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Contractors sought for Lews Castle grounds works

Lews Castle

Contractors are being sought for the first phase of the Lews Castle Grounds Regeneration Project.

Tender invitations for the works have been published on the Public Contracts Scotland portal with a return date of February 12.  An information day and site visit for potential contractors will take place on January 24, from 11am at the Woodlands Café in the Lews Castle Grounds.

The initial phase of capital works has a total value of almost £2 million and work is planned to start in the Spring of 2018.  The works are being tendered as two contracts with the larger contract (Buildings and Structures) comprising two lots in order to provide flexibility for interested contractors.

The Buildings lot will focus on the repair and restoration the Porters Lodge and the Boatman’s Tower – two important historic buildings needing comprehensive repair to give them a new lease of life.

The Structures lot includes work to the Castle terrace, steps and Bastion wall, the former private gardens, the castellated seawall and historic bridges.  The Civils contract includes drainage works in the former private gardens and on the Castle Green and works to paths.

On completion of the first phase of the project, further phases of work will follow including the restoration of the soft landscaping and plantings in the vicinity of Lews Castle.

Funding for the project is coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Stornoway Trust, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Historic Environment Scotland.  The project will complement the recently restored Lews Castle which also received significant Lottery funding.

Parliamentary call for CMS Window Systems

CMS Window Systems has shared its business experience and insights at the highest level after being invited to a special SME Parliamentary Reception in London organised by the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The Glasgow-based company was represented at the exclusive event at Portcullis House by its chief operating officer, David Ritchie.

Mr Ritchie was invited to be part of a panel chaired by the Federation of Small Businesses director of policy, Martin McTague, to discuss how SMEs can innovate and be more productive, and discuss the challenges to SME growth and scaling, and what government, the public and private sector is doing or can do to help.

According to BEIS, the SME Parliamentary Reception was arranged to help build networks amongst MPs, ministers, influential business leaders and SMEs, with the opportunity for views to be shared to help shape government policy that enables small business growth. The invitation to attend is the latest high profile recognition for CMS Window Systems, who were awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2017 and continue to be one of Scotland’s fastest growing manufacturing businesses.

Commenting on the SME Parliamentary Reception, David Ritchie said: “We were delighted to be invited to join this important event and discussion because of how crucial it is that policyholders and businesses work closely together for the UK economy to prosper. I really enjoyed the lively debate and very much hope that the contributions made by everyone representing the SME sector will be useful to policymakers.”

Charity receives funding boost from Mactaggart & Mickel Homes

Edinburgh and Midlothian charity Home Link Family Support has received a donation of £1,000 from housebuilder Mactaggart & Mickel Homes’ Building Communities Fund.

Home Link Family Support provides help to struggling families with young children who are not coping for a variety of reasons including poverty, disadvantage and family breakdown in Edinburgh and Midlothian. The services provided by the organisation include in-home support to families, counselling and antenatal support to women at risk.

The much-needed donation will go towards the Young Parents Service Midlothian, which provides specialised support to help young parents and families access services, build confidence in themselves, and improve interaction between parents and their children.

Mactaggart & Mickel Homes has a long history of supporting good causes. The Building Communities Fund was established to enhance the company’s ongoing efforts to help organisations and projects which enhance the lives of people within their local communities.

The fund is open throughout the year to applications from charities, community groups, sports teams and schools within a five mile radius of any Mactaggart & Mickel Homes development under construction, including Millerhill at Shawfair in Midlothian.

Applications for funding are assessed and awarded by a cross section of Mactaggart & Mickel employees.

Joanne Casey, director at Mactaggart & Mickel Homes, said: “The work that Home Link Family Support does has struck a chord with us all.  Young people and their children deserve every opportunity get the best start in life so that they and their family can succeed and thrive and it’s a privilege for us to be able to add our assistance.”

Paula Swanston for Home Link Family Support, added: “This grant from Mactaggart & Mickel Homes is wonderful news for struggling families with young children. Young parents may be struggling to cope for a variety of reasons but through dedicated volunteer support which comes to them in their homes, families can go on to thrive and children have a better start in life.”

For more information on the fund and to make an application visit

Teams announced for Business Fives Construction, Housing & Property events

The teams participating in the Construction, Housing & Property qualifying events for a business five-a-side tournament have been announced, with time still available for companies to get involved.

Supported by Scottish Construction Now, Scottish Housing News and the Scottish Property Federation the heats will run on January 23 and 30 in Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively.

