500 not out for council’s Invest in Renfrewshire scheme.

A family-run Renfrewshire engineering firm has just become the 500th local business to sign up for a council scheme aimed at boosting the local economy.

Reekie Machining of Inchinnan has been in existence for almost 70 years, but is now the newest sign-up for the £8m Invest in Renfrewshire programme.

Invest in Renfrewshire offers various packages of financial support to local firms with the twin aims of boosting business and tackling unemployment.

Reekie Machining – currently sub-contracted to work on the project to build a new Forth Road crossing – has received a business development grant through Invest.

This will go towards the cost of purchasing new high-tech measuring machinery which will help the firm increase the range of services offered to clients.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan met operations director David Reekie – whose grandfather started the firm back in 1947 – to congratulate him on becoming the 500th sign-up, and see for himself where the money will go.

He said: “When Invest started back in summer 2012, we set the target of signing up 1,000 businesses over what we initially expected to be a four-year programme.

“To have made 500 – and counting – within 18 months of the launch shows we are actually ahead of schedule.

“But the hard work doesn’t stop here – there are many more businesses out there who could benefit from the support we have to offer and who we can work with to help create employment opportunities for local residents.

“The council has made a sizeable financial commitment to Invest in Renfrewshire because we have a role to play in making Renfrewshire a better place to do business and see the local economy as one of our biggest priorities.

“We want the 500 companies who have signed up to Invest in Renfrewshire to help us spread the word to others and help the programme’s success continue.”

David Reekie, operations director of Reekie Machining, added: “The firm used to make and sell portable machine tools but these days we provide in situ machining services to clients, mainly in the oil and power industries.

“Our business development grant will help pay for a co-ordinate measuring machine, which will allow us to make more accurate measurements of machine parts.

Invest in Renfrewshire is a really good scheme – it helped us make the decision to invest in this machinery, as we may not have gone for it without the funding.”

Other financial support available through the scheme includes an employer recruitment incentive, which helps firms meet the wage costs of hiring an unemployed young person, as well as business loans and grants.

To date, Invest in Renfrewshire has supported the creation of more than 350 new local jobs.

To find out more about Invest in Renfrewshire, call 0300 300 1180, email invest@renfrewshire.gov.uk or visit www.investinrenfewshire.com


French airline Europe Airpost has announced a series of scheduled flights linking Glasgow Airport with Halifax, Canada in summer 2014.

It will be the first time Halifax, which is the capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, has been served as a destination from Glasgow Airport since 2009. Europe Airport will operate a weekly service during July and August.

Europe Airpost Dec 13

The busy Atlantic seaport of Halifax looks out over one of the world’s largest natural harbours. It is the largest city in Atlantic Canada and is described as the economic and cultural hub of Eastern Canada.

Europe Airpost will deploy a two class Boeing 737-700 aircraft with 128 seats – 24 in premium economy and 104 in economy – on the route.

Francois Bourienne, Glasgow Airport’s commercial director, added: “Canada and Scotland share rich historic and cultural links and as a result, demand for any route between the two countries is always extremely high. We are delighted Europe Airpost has restored Halifax to our route network and it will provide new capacity during one of our busiest periods of the year.”

Jean-François Dominiak, chief executive of Europe Airport, said: “The launch of this new route meets Europe Airpost’s strategy of diversification with the operation of series of scheduled flights. The Boeing 737-700 aircraft of the company perfectly suits the needs of a summer transatlantic connection between Glasgow and Halifax.”

Flights will go on sale in early January through www.europeairpost.com with prices starting from £499 return trip, including taxes and baggage.

Glasgow Airport

With some 30 airlines serving more than 100 destinations worldwide, including Canada, the US, the Caribbean, Europe, North Africa and the Gulf, Glasgow Airport is Scotland’s principal long-haul airport.

In addition to being Scotland’s largest charter hub, Glasgow Airport serves more Scottish destinations than any other airport and is a key component of Scotland’s transport infrastructure.

