New figures show visitors to Renfrewshire rose by 25% in 2016 – with the news hailed as proof Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid boosted the town.

Paisley missed out on the cultural title last week after a two-year campaign – but the stats, contained within a new masterplan aimed at turning the area into one of Scotland’s key tourist destinations – show the positive impact the bid had.

The sharp rise – with 1.7m visitors last year – means Renfrewshire increased its visitors at a faster rate than other areas with the Glasgow region.

The new Renfrewshire Visitor Plan aims to build on that, setting a series of actions aimed at bringing an extra 590,000 day visitors to Renfrewshire by 2020.

The report – rubber-stamped by members of Renfrewshire Council’s Leadership Board – includes the following key achievements:

– a new destination brand and website will be launched in early 2018, having been developed in consultation with local people and leaders across Renfrewshire;

– Paisley’s UK City of Culture 2021 campaign took awareness of what the area has to offer to new levels – with a media reach of 277 million people, including visits by foreign journalists;

– more than 1.1m people attended events or festivals in Renfrewshire over the past five years, with numbers growing by 25% and 23% in 2016 and 2017. This year saw a third of attendees from outwith Renfrewshire, a 93% satisfaction rate, and £1.3m pumped into the local economy;

– new partnerships have been developed with regional and national agencies and detailed work has taken place to better understand the area’s target market;

And key actions listed to help take the area’s visitor economy forward over the next three years include:

– expanding the area’s events programme, with Renfrewshire already due to host the British Pipe Band Championships each year until 2021, and the Royal National Mod in 2021 or 2022, growing existing events such as the Halloween festival and The Spree, and bidding for new events;

– targeting Renfrewshire’s unique cultural and heritage assets to potential visitors, and working with partners to make sure Renfrewshire’s offer is included in national campaigns;

– supporting a growth in new accommodation, working with transport agencies to make it easier to get here and get around, and working with partners to share data, knowledge and training;

Councillor Iain Nicolson, chair of Renfrewshire Council Leadership Board said: “Our disappointment at missing out on the UK City of Culture 2021 title was eased by the knowledge the area is in a stronger position for having bid.

“The new Renfrewshire Visitor Plan shows work to build a new visitor economy is already well under way and gives a clear plan for how the public and private sectors can work together to build on that.

“There’s no question Paisley and Renfrewshire have had their challenges in recent years – but we can address that by promoting the things that set us apart to bring new footfall into our town centres.

“The Paisley 2021 bid was part of a wider plan to do that – the area’s profile has perhaps never been better or higher and awareness of our unique cultural and heritage assets has moved to new levels.

“The area was once the centre of a global industry and the legacy of that is still around us in our buildings and museum collections – while the outlying areas of Renfrewshire offer a wide range of historical gems and great outdoor days out.

“For Renfrewshire to have already recorded a 25% increase in both visitors and event attendees in 2016 shows the extent to which the bid has already delivered results.

“That work was always going to continue regardless of the outcome of the 2021 bid – we now have a great platform on which to build.”

Paisley’s work has also been endorsed the head of Scotland’s tourism authority, with Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland adding: “While it is disappointing Paisley has not been named the 2021 UK City of Culture there is still much to be positive about.

“The bid has transformed Paisley’s reputation, and now Scotland, the UK and the world are all becoming more aware of its fantastic cultural offering.

“2017 saw the town host world-class events like The Spree and Weave Festival, while we can look forward to The Royal National Mòd and the British Pipe Band Championships next year.

“I’d like to say a massive well done to everyone involved for their hard work and dedication to showcase the town’s wonderful cultural offering.

