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A Paisley site of strategic importance for Renfrewshire’s long-term economic and community development is to be brought into public ownership.

Renfrewshire Council has agreed terms to conclude its purchase of the bulk of the 24-acre site at Renfrew Road from Pernod Ricard’s Chivas Brothers. It is anticipated ownership of the site will transfer to the Council later this year.

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Bringing the site into public ownership will allow the Council to explore a range of possible development opportunities, including new transport links, economic and community uses, supporting the region’s economic recovery from the impact of Coronavirus.

Situated to the north of the town centre, the sizeable site sits between West College Scotland’s Paisley campus and Abbotsinch Retail Park, with the White Cart river to the west.

The Council is exploring options for an economic development corridor along the White Cart, improving connections from Paisley town centre to the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland under development next to Glasgow Airport.

The Chivas Brothers land has been identified as a possible site for a new Paisley Grammar School, with a public consultation to take place at a future date.

The remainder of the site is being purchased by Scottish Leather Group, which is converting the North Hall into a new car seat upholstery facility as the UK’s largest leather manufacturer expands its Renfrewshire operations, bringing with it a further 100 high-skilled jobs.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the local, national and global economies and we must be ready and able to tackle the social and economic harm now and in the months ahead.

“We have awarded more than £25million in government grants to businesses to provide immediate support and have consulted with more than 500 businesses and enterprise and education leaders as we develop a roadmap for Renfrewshire’s economic recovery, with a central focus on retaining and creating jobs.

“I am pleased that, following detailed negotiations with Chivas Brothers over the last two years, we have been able to conclude a contract for the future purchase of this site. Securing its public ownership will enable us to consider a range of development opportunities which support long-term growth of the local economy and bring benefits to the surrounding communities.

“The Chivas Brothers site provided many local jobs over the years and I am pleased that while one chapter is closing, this purchase will ensure the site continues to play a vital role in the region’s future for many years to come.”

Iain McFadyen, CEO of Scottish Leather Group said: “We are extremely pleased to have secured the North Hall part of the Chivas Brothers site which will allow us to expand our operations in Renfrewshire. The site will initially employ 100 people cutting leather for premium automotive interiors.”

Jean-Christophe Coutures, Chairman and CEO of Chivas Brothers, said: “We are delighted to have confirmed the sale of our Paisley site to Renfrewshire Council and Scottish Leather Group. Together they bring significant opportunity to the local area, with the latter creating 100 new high-skilled jobs.

“The site has played an important role in the local community for many years, so we’re pleased this sale will allow it to continue to leave a positive economic and cultural legacy in Paisley.”

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Renfrewshire Council has unveiled plans for a £1.3m package of support designed to help local businesses get back on their feet after the coronavirus lockdown.

The proposals – including crisis loans, grants and advice services – were based on the results of a detailed survey of local firms run by the council and Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce.

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The council and chamber between them spoke to more than 500 companies – around 10% of Renfrewshire’s businesses – by phone and email to understand the issues they are facing and what would help them emerge from lockdown.

And members of the council’s Emergencies Board will this week be asked to approve proposals for several new funds targeting short-term support to the local economy. They include:

– £500k for zero-interest business restart loans of up to £5,000 to help small-and-medium-sized business with short-term cashflow;

– £400k for grants of up to £10,000 to help sustain businesses and plan for growth in the medium term;

– £250k for grants of up to £2,500 to help businesses adapt their premises to allow for physical distancing;

– £150k to help fund expert advice to businesses in crisis and self-employed people over training and access to funding;

The money is coming from within existing council budgets for business support and is expected to be the first stage of a longer-term economic recovery plan being developed by the council in partnership with the local business sector through the Renfrewshire Economic Leadership Panel.

If the proposals are approved when the board meets on Friday, council officers would put in place and promote a process for firms to apply for the support from mid-August.

The measures are being announced in the same week as Scotland’s non-essential shops, bars and restaurants are allowed to reopen – and as the council launches its Renfrewshire Spend Local campaign, encouraging residents to support local traders.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “We understand the devastating impact of coronavirus on our local businesses and that some very challenging months lie ahead for them while the country emerges from lockdown.

“We and the Chamber have spent the past few months having in-depth conversations with hundreds of our businesses to develop a detailed understanding of what the council could do to help.