Business Fives, the five-a-side contest for football-loving firms, is now entering its fourth season as the winter season takes in four Scottish cities for the first time – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee – with teams competing for a place in the grand final in Glasgow on March 14.

Building on its year-on-year success since launching in 2016, Business Fives has worked with more than 300 firms and raised over £30,000 for charities.

Like the summer season, tournament organisers have committed to donating 10% of all its revenue to charity with the winning team securing a bumper donation for their charity of choice.

Business Fives boasts some famous ex-players and sporting celebrities as ambassadors including footballer turned businessman Lee Mair, ex-Celtic star Andy Walker, Rangers legend Ally Dawson, Hearts legend Gary Mackay, BBC Pundit Tam McManus along with TV presenter David Tanner.

Tournament founder and Business Fives managing director, John McClarey, – who also organised a highly-successful inaugural Business Fours golf tournament earlier in the year – said it’s a great opportunity for businesses to bond with colleagues outside of the office, get fit and raise money for charity.

Details of the two events covering the Construction, Housing & Property sectors and the firms are involved to date are as follows:

Edinburgh Construction, Housing & Property Heat

Tuesday 23rd January – World of Football, Edinburgh

Companies involved: Dunedin Canmore, GVA, Michael Laird Architects, Savills, Capital City Electrical, Link Group, Thomson Gray, Weslo HM, Comprehensive Design Architects

Glasgow Construction, Housing & Property Heat

Tuesday 30th January – SoccerWorld, Glasgow

Companies involved: Muir Construction, BTO Solicitors, Tri-Fix, Story Contracting, Brodies, Multiplex, Business Moves Group, Dougall Baillie Associates, AMCO, McCarthy & Stone

Building Briefs – January 17th

(from left) Stephanie Carr, head of Glasgow office; Karen Fulton, Partner and head of residential property in Glasgow; Lindsay Darroch, Board member and head of property

Blackadders appoints new partner to head up residential property in Glasgow 

National law firm Blackadders has appointed a new head of residential property to its Glasgow office.

Karen Fulton joins Blackadders as a Partner to take up the role and will be responsible for building on the firm’s residential property credentials and diverse portfolio of clients.

A property lawyer for more than 25 years and predominantly in the Glasgow area, Karen’s appointment reinforces Blackadders’ ambitious growth plans in the city and West of Scotland.

Originally from Kilmarnock, Karen graduated from Strathclyde University and trained at R & JA McCallum before joining Bird Semple in Glasgow and then becoming an associate with Taylor and Henderson solicitors in Saltcoats. In 2004, she rejoined Bird Semple where she went on to become a Partner.


Engineering consultancy moves into 58 Waterloo Street

58 Waterloo Street

Hoare Lea, a consultancy firm of engineers specialising in mechanic, electrical and public health design, has been confirmed as the latest tenant at 58 Waterloo Street in Glasgow.

Hoare Lea has taken a total of 2,033 sq ft across the 4th floor on a five year deal at a rental of £20 per sq ft.  Previously based in premises on Buchanan Street, the company required larger premises to continue the growth of its expert services.

The relocation follows the extensive multi-million pound refurbishment of 58 Waterloo Street in early 2017 which created 31,068 sq ft of Grade A office space over eight levels. Hoare Lea will take occupation later this month following completion of fit-out works.


Average house prices in Scotland continue to rise

The latest publication of the monthly UK House Price Index (UK HPI) shows that the average price of a property in Scotland in November 2017 was £145,992 – an increase of 3.6% on November in the previous year and an increase of 1.1% when compared to the previous month.

This compares to a UK average of £226,071, which was an increase of 5.1% on November in the previous year and an increase of 0.1% when compared to the previous month.

The volume of residential sales in Scotland in September 2017 was 9,323 – a decrease of 2.5% on September 2016 and a decrease of 0.5% on the previous month. This compares with annual decreases in sales volumes of 14.8% in England, 6.6% in Wales and 8.6% in Northern Ireland (Quarter 3 – 2017).

The top five local authorities in terms of September sales volumes were Edinburgh (1,124 sales), Glasgow (1,067 sales), Fife (706 sales), South Lanarkshire (595 sales) and North Lanarkshire (451 sales).

Average price increases were recorded in three quarters (24) of all local authorities in November 2017, when comparing prices with the previous year. The biggest price increases were in West Dunbartonshire, East Lothian and the City of Edinburgh, where the average prices increased by 10.3% to £106,216, 8.1% to £217,106 and 8.0% to £246,508 respectively. The biggest decreases were recorded in Aberdeen City and Argyll and Bute where prices fell by 4.2% to £163,489 and 3.9% to £127,373 respectively.