“This is just the beginning of Paisley’s transformation and I look forward to the town’s continued development and all the wonderful events and activities that will come with it.”

paisley-abbey-logos

Paisley is an excellent town, perfect for families. When Christmastime comes around, though, it becomes extra magical. How the town dresses up for the Christmas season, however, shouldn’t have anything to do with how you celebrate the season with your family. It is your traditions and your efforts that mean the most, especially if you have a family. To make your Christmas extra special this year, try adding these new traditions to your annual holiday schedule:

1. Pick Up Your Own Christmas Tree

While it is infinitely easier to pick up your Christmas tree outside of your local shop or other local nursery, it can be so much more rewarding to go to an actual Christmas tree farm. It’s an excellent day out group idea to do with your friends, or with your family. Not only will you be able to pick out the perfect Christmas tree, you’ll have a greater connection to it than any other tree you’ve had. There are several options just outside of Glasgow, and less than a thirty-minute drive from Paisley, meaning that not only is this a great tradition to adopt, it’s also easy to do.

2. Make Each Bauble Count

Your Christmas tree is the centrepiece of your Christmas décor, and a great way to take it to the next level is to buy unique baubles throughout the years. The more memories each tree decoration has, the more special your tree will become. Don’t rely solely on the large box-sets you can pick up from a grocery store – spend more on a single bauble, and take your time. Eventually, you will have a tree full of special memories for you to cherish.

3. Have an Adult Party

As much fun as the Christmas season can be with children, you should also aim to have a Christmas party for adults only. Every parent needs to let loose and have fun, and having an adult-only get together can mean that you reunite with old friends you might not have seen in a while. You can have a great dinner spread, an open bar, play live casino Unibet to take your poker game to the next level, and so much more. Have a fun time as adults, and get to spend the time like you’re a kid again.

4. Go All Out

Another great Christmas tradition to adopt is to simply go all out for it. This means decorating your home, it means sending out all of the Christmas cards, going to Christmas parties, and doing as many Christmas events in your town as you can. The more effort you put into Christmas, the more you will find that you can capture the Christmas Spirit

Christmas is all about tradition and family, so get out there and start new traditions to make the season extra special. Make your own traditions, and do them every year in order to capture the magic of the season time and time again.

paisley-abbey-logos

For modern businesses, having an online presence is a must. This could be in the form of a customer-facing website, internal tools for use by members of staff, or both. Online tools have made businesses more efficient, reliable and flexible than ever before. They have also introduced vulnerabilities that must be addressed.

For smaller businesses, staying secure when using online services can be a challenge. They may feel as though they do not have the in-house resources required to deploy the latest and most effective security tools. However, many of the best cybersecurity practices do not require huge expenditure at all. Here are five vital security tips that businesses of all sizes should keep in mind.

Stay up-to-date

If small businesses want to protect their operations from malicious behaviour online, keeping their software regularly updated must be a priority. Vulnerabilities are being discovered every day and new types of malware are continually being created in order to exploit them. Updates and patches issued by software developers are designed to counter these threats, but many firms choose to ignore them. As an example, just take a look at how many businesses refuse to migrate from Windows XP, despite it no longer having security updates. By sticking with old versions of software, companies are leaving their business at risk of attack.

Educate your staff

Another relatively simple way of keeping your business safe is to ensure that your staff are aware of correct security practice. Organisations should create a series of guidelines explaining company policy when it comes to cybersecurity. This could cover topics like BYOD, shadow IT and remote working. Paying for formal staff training programmes could also prove to be a worthwhile investment.  

Prepare for the worst

In order to truly stay cyber safe, small businesses must accept that they will face a threat to their data or processes at some point in time, whether from external actors or their own members of staff. Having a disaster recovery plan in place can prove hugely effective at protecting your business from excess damage.

An effective disaster recovery solution can even restore your data to the same state it was in when the disruption occurred. This mitigates issues for a company’s employees and customers and limits any financial impacts.

Choose your partners carefully

Many small businesses realise that they can achieve efficiencies and cost savings by partnering with other companies. Managed service providers like Sungard AS are proving increasingly popular because they can offer specialised services, like data storage or software maintenance, remotely – saving businesses from having to make large up-front investments. If you are going to work with an external partner, however, make sure you choose one that is experienced and well-respected.