“What they told us is that cashflow and reduced sales were the biggest issues, along with adapting to physical distancing and new regulations – and the package of measures we are now putting forward were designed around that.

“Although there is a very challenging financial outlook for the council too, we have prioritised this investment because we are determined to do all we can to help keep as many local businesses as possible trading and to help keep people in jobs.

“And while we hope this package of support will – if approved – make a difference, we are at the same time calling on all residents to do what they can to help support local businesses. Money spent in the local area will support your local community, so please Spend Local if you can.”

Renfrewshire Council has already distributed more than £26m of financial support to local business through various Scottish Government funds designed to mitigate the effect of coronavirus.

More information on the range of business support on offer from the council can be found at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/coronavirus-business and www.investinrenfrewshire.com, while more info on Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce can be found at www.renfrewshirechamber.com

MFG Intu Braehead reopens 2020

SHOPPERS got some retail therapy at intu Braehead yesterday after months of lockdown.

Visitors headed to the mall an hour before the official opening time of 10am as non-essential stores reopened for the first time since March 24 following lockdown restrictions being eased.

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People coming to the mall followed the new measures and procedures introduced by intu Braehead to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The plan drawn up to keep everyone who visits or works there safe included social distancing and hygiene procedures and more support to help stores safely reopen.

It included a raft of other measures with floor stickers indicating a one-way system for visitors making their way through the centre and staff training to ensure visitors stay socially distanced.

Visitors were also required to wear face coverings in line with Scottish government instructions.

Peter Beagley, regional centre director for intu Braehead said: “We were pleased to see that everyone supported the measures we had put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.”

One of the first through the doors at intu Braehead were Anna Gorska, 35; her seven-year-old daughter Maja and friend Marzena Marcinczyk, 33, from Govan, in Glasgow.

Anna said: “We’ve really missed coming shopping at intu Braehead. We prefer to come to the shopping centre so we can see exactly what we are buying.

“We’re all going back to Poland later this month for a visit and we came early today in case there were any queues as we’re buying clothes for our holiday.”

People said they felt comfortable being in the centre with the health and safety measures put in place at the mall.

Audrey Stewart, from Bishopton said: “I definitely feel quite safe being in the centre with all the different procedures that’s been introduced and everything is well sign-posted.

“You just have to be a bit more observant when you’re walking around and everyone seems to be following what they’re being asked to do.”

Alan Reid, from Irvine, Ayrshire said: “With all the measures put in place I feel quite comfortable being here. The layout looks pretty good to me.”

Peter Beagley added: “It’s a great feeling being able to welcome people back to the centre and there has obviously been a big jump in footfall with most of our non-essential stores re-opening.

“We had remained partially open during lockdown for essential stores to stay open, but today now feels like we’re getting back to some kind of normality.

“We’ve made sure the centre is re-opening in line with the government’s guidelines and we’re doing everything we can to make sure intu Braehead is a safe place to visit and to work.

“It will be a different experience than usual for everyone who visits us, but it’s pleasing to see everyone following the guidelines we’ve put in place. Both our visitors and our staff are working together to keep each other safe and I would thank everyone for doing that.”

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A Paisley barber has backed a campaign designed to help people look after their mental health as he prepares to welcome back clients from next week.

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Alexander Mills, owner of Handsome Jacks, acknowledged many will feel anxious about returning to the barber shop after months away, as he encouraged people to reach out if they need support.

The barber has shared details of what the experience will feel like to help clients prepare, in the hope they’ll use the time in the chair to clear their heads, as he gets to work on styling them.

With research showing at least seven in ten people in Scotland are feeling anxious or concerned about other people not following guidelines, as restrictions ease1, the Clear Your Head campaign gives people practical tips on how to look after their mental health.

This includes recognising how you’re feeling, talking to others, regular physical activity, good sleep, diet and sensible alcohol and caffeine consumption, limiting the time you allow yourself to worry, as well as taking slow deep breaths if you’re feeling anxious.

Alexander Mills, barber and owner of Handsome Jacks, said:

“Whilst there’s understandable excitement about us opening, in reality the next steps out of lockdown might make some feel anxious.

