Renfrewshire’s council leader was given a behind-the-scenes look at work on Paisley’s iconic Russell Institute building…and declared it will be ‘spectacular’ when it reopens next year as a skills and employability hub.

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The striking A-listed former health centre on the corner of Causeyside Street and New Street is halfway through a year-long £5m council-led project to restore it to its former glory.

When it reopens next year it is expected to bring around 80 new office jobs into the town centre, with national skills body Skills Development Scotland moving in as anchor tenants, alongside staff from the council’s Invest in Renfrewshire employability team.

And Councillor Mark Macmillan and SDS director of operations Danny Logue donned their hard hats for a tour of the facility to see the latest progress.

Since construction kicked off at the end of last year, main contractors CBC Ltd have been cleaning the external stonework and repointing some of the distinctive and intricate statues on the outside of the building.

Internally, the recognisable entrance hallway, staircase and balcony remain in place but work has been ongoing to turn the small rooms and cubicles of the former clinic into bright and open office space.

Councillor Macmillan said: “It was great to get a look inside the building and to see how the work is progressing – the revamped building will be spectacular.

“Along with Arnotts, the planned museum revamp, and with work starting soon on the museum store on the High Street, this is just one of several current major regeneration projects making the most of Paisley’s unique architecture and history.

“That unique heritage will be key to the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 and – as people will have noticed – the scaffolding around the Russell Institute has been used as an opportunity to help showcase the bid.

“From speaking to people around the town you realise how many residents have their own stories and memories of visiting here while growing up, so from that point of view it is great we are keeping the building alive for future generations too.

“The work taking place here is preserving the original 1920s features while creating bright and open 21st-century office space which people will enjoy working in.”

Danny Logue of SDS added: “It was fantastic to see the work that has been done already to breathe new life into this building.

“We are really looking forward to moving in and continuing to help the people of Renfrewshire to achieve careers success, as well as supporting businesses to grow and develop the skills of their workforce.”

The work is being funded by Renfrewshire Council, the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund and Historic Environment Scotland.

The Paisley Development Trust kicked the project off by commissioning an initial feasibility study into its use.

The Russell Institute was opened in 1927 and was gifted to Paisley Burgh by Miss Agnes Russell, who wanted it to be used as a child welfare clinic as a memorial to her two brothers.


The proposed next steps on ambitious £56.7m plans to transform Paisley Museum into an international-class visitor attraction have been unveiled by council bosses.


This week, councillors will be asked to approve a fresh application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project, and the creation of a project team to continue detailed development work over the next year.

An initial £15m funding bid lodged with HLF earlier this year was unsuccessful but lottery staff gave positive feedback on the project’s ambition, quality, and likely impact on the town’s regeneration.

If given the green light by members of the Leadership Board on Wednesday, council staff will now start work on a new application to go to HLF in December.

Last year the council set aside £15m for the project, which aims to extend the current building – operated by Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd – into a major attraction based on Paisley’s unique textile heritage.

Studies estimate the project would be worth £89m a year to the local economy, triple annual museum visitor numbers to 150,000, and support 238 jobs.

Work will run alongside Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture and it is hoped the museum will have a phased opening for 2021 – but if that timescale is to be hit, design work needs to continue.

For that reason councillors are being asked to spend £1.2m from existing regeneration resources on staff costs and detailed business case development.

At the same time, discussions are being planned with the UK and Scottish Governments and other agencies to help bring in other funds for the project before going back to HLF.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “While we were disappointed not to be funded first time around, we are certainly not disheartened as HLF made clear it was an extremely competitive round of funding and it is often the case projects like this are not successful on the first go.

“It was encouraging that HLF spoke so highly of what we are trying to do and the benefits it would bring to Renfrewshire – and we now have a clearer idea of what we need to do to be successfully funded at a later date.

“Part of that is further development of the museum’s fundraising strategy and we will be pushing ahead with that over the next six months.

“This project could have an utterly massive economic impact on Renfrewshire, creating new jobs, bringing large numbers of day-trippers and tourists into the area, and creating new footfall for Paisley High Street.

“Alongside the UK City of Culture 2021 bid, it will also have major community and educational benefit, helping reconnect the people of Paisley with the unique heritage and Pattern which bears the town’s name.