The airport supports over 7,300 jobs across Scotland and makes the largest contribution of any airport to Scotland’s economy, generating hundreds of millions of pounds.

Courtesy of Glasgow Airport.

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Passenger numbers up 3.1% in November 2013

Glasgow Airport enjoyed its busiest November in six years after almost 514,000 people travelled through its doors, representing an increase of 3.1% compared to the same period last year.

Glasgow Airport logo 2013A strong demand for a number of Glasgow’s long haul routes including Emirates’ 14 weekly flights to Dubai and United Airlines’ Newark service contributed to a 10.9% increase in international traffic.

The decision by easyJet and KLM to add extra capacity on their respective Amsterdam services for Celtic’s Champions League clash with Ajax also contributed to the marked increase in international traffic.

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: “Not only have we been able to report our busiest November in six years, we enjoyed our tenth consecutive month of passenger growth. We have been consistently growing passenger numbers over the course of the past three years and much of our recent success has been driven by the performance of our international routes, which is particularly pleasing.

“We are looking forward to what promises to be a busy festive period after which our attention will turn to 2014 and to delivering a successful and memorable Commonwealth Games.”

The second phase of Glasgow Airport’s extensive £17 million investment programme, which will transform large areas of the terminal ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games, is well underway. The works include the extension of the international arrivals area, the addition of new seating and the landscaping of a new public space at the front of the building.

Other aspects of the refurbishment include new flooring in the airport’s domestic pier, the installation of new heating and ventilation systems in terminal two, and general improvements to the airport’s road network and airfield.

Kilbarchan celebrates becoming a Fairtrade Village.

Kilbarchan is the latest community in Renfrewshire to achieve Fairtrade status.

The Fairtrade Foundation has declared Kilbarchan a ‘Fairtrade Village’ following its successful campaign to make Fairtrade part of village life.

Kilbarchan follows in the footsteps of Paisley, Bishopton, Renfrew and Lochwinnoch, which have already achieved Fairtrade Town status.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan, Chair of the Renfrewshire Fairtrade Steering Group, said: “I congratulate campaigners in Kilbarchan on this achievement. It contributes towards our share goal of being a Fairtrade Zone and gives further weight to Renfrewshire’s role in supporting Scotland as a Fair Trade nation.

“The enthusiasm and energy for Fairtrade throughout the village is impressive. The community has worked together to ensure the Fairtrade message is spread far and wide.”

Kilbarchan’s retailers, church groups, food outlets, schools and local activists have all contributed to the campaign by selling or serving Fairtrade goods or educating others about the Fairtrade movement.

Graham Batin from the Kilbarchan Fairtrade Steering Group said: “Fairtrade goods have been available and enjoyed in the village for a number of years now. The campaign has widespread spread support and it’s great to see Kilbarchan’s commitment to improving the lives of others formally recognised.

“Our organised events have helped bring us closer together as a community because everyone can get involved in Fairtrade in whichever way suits them”.

To support Kilbarchan’s bid to become a Fairtrade Village, the Steering Group organised Afternoon Tea and Scones to celebrate World Fairtrade Day and ensured the Fairtrade banana baton passed from Lochwinnoch to Bridge of Weir in last year’s Banana Relay.

Schoolchildren from Kilbarchan Primary have played their part too by signing up to Renfrewshire’s Rice Challenge helping to support Malawian rice farmers.

News of Kilbarchan’s Fairtrade status was celebrated at a Fairtrade Wine and Cheese sampling event at the Old Library. Liz Cotton, Manager of Rainbow Turtle, Renfrewshire’s only dedicated Fair Trade shop, spoke at the event of her recent visit to Nepal and first-hand experience of the positive impact of Fairtrade.

Fairtrade guarantees fair prices and conditions for third world producers and a large number of farmers say that it would be impossible to continue farming without Fairtrade.

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

New heritage centre is highlight of ‘Digital December’.

