Independent shops and businesses in Paisley are joining hundreds of retailers across the UK by taking part in February FiverFest.

Over the next two weeks, participating retailers in Paisley town centre are putting on special £5 offers for shoppers as part of the national Totally Locally Fiver Fest – and you can see who is taking part with local Business Improvement District, Paisley First.

Paisley First February FiverFest deals

The Totally Locally Fiver Fest is a celebration of small businesses and independent traders, all contributing to the economy and wellbeing of UK towns.

Paisley has a great mix of retail shops, food and drink venues, health, hair and beauty salons, professional service companies and much more.

Around 65p from every pound spent locally, stays local – so by picking up a coffee, going for lunch or buying a gift, you can do your bit to support the local community and its businesses.

February FiverFest will run from 15 – 29 February 2020.

You can pick up a February FiverFest leaflet from the Paisley Centre and the Piazza Shopping Centre – and keep an eye on the latest deals on the Paisley First website below.

Related Links

The independent shops and businesses are what helps to make Paisley town centre special. We appreciate it when our community support us, so these offers are to say thank you for that support, and to show just what great value our local businesses are. Spending just £5 a week in Paisley town centre can make a big difference to our High Street!

Colette Cardosi
Chair of Paisley First

Fortune 500 company DXC Technology provide IT solutions to 6000 customers across 70 countries, counting Amazon, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft among its strategic partners.

Amongst the 800-strong staff at their Renfrewshire hub is Sian Parfitt, who leads a team which turns raw data into meaningful performance analysis.

The former Business Studies and IT teacher from Derbyshire is now sharing her expertise with Renfrewshire’s Economic Leadership Panel and here, she explains the importance of ‘not standing still’ and her hopes for the region she proudly calls home.

“I was teaching in a secondary school in Somerset when I happened to meet a Scotsman, who was working in the Navy.

When he was redeployed to Scotland, I decided to move north with him and I managed to get a job as a project manager for an aerospace company before moving to Hewlett Packard.

I started as a scheduler, which is quite a niche skill, managing and maintaining the governance of and the schedules for about 60 projects at a time. I have held quite a few positions here, originally with Hewlett Packard then subsequently with DXC Technology [the company formed in 2017 from a merger with Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services and CSC]. For two years I ran the project management graduate and apprentice programme and I’ve recently started in a new role leading our Project Management Office measuring and reporting team.

I don’t tend to stay in the same role too long as the world is changing and I want to be a part of that change, I don’t want to sit still. I think everybody should do that and I always advise our graduates and apprentices to look beyond their current role as it’s a big world with such a lot going on.

At DXC Technology we have 6000 customers worldwide and in the UK and Ireland, our main customers are people like the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, Rolls-Royce, businesses from the insurance and banking sectors. All our projects are IT projects, like rolling out Windows 10 or securing and storing data.

DXC business premises in Renfrewshire

We have a project with a racing car company, looking at performance analytics to help them knock vital seconds off their drive times. We do a lot of work with the NHS and health services in other countries, helping them to understand and track patient information.

I’m responsible for the team producing all the reports and taking data, data and more data, turning it into meaningful information which helps the project delivery teams to assess their project’s performance and ensure we’re delivering on budget, on time and on quality.

My job suits me as I like facts. I like it when I can make a decision based on the information in front of me. I don’t like ambiguity and, if there is ambiguity, I want to be able to understand why and ultimately remove the ambiguity.

It’s the same in my personal life, I am definitely an organiser…and I run a tight ship. We have a calendar with three columns: mine, my husband’s and one for birthdays and joint events. We’ve two dogs (Buddy, a golden retriever puppy and Toby, a rescue retriever) to look after so it’s important to have a schedule of who is doing the morning and lunchtime walks.

I love living in Renfrewshire and I think it’s already a great place to live and to work – the people are so friendly that I can’t walk the dogs for more than 100 metres without someone stopping for a chat. From great walks to shops and my gym membership, I have everything I need on my doorstep.