Get your passwords right

Passwords play a primary role in security systems all over the world and yet many organisations do not give them much thought. In fact, some companies continue to use simple, easy-to-crack passwords on even their most critical business tools. What’s more, many companies re-use passwords across multiple IT solutions, meaning that a hacker only needs to crack one application to gain access to them all. Using stronger passwords, adopting two-factor authentication and implementing a password manager are effective methods that small businesses can employ to ensure that their software and data is protected. Don’t get caught out because you chose “1234” as your password.

MSP George Adam

MSP Praises Education Commitment In Face Of Tory, Labour And Lib Dem Opposition

SNP Government education funding has boosted teacher numbers across Renfrewshire – part of an increase of 543 teachers across Scotland – as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to education, Paisley’s MSP, George Adam has said.

Teacher numbers in Renfrewshire have risen from 1,633 to 1,656 – while the number across Scotland has increased substantially to 51,513 – 543 more than last year, with 666 full-time equivalent teachers being funded through the Attainment Scotland Fund, money that the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems voted against.

There has also been an improvement in the pupil teacher ratio across Scotland, while skills in reading, writing, listening, talking and numeracy are strong – with the proportion of S3 pupils achieving Curriculum for Excellence Third Level or better being between 88% and 91% for each skillset.

Commenting, George said:

“These figures prove that the SNP Government’s approach is working for schools across Paisley and throughout Scotland.

“Despite Tory, Labour and Lib Dem opposition, the SNP is delivering funding aimed at increasing teacher numbers and cutting the attainment gap – and this is already bearing fruit.

“We now have 23 more teachers in Renfrewshire than we did this time last year, and an additional 543 across Scotland. With this record of delivery, it is no surprise that pupils are performing strongly across reading, writing, listening, talking and numeracy.

“The SNP has made closing the attainment gap a key priority of this parliament – and these latest statistics show that our efforts are making progress on this, with 666 full-time equivalent teachers across Scotland being funded by the Attainment Scotland Fund.

“It is important that we don’t get complacent and keep working to improve education in Scotland – but given the clear progress that has been made, it would be good to see the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems dropping their political opposition and getting behind our positive efforts to support our young people across Paisley.”

Renfrewshire businesses are forming specialist teams to grow six key sectors of the local economy.

RDC Business Panel UWS 28.8.17

Members of Renfrewshire’s Economic Leadership Panel – which brings together the region’s business and education experts – have identified the six target areas of culture, health and childcare, manufacturing, skills, tourism and transport.

Now plans are in place to create six groups who will meet in January as they formulate specific strategies for each area of emphasis.

The Leadership Panel was established in the summer to drive Renfrewshire’s future economic success. Its membership is drawn from companies large and small across the area together with representatives from the public sector, further and higher education and national agencies.

Its first task is to support the development of a long-term economic strategy for Renfrewshire from 2018-2035 and the sector specific groups will play a key role.

Audrey Cumberford, Principal and Chief Executive of West College Scotland and Chair of the Renfrewshire Economic Leadership Panel said: “This panel is about taking action and about each organisation recognising its responsibility to develop Renfrewshire’s economic potential.

“These teams will focus on areas we know are hugely important to Renfrewshire’s economic health and will ensure people with the right knowledge and expertise play their part in accelerating the area’s economic fortunes.”

These latest developments come as Councillors on the Leadership Board today (Tuesday 12 December, 2017) approved a new Renfrewshire Economic Profile, providing bitesize data on how the local economy is faring.

The six-monthly snapshot will be shared online and give councillors a handy tool to track local progress.

The example November 2017 profile shows Renfrewshire’s employment rate at 74.7 per cent, outstripping the Glasgow City Region and higher than the Scottish average.

It also shows a five per cent unemployment rate, again bettering the national position, with average weekly earnings £14 up on the average Scot.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “We are committed to putting the measures in place which attract new jobs and opportunities to Renfrewshire. The Economic Leadership Panel provides vital strategic direction and the formation of these new teams are most welcome to devise specific plans for these six hugely important sectors to the Renfrewshire economy.

“It is only through partnership working that we can achieve our collective goals and at the same time having this regular profile of our economic performance enables us to make the strategic directions to deliver a thriving Renfrewshire.”