Across Scotland, most property types showed an increase in average price in November 2017 when compared with the same month in the previous year. Flat or maisonette properties showed the biggest increase, rising by 7.2% to £108,881. The average price of detached properties showed a decrease of 3.6% to £235,744.

The average price in November 2017 for a property purchased by a first time buyer was £121,574 – an increase of 6.5% compared to the same month in the previous year. The average price for a property purchased by a former owner occupier was £169,670 – an increase of 0.7% on the previous year.

The average price for a cash sale was £135,641 – an increase of four% on the previous year – while the average price for property purchased with a mortgage was £150,733 – an increase of 3.5% on the previous year.


Councillors consider next steps for Perth & Kinross primary schools

Councillors will be asked to consider the future of four Perth & Kinross Council schools as part of the transformation of the school estate at the next meeting of the local authority’s Lifelong Learning Committee meeting on January 24.

The development of this first phase of options appraisals was approved by the Lifelong Learning Committee in November 2016.  A total of 10 schools are included in this phase, with four schools being considered by this Committee at their January meeting. These schools are: St Ninian’s Episcopal Primary School, Forteviot Primary School, Balhousie Primary School and North Muirton Primary School.

Elected Members will consider detailed information on each school and community, including feedback from drop-in sessions and on-line questionnaires.

The Committee will firstly be asked to approve a proposal to establish a local authority nursery in St Ninian’s Episcopal Primary School. This will support the expansion nursery provision from 600 hours to 1140 hours throughout Perth and Kinross.  It is anticipated that this will also sustain pupil numbers in the school, which have been reducing over recent years. If approved, design work for the nursery would commence in consultation with the school, as there is no statutory consultation required for the introduction of a nursery currently.

Elected Members will be asked to approve to undertake a statutory consultation process to close Forteviot Primary School permanently. Forteviot Primary School was mothballed in October 2016, with the majority of pupils currently attending Forgandenny Primary School. The report states that it is not anticipated that Forteviot Primary School will have a sustainable roll in the next four years and also that pupils have settled well in Forgandenny Primary School.

Finally the Committee will consider an options appraisal for Balhousie Primary School and North Muirton Primary School. Both schools are being appraised due to the poor condition of the school buildings. In addition, Balhousie Primary School is under-occupied. The report proposes that a new school is built on the current site of North Muirton Primary School. This school will be designed to accommodate pupils from North Muirton Primary School and Balhousie Primary School. The new school would be completed in 2022. In order to progress the preferred option, Elected Members are being asked to approve a statutory consultation to close Balhousie Primary School.

And finally… Former construction worker now writes poetry, novels and songs

A former construction worker turned singer is to return to the UK for a number of shows.

Rod Picott returns to the UK in March with a new album, Out Past the Wires, and a book of poetry, God in His Slippers.

Originally from a small rural town in Maine, he’s now resident in Nashville.

It’s been 17 years since his debut album Tiger Tom Dixon’s Blues, which bridged the gap between folk and Americana, brought him critical acclaim and put an end to his working life as a sheet-rock hanger.

An interview with Rod is available in the Nottingham Post.

Carillion faces legal action over workers’ pay and pension rights

The Unite union is set to take legal action against Carillion after claiming that the collapsed construction and support services firm breached its legal obligations to give notice of redundancies.

The company, which employs 20,000 people in the UK including thousands in Scotland, was placed into compulsory liquidation yesterday morning with debts of £1.15 billion and a pension shortfall of over half a billion after talks with the UK government to save the company were unsuccessful.

Unite Scotland pointed to current labour laws, which say employers with a workforce of more than 20 at one location are legally obliged to give employees 30 days’ notice of possible redundancies.

Carillion had been involved in the £745 million Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) and had contracts with Registers of Scotland, the Scottish Children’s Reporter AdministrationWest of Scotland Housing Association and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde among many others.

Network Rail awarded Carillion a contract last year to deliver platform extension works and the firm is also responsible for two facilities management contracts worth £158m with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which cover 83 military sites in Scotland.

In the last six months, the company issued three profit warnings and yet in that time was awarded contracts worth more than £2bn by the UK government.

Unite’s Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “Given (yesterday’s) drastic events it’s clear that Carillion was legally obliged to give notice to the workforce in December of the possibility of redundancies.