“The experience at the barbers might feel different, but we’ve let our clients know what to expect and the steps we’re taking to make things safe to help reassure them.  We might not be able to chat as much, but I hope our clients know we’re here for them, and focused on making their experience as stress free as possible.

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“A barbershop is somewhere people can escape, and get a 30 minute break from the stresses of daily life.  Our hope is people will leave feeling a little bit lighter, with a nice haircut.

“It’s not easy at the moment, and everyone is feeling it. Take up the advice on offer if you’re worried, because it’s important to look after yourself and there are practical things you can do that will really help.”

The Scottish Government’s Principal Medical Officer explained feelings of anxiety and concern are normal and shared by everyone to differing degrees.

Consultant Psychiatrist Dr John Mitchell said:

“We’ve adjusted our lives and now, as restrictions continue to ease, feelings of anxiety, worry or fear are understandable and natural.   Your family, friends and everyone you know are likely to be feeling the same way.

“It’s important that we face our fears and do not avoid them.  Mentally preparing yourself to do things that you are worried about can help, rehearsing in your mind the steps you can take to reduce infection risk. This could include paying contactlessly, good hand hygiene, and also using face coverings in enclosed spaces.

“We’ve never had to deal with a situation like this before, so be kind to yourself and to others, and reach out if you need to talk to someone.  Support is there.”

The Clear Your Head website – clearyourhead.scot – provides a range of tips to help people look after their mental health, signposting helplines for those who need to talk to someone, including NHS24, Breathing Space, SAMH and the Samaritans.

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DRIVE-IN movies are coming to the boardwalk at intu Braehead to raise money for charity.

And yesterday, the Gordon family moved like greased lightin’ when they bumped into lookalikes for Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson from the Grease movie – one of a host of films being shown during the five-day Lockdown Drive-in event from Wednesday, July 29 until Sunday, Sunday 2 August.

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Dad, David, mum, Gillian and kids, Ava, seven and five-year-old Max, from Foxbar, in Paisley also got to ride in a 1950s Pink Cadillac after they had taken a stroll past the shopping and leisure destination.

The Arena at intu Braehead has teamed up with the Catherine McEwan Foundation charity to help raise much-needed funds to help people living with Crohn’s and Colitis get better care, treatment and quality of life.

Tickets costing £35 per car plus booking fee, and are now on sale from www.lockdowndrivein.com but NHS workers will get a free night out at the movies, as the first showing of Grease is exclusively for NHS workers.

To apply for free tickets, hospital and medical staff should apply to the booking website and give their NHS number. The free tickets will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

There will be two films shown on a giant screen every night and four movies at the weekend, with the audio broadcast via a frequency that car radios can be tuned to.

As well as tickets going on public sale for the Grease Singalong movie – which has lyrics to all the songs running along the bottom of the screen so everyone can join in – other films being shown are Jurassic Park, Mama Mia, Goonies, Finding Nemo, Lion King, The Lost Boys, Back to the Future and Dirty Dancing.

There will be 160 cars at each show and refreshments will be provided by the UK’s top street food operator, The Big Feed who will be on site.

Mum Gillian said: “This is a fantastic idea to have a drive-in movie on the boardwalk, as it gives families somewhere to go for a night out during lockdown.

“When we found out that the Grease movie was being screened we decided that this was definitely the one that we want!”

Derek McEwan, who launched the Catherine McEwan Foundation after his mother, Catherine passed away after years of suffering from Crohn’s Disease said: “Drive In movies are a major part of our annual fundraising and in these very testing times they have never been more important.

“To bring our concept to the iconic Braehead Boardwalk is huge for us and will add to the amazing experience for all our cinema goers.

“It is especially pleasing to have a free night as a thank you to all our NHS heroes where 360 families can come down and enjoy a movie on us”

Scott Martin, intu Braehead Leisure general manager added: “We’ve got the ideal location for a drive-in movie with plenty space to keep within social distancing guidelines and great sightlines.

“It’s a great opportunity for people from the same household to get some normality back for a while with a night out at the movies.”

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Rolls-Royce at Inchinnan won’t be getting help to save hundreds of jobs – that’s the message from the UK Government. 

