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Thursday
Feb192015

SCOTCH WHISKY - GOLD IN COLOUR BUT GREEN IN SPIRIT 

 The Scotch Whisky industry has reinforced its commitment to environmental sustainability with industry trade body, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), pledging its support to Message Matters' client Keep Scotland Beautiful's Clean Up Scotland campaign. 

The Scotch Whisky industry has already committed to the most ambitious voluntary environmental strategy of any single UK manufacturing sector. This latest pledge reinforces the SWA’s commitment to place environmental sustainability at the heart of decision making and driving change in the way that the industry acts country-wide.

Signing up to the Clean Up Scotland pledge strengthens the SWA’s commitment to keeping Scotland beautiful, doing their bit and showing they care for Scotland and its environment. As part of the pledge, the organisation will also be working with members to promote the aims of the initiative and endorse Keep Scotland Beautiful as an environmental partner.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association Chief Executive, said:

“The Scotch Whisky Association is fully committed to raising our own and the Scotch Whisky industry’s environmental credentials. We have a great record here already, but our pledge to support the Clean Up Scotland campaign demonstrates that we are determined to take things even further. Our backing for this specific Scottish charity will ensure that our members, and their own communities, can see the big changes happening on their doorstep.”

This significant endorsement by the Scottish industry body is a welcome boost to Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Clean Up Scotland campaign, which is working to make Scotland clean and green, today and tomorrow.

Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said:

“Keep Scotland Beautiful welcomes the support of the Scotch Whisky Association for our Clean Up Scotland campaign. This significant backing from one of Scotland’s most iconic industries sends out a powerful message to businesses and consumers in Scotland.

“With over 500,000 individual Clean Up actions so far, people across Scotland are coming together, under the Clean Up Scotland Campaign, to change Scotland for the better. However, our challenge to make Scotland the cleanest country in Europe remains. We hope that the support of the Scotch Whisky Association will encourage more businesses and members of the community to sign up to the campaign.”

Keep Scotland Beautiful is calling for Scotland’s business community to step forward and demonstrate their support for Scotland’s local environment, the places where we live, work and spend our leisure time.

 

Thursday
Jan012015

LARGEST UK SURVEY OF TENANTS BRANDED “MYTHBUSTER”

Lettingstats, the research arm of Lettingweb, has published the full results of its survey of tenant opinion. The findings challenge preconceptions amongst politicians and housing sector interests. The summary of results is available here.


6,448 private sector tenants in Scotland took part in the survey and the key findings are:

  • over 35% of tenants surveyed had lived in their current home for longer than a year - with 10% living longer than three years

  • over 80% believed their tenancy had been managed quite well or very well by their landlord or letting agent

  • almost 88% of tenants believed they had been treated fairly during their current tenancy

  • over 86% reported that there had been no increase in rent during their tenancy - with over 90% believing the frequency of rent reviews being reasonable in their experience

  • almost 95% had never been asked to leave a tenancy for an unexplained or unreasonable reason

  • tenants are concerned by the lack of supply of properties to let - with only 42% being confident of finding another suitable home if they had to

The overall picture is in stark contrast to moves in Parliament to control “rip off rents” - this largest ever survey of tenants indicates that tenants welcome the flexibility of the private rented sector (PRS), whilst appreciating that the have considerable security of tenure and are generally able to stay as long as they want.

 

That accords with a long term growth in the Scottish PRS, which has doubled in size over the past decade, with significant increases in the numbers of prospective tenants looking for affordable, high quality property to let.

 

Lettingstats have also confirmed that rents in Scotland in the PRS have increased by less than the rate of inflation over the past eight years, and significantly less than the increase in rents in the social rented sector over the same period.

 

Their Autumn report published last month highlighted a cooling in the quarter for rent levels in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Whilst caution should be exercised in any one quarter’s movements, the average rent for a 2-bed property in Glasgow fell from £680 in the previous quarter to £662 in Autumn. The average rent for a 2-bed property in Edinburgh fell over the same period from £826 to £809. Dundee also experienced a cooling over the quarter, with average rent for a 2-bed property dropping markedly from £571 to £545 per month.