The sound of music flowed through Paisley Abbey as pupils from across Renfrewshire performed in the annual schools Christmas concert.

Aspiring musicians from a variety of Renfrewshire schools utilised the stunning acoustics of the historic venue to showcase their talents and musicianship to the local community.

The performance began with the violins and cellos of the Renfrewshire Schools String Ensemble’s as they performed ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’.

This was followed by a moving performance of Africca and Tron Legacy by the assorted battery of the Schools Percussion Ensemble, which incorporated an array of instruments including timpani, drums, marimba, tubular bells and more.

The Senior Concert band then played a range of Gershwin Classics, as well as music from Shrek, leaving the Abbey reverberating with the sounds of trumpets, saxophones and flutes.

Culture and tradition then enveloped the Abbey as the Feis Phaislig Choir opened the second half with a selection of Gaelic songs.

The Senior Ceilidh Band had the audience tapping along as they concluded the concert with a fantastic rendition of ‘Let Ramensky Go’, featuring Sorcha Alcorn Stewart on vocals.

Councillor Jim Paterson, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Policy Board, said: “We have a wealth of aspiring musicians in Renfrewshire and it’s fantastic to see our pupils bring their talents together to put on such an extraordinary performance.

“It is vital that we encourage our young people to express themselves musically which is why we committed to offering free music tuition to our school pupils, allowing them the opportunity to find their talent from an early age.

“We want our pupils to aim high and achieve their dreams and what better inspiration than performing in the same venue as our home-grown success story Paolo Nutini did so recently.”

Business leaders welcome National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland to Renfrewshire

Renfrewshire’s business community has welcomed the news that Scotland’s National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) will be established in Renfrewshire.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday (Monday 11 December) announced the industry-led institute will be built on Abbotsinch Road, next to Glasgow Airport, and will become the anchor tenant of a new 130-acre business and manufacturing innovation district in Renfrewshire.

A collaborative project between the Scottish Government and national skills and enterprise agencies together with the University of Strathclyde and Renfrewshire Council, the Institute will bring together skills, expertise, research and innovation to attract investment and develop Scotland into a global leader in advanced manufacturing.

The enabling infrastructure of roads, bridges, cycleways and pedestrian routes are being delivered by Renfrewshire Council through the £39.1million Glasgow Airport Investment Area project, funded through the Glasgow City Region City Deal.

Chair of Renfrewshire’s Economic Leadership Panel, Audrey Cumberford, feels the new institute will allow Renfrewshire to realise its economic potential.

She said: “Choosing Renfrewshire as the base for the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland is a clear indication of the area’s potential to be a leading light in the global manufacturing sector.

“The levels of private investment this could bring to Renfrewshire cannot be underestimated and this will provide a substantial boost to the area’s economic growth.

“The investment, combined with the significant improvement to infrastructure in the area, will be a key contributor in making Renfrewshire a more attractive, vibrant and sustainable place to live, work, visit and invest in.”

Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, Bob Grant, has also welcomed the announcement citing the promise of thousands of new jobs coming into the area.

He said: “It is fantastic that Renfrewshire has been chosen as the home for the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland and it is recognition of our growing position within the international manufacturing sector.

“Thousands of highly-skilled jobs are set to be created across the next 20 years in a boost to employment across the area, while also providing an opportunity to inspire young people into an exciting and rewarding career within the industry.

“New and existing businesses in the area will feel the benefit of the increase in skilled workers in Renfrewshire, as well as the expertise and technological advances the institute brings, as it aims to allow Scotland to compete globally in manufacturing.”

The announcement builds on the recent development of the £8.9million Lightweight Manufacturing Centre, set to open in May 2018 at the Doosan Babcock site in Westway, Renfrew.

The centre will develop new manufacturing processes for lightweight materials for the aerospace and automotive industries.

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has launched a parliamentary petition to save the local Royal Bank of Scotland bank branch, in Renfrew.

Earlier this month, RBS announced that they were closing 62 bank branches across Scotland, including the popular branch in Renfrew.

Mr Newlands has now set-up a parliamentary petition which calls on The Treasury and The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to save the local taxpayer owned RBS branch, which he will present to the House of Commons after the New Year.

The Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire North is urging as many local constituents as possible to sign the petition to help save this widely used local bank branch.

Gavin Newlands, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said:

“Earlier this month, the RBS decision to close the Renfrew branch came as a real shock to the people of Renfrew. This decision to close the popular branch came as a shock to locals as not only is the branch very busy with residents and businesses alike, it has very recently undergone an expensive branch  refurbishment!

“I have met with bank bosses and campaigned locally to save previous branches in the constituency but RBS is different in that, we the public, still own this bank. Huge amounts of taxpayers money was used to bail RBS out, RBS should not therefore be bailing on us. This closure would leave one RBS branch in my entire constituency situated on Paisley’s one way system, hundreds of yards from the nearest bus stop. It is local independent businesses and those who have to rely on public transport that will bear the brunt of this closure, with the elderly in particular being impacted with many unable to access modern online banking that the bank pushes as an alternative.

“We all need to work together to send a message to Ross McEwan, the CEO of RBS, that this will not be taken lying down. Locals can sign the petition by visiting my local constituency office or by popping into one of the supporting businesses in Renfrew town centre. After the New Year, I will deliver this petition into the House of Commons, piling on the pressure for the Royal Bank of Scotland to reverse this short-sighted decision.”

Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of Pernod Ricard, has made donations totalling
of £13,000 to Social Bite’s Sleep in The Park event, which took place in Edinburgh on
Saturday 9 th December.

More than 8,000 people came together in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens at the
weekend to show their support for homeless people in Scotland by taking part in the world’s
biggest sleep out. Organised by Social Bite, Sleep in the Park has raised around £3.6million
already, with the aim to catalyse a movement to end homelessness in Scotland within a five-
year period.

Sleep in the Park featured live, stripped back performances from Frightened Rabbit, Amy
Macdonald, Deacon Blue and Liam Gallagher, with John Cleese closing with a bed time
story. Comedian Rob Brydon hosted the event and attendees also heard from Sir Bob
Geldof on his support for the cause. A number of celebrities, sports personalities and figures
from Scotland’s political parties also slept out, including Sir Chris Hoy and Deputy First
Minister John Swinney.

The Chivas Brothers donation is a clear signal of support for Social Bite’s vision to eradicate
homelessness in Scotland for good. In addition to an initial £10,000 donated, a group of
employees representing the company slept out on the night, raining £1,500 in sponsorship,
which will now be doubled to £3,000 via the company’s Doubling Up scheme.

Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite said: “I’d like to extend a huge thank you to
everyone at Chivas Brothers for their ongoing support over the years, and especially for the
generous donation towards Sleep in the Park.

“The event took place on Saturday night and I am still completely overwhelmed by the
turnout. Over 8,000 people joined us to spend a cold night in Edinburgh, including a team of
staff members from Chivas Brothers, and it was an incredible night.”

Chivas Brothers Global Communications Director Jennie Norrish added: “We are proud to
have supported Social Bite for five years now, and were delighted to backing them again for
this ambitious and exciting event.

“Those sleeping out faced a cold December night, but we are all acutely aware that the
people who will benefit from the funds raised have no choice but to regularly endure the
unforgiving Scottish weather without the luxury of a warm bed to go home to.

“One of our core values, as a company, is supporting our local communities. We do this
through our Charities of the Year, employee volunteering days, matching our employees’
fundraising efforts through our Doubling Up scheme, and by partnering with remarkable
charities such as Social Bite in their groundbreaking effort to eradicate homelessness in
Scotland.”

Employee Anna Mitchell took part in the sleep-out. She said: “It was exciting to be a part of
such a significant event. I’m proud to work for a company that supports charities in the way
Chivas Brothers does. It was challenging but ultimately very rewarding and humbling to do
my bit and raise more funds for Sleep in The Park. It was a cold but fun night, especially
knowing the money will now go to such an important charity.”

