsphalt.

Now Paisley First is looking to commission a local artist to name and paint this Lion which will take pride of place in Paisley town centre.

The Pride of Paisley 2016 consisted of 25 full sized lions which were painted by artists and 40 mini lions which were painted by local school children.

The event was visited by more than 20,000 people with the 25 larger  lions then auctioned off to the benefit of two local hospices- ACCORD and St Vincent’s- with the final amount raised a staggering £79,300.

Paisley Love Buddie was the most sought after lion fetching a magnificent £6500.

Paisley First is welcoming submissions from artists with the theme “Inspired by the town of Paisley and its people”.

Paisley First Vice Chairman David Wallace said: “The Pride of Paisley was a huge success for everyone involved and was enjoyed by both visitors to Paisley and Buddies alike. This will be a fitting tribute to ensure the public art trail is remembered for years to come.”

David added: “We are excited to see the designs that are submitted and looking forward to the Lion joining the town’s other famous landmarks.”

Application packs can be downloaded from the Paisley First website www.paisleyfirst.com  and the closing date is 5pm on 3rd April 2017.

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US country star Brad Paisley backs Paisley UK City of Culture 2021 bid

Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 has had support from the town’s superstar namesake…multi-million-selling US country artist Brad Paisley.

The Grammy-award-winning singer performed at Glasgow’s sold-out Clyde Auditorium last night as he headlined the annual Country2Country festival, which brings together some of the scene’s biggest names on one bill.

And Brad posed for pictures before the show with a specially-branded Paisley 2021 taxi, before being presented with a tie made from the Paisley tartan – produced by the town’s Houston Kiltmakers, one of the world’s top Highland dress stores.

On stage, he told the crowd he was proud of his Scottish roots and ‘to have a last name that hails from here’.

Tennessee-based Brad has sold 12 million albums around the world and has been a proud member of country music’s highest honour, the Grand Ole Opry, since 2001.

His 11th studio album, Love and War, is released next month and features collaborations with Mick Jagger and hip-hip producer Timbaland, as well as a song with lyrics written by the late Johnny Cash.

And there was another Paisley connection on the night, with Brad joined on the festival bill by homegrown singer-songwriter Michael Cassidy.

Paisley is bidding to be UK City of Culture 2021 as part of plans to use the town’s unique heritage and cultural story to help transform its future.

Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron added: “The name Paisley was once carried around the globe by the Paisley Pattern – and Brad is still doing so to his millions of fans around the world today.

“We are delighted he has shown support for Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 – and he would be made more than welcome if he ever wants to come back and play a show here!”

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Express Yourself Through The Arts

Express Yourself Through The Arts is a creative expression workshop for young people who are 12-21 and enjoy hands-on creativity and having their voice heard. They would get involved in creative exercises, learn about the ideas process and how to get their ideas out through creative expression (film, photo, art, spoken word etc.) We will explore techniques of how to take our thoughts and express them through art, taking inspiration from our daily lives and our community. The workshop will take place on Friday 17th of March from 6.30pm to 9pm at The Methodist Central Hall, 2 Gauze Street in Paisley.

More information about the workshop here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1062805323863981/

This workshop is part of ‘We Are The Voice’. A project designed by Create Paisley to showcase young people’s visions and dreams of what Paisley could be like in 2021.

We’re looking for 21 young artists (ages 12-21) to create artwork representing their dreams and visions for Paisley2021. Whether you’re a poet, a musician, an artist, filmmaker or you love to paint, this is for you!

Working alongside the Paisley 2021 bid team, Create will offer support for successful applicants to create an artwork expressing their ideas. We can offer access to cameras, computers with Adobe and design software, art supplies, trained art professionals or just a guiding hand.

Successful applicants will have their work displayed in a June exhibition in Paisley (and an online gallery) and will be promoted throughout the project by Create Paisley.

Getting involved is really easy: You can drop us an email to maria@createpaisley.org.uk OR http://www.createpaisley.org.uk/get-involved/current-opportunities/

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Public access wi-fi boost for Renfrewshire town centres

Council commissions system to help town centres thrive, tackle digital exclusion and cement Paisley’s place as a home of education.

Renfrewshire Council is delivering free public access wi-fi which will make the area’s the town centres places to be.

The £1 million system will give free internet access to anyone in Johnstone, Paisley and Renfrew town centres, drawing in visitors and delivering more customers for local businesses.

It will allow visitors to stay in touch through email and messaging apps, access their digital banking and use the many other web-based systems people increasingly rely on while out-and-about.

The system will also help tackle the problem of digital exclusion and cement the area’s reputation as a place for learning.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “We are committed to ensuring our towns have the infrastructure they need to thrive.