A new digital heritage centre in Paisley Central Library has been unveiled as part of a ‘Digital December’ of online activity from Renfrewshire Libraries.

The Heritage Centre, based in what was known as the Reference and Local Studies Library, is designed to meet the growing demand for access to digital archives and records and to showcase Paisley’s proud history.

Cllr Stuart Clark with libraries manager Jenifer McFarlane

The new centre was officially opened this week by Cllr Stuart Clark, depute convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Sport, Leisure and Culture Policy Board.

The opening the new centre is the centrepiece of a month of online activity from Renfrewshire Libraries.

A new website for library members will make it possible to borrow at all hours and access electronic and audio books amongst a wealth of other online resources.

Libraries staff will hold a number of drop-in sessions during the month designed to help local people ‘tame technology’ and get to grips with the growing number of smartphones, tablets and e-readers they possess.

Cllr Clark said: “Shows such as the BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” have made research into family history an ever more popular leisure activity. As our libraries do more to tap into that demand, our visitor numbers will only increase.”

“But Digital December shows that our libraries are about so much more than places to borrow books.

“They are places where people can go online for free and access information about the job market. They host Bookbug sessions where parents and children can bond through reading and song. And they are sources of vital health information and advice thanks to initiatives like Living Well @ The Library which we’ve developed together with Macmillan Cancer Support”.

“Libraries are ideal places to bring like-minded people together within a community, or for people to go to get the information and services they need, and that’s why we’re investing in their future.”

A programme of events for Digital December is available in every Renfrewshire Library. More information about library services is available by calling 0300 300 1188 or emailing libraries@renfrewshire.gov.uk.

The new Renfrewshire Libraries website is available at www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk.

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Hundreds of parents take part in £30m schools consultation.

The first stage of the consultations on Renfrewshire Council’s £30million plan to improve its schools and pre-five centres has been hailed a success.

Hundreds of parents took part in a series of public meetings designed to help draft initial proposals for the scheme.

More than 340 parents attended the public meetings held in October, 160 completed questionnaires to capture their views and 60 volunteered to take part in focus groups, 40 of whom will now be selected by ballot.

renfrewshire council logo .JPGCouncillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board, said, “The £30million school investment programme represents a massive commitment to ensuring local children have the best possible environment in which to learn.

“It is gratifying that so many parents took the time to meet us and discuss how they think this money should be used. The focus groups form an important part of the consultation process and they will meet early in the New Year to start the next stage of the process and help refine the proposals that have come forward from the initial public meetings.

“I’d like to thank everyone who volunteered to take part in the focus groups. We have 40 places to fill and it is a sign of parents’ commitment and interest that these we so heavily over-subscribed.”

The starting point for the consultation has been a set of options:

* Creating shared campuses where schools are close to one another but their combined rolls do not support two separate buildings.

* Moving pre-five centres into nearby primary schools when the primary school currently has too much space.

* Reviewing the catchment areas for some schools. To ensure that each school serves its local community and has the best number of pupils according to its size.

Councillor Henry said, “Renfrewshire’s population is changing which means that some of our schools have fewer pupils than they were designed to accommodate. Schools work best, educationally and socially, when they feel full of life and opportunity.

“Some of our school buildings are very costly to repair and aren’t ideal for delivering a 21st century education. We want our children to learn in an environment that supports the modern curriculum and also helps to develop each school’s sense of community. Similarly where schools have too few pupils, it makes sense to reduce the number of buildings.

“Our goal is to ensure that every child and school can flourish and that parents are involved in making the decisions that will inform this investment programme.”

Renfrewshire Businesses helped to get Ready for Winter.

Businesses and community groups in Renfrewshire are being offered free shovels to help them prepare for severe winter weather.

The initiative is part of Renfrewshire Council’s Ready for Winter campaign to encourage the public to do their bit to be prepared for severe conditions.

