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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Renfrewshire Chamber is delighted to announce that Audrey Cumberford, Principal and Chief Executive of West College Scotland has been appointed as President of the Chamber.

The Immediate Past President Tom Johnston has been appointed as Honorary President, a new role to recognise Tom’s ongoing involvement at a senior level with the Chamber and in which role he will be assisting the new President in the continuing development of the Chamber.

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Commenting on her appointment, Audrey said “I’m honoured to have been appointed as President of the Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce and with the support of the Board and the members look forward to continuing to helping Renfrewshire grow & prosper. It has been a privilege to be a Non-Executive Director over the last few years under Tom’s leadership and I am committed to building on his legacy and continuing in the role of President in what is one of Scotland’s most active Chambers, working closely with our Chief Executive, Bob Davidson and his team. The Board will come together at the end of January to discuss our plans for the future at our annual strategy session”.

Tom Johnston commented “it has been an honour to have been the President of Renfrewshire Chamber; it has been a large part of my business and private life for a number of years and I’m delighted that I shall be able to continue to serve on the Board as Honorary President. As we transition to our new President, I give Audrey my full support knowing that the Chamber is in a healthy position and we will continue to build on that success”.

Renfrewshire Chamber celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014 with membership just under 600 and has completed its 5th consecutive year of returning a financial surplus. The Chamber was recently awarded Investors in Young People status recognising the work it does employing young people directly and the support it gives to the young people of Renfrewshire. Audrey will be the 2nd female President of the Chamber in its 50 year history, following on from Sheila Laidlaw in 1991.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Enterprising pupils step into the Dragon’s Den

Six teams of entrepreneurial Renfrewshire school pupils faced a panel of ‘dragons’ in a bid to win funding for their social enterprise ideas.

A community cinema, a nail bar, a school newspaper, a library, an internet course for older people and sugar and gluten-free lollipops were the ideas selected for this year’s school’s Dragon’s Den finale.

The final event took place at West College Scotland, Paisley Campus, where the six finalist teams were invited to present their ideas to the ‘dragons’ before they selected this year’s overall winner, Gryffe High School.

The Gryffe High team were also named as the secondary school winners and awarded £600 towards their community cinema idea.

All the finalists of the Dragons Den competition with the Dragons

Winners in the primary school category were Wallace Primary for their idea of creating a library for the primary and nursery children.

The Pre-five category winners were Our Lady of Peace Nursery for their ‘Little Lollipop League’ plan to use sugar/gluten-free lollipops to raise awareness of road safety.

The trophies were presented by Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall.

The Dragons this year were Liz Connolly, Vice Principal of the College, James Lang, Marketing Director Scottish Leather Group, Jay Lamb, Social Enterprise Academy, Alison Dowling, Renfrewshire Wide Credit Union, Bob Davidson, Chief Executive of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce and Gaynor Hutton, Project Oskar, Kibbleworks.

Provost Hall said: “I’d like to congratulate the winners Gryffe High, as well as each of the finalists who all did a fantastic job coming up with and presenting really impressive, viable business ideas.

“The schools’ Dragon’s Den competition is an excellent way of getting young people thinking about running a business as well as giving back to their community in some way.

“I’d also like to thank the sponsors for their support and contributions in making this event possible each year.
“It was a fantastic night. All of the teams did an excellent job, especially the children from Our Lady of Peace Nursery who were very good despite it being a late night for them.”

Winners Gryffe High with their cheque from the Dragons

This year’s finalists were:

Our Lady Of Peace Nursery – The Little Lollipop League
The plan is to sell sugar/gluten-free lollipops to raise awareness of road safety issues in the community.

With roadworks being a feature of the local landscape in recent times, the young people have identified the risks they face on a daily basis and wish to make others aware of these dangers.
They were awarded £400 towards their enterprise.

Arkleston Primary – Resident Nail Bar
The business idea is to run a Nail Bar/Salon, in Arkleston Primary, for all pupils, staff and parents of the school, and residents and families of Renfrew Care Home.
The young people wish to build on the strong intergenerational links that already exist between the school and Renfrew Care Home by providing a high quality, professional service.
The ‘dragons’ awarded the project £400.

St James’ Primary School – St James’ Primary Monthly Express
The young people of St James’ Primary wish to start a school newspaper which will be sold sell to parents and the local community.

The enterprise will be led by the school’s ‘Big News Press Team’ and aims to involve the local community in the life of the school whilst improving levels of attainment in literacy.
The ‘dragons’ awarded the project £400.

Wallace Primary School – Wallace World of Books
Pupils at Wallace Primary are eager to establish a library which services the primary school and nursery.
The aim is to provide a space where young people can borrow books and improve their reading ability.
As winners of the primary category, the team were awarded £500.

Gleniffer High School – Silver Fox Surfers
A group of current S4 pupils will be offering a four week (one per term) Web Wise course for senior citizens in the local area.

The young people aim to run a successful business which enhances the lives of the older generation living in the community as well as providing them with a new skill set.
The project was awarded £500.