“For those reasons and more we remain utterly committed to delivering it in full and as planned, and the proposals going to councillors next week will help us do that.”

Alongside the museum project, work is well advanced to create a publicly-accessible museum store in a vacant unit on Paisley’s High Street for next year, opening up access to parts of the town’s collection currently not available for viewing.

Money has also been set aside to relocate the town’s lending library to another empty High Street unit, although the heritage library will stay as part of the museum.

A major investment in new, hi-tech LED street lighting across Renfrewshire has got underway in Paisley. 

Councillor Eddie Devine (left) fitting one of the new LED lamps

Councillor Eddie Devine (left) fitting one of the new LED lamps

Lighting contractors started the installation in the Foxbar and Glenburn areas and will complete work in Paisley before moving to other parts of Renfrewshire later in the year.  

The new lights will save a massive £750,000 a year due to lower electricity consumption, reduced maintenance costs and a reduction in carbon tax payments.

Council chiefs say the £11m investment will protect the environment, save money on running costs and improve street safety at night.
Almost 29,000 streetlights across Renfrewshire are being fitted with new, energy-efficient lamps which consume around 60% less power than conventional lamps and last five times longer. 

Another benefit of the new LED technology is that it emits a more natural white light that allows colours to be seen more clearly. The light also produces better quality CCTV images which can help to deter crime and antisocial behaviour, and improve detection rates for incidents.

Councillor Eddie Devine, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment Policy Board, said:

“This investment will bring a wide range of benefits. 

“At the moment, street lighting accounts for one-fifth of the council’s CO2 emissions. By making this major investment in new, green LED technology, we are taking a significant step to meeting our carbon reduction targets.

“By using less energy to light our streets, we are also protecting council tax payers against the effects of future energy price increases.”

The replacement programme is expected is expected to be completed by May 2017. In most cases, the new LED lamps will be fitted to existing lamp-posts, making the exercise quick and straightforward. 

Residents will receive a postcard before installation starts in their area and lamp-post signs will be put up to remind them to keep installation spaces clear.

More information on LED street lights and details of the installation schedule are available at

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New help for a new job

New help is at hand for workers in Renfrewshire who struggle with childcare or travel costs in the early days of a new job.

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Renfrewshire Council’s Access to Work scheme is designed to help new workers sustain their employment, with funds available to help with childcare and travel costs in the first few weeks.

Council bosses are urging those who could access the fund to speak with their Job Centre advisor.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “Getting into work is one of the best things that anyone can do for their prospects, their health and their lifestyle, and we are determined to break down the barriers that make it difficult for people to start a job.

“The Access to Work fund will make a huge difference to those who find childcare and travel costs a real problem in the first working month.

“It will help to tackle poverty and make sure people throughout our communities get a fair chance at a more prosperous future.”

The fund can be used to help any unemployed resident of Renfrewshire from 16 – 64 years old seeking to return to work after receiving out of work benefits for at least four weeks.

Access to Work is funded by Renfrewshire Council’s Tackling Poverty programme, a £6million commitment to addressing the causes and effects of poverty on individuals, families and communities throughout Renfrewshire.

Anyone seeking more information about the Access to Work fund should speak first with their Job Centre advisor.

More information about the fund is also available at

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The Glasgow City Region City Deal is investing £274m in three major infrastructure projects in Renfrewshire. These will bring great economic benefits and job opportunities and it is important that residents are aware of the plans and have a say in building their successful futures.

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Three community events are taking place in Renfrew, Paisley and at Intu Braehead on 17, 18 and 19 May 2016. Residents are invited to see the plans, meet the City Deal team and express their views on these exciting developments.

Councillor Mark MacMillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council said, “Renfrewshire’s communities stand to gain a tremendous amount from our three City Deal projects. They will help our economy to grow and create employment, improve our access to further work and leisure opportunities, and make Renfrewshire home to three modern, innovative, landmark projects.

“It is important that communities are part of this progress. I’d urge anyone with an interest these new developments to come along to our events, see what’s planned, and express their views on how the projects will work best for them.”

The £78m Clyde Waterfront and Renfrew Riverside project will build a new bridge across the Clyde linking Renfrew and Yoker. The project also includes new roads to improve traffic flow in Renfrew and to increase accessibility to new travel and employment opportunities. It will also create potential for business growth, new jobs and new residential developments.