Following calls from local MP Gavin Newlands for urgent intervention to save jobs at the site, the UK Minister for Business and Industry refused to act, saying, “our focus is on securing the medium and long-term future of the sector.” 

The response raised fears that the UK Government has given up on saving the 700 jobs under threat at Inchinnan and is staying quiet as work is moved overseas. 

Since Rolls-Royce’s announcement of job losses in May, unions and workers have made clear that they want to work with management to save jobs and save production at the site, which employs around 1,500 people in total.  

But company bosses have refused to discuss plans to reduce costs without reducing jobs, and the UK Government’s refusal to intervene  

Newlands hit back at the Minister, slamming the inaction so far and calling for help that could save the jobs, even at this late stage. 

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Gavin said: 

“To say I am disappointed with the UK Government’s response would be putting it mildly – it is a disgrace.  700 workers at Inchinnan and their families are facing huge financial hardship and uncertainty and instead of promising action, we are left yet again with platitudes and empty gestures.  

“In a 700-word letter the Minister mentions Inchinnan just once – that is indicative of a Government that has already written Inchinnan off and appears to have acted as part of the Rolls-Royce PR team from the beginning.  

“He says they are interested in securing the medium and long-term future.  So am I.  But without a short-term future there will be no future at Rolls-Royce for the staff who face losing their jobs. Let’s face it, Rolls-Royce have been off-shoring jobs for many years now with nary a word from its Government cheerleaders. 

“We are hearing a great deal from Boris Johnson and company about rebuilding the economy, but they seem content to let what has already been built crumble and leave our economy here in Renfrewshire to ruin.  

“Rolls-Royce Inchinnan is world-class site with a world-leading workforce and there is still time for the UK Government to step up and recognise that fact with support and action to keep these jobs at Inchinnan and build a long-term future for all who rely on the plant for their livelihoods 

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Paisley First is launching a fun, family “Safari” to help give families a safe town centre story-trail this summer, whilst supporting the NHS.

From today, families from across Renfrewshire and beyond can search the streets for 10 cute and colourful MonsterHeroes.

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Using only smartphones, the Safari allows you to learn each of the MonsterHero’s name, story, and superpowers.

Once all 10 MonsterHeroes are found, a free e-book that tells the story of their first team-up will be unlocked.

The Safari works by utilising contactless NFC technology and QR codes, without the need for players to download or sign up to anything.

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To play, simply tap or scan the Let’s Go posters or MonsterHero Safari window decals dotted around the town centre, and make a donation of £2, or more if you wish, to the charity NHS Together.

As we all adjust to the new normal, it’s hoped this outdoor trail will bring some family fun to Paisley town centre, where visitors can enjoy fresh air and wide-open spaces, and hopefully bring a smile to visiting children.

Colette Cardosi, Chair of Paisley First, said: “Keeping everyone safe is the top priority of Paisley First and our town centre businesses so we made the decision some months ago to postpone our planned LEGO® Animal Paradise summer trail until 2021.

“MonsterHero Safari is an outdoor only trail and a great way to help people get some fresh air whilst having fun and raising money for such a worthwhile cause too.

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“As more and more of our local businesses are reopening, families can be assured that we are all working together to implement COVID-19 safety measures to Keep Paisley Safe.

“We can’t always promise sunshine, but we will do our best to offer a safe day out this summer here in Paisley.”

More than 100 areas across the UK are taking part in this summer’s MonsterHero Safari project with the aim of raising more than £100k for NHS Charities Together.

Paisley town centre’s trail has been sponsored by Love Local, Love Paisley

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To learn more about the story-trail please go to www.paisleyfirst.com

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The team at intu Braehead has outlined how it will safely reopen the non-essential stores at the centre in line with Scottish Government guidelines.

The plan drawn up to keep everyone who visits or works there safe includes social distancing and hygiene procedures and more support to help stores safely reopen.

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It includes placing limits on the number of people allowed into the centre at a time, with a raft of other measures including floor stickers indicating a one-way system for visitors making their way through the centre and staff training to ensure visitors stay socially distanced.

Visitors will also be required to wear face coverings in line with Scottish government instructions.

The Scottish Government has indicated that shopping centres can reopen on Monday, July 13.

Enhanced hygiene regimes that were introduced at the start of the coronavirus outbreak will continue, with even more deep cleaning of key areas and touch points like escalators, toilets and keypads.