When I first joined the Economic Leadership Panel, to begin with because of my background with graduates and apprentices, I wanted to promote a focus on skills. Now, it’s become much more than that.

Because of how much I love working and living here, I want to champion everything we have to offer and for Renfrewshire to be recognised as a place with major employers, a place that’s vibrant and that people want to live and work here.

I see that everyone on the panel is 100% committed to making our local economy work. I’m still very passionate about getting things right for our young people. We need to make it easy for them to be able to access the right career path as that way, down the line we will have skilled people invested in their communities.

I want DXC Technology and all other businesses in Renfrewshire to benefit from home grown talent and for that to happen it’ll take a partnership with our schools, colleges and universities to ensure young people have the right skills that local employers need.

The world is evolving and if we stand still, we’ll be left behind, as businesses, as a country. It’s so important to move with the times, innovate and create the leaders of tomorrow. We can’t expect that to happen, we need to make that happen.”

Read more of our business blogs

Because of how much I love working and living here, I want to champion everything we have to offer...

Sian Parfitt
DXC Technology

Paisley’s Sma’ Shot Day celebrations take place on Saturday and local businesses are getting involved by opening their doors to members of the public who are keen to learn new skills.

Bars, restaurants and businesses on the stretch from Gauze Street, onto Shuttle Street and Brown’s Lane, and up to the High Street, are preparing to host bespoke creative workshops and classes from Friday 5 to Sunday 7 July.

The classes are pit stops on the Creative Craft Trail – an initiative which gives members of the public the chance to meet designers from InCube, Paisley’s creative business incubator.

Classes and workshops, including jewellery-making, knitting, weaving, embroidery, sewing, painting and pottery will take place at the following locations:

  • The Bungalow – Shuttle Street
  • The Lane – Shuttle Street
  • Bar Pre – Shuttle Street
  • Faction – Shuttle Street
  • The Cave – Shuttle Street
  • Bianco e Nero – Gauze Street
  • Blend – Causeyside Street
  • Brew – County Square
  • Fairfull Café – High Street
  • Helen’s Haberdashery – High Street
  • TaTa Bella’s Café – High Street
  • The Workshop – The Old Fire Station

The venues in Shuttle Street and The Cave will provide food and drink at their events, while the Sma’ Shot Cottages and Paisley Abbey will also be involved.

Textile artist Katherine Pentney (also known as The Canny Squirrel) will be running classes in free motion embroidery at Helen’s Haberdashery on the High Street on Saturday 6 July.

Katherine said: “It’s great to be involved in what’s going on creatively in Renfrewshire at the moment. People are definitely more interested in crafting now and activities that develop creative skills are really making a resurgence.

“To be hosting these workshops in Paisley, home of the famous pattern, and an area with such a rich textile history, is a fantastic opportunity and I’m really looking forward to meeting the students.”

Lynne McGrady, sales assistant at Helen’s Haberdashery, said: “The Sma’ Shot festival is a massive event for Paisley and these creative activities will help shine a spotlight on local businesses.

“It’s so important for us to raise awareness of what Paisley businesses are providing for the people of Renfrewshire, and to encourage people to buy from local entrepreneurs to keep Renfrewshire’s economy healthy.

“We’re very proud to be involved in this year’s activities and look forward to being at the centre of what’s happening on the High Street.”

The main Sma’ Shot Day party will take place on Saturday 6 July between 12pm and 5pm, with music and activities taking place in the streets around the historic Sma’ Shot Cottages in Paisley’s town centre – Shuttle Street, New Street, Witherspoon Street and Brown’s Lane.

Festivities will get underway when the popular parade leaves Brodie Park at noon, heading for Paisley Arts Centre, led by the tuck of the Charleston drum.

Get all the info you need for this year’s Sma’ Shot Day celebrations below…

He hails from Largs and, whisper it, his son plays football for local rivals Greenock Morton, but Gary Ennis’ business credentials are firmly rooted in Renfrewshire.