The Renfrew crossing will be an exciting addition to the Clyde – and its only opening road bridge.  Residents with an interest in this new piece of engineering – and in how it will improve life in Renfrew – can see plans and discuss the project with the City Deal Team at the community events.

The Glasgow Airport Investment Area (GAIA) project will improve connections between the Westway, Inchinnan and Airport Business Parks, with plans for two new bridges across the White Cart and a new ‘Gateway Route’ between Paisley Town Centre and the Airport.

The £51.39m investment is expected to generate business growth, attract inward investment and support the airport’s growth. The GAIA underlines Renfrewshire’s pivotal role in the City Region’s economy but, above all, it will create conditions for business growth and employment opportunities.

Residents with an interest in this modern and enterprising project are invited to come along to a community event where the plans will be on display and the team can listen to your views.

The third City Deal investment in Renfrewshire is in the £144m Airport Access Project (AAP); a new fixed link connection between Glasgow Central, Paisley Gilmour Street Station and the airport. This will support the airport’s continuing success with an efficient, fast and modern transport option for air travellers and airport employees.

The AAP is at an earlier development stage than the other projects but visitors to the community events will be able to see plans and discuss the new link with the project’s managers.

The City Deal Team, with details of current plans and proposals will be in Renfrew Town Hall on Tuesday 17 May, at Paisley Town Hall on Wednesday 18 May and at Intu Braehead on Thursday 19 May between 10 am and 7pm.

You can also find out more about the Glasgow City Region City Deal and its investment in Renfrewshire at

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Community groups, voluntary organisations and communities from across Renfrewshire will be able to find out about opportunities provided by Paisley’s 2021 UK City of Culture bid at a special evening event at Paisley Town Hall on 9 May from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.

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The event is the second of a series of community planning conferences organised by Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership taking place between now and the end of June.

The focus of the conference will be on how the culture bid can provide a platform for local groups and charities to achieve their goals.

Representatives from charities, voluntary organisations, community groups and local businesses across Renfrewshire are encouraged to attend.

Delegates will get the chance to hear from guest speakers about opportunities for community groups and take part in discussion groups and workshops.

Jean Cameron, director of Paisley’s UK City of Culture bid, said: “The 2021 UK City of Culture bid will provide many opportunities for communities across the whole of Renfrewshire, not only those that are Paisley-based.

“I would urge local community members and organisations to come along and find out how they can benefit their own organisation at the same time as backing Paisley’s bid.”

Anyone who would like to attend should call 0141 618 4168 (9.30am – 4.00pm, Monday to Friday) or email

To book a place online, go to:

Further details of these and other community planning conferences running in May and June can be found on the Renfrewshire community planning website

Further information about Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021 can be found at






Airport reports busiest March on record  – up 9% on previous year

Glasgow Airport recorded its busiest March on record after more than 660,000 passengers travelled through its doors during the month, representing an increase of 9% on the same period last year.

The airport also created history after it exceeded 8.9 million passengers during a rolling 12 month period for the first time ever. The numbers ensure the airport remains on course to exceed nine million passengers during what is its 50th anniversary year.

International traffic grew by 11% due to strong demand on European routes to Berlin, Dusseldorf and Bucharest.  Aer Lingus also added capacity on its Dublin service and the airport welcomed Air France on board which launched its new service to its hub at Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

Domestic traffic increased by 7.2% with Flybe, EasyJet and Loganair all adding extra capacity on services. British Airways and Ryanair also reported strong demand for their London services.

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport said: “Our performance during the first quarter of 2016 has ensured we’ve made what is our busiest ever start to a year. The fact we have achieved this in our 50th anniversary year makes it all the more pleasing.

“Our passenger numbers continue to benefit from Glasgow’s success in attracting large scale events, such as the World Irish Dancing Championships which saw over 5,000 competitors from 20 different countries descend on the city last month.

“We have also continued to strengthen our route network, particularly our links with major European cities, and the addition of one of the world’s major flag carriers, Air France, was a significant achievement. Providing a greater choice of direct routes not only opens up a host of new markets for Scottish passengers, it ensures Scotland is more accessible for the growing number of tourists who continue to visit our shores.”