Gryffe High School – Gryffe Movie Theatre
Gryffe High’s business idea is to run a community cinema from the theatre within the school.
Creation of a community hub in the area is important to the young people of Gryffe High and they see huge potential in this enterprise.
The team were awarded £600 towards their project.

Overall winning team Gryffe High

Dragon’s Den is sponsored by Renfrewshire Council, Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, West College Scotland and Clydesdale Bank. Scottish Leather Group also joined as a new sponsor this year.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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New approach transforms flytipping site

A new approach to deter flytipping within a local industrial site is being hailed a huge success.

The recently completely project, which transformed the small piece of land at Hillington Park, has had no instances of flytipping since it was completed in April.

Local students designed vibrant and colourful artwork based on the Commonwealth Games. The artwork has been displayed on fencing around the unused piece of land.


The fencing also promotes Renfrewshire Council’s Do your bit message, which emphasises the role the community can play in protecting the environment and boosting recycling.

The £28,000 initiative is a joint venture between Renfrewshire Council, MEPC Hillington Park, West College Scotland, Robust Property and Zero Waste Scotland.

Councillor Eddie Devine, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment Policy Board, said “The success of this initiative shows what we can achieve by taking a new approach to tackling flytipping. By working in partnership with local land managers MEPC and students at West College Scotland, we have transformed the site into a bright and positive place.

“Flytipping can become a real nuisance to local businesses and the community. This initiative reverses that blight and has been a real opportunity to develop new ways to prevent the dumping of rubbish on private and public land.

“We want to build on this success by providing more opportunities to work together with local organisations to transform potential eyesores into environmental assets.”

Iain Gulland, Director, Zero Waste Scotland, said “The approach used in Hillington Park to discourage flytipping through vibrant and artistic messages, bringing in different parts of the community, has been a real success.

“Litter and flytipping are a blight on communities, and cost the public purse a substantial amount – £46million a year – to clean it up. That’s why it’s one of Zero waste Scotland’s top priorities to reduce the impact of litter and fly-tipping in Scotland.”

Jamie Cumming, Commercial Director for MEPC Hillington Park, said “We’ve been delighted to be part of this initiative, working with Renfrewshire Council and West College Scotland. Many thousands of visitors, customers and staff come to Hillington Park every day and we want it to be a positive experience for every one of them.

“Our ten year plan will see up to £50m being spent on developing new sites and improving the infrastructure at Hillington Park and this particular project plays a part in making it a good place to visit and do business.”

Lola Paterson, Lecturer at West College Scotland, said “This has been an incredible opportunity for our students who have responded with an excellent professional standard of work. This experience contributes greatly to them articulating onto university or future employment and showcasing their work in the year of the commonwealth games.”

Further information on waste and recycling is available at or call 0300 300 0300.

To find out more about Hillington Park please visit or contact the Park’s management team on 0141 883 5760.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator icon=”star”][vc_gallery ids=”21527,21526,21525,21524″ type=”masonry”][vc_separator icon=”star”][vc_column_text]For regular updates on local news and events follow @RenCouncilNews on Twitter or our page on Facebook at

Image captions

Image  – Designed to perfection – Councillor Eddie Devine thanks project partners Zero Waste Scotland, MEPC and West College Scotland for their hard work to bring this initiative to life.
(l-r Councillor Eddie Devine, Emma Leel – Project Manager for litter and flytipping initiatives at Zero Waste Scotland, Maria Corrigan – Renfrewshire Council’s Community Safety Enforcement Manager, Sharon Gianassi – West College Scotland’s Head of Creative Industries, Billy Kinnear – West College Scotland’s Curriculum Quality Leader of Art & Design and Louise O’Connell – MEPC’s Marketing Manager.

Image – Enjoying the view – Emma Leel, Zero Waste Scotland’s Project Manager for litter and flytipping, Councillor Eddie Devine and MEPC’s Marketing Manager Louise O’Connell.

Image – Showing off her skills – Lynne Campbell is proud of her artwork being displayed at the Hillington site.

Image – All in a day’s work – Stuart Kinnear hopes his artwork will be an inspiration to other graphic design students.

Image – Students from West College Scotland celebrate their artwork being displayed at the Hillington site.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Food for thought at local summit meeting

Renfrewshire Council, the NHS, and other public organisations in the area are getting together with local community groups to tackle food poverty.

A ‘Food Matters’ event at West College Scotland on Wednesday 25 June will look at food poverty and the health and environmental aspects of food-related issues, with members of the Renfrewshire public encouraged to attend.

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The discussion will cover: growing more food; making fresh, healthy food more available to people; teaching people to prepare and cook food; and reducing food waste.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Chair of Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership, said: “Food poverty is a pressing issue for many people in our communities and we need bring all of our public sector and community organisations together to tackle it. The issue is central to two of the themes of our new community plan which focus on improving the health of local people and developing a greener Renfrewshire.

“The aim of the ‘Food Matters’ event is to agree a joint approach to food poverty and to develop plans to ensure we have a sustainable approach to making healthy food available to people in all of our communities.

