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issue 5 - june 2012

Architects awarded £1million contract to deliver unique tourism experience in Scotland Nicoll Russell Studios’ designs were selected by a panel of four judges for their use of light, space and strength of visual elements as well as the connection between the two separate structures, which work seamlessly together to create a distinctive experience.

Nicoll Russell Studios, whose head office is in Broughty Ferry, has been selected to deliver the prestigious contract following a design competition and tender process managed by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) seeking ambitious designs for a functional but visionary visitor centre as part of the £41 million Helix project in Falkirk.

Sculptor Andy Scott commented on the chosen designs. He said: “It was a tough decision but for me, I could see how the internal space and visitor centre would work together. These are exciting times and I am delighted by both the prospect of seeing the designs come to life and to the contract being awarded to a Scottish company with an international reputation for excellence.”

The practice will also deliver their designs for an internal public space located within a 30m high Kelpie head created by world-renowned sculptor, Andy Scott, in a move that will establish a dramatic, multisensory experience anticipated to generate significant levels of repeat visits.

Mike King, programme director for the Helix Project, welcomed the outcome of the competition. He said: “This is a great result and demonstrates the quality and strength of architecture and design in Scotland. Nicoll Russell Studios’ designs are dynamic and engaging and showed a clear understanding of the requirements of the

The Kelpies will feature an internal public space providing a dramatic, multi-sensory experience.

brief, set against the backdrop of the wider project objectives. The Helix is amongst the most exciting transformation programmes under way in the UK right now and one of our key aims is to create a unique multivisitor experience that will firmly establish the project as a ‘must see’ destination on the national and international tourism map.”

Canal Link Contract Award Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering has been awarded a £13.5 million contract to deliver a comprehensive programme of canal construction and design works, confirming the next stage of the Helix project. The scope of the canal works will focus on creating a new canal extension from the existing Forth & Clyde canal down to a new sea lock on the River Carron, waiting areas and a lift bridge over the new extension at Glensburgh Road in Falkirk.

Issue 5 • June 2012

A Scottish architects’ practice has beaten global competition to secure a £1million contract to deliver a unique visitor experience, which will form part of one of the most exciting community projects in the UK.

Artist’s impression of the functional but visionary visitor centre

Falkirk to represent Scotland in EU initiative for SMEs Falkirk is representing Scotland in a pioneering initiative to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout Europe. The INTERREG project, ‘Supporting Programmes for Young SMEs’, will strengthen co-operation between regions in the European Union. Falkirk and partners from 12 EU countries - including Spain, Hungary, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Belgium - aim to identify the most effective types of support for the survival and growth of recently established SMEs. Project participants will take part in up to 20 events over the next three years and Falkirk will play host at an event in September 2012. The area’s economic development initiative My Future’s in Falkirk will lead on behalf of Falkirk Council, which believes its involvement will strengthen Scotland’s contribution to the EU’s growth strategy, Europe 2020. Falkirk Council’s Head of Economic Development and Environmental Services, Douglas Duff said: “Europe 2020 highlights the need to improve the environment for business, particularly for SMEs. Our business support body Falkirk for Business has been driving support to the business community for many years, and the INTERREG project will now compliment our Business Support Strategy.”

Issue 5 • June 2012

The ultimate objective is to create a programme that can be delivered across Europe. It will be a tool kit for supporting areas of business such as market development, co-operation, networking, management and ICT. Douglas Duff added: “With economic conditions remaining uncertain, support for the survival of local businesses is extremely important. INTERREG provides the opportunity to engage in European trans-national activity and benefit our local young SMEs”.

Teacher James Murphy collected the UK’s Most Dedicated Teacher award at a ceremony in London

Teacher awarded for boosting profile of Science sector As the Falkirk area is at the epicentre of the chemical sciences sector, it is fitting that a Falkirk science teacher has won the UK’s Most Dedicated Teacher award for his contribution to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (known as STEM). James Murphy, a physics teacher at St Mungo’s High School beat off competition from more than 150 teachers throughout the UK to win the coveted title at the National STEMNET awards. His dedication was highly commended and he was awarded the title at a recent ceremony in the House of Lords. James was put forward for the awards by Global Science, a Falkirk based organisation which promotes STEM in local schools. Kevin McKeever of Global Science said: “Since James’ arrival at St Mungo’s he has been extremely proactive in raising the profile and aspirations of young people to consider STEM course choices and promote careers. “It is a fantastic achievement, a personal success for James, great news for the school, and generally positive for the Falkirk area and community.” James visited the House of Lords in December to collect his award, and was thrilled to be given an opportunity to visit the CERN Institute in Switzerland. James said: “I really did not expect to win but I am delighted and I thank STEMNET for their continued support in motivating our pupils. The trip to CERN allowed me to meet UK engineers and scientists based at the particle accelerator in Switzerland and gave me an excellent insight into the ground breaking work that is taking place there.”