“Johnstone, Paisley and Renfrew town centres provide jobs and vital services for people throughout Renfrewshire, and we know around a quarter of people are likely to spend more time in a town centre that offers free public wi-fi.

“By providing this facility we will draw in more visitors, get them to stay longer and so help boost local trade.”

He added: “This is an exciting development that reflects our determination to take action that helps our town centres succeed, delivers meaningful support to local businesses and encourages employers to create jobs in our communities.

“It will also help more people to get online and access the benefits the internet has to offer, as well as furthering Paisley’s status as a leading centre of higher and further education.”

Renfrewshire’s free public wi-fi system is currently being installed in Johnstone town centre, before being rolled-out in Paisley and Renfrew town centres.


The installation of free Wi-Fi in the three town centres and in public buildings across Renfrewshire will tackle digital exclusion, which mainly affects those on low incomes who do not have an internet connection at home.

This leaves people further disadvantaged due to being unable to access opportunities and services most take for granted.

Council Leader Macmillan explained: “Sadly, digital exclusion is most likely to impact those who would benefit most from the internet.

“For people on low incomes the chance to get better deals on things like household gas and electricity bills or their car insurance would make a massive difference.

“There are also other benefits that people may not realise”, he continued.

“If someone is vulnerable or isolated the value of face-to-face contact with their loved ones is hard to overstate.

“Internet access would allow them to use things like free video calls to stay in touch with friends and family who have moved away from the area, overcoming isolation and loneliness.

“Free public access Wi-Fi will help to tackle the issue of digital exclusion and this is a central element of Renfrewshire Council’s Tackling Poverty Strategy.”


Renfrewshire’s new public access wi-fi system will enhance the reputation of Paisley as a centre of education.

The town is home to the campuses of both the renowned University of the West of Scotland and the leading West College Scotland.

Students, researchers and staff will be able to use the public access wi-fi system to access Eduroam, which allows universities and colleges around the world to give instant remote access to materials stored securely on their internal networks.

Professor Craig Mahoney, the principal and vice-chancellor of University of the West of Scotland (UWS), said: “This is a fantastic development for the town.

“Being able to stay connected is increasingly important in today’s fast moving world and this development is welcomed by UWS.

“It will benefit not only those working and studying at UWS but also those who visit the university.”

Heather Armstrong, senior student representative of the Students Association of the University of the West of Scotland, added: “It’s great that Paisley town centre will have free wi-fi.

“Having a fast, reliable and secure internet connection on our phones is becoming ever more important.

“If people can’t get online while they’re in town it makes life difficult, as everyday tasks from banking to checking public transport times are all now done through the internet.“

She continued: “With students increasingly having less money in their pockets, mobile phone contracts with unlimited data are a luxury not everyone can afford.

“Being able to log-on to Renfrewshire Council’s free public wi-fi will make a real difference to students who would otherwise be at a significant disadvantage.”


The free public access Wi-Fi system is being installed by Braehead-based company Boston Networks, who won Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce’s Employer of the Year award in November.

As part of the £1 million contract with Renfrewshire Council the firm is providing a number of community benefits throughout the area.

It will hire four new members of staff, including a project management graduate from UWS and two wireless engineer modern apprentices identified with the help of the council’s employability service Invest in Renfrewshire.

The modern apprentices will work side-by-side with a team of experienced engineers to learn and develop on-the-job skills and gain a formal qualification.

Boston Networks will also recruit at least one additional member of staff and will work with Invest in Renfrewshire to encourage local school leavers and unemployed young people to apply.

Scott McEwan, the company’s chief executive, said: “Boston Networks is both excited and proud to be working with Renfrewshire Council to support their digital transformation strategy through the delivery of an enterprise grade public wi-fi service.

“Our experienced team will fully utilise their local and technical knowledge to design and deliver a leading-edge public wi-fi provision to support the council’s key strategic priorities, such as improving digital inclusion and participation.

“Renfrewshire Council is setting the standard high, their model will serve as an excellent example to other councils, who like Renfrewshire, will adopt digital transformation as a solution to deliver economic growth and enhance productivity through the provision of digital public services.”


Delivering free public access wi-fi adds weight to Paisley’s campaign to be named the UK City of Culture 2021.

The bid is part of wider push to re-energise the town centre and offering visitors free internet access supports efforts to make Paisley a destination of choice for people across the region and much further afield.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan explained: “The City of Culture bid is raising Paisley’s profile by putting the town and its assets in the international spotlight.

“This bid is part of a wider long-term plan to use Paisley’s outstanding heritage, architectural and cultural assets to drive regeneration and transform the area’s future.

“People now expect to be able to use their smartphones to get online wherever they go. Installing free public access wi-fi makes sure they can do just that.

“This will significantly improve visitors’ experience and support our efforts to establish the town as a key destination for cultural and heritage tourism within Scotland and the UK.”