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A new Renfrewshire Council support package that will remove barriers to work by helping job seekers with initial transport and childcare costs is about to be launched.


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The Access to Work fund will bridge the gap currently faced by many in being unable to pay for the initial costs of childcare and travel to take on a job. It will be available from April 1.

The fund will be delivered through the council’s successful economic development programme ‘Invest in Renfrewshire’ and will give more people the opportunity to access work,

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Renfrewshire Council Leader, said: “We are committed to targeting resources towards innovative programmes that make a difference to our economy and the lives of people living in poverty – like our Invest in Renfrewshire programme.

“Our Tackling Poverty Fund has enabled us to expand our successful programmes while also taking forward new approaches. Creation of the new Access to Work fund is another key part of that and will bring Renfrewshire social and economic benefits.

“The Access to Work Fund will remove the unfair obstacles that currently prevent many people from being able to start a job. Having initial costs to meet, but not yet having a first pay cheque to cover travel and childcare fees, is a vicious circle. This was specifically highlighted by the Renfrewshire Tackling Poverty Commission and is why Access to Work is being funded from our £6m Tackling Poverty response.

“I am proud this fund is about to be launched to remove barriers, offer immediate support and open up opportunities for more people.”

To be eligible for funding you need to have been out of work and claiming benefit for at least 4 weeks. To apply to the Access to Work Fund, please speak to your local Jobcentre Plus Advisor or call Invest in Renfrewshire on 0300 300 1180 for more information.

Invest in Renfrewshire is calling on new creative local businesses to join its InCube community by entering a competition that could win them up to a year’s intensive support.

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From a business base in Paisley High Street, InCube enterprises enjoy ongoing advice and support. This is designed to help them develop their products and reach high street, online and export customers. They also get access to a range of financial and business skills training from experts and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs can expect to be InCube for up to a year where it is rent-free, rates-free and worry- free, and gives them the opportunity to focus on building their businesses.

This year’s InCube businesses cite the practical support, bespoke premises and sense of community as the chief benefits to being part of the Incubator.

The competition for the next generation of ‘InCubers’ was announced at a Bloggers’ evening at the InCube Shop in Paisley’s Gilmour Street. The shop shone brightly in the websphere when lifestyle bloggers gathered to view and review the store’s unique range of designer and craft wares.

The shop is the retail arm of the business incubator and carries: textiles by designers Amy McGregor and Siobhan Grey; fine art from; bridal accessories from Bella Brilla, hats by Pea Cooper and exclusive children’s wear from Treetops. Live music on the night was provided by Phil Hoolahan whose innovative guitar slides are already popular with musicians.

To advertise your business and showcase your business at conferences, exhibitions etc you should think about a pop up banner stand, for more click here.

Renfrewshire entrepreneurs ready to take the next enterprising step can find out more about InCube, and apply to win a place at Applications close on 25 April.

Renfrewshire Council has expanded a unique and successful family support programme, as its ambitious £6m Tackling Poverty Fund continues to deliver on-the-ground improvements for communities.


A £1m investment from the fund has now set up three new Families First core teams in Gallowhill, Foxbar and Johnstone.

They join the successful Families First approach that’s already delivering vital early years and family support services in Ferguslie and Linwood – bringing the total number of teams in Renfrewshire up to five.

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Renfrewshire’s Convener for Education and Children, said: “Our ambitious Tackling Poverty Fund has allowed us to invest in a far-reaching package that has expanded proven approaches and launched new interventions to improve life chances for children.

“Families First is Renfrewshire’s pioneering family support programme which created core teams in two communities in 2013 to help families build better futures for their children. It has been independently evaluated by Glasgow University as ‘overwhelmingly positive’, and is also being held up as a national example of an approach to follow.

“All our children deserve the same opportunities and we know the valuable impact our Families First teams have had for families in Linwood and Ferguslie – so I am extremely proud this has been extended to Foxbar, Gallowhill and Johnstone.”

The new core team locations and their team leads are:
• Herriot Primary School in Foxbar: Alexandrina Sweeten
• Gallowhill Primary School in Gallowhill: Pamela McKechan
• Auchenlodment Primary School in Johnstone: Kelly McGarvey