in the headlines Olympic Torch is heading for Falkirk In the lead up to the Games in London the historic Olympic symbol will travel through Larbert, Camelon, Falkirk and Skinflats on Wednesday 13 June. Local residents have been selected to carry the torch. Falkirk Herald, 20/03/12

An order from Perth based Stagecoach has secured work for Falkirk bus builder Alexander Dennis. The firm will be involved in building 226 vehicles including 19 hybrid electric buses destined for Perth and Aberdeen. Delivery of the new vehicles will be from May 2012.

Former Falkirk colliery site at Kinneil could become Scotland’s newest nature reserve

A 230,000 sq ft development at Grange Lane is now fully let thanks to a deal between Diagio and Rossco Properties for the remaining 180,000 sq ft of warehouse space. Diagio, whose brands include Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray gin and Guinness will primarily use the warehouse for the maturation of whisky., 23/02/12

Cancer ‘smart bomb’ plant in Grangemouth opens Following a grant from Scottish Enterprise, pharmaceutical company Piramal Healthcare have opened a new drugs plant in Grangemouth producing cancer drugs known as ‘smart bombs’. Officially called ADCs, the drugs are approved for use in the US and could soon be licensed for the European market. About 15 new jobs were created from the plant upgrade, taking the total number of employees to 85. BBC News, 26/03/12

Falkirk butcher’s famous fare features on lorries Malcolm Allan’s popular steak pies are to feature on Tesco lorries delivering to all its Scottish stores. The two companies have worked together since meeting 8 years ago at the Royal Highland Show with Tesco now stocking 14 products in 60 stores across Scotland. Falkirk Herald, 23/03/12

Summit Power Group have teamed up with National Grid and Petrofac to propose a commercial scale coal fuelled power station, incorporating carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at Grangemouth Port. They are hoping to attract funding from the UK government. Described as a chemical refinery for coal, there would be no burning of the coal and it is claimed the CCS technology would reduce emissions by more than 90%. BBC, 20/03/12

BT to expand superfast broadband roll-out across Scotland

The Herald, 21/02/12

Diagio takes new Grangemouth warehouse

Coal-fuelled power station plans for Grangemouth

By Spring 2013 towns including Bo’ness, Falkirk, Grangemouth and Larbert will benefit from the latest phase of BT’s £2.5 billion fibre broadband programme. Falkirk Council and the Friends of Kinneil are liaising with Scottish Natural Heritage to have Kinneil nature reserve formally recognised with Local Nature Reserve status. It is hoped agreement will be reached by the summer., 13/03/12

Success is the icing on the cake for Grangemouth’s crafty sisters After designing a novelty slipper cake for their Grandad, sisters Dawn McFadden and Jemma McCulloch were inundated with cake orders from friends and family. They opened their first shop last year and have now moved to bigger premises in Dundas Street where they operate as Love@ FirstBite, offering cupcake decorating classes for all ages and abilities.

Business7, 21/03/12

Ambitious plans for former brickworks site A huge mixed use development consisting of housing, offices, a football pitch and an animal hospital has been proposed for former brickworks site, Stein’s in Allandale. A site visit will be made by members of Falkirk Council’s planning committee. Falkirk Herald, 25/04/12

Gap site could create 205 jobs An application for planning permission in principle has been lodged for a 60 bed nursing home on the former Russell Athletic factory site in Bo’ness. The application includes a proposal for an industrial tenant on the site and estimates 130 jobs would be created in the care home and a further 75 in the industrial unit.