Hillington Innovation Park has been home to Gary’s digital training consultancy NSDesign since 2005 and Gary also represents the voice of microbusinesses on Renfrewshire’s Economic Leadership Panel.

Here, he shares his thoughts on the region’s potential.

“My educational background has nothing to do with what I’m doing now.

I actually have an architecture degree from the University of Strathclyde and was about to jump ship and do a business degree when the architecture department set up a research group looking at the internet. I said to myself there’s money to be made in this as it’s about to go boom and I’m in a nice position, learning all this geeky stuff, doing early VR, 3D modelling and building websites.

I started NSDesign in 1999 and back then it was me building websites and hassling family members and friends to pick up work. We developed into a digital agency and now my focus is on the training side, addressing the skills gap in digital, whether that’s me in schools speaking to pupils, doing Business Gateway workshops or one-to-one consultancy with companies.

 

A mini Scottish economy

Hillington was my preferred destination for the business as it was an innovation centre, where you were vetted to get through the door and nurtured and supported to grow. I used to joke to customers and say we’re one of the companies in Hillington that’s not a tile shop or a bathroom outfitter. In actual fact there’s a lot of great, smaller companies here. It’s a mini Scottish economy all within the boundaries of Hillington. Traditionally it was manufacturing and much like Renfrewshire it’s a place redefining itself.

I’m really proud to have been invited to contribute to the region’s economic leadership panel. Part of me sometimes feels like a bit of a fraud – I’m sitting on the panel with captains of industry and there are some multi-million-pound turnover companies, big hirers, big players and I’m the very definition of a microbusiness with less than 10 employees.

 

Champion the smaller business

I take it upon myself to champion the smaller business and it’s so important that smaller organisations have just as much say in the shaping of the economy. With 86% of businesses in Renfrewshire classed as microbusinesses, their importance can’t be underplayed.

I often say that if smaller businesses each hire one new member of staff then you would have zero unemployment in Scotland. It’s about realising the potential, the power and the clout of the small business.

Without the smaller business, we won’t achieve the economic growth we want. Regrettably starting up your own company is still sometimes seen as a second-place scenario where redundancy forces people to look at their options, where I believe if we encourage more entrepreneurialism, more innovation and more businesses with creative, novel, niche, bold, strong, passionate ideas then it lends itself to a more diverse economy, one which is arguably stronger and more resilient.

Creativity evolves

In Renfrewshire, we are a very industrial lot and also very creative, right back to the mills, and that shouldn’t be lost. Creativity evolves so it’s great to see initiatives such as InCube, where artists and designers are making things and getting support to help them to sell right on the high street.

Today’s consumer base, we live online so making something to sell is just the first step; being able to market it and get the awareness through e-commerce and digital marketing, the demand for these skills is huge.

My goal is to upskill people who need to get these digital capabilities in place. There’s nothing better than helping a business and seeing that lightbulb moment as they realise the potential digital can give their business.

I commend the powers that be that the region’s economic strategy is not just led by public sector and kudos to the council for bringing in industry, small business, bigger business, people like the chamber of commerce and speaking to specific sectors as it’s the ongoing discussion that allows you to steer where it goes, every day let alone every month or every year.

 

Beta software

The world is constantly changing – and digital is a perfect example of this – so you need a strategy that isn’t set in stone, but something adaptable which, if it’s not working you tweak it, you change it.

In the geeky digital world, we call this beta software. Some say that’s just an excuse for when something is never finished, but do you know what, everything in life is beta software and our strategy should be too.

To say Nick Shields is proud of Renfrewshire’s contribution to manufacturing is an understatement. From textile production to powering WW2 aeroplanes, Nick has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the area’s manufacturing heritage.

It’s not just in his role as Head of the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service that he has built this knowledge up.