 

Dan Cookson, Head of Research at Lettingweb commented:

“Lettingstats’ survey of tenant opinion has allowed us to compile an informed picture of tenants and their experiences of renting property in Scotland. This is the mythbuster report - as it destroys many preconceptions of the sector.

“The overwhelming picture is that rents are unlikely to rise during leases and that landlords treat their tenants well. The private rented sector can be proud of their ability to supply good property at a price tenants are willing to pay, and increases have been less than inflation for a period of over eight years.

 

“The stand out figure for me is that only 42% of tenants are confident of finding alternative rented accommodation if they had to. That’s a consequence of limited supply, and more needs to be done to bring greater investment into the sector to meet that demand, and widen confidence that alternatives are available. Our market reports indicate that the time taken to re-let properties at the end of each lease are very short indeed - the market is demanding an expansion of the private rented sector.

“Government needs to respond by creating conditions for increased supply to come forward.”

Malcolm Warrack, Chairman of Letscotland said:

“This is a very significant survey - the largest ever conducted across the UK. As the Scottish Government moves towards legislating for a new type of tenancy agreement for use in the private rented sector, they must listen to the voices of tenants, who are overwhelmingly well served by landlords and letting agents.

“The challenge must be to implement change in a way which increases the supply of rented accommodation reaching the market. Any reforms brought forward must not lead to reductions in supply, which will only lead to rising rents and problems for prospective tenants.”

Wednesday
Nov192014

SEABIRD CENTRE'S FIRST PUFFIN FEST WINS 2014 ASVA AWARD

Clowns of the sea: Wildlife film maker Gordon Buchanan helped us kick off the inaugural 10 day Puffin Fest back in May.

Message Matters' work on the PR campaign for the inaugural Puffin Fest has been recognised in the annual Association of Scottish Visitor Attraction awards, with the Scottish Seabird Centre winning this year's Marketing Award.

The independent visitor attraction's 10-day Puffin Fest was the first event of its kind in Scotland. The islands of the Firth of Forth including Craigleith, Fidra and the Isle of May are home to around 90,000 puffins, and the month of May sees the much-loved seabirds clearing out their burrows ready for the new breeding season. Puffin Fest inspired locals and visitors to learn more about Scotland’s most popular seabird, while highlighting the importance of conserving and protecting our seabirds for future generations.

As the Scottish Seabird Centre's communications partner, Message Matters handled the political relations around the event for the conservation and education charity, promoting important messages about the need for understanding and protection of our precious seabirds. We devised a social media event for the Centre - #Wildhour - which engaged Twitter audiences on the Sunday evening during Puffin Fest with conversation about Scotland's seas, coastline and wildlife. Message Matters ensured that media commentators and bloggers attended the event, with valuable coverage appearing in national and local newspapers and in radio and TV broadcasts. In particular, we secured the appearance of wildlife film maker, Gordon Buchanan, to open such a unique event and participate in media requests ranging from BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland to a comment article in the Edinburgh Evening News.

Congratulations to the Seabird Centre on a fantastic addition to the Scottish events calendar. We're looking forward to 2015's Puffin Fest already!

Friday
Nov072014

KSB ASKS PUBLIC TO CLEAN UP TREASURED WAR MEMORIALS

KSB chief Executive Derek Robertson and Keith Brown, Minister for Transport and Veterans at Alloa War Memorial.

The independent environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has announced a new partnership between its mass engagement Clean Up Scotland campaign and the War Memorials Trust. The War Memorial Campaign will encourage and support volunteer members of the public in Clean Up events around their local war memorials and in reporting graffiti and conditions of the structures to the War Memorials Online project.

With an estimated 6,000 war memorials in Scotland (and an estimated 100,000 across the UK), nearly every community has a war memorial, and its preservation and upkeep is an integral part of having respect for our local areas and those who fought for our country.  