Ready for Winter includes a wide range of measures to keep Renfrewshire moving over the winter, with gritters being on standby 24/7 to grit the areas 500 mile network of priority roads and pavements and 400 grit bins available to provide members of the public with salt.

In addition, tips and advice are being provided to encourage the public to be prepared in advance of snow and ice, including how to prepare an emergency pack, avoiding frozen and burst pipes, clearing driveways and paths, and driving in Winter.

The free shovels will be provided to help business owners and local community groups to keep their premises accessible to the public when the cold weather starts to bite.

Councillor Eddie Devine, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment Policy Board said: “Over the last few years we’ve all learned that winter can hit hard and coping with severe conditions takes a huge effort. The council has a committed workforce on standby to work around the clock when temperatures drop but we also know that members of the community are keen to do their bit too.

“Local businesses are such an important part of our community and can be particularly affected by winter conditions. While we’re by no means expecting business owners to get out and clear whole streets, by providing shovels we’re helping them to be ready to keep their doors open to the public.

“We also want to encourage communities to look out for their more vulnerable members when severe weather strikes by doing things like offering to pick up shopping or clearing pathways. By all working together, we can make sure we keep Renfrewshire moving this Winter.”

For more information about the Ready for Winter campaign, including information on Winter gritting, useful contact numbers and advice on how to do your bit, go to www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/winter

You can also get updates on gritting and advice on Twitter by following @rencouncilnews or by liking the council’s page on Facebook www.facebook.com/renfrewshire.

Business owners looking for more information on winter safety on their premises should go to www.readyscotland.org

Close shave for councillor at EVE Spa.

It was a ‘close shave’ for Renfrewshire’s Depute Provost John Caldwell on a recent visit to the EVE Spa in Paisley’s Lagoon Leisure Centre.

Cllr Caldwell, proud owner of a moustache for the past thirty-five years, decided to do a ‘reverse Movember’ and shave his OFF to support the popular campaign which raises awareness of male cancers.

Step forward, the staff of EVE Spa at the Lagoon, who offered to do it for him with the promise of a facial treatment to help him recover from the trauma of being moustache-less for the first time in years!

Cllr Caldwell said: “For almost all my married life, I’ve had my moustache. In fact, the only other time I’ve been without one, I actually shaved it off for charity!

“I just looked around and saw all this moustache-growing and realised I wanted to do my bit. Men are really bad at doing something about their health, so I wanted to do anything I could to help raise awareness and funds, even if it’s just a bit of fun.

“I’d like to thank the EVE Spa for helping me out with the shave and the facial. It’s a really stunning place and a real asset to the local area, I’d recommend everyone try it out.”

Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, said: “What Depute Provost Caldwell is doing for Movember is certainly a bit different – instead of growing a moustache he’s taking his off!

“The staff at the spa were very gentle with him when they shaved off his moustache and they gave him a nice facial afterwards.

“I hope people support the Depute Provost’s efforts for the Movember charity.”

You can sponsor the Depute Provost now on the Movember website at MoBro.co/johncaldwell497

EVE Spa has a number of treatments, gift vouchers and membership deals available for Christmas. The sales team is available on 0300 300 0266.

Johnstone is lit up at Christmas event.

Johnstone was illuminated at the weekend as hundreds of people turned out for the town’s annual Christmas Lights Switch-on.

The popular annual event – which took place in the town’s Houstoun Square – served up an afternoon of festive fun, with live music and entertainment.

Boyband Rewind were on hand to perform before teaming up with Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall on stage to push the button on the lights.

They were also joined by local youngster Rebecca Lamb, aged 11, who won a creative story-writing competition to have the honour of helping with the switch-on.

Other acts to feature on stage during the day included DJs from Pulse FM and local talent from Splash Productions and the Per4mance Stage School.

Highlights also included fun fair rides, Santa’s Grotto, and a crafts fair run by St Vincent’s Hospice.

Provost Hall said: “The Johnstone Christmas Lights Switch-on is always well-attended and I’m pleased to say this year followed in that tradition.