For Nick is Renfrewshire born and bred, growing up in Elderslie, schooled in Johnstone and now working in Paisley town centre, inspired by his mother, a former mill worker, his father, a shipbuilder and his grandfather, the decorative chef at Cochranes (later becoming Arnotts).

A keen guitarist and Gerry Rafferty superfan, Nick is excited about the work under way to cement Renfrewshire’s role as the beating heart of Scotland’s manufacturing future and here he shares his ambitions for the area.

“Renfrewshire truly was the cradle of Scottish manufacturing and one of the most important centres of UK and global manufacturing.

I’m quite steeped in the industrial history of the area. We did everything here, whether it was in Hillington making the Merlin engines that flew the spitfire or building the boilers in Babcocks generating steam for power stations around the world.

We exported so much capability and technology around the world, with complex businesses taking raw materials and turning them into finished goods.

Paisley was a world leader of the cotton industry and home to the world’s first truly global enterprise, the Coats business, at one time the third largest company in the world.

thread

The post-industrial world we live in now means that one of my main challenges is to overcome people’s sense that we don’t make anything anymore. The reality is we still make an awful lot of products, we just don’t make things that people see on a day-to-day basis.

We still make high performance – high value products for global markets, often for businesses not consumers. These businesses offer fantastic career opportunities, it is the high skill, high wage economy. Having a thriving manufacturing sector truly will drive prosperity for our economy.

Renfrewshire still punches well above its weight in its contribution to the Scottish economy.

You have globally recognised players such as Rolls Royce and Howden, technical leaders in their fields. There’s highly successful family businesses such as the Scottish Leather Group, taking a traditional industry and by adopting progressive approaches they’re now the largest leather manufacturer in the UK.

You’ve got companies like Vascutek [now called Terumo Aortic] producing cardiovascular implants with a technology that evolved from the same textile mills that built the town of Paisley.

Whether it’s in Hillington [Scotland’s first designated new industrial estate when it was established more than 80 years ago and now home to more than 500 businesses employing 8,000 people] or in Inchinnan where you’ve large players such as Thermo Fisher, a global life sciences company, and lots of smaller, privately owned companies such as Peak Scientific, who export their gas generation products all over the world.

You’ve got it all here, many key sectors that are important to Scotland – aerospace, life sciences, food and drink – don’t forget 22% of all Scotch whisky is bottled in the Diageo site at Braehead.

My organisation is at the forefront of making sure Scottish manufacturing businesses maximise the opportunities the emerging fourth industrial revolution offers by making them more efficient and highlighting the benefits of new technology.

All previous industrial revolutions have driven up standards of living and prosperity for the countries that embraced them, Scotland has benefited from the first three revolutions. The fourth industrial revolution involves a combination of technologies such as automation, cyber systems, data, robotics and 3D printing. All the economic predictions say this again will be game-changing and can have a profoundly positive effect for manufacturers in Scotland.

Advanced Forming Research Centre

Renfrewshire is soon to be home to the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, both being built next to Glasgow Airport at the centre of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland.

These facilities will help manufacturing businesses better understand how new technology can improve their productivity. Through supporting technology and skills in businesses, centres such as these have shown elsewhere that they can act as a magnet for investment. These facilities represent a massive vote of confidence in what the manufacturing sector can do for Scotland and for the UK. That they are being set up side-by-side here in Renfrewshire   signals the continued significance of this location.

Advanced manufacturing is about making technically complex often critical components and products that require a high degree of skill and knowledge and often a significant investment in new technology. It’s about low carbon transportation systems, the electrification of vehicles, medical advances for an ageing population, all new products supporting our changing world.

I can see the advanced manufacturing innovation district around Glasgow Airport driving these new business opportunities as you’ve got a fantastic location, next to an international airport, next to the motorway system, near a port, in the centre of an area already recognised as the cradle of Scottish manufacturing. You’ve a perfect combination of circumstances which makes this an ideal destination for global and Scottish businesses to invest and grow.

Access to talent is the competitive edge that global players right now are saying that secures investment.