Throughout the year, Chivas Brothers offers a volunteering programme and provides funding
to encourage employees’ charity fundraising. Employees are able to take part in a range of
different community projects through the Chivas SoS scheme – whereby employees can use
one working day per year for volunteering in their community – and the Doubling Up
scheme, where the company will match up to £500 in fundraising per employee. On top of
that, employees can vote for a Charity of the Year which is subsequently supported through
fundraising initiatives.
For example, on one day alone in June this year, 212 Chivas Brothers employees from
Paisley and Dumbarton joined forces to volunteer with Quarriers Village, one of Scotland’s
largest social care charities for vulnerable children, adults and their families. In addition,
dozens of green-fingered employees from the company’s Strathisla Distillery helped spruce

up St Rufus Park in Keith, and 80 employees in London helped refurbish Sand’s End
Adventure Playground in Fulham.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she believes Paisley’s UK City of Cuture  bid will lead to ’ lasting benefit’ for the town.

Paisley Abbey and Town Hall Lit in anticipation of the City of Culture 2021 result. 7.12.17

The First Minister has led an outpouring of good wishes for the town with the close of the competition.

Paisley was the sole Scottish place on the shortlist which included Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea and Coventry, who took the title, announced live on BBC’s The One Show in front of a live TV audience of millions.

The contest saw Paisley involve 34,000 residents in the bid across a two year journey to change the town’s future for the better using the town’s unique culture and heritage story.
The First Minister said: “Everyone involved in the Paisley bid, from bid director Jean Cameron to the many people who have been involved
formally and informally over the last two years, can be rightly proud of their efforts.
“To gather the support of businesses, cultural and community groups, and secure the involvement of more than 30,000 people is a tremendous achievement.
“Although they will naturally be disappointed at the result, I believe the bid will lead to lasting benefits for Paisley, in terms of its profile and cultural life, and that is what we should focus on today.”
Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson also sent her best wishes to the town and praised the bid.
She said: “Everyone involved should feel a great deal of pride in the way they put forward such a positive case. It show Paisley is a place on the up.”
She added that the bid means the town will continue to be a ‘magnet for jobs and investment.
A wealth of other political and community voices also sent supportive message to the town.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop  tweeted: “Paisley2021 and all Buddies have made us all proud of
Paisley- you have unleashed a cultural and  creative energy which will propel you on.”
Scottish Secretary of State David Mundell said: “Massive commiserations to Paisley 2021 but you’ve achieved so much during the bid and it will be a springboard for the future. You are a credit to Scotland.”
The University of Glasgow added its voice on social media to tweet: “So disappointed for neighbours Paisley 2021 missing out on being named UK City of Culture2021 – congratulations to Coventry 2021.”
Artist Matt Baker said: “Thank you Paisley 2021 you have held a mirror up to all that is brilliant about Scottish culture and utterly redefined the way the country now sees you.”
Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard tweeted: “Huge commiserations to all the Buddies and the Paisley 2021 team who worked so hard to be crowned City of Culture 2021.
“The passion and inspiration shown by all involved has been fantastic and you should all be proud.”
The Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ros Kerslake, said: “There has been an incredible level of support and passion from across communities – a testament to how special the town is and how excited people are for its future.
“Heritage is of course a key part of what makes Paisley unique and we look forward to continuing to invest money raised by National Lottery players into projects across the town.”
Bob Grant, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The outcome is of course disappointing but we are still in a great position compared to where we were two years ago. Our public and private sector partnerships are far stronger and there’s so much goodwill and momentum created by the bidding process.  This is a great opportunity to capitalise on that enthusiasm and renewed confidence for the good of the visitor economy and tourism, as well as the town centre economy.
“The key thing is to maximise that opportunity and take advantage of where we’re at now through the bidding process.”
Sharon McAulay from the Paisley-based STAR Project said: “What an amazing journey we’ve had! Yes we’re gutted we didn’t win but we’re also proud of what we’ve achieved over the past two years. Paisley’s journey is far from over. We’ll continue to be brilliant, creative, and full of potential and our plans to transform our town will also continue. Paisley has great things ahead and my belief in what we can achieve together remains steadfast and true. “