“However, there was a note of sadness surrounding this year’s event given the tragic events in Glasgow a few hours before – and I asked the crowd to take a moment to ensure their thoughts were with those most closely affected.

“This event provides a great focus for the town and its surrounding villages and offer young and old alike something fun to do on their doorsteps.

“It also provides a good boost for local businesses by bringing hundreds of people into the town centre.

“It’s been a busy month for events – with the fireworks and Christmas lights and Paisley and Renfrew in the past few weeks also going really well.

“My thanks go out to everybody who came along to any of these events and we hope to see you all back again next year.”

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

DSC_0507 - Mirren Porteous - WMT

Gathering Threads – A Celebration

‘Paisley was the mills and the mills were Paisley’ *

Thanks to the generosity of Mr Marcus Dean, the Anchor Mill Atrium appropriately hosted 200 enthusiastic Renfrewshire school children – a credit to their schools – to celebrate the publication of their ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology.

The school children have been working with local poets: Mo Blake, Kathryn Daly and Tracy Patrick, learning about their local mill heritage, increasing their writing skills, visiting the Paisley Thread Mill Museum, interviewing past mill workers and recording their impressions in poetry, drama and art. Their wonderful writing is published in the ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology. The cover images and internal artwork are the winning pieces from the project’s art competition, judged by the Convenor of Education, Cllr Jacqueline Henry, Margaret Burleigh of the Paisley Thread Mill Museum committee and Caroline Watson, local artist and committee member of Weaving Musical Threads. The ‘Gathering Threads’ project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, All Our Stories fund, Renfrewshire Council Education Department and the arts association, Weaving Musical Threads. The All Our Stories fund was launched last year to support and enable people to explore, share and celebrate their local heritage and the Gathering Threads project was one of the first in the UK to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund All Our Stories grant.

At the start of the ‘Gathering Threads’ project, local poet and workshop leader, Tracy Patrick said; “It’s a fabulous opportunity to explore the history of Paisley’s Thread Mills. There are so many stories to discover, spanning generations of people who worked in the mills and we’re especially thrilled that young people in Renfrewshire will now have the opportunity to engage creatively with that history and preserve it for future generations.”

The celebration in the historic Anchor Mill was a joy to be part of. A selection of the pupils from the Renfrewshire schools that took part in the project: Gallowhill Primary, Glencoats Primary, St. John Ogilvie Primary, St. Mary’s Primary, West Primary, Williamsburgh Primary and Paisley Grammar School, recited their poetry and drama in the Atrium.  Margaret Muir spoke on behalf of the Thread Mill Museum and Cllr Jacqueline Henry – whose own mother worked in the mills, in fact in Anchor Mill itself, and clearly remembers those busy days of Paisley’s industrial heritage – spoke on behalf of Renfrewshire Council Education Department. Every child was presented with a copy of their ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology and a Certificate of Achievement for participation in this very valuable and most enjoyable project.

Further copies of the ‘Gathering Threads’ anthology will be available from the Paisley Thread Mill Museum – which, with added volunteer assistance, for the first time will be able to be open during the winter months every Wednesday and Saturday from 12noon to 4pm.

Photographs are thanks to Weaving Musical Threads and to Brian McGuire and Ian McDonald of paisley.org.uk
*Margaret McFadden in ‘Mill Memories’ by Evelyn Hood

Old Paisley  

Old Paisley’s women working hard

Making Paisley Proud.

The men getting the easier jobs

And getting more money than the lassies.

The lassies only getting 65 pence a week.

“Nae mare!” they all said.

Thousands of Paisley Mill lassies marching

Oot the gates of old Paisley Mills shouting,

“Come on ladies let’s get a fair pay equal to the lads!”

Then old Paisley’s mills

were working once again in Old Paisley.


by Mirren Porteous

formerly of West Primary School, now S1 pupil at Castlehead Secondary School

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