Falkirk Herald, 06/04/12

Linlithgow Gazette, 06/04/12

ScotRail to pilot wi-fi on Edinburgh to Glasgow trains

Firms urged to invest in business

New digital technology is being trialled as part of a pilot scheme which will allow passengers to access the internet on their phones and laptops. Scotrail will equip four trains running from Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk with wi-fi equipment. It is hoped that eventually the technology will be available on trains across the country. BBC, 28/02/12

Following the announcement that the UK had slipped back into recession, the Chairman of Scottish Enterprise, Crawford Gillies, urged company bosses to invest in their businesses in order to grow, citing Alexander Dennis of Falkirk as a company which had grown its market share to 50% despite the tough trading conditions. Falkirk Herald, 25/04/12

Issue 5 • June 2012

Alexander Dennis to build bulk of Stagecoach fleet

Gail Fairholm of Corbie Inn with Stuart Simpson of the adjoining Kinneil Brew Hoose

Bo’ness Tourism is good for business Recent news to mark one of Europe’s most significant Roman artefacts at its birthplace of Bo’ness signals another boost for the town, which is fast becoming a feather in the cap of Falkirk’s tourist industry. The completion of the Bridgeness Slab replica in Bo’ness will add to a wealth of attractions such as Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, the Hippodrome, the Motor Museum and Kinneil House that are all encouraging people to visit the area. These destinations and investment in the last year to improve the town centre are all positive contributions to the local economy, as many local businesses are set to benefit from the tourist trade. Two recent ventures that are aiming to both thrive from and contribute to the Bo’ness tourism industry are the Corbie Inn and adjoining Kinneil Brew Hoose. The pub and micro-brewery both opened last year and want to offer something that supports local people and tourists alike.

Issue 5 • June 2012

Offering cask beers and real ales, including those brewed by the Brew Hoose next door, is one point of difference that Corbie Inn owner Gail Fairholm hopes will attract custom to her venue. Gail and her husband bought and renovated a disused pub and British Legion club and now welcome patrons to sample their ales, restaurant food and traditional pub grub. Gail said: “We are a family friendly business and offer homemade and locally sourced produce to provide a unique experience. We hold a programme of events to ensure the venue is a destination for the local community and we attract lots of tourists who are passing through including walkers and cyclists.” She added: “Having the brewery

next door is certainly a benefit to us and the area as more people are coming to Bo’ness to visit the Brew Hoose and drop in to the Inn to sample the ales with some food.” The Kinneil Brew Hoose is operated independently by Stuart Simpson, who rents the brewery space from Gail. A traditional brewery, Stuart uses the finest malts and hops in his brews that are mashed, fermented and cask conditioned before leaving the brewery. Stuart’s Brew Hoose has fast become another destination on the local tourist map as he welcomes visitors from across the UK who share his love for cask ales. Stuart explained: “Since I opened I’ve been visited by a steady stream of people, with a mix of locals, day trippers from nearby areas and tourists who make a special effort to take a detour to the brewery. Ideally, I’d like to be able to market tours of the brewery in the future but at the moment I try to speak to everyone who comes to visit.” The creation of both businesses have also created a mutually beneficial partnership as Stuart’s brews, Caer Edin Dark Cask Ale and Pennvael Amber Cask Beer, are supplied to the Corbie Inn and this is helping Gail to offer specialised products that will attract beer aficionados. Gail is also helping Stuart to promote the sale of take home mini kegs and the brewer hopes to build this side of his business through local shops. Gail said: “I do think that Bo’ness is a fantastic destination with a lot to see and do. I would hope that the Brewery and the Inn offers something to add to the experience for tourists as well as attracting more people to visit the town.”

talkback Chris McCarron, Director of Silentgig is our featured interview in this edition. Silentgig is an innovative live audio visual sensory production company, which is working on a concept that involves headphones, vibration, projection and lighting to create a fully immersive concert and home entertainment experience.

Chris McCarron, Silentgig

The company was formed in January 2011, and has already completed an event in The 02 London and plans are underway for another event this summer. Chris, a former sound engineer, has toured with the likes of Biffy Clyro and Razorlight and was born and bred in the Falkirk area. Music has always been his passion, and he is now focused on getting his new concept out into the real world. For more information check out

What makes you happy and contented? Seeing the pieces of the puzzle fit just where you hoped they would in life and in business. In one sentence, what piece of advice could you offer to a new business? Get the timing of your launch right and be smarter than people give you credit for. Careful plans or big risks? Both. What seems like a big risk can be achieved with careful plans. Best under pressure or well chilled? Definitely well chilled, it’s just the business we’re in. What has been the most difficult hurdle to overcome in business and how did you do it? Taking all of the ideas and putting them all into one tangible way forward was the biggest challenge. I could see how it would all fit, but it seemed so disparate to many ‘business’ people as our industry generally works in a different way. Refining that into a model normal business people can understand was the biggest challenge and Falkirk for Business and the Scottish Enterprise advisors have been hugely influential in how we’ve made that transition.