We are on the cusp of something huge and Renfrewshire is ideally placed to seize the opportunities advanced manufacturing brings. With evolving technologies, there are a host with new jobs in careers we can’t even describe yet, remember 15 years ago nobody knew what an app developer was.”

Developing a world-class location for advanced manufacturing

We are on the cusp of something huge and Renfrewshire is ideally placed to seize the opportunities that advanced manufacturing brings.

Nick Shields
Head of the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service

Did you know Renfrewshire Council’s business incubator InCube is here to help start-up and early stage enterprises in the area?

The InCube Business Base, which can be found at 27 High Street, Paisley, provides practical support, advice and business skills training, all designed to help your business grow and flourish.

Working with partners Business Gateway, Digital Boost and the Prince’s Trust, InCube is a community of entrepreneurs and innovators whose future success will contribute to Renfrewshire’s economic growth.

As well as being your first stop for business advice, InCube also offers a host of free-to-attend workshops and networking events to provide support for your new business.

Take a look at some of the workshops and events taking place over the coming weeks and months – and find out how you can sign up below.

 

APRIL

Creative Toolkit – Session 1

This session with trainer and motivational speaker Marion Morrison will help you with the following:

  • Become clear on how you are in control to create your goals and a vision for your business
  • Be a flourishing, determined self-leader
  • Create a system to manage time and stress
  • Develop an understanding of the triggers that can throw you off balance and how to refocus

Marion uses time management techniques, confidence building and emotional resilience to help you clarify your goals, achieve development objectives and unlock your potential.

When: Wednesday 24 April – 10am – 12pm

Where: InCube Business Base, 27 High Street, Paisley

Book your place here. (Link opens in a new tab)

 

MAY

Costing & Pricing

This interactive workshop focuses on what to consider when costing and pricing your product or service. This will include:

  • What elements to consider when costing & pricing your work
  • How to calculate direct costs
  • How to calculate overheads
  • How to cost your time
  • How to consider the value of your product within the marketplace
  • How to calculate a price for wholesale
  • How does the lifecycle of your product reflect its pricing?

When: Wednesday 1 May – 10am – 1pm

Where: InCube Business Base, 27 High Street, Paisley

Book your place here. (Link opens in a new tab)

 

Website in A Day

Are you a start-up or small business who wants to set up a website you can self-manage? This fun but practical one-day free workshop is perfect – and at the end of the day you will have a site ready to go live. This will include:

  • A flexible, easy to use website with the ability to make changes
  • Up to six webpages
  • E-commerce functionality
  • Mobile optimised
  • SEO-friendly
  • Design banners
  • Call-to-action buttons
  • A conversion strategy for enquiries.

After the workshop you will receive a PDF guide with links to what was discussed in the workshop and free support for three months – capped at one hour per month.

When: Wednesday 15 May – 9am – 4pm

Where: InCube Business Base, 27 High Street, Paisley

Find out more and how to sign up here. (Link opens in a new tab)

 

Creative Toolkit – Session 2

This second Creative Toolkit session with Marion Morrison will help you with:

  • Creating your motivation on demand
  • Being bigger than any interruption- getting laser sharp focused
  • Daily practices to boost your business and enthusiasm
  • Creating a confidence and excitement that inspires you to take action
  • Power tool consistency, ease, making life work for you.

When: Wednesday 29 May – 10am – 12pm

Where: InCube Business Base, 27 High Street, Paisley

Book your place here. (Link opens in a new tab)

 

JUNE

Marketing: Create a One-Page Marketing Plan

This interactive half-day workshop aims to give you an overview of marketing and will explore approaches to raising the profile of your business, including:

  • Identifying your Marketing Aims
  • Multi-Channel Marketing: Identifying the most appropriate channels of marketing for your business
  • Connecting with your audience & influencers of your brand
  • Competitor analysis: how to stay ahead of the competition
  • PR & Media: An introduction of how to write a press release and approach the media
  • Creation of a one-page Marketing Plan for each business.