These measures have remained in place since intu Braehead provided vital access to essential services such as pharmacies and supermarkets during lockdown. Automatic Hand sanitation dispensers will also remain at entrances and other locations throughout the centre for visitors to use.

And intu Braehead staff will be given personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them safe, with facemasks and gloves provided to frontline workers such as security and customer service staff and visors issued to waste and environmental teams.

The centre’s team has given individual stores support to help them reopen safely and in line with Government guidelines, such as queuing zones in the malls to ensure social distancing inside shops.

Peter Beagley, intu Braehead’s centre director said: “We can’t wait to see our wide variety of stores reopen to give people some much-needed retail therapy, which would be a perfect antidote to the lengthy lockdown we’re thankfully now coming out of.

“Our team has been working hard to have the centre fully open in line with the government’s guidelines and we’re doing everything we can to make sure intu Braehead is a safe place to visit and to work.

“It will be a different experience than usual for everyone who visits us, but this is to make sure everyone is safe and enjoys their time when they come shopping.

“We know we cannot do this alone and everyone who visits us, whether for work or to shop will play their part in keeping themselves and each other safe by following official guidelines and the instructions and safety information provided by our team.”

 

 

Captions: Escalator 1 and 2: intu Braehead environmental assistant, Pamela Davidson deep cleans the escalators at the shopping centre.

Rail: intu Braehead environmental assistant, Pamela Davidson deep cleans the handrails on stairs at the shopping centre.

Mask 1 and 2: intu Braehead staff member, Jonathan Cunningham wears a mask as he helps prepare the shopping centre for reopening.

Screen: Building services engineer, Jim Webster fits protective screens to the customer services desk at intu Braehead.

Sign pix: The intu Braehead mall is well signposted to keep shoppers safe when the shopping centre fully reopens.

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The Wolfson Foundation has announced Paisley Museum will receive £200,000 in capital funding towards its transformation into a world-class cultural destination.

More than 80 grants were announced by the foundation with Paisley Museum receiving the highest heritage grant outside London.

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When Paisley Museum reopens it is expected to attract 125,000 visits each year from Scotland, the UK and overseas and provide a £72m economic boost to the area over the next 30 years.

The £42m redevelopment of the museum is the signature project in Paisley’s radical regeneration which also includes refurbishments of the town’s A-listed town hall and a new learning and cultural hub housing library services on the town’s high street.

The redesign of the museum campus, being led by an international team including architects AL_A and exhibition designers Opera Amsterdam, will allow the number of objects on display to be increased by 100%.

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Few places of Paisley’s size have had such a global impact, and this is reflected in the museum’s internationally-significant holdings, which include an unrivalled collection of 1,200 Paisley shawls and vast natural history collections. They are currently being held in Paisley: The Secret Collection, the only publicly-accessible museum store on a UK high street.

The Museum’s final phase of fundraising is now under way, with the recently-launched museum website reimagined.paisleymuseum.org showcasing the project’s ambitious vision.

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd, said:
“We are delighted the Wolfson Foundation is investing in the future of Paisley Museum. The museum has been beloved by generations of Renfrewshire people and this significant sum brings us a step closer to radically transforming this prominent symbol of Paisley’s past into a central part of our town’s future. Investing in our venues is key to our recovery from the pandemic, as it will create jobs, support new and existing businesses in the area, and drive new footfall to our town centre.”

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Eric Grounds, Capital Appeal Director of Paisley Reimagined, said:
“Paisley Museum has remained at the heart of the community since being founded in 1871. This £42m project presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure our world-class collections are safeguarded, and the museum continues to be a source of knowledge, enjoyment and pride for everyone living in or visiting Paisley. We look forward to connecting with others who recognise the national significance of this project and the positive outcomes it will bring to Paisley.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of Wolfson Foundation, said: “The Wolfson Foundation is committed to funding widely across Scotland and so we are delighted to be supporting Paisley Museum, especially at such a challenging time for cultural life generally. The scale of the ambition is extremely impressive – and the new Museum campus will tell a glorious mix of local and global stories, all based on superb collections.”

Paisley Museum Reimagined is supported by Renfrewshire Council, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

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