Which famous person do you most admire and why? Probably Will. I. Am after his appearance on Top Gear. Multi talented and big hearted. This guy made money from his music, got his family and friends out of the ghetto they lived in and then started a car company in the ghetto so that there was employment for those still below the poverty line. Giving people a purpose and the opportunity to provoke a generational change in attitude is all you can hope to do as an employer or a human being. Best deal? Still negotiating that one! Every deal you make should be the best deal you can get for your business either in pure monetary terms or with a mixture of raising company profile, exposure and networking. I’ll always assess those options and if none seem to fit, then we probably won’t do the job. Best recipe for winding down? Switching the phone off and going somewhere with no internet and a Jacuzzi. In a perfect world… Everyone would put back as much as they took out. Favourite place? I had a very special time in Majorca last year, so that comes high on the list, but it’s still Scotland every time. With hindsight… I don’t do regrets. Better to try and know than live a life in wonder.

Dream car? I’m rubbish with cars because I don’t care that much about them. I see them as functional more than status symbols. I always liked the old style Volkswagen Scirroco, so probably a mint condition one of those would be my choice. Favourite city? Amsterdam, because it feels like a brilliant welcoming little village not a big soulless city. Favourite book? Love All The People, the Bill Hicks story or On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin. Hobbies? I love comedy in all its forms but particularly stand-up comedians. I have loads of books and DVDs from a variety of performers. I’ve had a go at that too and probably will have another go. It’s an easy risk to take when it’s only your head that’s on the block! Favourite eaterie/restaurant? The best meal I’ve ever had in a restaurant was in La Fiorentina on Paisley Road West in Glasgow just last year. I like cooking and usually find Italian places a let down, but a friend had recommended this to me years ago so I went with my girlfriend. Everything was perfect. If you haven’t been, make the trip, it’s well worth it.

Issue 5 • June 2012

Best piece of business advice you ever received? Be patient. Big business doesn’t move at the same speed you want.

Earls Gate Park welcomes Asda Asda are to relocate and expand their distribution services into a new 36 acre energy efficient and sustainable distribution facility at Earls Gate Park 2 in Grangemouth. Leading fine chemicals company Calachem has created the industrial and business park, Earls Gate Park, as part of a successful joint development with Scottish Enterprise. Site developer Bericote Properties expects construction to be complete by September 2012. Asda will create 150 new jobs and safeguard 450 existing jobs as part of the move to the new site which fronts directly onto the Earls Gate Roundabout in Grangemouth. Ryden Property Consultants on behalf of Calachem has to date facilitated the disposal of 68 acres and 5 buildings totalling 75,000 sq. ft. on Earls Gate Park 1. Twelve acres are currently under offer and only 3 serviced development plots remain available (from 1 acre to 9 acres). Visit for more information.

Additional Support Pupils make it 100% in training and job prospects Pupils from Carrongrange School in Larbert are all now heading for positive destinations, with 100% of school leavers going on to better their lives through work opportunities, further studying or learning new skills to help them find employment. All of the pupils who attend the school have varying degrees of additional support needs and it is the first time a 100% result has been achieved, having increased from 46% in 2009. Central to the success has been a partnership between the school and Real Jobs Falkirk as Jim Nicol, manager of Real Jobs Falkirk explained: ‘When we launched this Project in April 2009 we had a clear destination in mind for service users. What has been achieved has evolved from the close working relationships formed by the team here with Carrongrange School, Colleges, Partner Organisations, Support Groups, Funders and Families. ‘These have all played their part in helping to raise the levels of creativity needed to achieve the positive outcomes that we targeted at the onset. Local businesses have also made a major contribution, in what is for them a difficult economic climate.’ Some examples of pupils achieving positive destinations include working at Muiravonside Country Park café, learning skills in catering and customer service; an Apprenticeship with CR Smith; College Courses in Agriculture, Childcare, Access to Engineering and Administration and working with the voluntary sector in charity shops and the Salvation Army, with a number of pupils being awarded Millennium Awards for Volunteering, and being nominated for the new Saltire Awards.