“It hasn’t done that. So Unite is taking advice about legal action to secure the pay and pension rights of our members.

“Obviously saving jobs is the priority but we also have to make sure that workers don’t pay the price for what is boardroom greed and recklessness.”

Unite Scotland said that the collapse of Carillion should be a stark warning about the obsessions across the UK, in Westminster, Holyrood, and local government about the privatisation of public services.

The union believes that for a long time putting public services out to private tender has “started an undercutting merry go round” which may have affected Carillion. According to Unite, the company has lost hundreds of millions because major contracts turned out to be loss-makers after tender bids were perilously low.

Pat Rafferty added: “This is what happens after years of worship at the Holy Grail of privatisation. It starts with the mistaken belief that private provision is best and ends with the tax payer picking up a billion pound tab when reality proves that is not true. There needs to be a government inquiry to establish just what went wrong at Carillion so that lessons can be learned. Meantime the administrators have to determine what contracts held by Carillion can be brought into public control.”

Unite has welcomed the fact that the government and the administrators PwC have to date given guarantees about financial support for the continuation and completion of public contracts formally held by Carillion.

The Scottish Government has confirmed it is in talks with UK counterparts and liquidators to work out how best to support Carillion employees and contracts.

Housing association planning to transfer Carillion repairs deal to new contractor

West of Scotland Housing Association (WSHA) is working to transfer its repairs and maintenance work to a new contractor following the demise of Carillion.

The construction and support services business, which was placed into compulsory liquidation yesterday morning, had been providing facilities management services for WSHA since it was appointed last August.

The contract saw Carillion deliver WSHA’s planned maintenance programme, installing new kitchens, bathrooms and heating systems in tenant’s homes.

Following yesterday’s announcement, West of Scotland Housing Association told our sister publication Scottish Housing News: “West of Scotland Housing Association has been working with Carillion PLC over several months to transfer the day to day repairs and planned maintenance contracts to Robertson FM.

“We want to assure our tenants and owners that we are working towards a smooth transfer of services which will mean they will not be adversely affected by the recent announcement made by Carillion.”

The UK’s second largest construction company, Carillion had been in emergency financing talks with its lenders and the banks since last week after suffering from debts of £1.15 billion and a pension shortfall of over half a billion.

Its current Scottish projects include the extension of platforms at Edinburgh Waverley station and the new £745 million Aberdeen bypass.

The firm is also responsible for two facilities management contracts with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) worth £158m which cover 83 military sites in Scotland.

New homes and commercial units planned for former Glasgow church site

Plans have been submitted to develop 49 homes on a former church site in North Glasgow on behalf of ng homes.

Under the plans, 49 residential flats and two commercial units could be built on the corner of Keppochill Road and Millarbank Street in Springburn which was previously home to Springburn Public Halls and Cowlairs Church.

The B-listed Springburn Public Halls were demolished over Christmas 2012 after the property was deemed a health and safety risk by Glasgow City Council.

A planning statement explains that the Springburn Public Halls, which were designed by William B White, opened in 1902. The halls were gifted to the community by the Reid Family who owned the Hyde Park Works.

The halls were a focal point for local gatherings during the first of the 20th century and the building was later converted into a sports hall in the 1960s until its closure in 1985 due to dry rot.

The halls lay derelict for years with regeneration proposals proving unsuccessful, according to the planning statement.

The new development would provide 49 new homes in the area including one and two bedroom properties.

A decision on the plans is expected next month.

New industrial partner hire for Montagu Evans

Bryce Stewart

Planning and development consultancy Montagu Evans has appointed Bryce Stewart as a partner based at the firm’s Edinburgh office.

A specialist in the industrial sector, with clients including Eddie Stobart, Aberdeen Standard Investments, Roxhill, Eurogarages Shepherd Offshore and J Smart & Co, Bryce was previously a director at Colliers International.

He has advised NEC, Atmel and Freescale in the disposal of their 3 million sq ft facilities during the downturn of the Scottish semi-conductor sector and Asda on its 410,000 sq ft disposal in Grangemouth, as well as Logicors’ 630,000 sq ft disposal at J4M8. He has also delivered lettings and sales to Amazon and Schuh.

Commenting on the appointment, Andrew Munnis, head of Scotland at Montagu Evans, said: “Bryce is a first-rate industrial property specialist with particular experience advising corporate occupiers in the Central Belt, as well as across Scotland and the North of England. He will bring a great deal of additional value to our clients as part of the UK-wide industrial and trade counter team and is a very welcome addition to the firm.”