“I hope that community organisations that have a connection with these issues in any aspect of their work will come along to this event.”

Food Matters will take place at the Abercorn Centre, West College Scotland in Paisley on Wednesday 25 June from 9.30am to 2pm.

Local charities, voluntary organisations and community groups can sign up to attend the summit by contacting Renfrewshire Council on 0141 618 7075 or by emailing[/vc_column_text][vc_separator icon=”star”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Council Leader launches Renfrewshire Living Wage campaign.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan has launched a campaign urging businesses and organisations in Renfrewshire to sign up to the Living Wage.

The Council Leader visited the Phoenix Car Company in Linwood to meet with employers from the private and public sector that have already pledged to pay the Living Wage.

By supporting the campaign, Living Wage employers will receive recognition through the council’s website and be entitled to use the campaign logo across their own publicity activities.

KE Living Wage Week

Earlier this week the UK Living Wage, the amount people need to earn to meet the basic cost of living, was unveiled as £7.65 per hour, significantly higher than the legal minimum wage of £6.31 for over-21s.

Councillor Macmillan said: “The national minimum wage has not kept pace with life here in Renfrewshire. It certainly isn’t sufficient to support a family. We need the help of the business community to make work pay so that employment is always the more affordable option for parents and individuals.

“Renfrewshire’s Living Wage campaign will provide practical local assistance to help employers do the right thing.

“Paying the Living Wage is good for business, good for families and good for Renfrewshire. It means that people can work their way out of poverty and it ensures Renfrewshire remains an attractive and prosperous place in which to work or build a future”.

In June this year Renfrewshire Council announced plans to pay an extra £1,000 per post to firms which agree to pay at least the Living Wage, taking the council’s investment in youth employment and Renfrewshire’s economy above the £8 million mark.

Renfrewshire Council pledged its commitment to the Living Wage at the end of 2012, benefiting around 800 council workers. Those who experienced the biggest gains were mostly female part-time workers involved in catering, cleaning and school crossing services.

Last month ahead of the campaign the Council Leader wrote to 150 employers across Renfrewshire to share with them the council’s own experience and inspire them to get behind the campaign. Among the first firms to pledge its support was Phoenix Car Company in Linwood.

Managing Director John McGuire said: “Paying a Living Wage has had a positive effect on productivity because it shows we value our employees.

“Also if you pay people a Living Wage they can afford to contribute to the economy and if people are spending, that’s good for business in the long-run.”

Other Renfrewshire employers who support the Living Wage campaign include Share Scotland, Link Housing, University West of Scotland, West College Scotland, Smith & McLaurin and Ceridian HR & Payroll Services.

Businesses wanting to add their name to the list can find further information on the council website at or contact the Leader’s Office at Renfrewshire House.

Paisley First for Business

I was at the launch of the Paisley Business Improvement District (Paisley BID) last week. Here are some of my thoughts on the BID and what it really means to Paisley.

BIDs are well established in Scotland and from the map on, local BIDs such as Clarkston and also Falkirk, Bathgate & Inverness are seen to be a success. Certainly Falkirk seems to be making all the right noises and actions from an outsider’s perspective, for instance unlike Paisley, actually has some leaflets in Glasgow Airport explaining what is on in Falkirk and where to go to eat, drink, sleep etc which is a far cry from Paisley’s external self promotion, or lack of it should I say.

The following definition is from the Paisley BID website:

What is a Business Improvement District?

A Business Improvement District (BID) is a business-led collaboration initiative which originated in Canada and is widespread throughout the UK. A “BID” is governed by legislation whereby businesses within a defined area work together and invest collectively in those priority issues they believe will benefit them, whilst contributing to the sustainable economic growth of the local economy. source..

paisley-firstNow what will the BID bring to Paisley? Well from what I can see it has already managed to get local traders and business owners in the same room and talking.  Did you know there has not been a local traders’ organisation for some years which just makes you realise why the town has had problems… In harsh economic times we need to pull together and come up with a way to turn around the decline.

So, good on the people behind the BID as they are doing something to help and at least coming up with solutions and not more problems. Yes there is a long way to go but this is certainly a start and knowing most of the businesses behind the BID I really hope it succeeds.

I have heard questions about the amount of levy that will be charged to businesses when it goes live, before that there has to be a vote consisting of one question, ‘Do you want the BID – Yes/No’.  The vote will be some time towards the end of 2014.

They have cross party political support and also the backing of lots of local businesses, including Houston Kilts, Hamishes Hoose, Ashtree House, Marks & Spencers and also the support of the two major educational facilities in town, the University of the West of Scotland and West College Scotland (formerly Reid Kerr).

A question raised at the meeting was:  ‘Are the BIDs basically doing the work that the local authority should be doing?’ I would like to think not, as in the last few years and through various administrations the council has been doing a lot to help improve the town. They have also been applying for essential grant money for major improvements such as the Causeyside Street improvements which look fantastic.

If you are looking for more information on the Paisley BID process which is now officially called Paisley First then please visit their website by following this link. Lets hope it is Paisley First for Business..

Blog by Brian McGuire.