Issue 5 • June 2012

Win for Carrongrange Pupil A pupil from Carrongrange School was the lucky winner of the My Future’s in Falkirk young people survey prize draw. Tony Stephen was awarded first prize of £75 i-Tunes vouchers, with runners up Nicola Ramage and Nicola Kuzbyt winning £50 and £25 of the vouchers. Results of the survey can be seen at in the ‘young people’ section of the website.

economic outlook In this edition, the Economic Outlook column from Falkirk Council’s Research and Information Unit reports on the gloomy state of the national economy, but on a more positive note, highlights the improvement in youth unemployment in our own area.

Double dip recession It appears from the preliminary GDP figures for the first quarter of 2012 published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) at the end of April, that the much talked about “double dip recession” has happened. These figures showed that the UK economy shrank by 0.2% in the first three months of 2012, following a decrease of 0.3% in the final quarter of 2011. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction, so these figures suggest that we are once more in a recession – all be it not a severe one as yet.

There are other aspects of the economic situation which are to be noted. Inflation, which had been falling steadily throughout the autumn and winter, rose again in March mainly due to rising food prices. These increases were somewhat offset by lower energy and fuel prices. The problems in the Eurozone continue, which is also having a negative effect on our economy.

The graph below illustrates that since the economy came out of the last recession in the second half of 2009, progress has been mixed with seven quarters of growth but four quarters during which the economy contracted. Prior to the publication of the latest figures, most commentators had been predicting a very small rise in GDP in early 2012, so the shrinking of the economy was unexpected to many. ONS suggested that the dip in output was due to a sharp 1.5 contraction in the construction industry.

UK and Scotland GDP Growth %, quarter on quarter


Figures for Scotland for the first quarter of 2012 will not be available until July, but the Scottish figures have largely mirrored the UK ones over the last few years. The general message appears to be that the economy remains weak and volatile with growth around zero and with little immediate prospect of much change. Whether these figures signal a return to a sustained recession, or whether they are simply a reflection of the volatility of the economy in a very low growth situation, remains to be seen. The economy may be better described as bumping along the bottom rather than in a full blown recession.

Other business and economic news has been more positive. For example, the British Chambers of Commerce quarterly survey for the first quarter of 2012 showed an improvement over the previous quarter. The Nationwide Building Society reported consumer confidence at a nine month high. The UK government hit its borrowing target for the year. Interest rates remain low. And the latest unemployment figures showed a small fall, both nationally and locally.

0.5 0 ‐0.5 ‐1 ‐1.5 UK ‐2


‐2.5 2008 Q3

2009 Q4


2010 Q2




2011 Q2




2012 Q2




Source: Office for National Statistics

There was some better news to report on youth unemployment in the Falkirk area. While there were still 1,295 young people aged 18-24 claiming unemployment benefits in the area in March, this is 120 fewer young people unemployed than there were a year ago.

Also, the percentage of all Job Seekers Allowance claimants who are aged under 25 has decreased since the start of the recession in 2008. In March 2008 36% of the unemployed were aged 16-24 while by March this year, this had decreased to 28.3%. This means that youth

This reduction contrasts with an increase of 2,450 across Scotland and 60,000 in the UK as a whole. The Scottish Government, in their monthly report on youth unemployment highlighted that compared to all other local authorities in Scotland, “Falkirk experienced the greatest decrease in (the) rate (of youth unemployment) over the year, a decrease of 0.7 percentage points.” However, youth unemployment is still above the national average and we are continuing to focus efforts and resources on this priority area.

unemployment has increased at a slower rate than the increase among other age groups since the start of the recession. For more information on the local economy see: Falkirk as a location: The Falkirk Council Research and Information web pages:

Issue 5 • June 2012

Youth unemployment

Looking for Business Property in the Falkirk Area? The Business Property Register is an ideal point of reference for companies or individuals looking for property in which to start a new business venture, relocate or expand an existing business. /property or call Jennifer Anton at Falkirk Council on 01324 590975.

MyFuture'sInFalkirk Issue 5  

Canal Link Contract Award Mike King, programme director for the Helix Project, welcomed the outcome of the competition. He said: “This is a...

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