In preparation for, and as a legacy of, Remembrance Sunday 2014, Keep Scotland Beautiful is encouraging volunteers to step forward to help care for their local memorial. Volunteers are being sought to: organise Clean Up events in the green spaces and streets surrounding war memorials; report incidences of graffiti and the general condition of local war memorials; and

care for a war memorial site in the long term by entering the annual ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ awards, to improve and develop the local area.

The Clean Up Scotland campaign aims to make Scotland the cleanest country in Europe. To achieve this, individuals, groups, schools and businesses are encouraged to take pride in where they live, work and spend their leisure time. Clean Up Scotland leads community Clean Up activities to tackle the carelessness and illegal behaviour of those individuals who damage our quality of life and tarnish the country's image.  

To find out how you can get involved in cleaning up your community and creating a legacy of activity following on from The Great War centenary, visit www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/cleanupscotland.  

Derek Robertson, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said:

“War memorials remind us of the sacrifice many servicemen and women have made for us all and we must ensure that they receive the respect they deserve.

“Many of the estimated 6,000 war memorials in Scotland are treasured but too often others are neglected and vandalised or left to suffer the effects of ageing and weathering. War memorials are an important feature of the Scottish landscape, and caring for them, and the whole communities which surround them through Clean Ups, is integral to installing pride in our local areas.”

Keith Brown MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, said:

“War memorials are very important; they link the past to the present and enable people to remember and respect the sacrifice of those who died, fought, participated or were affected by conflicts. They are a central part of communities the length and breadth of Scotland, and I would encourage people to get involved with Keep Scotland Beautiful’s campaign to clean up Scotland’s war memorials.”

Monday
Nov032014

CAMPAIGN FOR SCOTTISH HOME RULE LAUNCHES

The Campaign for Scottish Home Rule has launched today in Edinburgh, bringing together key figures from across Scotland’s political spectrum as well as from outwith party politics.

The Campaign has a steering group of 12 people including figures closely associated with Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and the Greens, as well as people with no party affiliation. They have come together to make the case for an effective, sustainable and productive Home Rule settlement for Scotland.


The steering group’s members are as follows:

- Matthew Benson
- Derek Brownlee
- John Dunsmore
- Susan Egelstaff
- Dr. Alison Elliot
- Prof. Richard Kerley
- Hamira Khan
- James Mackenzie
- Henry McLeish
- Margaret Smith
- Ben Thomson (Chair)
- Andrew Wilson

Biographies of the steering group members, as well as a blog of their reasons for being part of the Campaign, can be seen at homerule.scot.

The Campaign has made a submission to the Smith Commission (see notes to editors). Its core recommendation is for the Commission to require clear underlying principles. The Campaign itself has three underlying principles, which are:


- Responsibilities Devolved

There should be a presumption in favour of devolving responsibility to Holyrood.Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998 should be reviewed and the burden of proof for reserving a power rest with Westminster should it wish to retain that responsibility. The precedent was set in the original 1997 Act, but the implementation of it has not been in keeping with the spirit of its intent. 

- Raising what you spend

Ensure that both Holyrood and Westminster have responsibility over the tax and borrowing powers required to make each of them responsible for raising the money that they spend. We believe if either tier of government is overly reliant on fiscal transfers from the other (whether that is from Westminster to Holyrood, or Holyrood to Westminster) this diminishes responsibility and blurs lines of accountability.


- Mutual respect

We understand the desire to ensure the Scottish Parliament is made permanent. Without a written constitution for the UK or similar changes at that level we cannot see how this could be meaningfully implemented in anything other than a symbolic way. However, we believe that we can address the democratic deficit and improve the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK by strengthening the mutual respect between parliaments and considering other ways to strengthen the security of the constitutional position of Holyrood.

Further detail on these three underlying principles can be seen in the Campaign’s Smith Commission submission and on homerule.scot.

The Campaign believes that the No vote in the referendum on Scottish independence indicated that there is a desire amongst the people of Scotland to see meaningful Home Rule within the United Kingdom.

The steering group’s members have written for the Campaign’s blog - The Route Home - explaining why they are part of the Campaign.