When: Wednesday 5 June – 10am – 1pm

Where: InCube Business Base, 27 High Street, Paisley

Book your place here. (Link opens in a new tab)

 

Retailing: Pitching to Buyers

This workshop will focus on the value of selling via a stockist / retailer versus selling direct via your own website and will explore:

  • How to cost & price your work for wholesale sales
  • Researching your market
  • How to target & approach the right buyers
  • Using social media to approach buyers /stockist and raise your profile
  • Preparing for a Trade Show
  • Building and maintaining relationships with buyers
  • How to negotiate with a buyer

At the end of the workshop you will have created a document which gives an outline of your own retail strategy regarding wholesale sales, targeting stockists and three main goals to prioritise going forward.

When: Wednesday 26 June – 10am – 1pm

Where: InCube Business Base, 27 High Street, Paisley

Book your place here. (Link opens in a new tab)

Find out more about the InCube programme

I would advise any other creative businesses to think about setting up in Paisley because the potential is massive – there is such a great community of creative people.

Jane Hunter
Textile artist

Find the perfect gift at the InCube shop

Partners working to deliver a new transport link to Glasgow Airport are developing plans for a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) scheme as a potential alternative to a tram train.

Renfrewshire Council have been leading with Glasgow City Council on developing a transport link to Glasgow Airport to support economic growth for the area and improve local transport links to a site which employs more than 5,000 people.

The new National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland and the development of another City Region project, an Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District for Scotland (AMIDS) are also to be sited near the airport which will support the creation of thousands of new employment and training opportunities with international companies such as Rolls Royce and the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) already based near the airport.

PRT – which operates at a number of other airports, including Heathrow – was identified as one of two options for airport access in an original Strategic Business Case in 2016.

Partners now believe that it is likely to emerge as the preferred option and will ask the City Region Cabinet to approve work on an Outline Business Case, to be completed later this year.

A meeting of the project’s Executive Steering Group on Wednesday with Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, heard the scheme could be delivered within the existing budget and timescale, being operational 2025.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson:

“This is a really positive step forward and recognition that a transport link between Glasgow City Centre, Paisley and Glasgow Airport is critical to the success of the city region economy.

“It is important we get the right solution which takes in to account competing demands on the existing rail network and delivers for the whole of the City Region. In order to ensure we get the right solution, we now have a clear way forward and agreement to look at a business case for a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system, which can be delivered quickly and finally make the connection between the Airport and the city that business leaders and investors are crying out for.

“Renfrewshire Council is fully supportive of this approach and will be seeking Cabinet approval in the next few weeks to develop an outline business case to deliver a PRT for 2025.”

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson:

“The Scottish Government is committed to the Glasgow City Region Deal and wish to see it succeed, so I’m pleased we have agreement on the way forward for this important project from all members of the Executive Steering Group.

“It’s crucial that improving access to Glasgow Airport is balanced with the needs of the region’s existing transport network. The Personal Rapid Transit system option potentially meets this aim, and I look forward to seeing the revised business case once it’s completed.”

Mark Johnston, managing director at Glasgow Airport: 

“We welcomed the opportunity to meet with the councils and the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson MSP, who convened the meeting to discuss the Glasgow Airport Access Project.

“Over the course of the past 10 years, we have been working with partners to address the long standing issue of access to and from Glasgow Airport. With the recent Jacobs report having confirmed congestion on the M8 has reached record levels, there is an acceptance by all involved that doing nothing is not an option.

“We were informed that due to issues around rail capacity the project partners are developing an alternative option. This will be evaluated and we will of course work with the partners to promote the delivery of an effective solution within the agreed timescale.”

Leader of Glasgow City Council, Cllr Susan Aitken:

“Improved connectivity to Glasgow Airport is a key priority; however the advice from officers and consultants is that significant questions remain about the deliverability of the current tram train option, particularly in relation to capacity at Central Station.

“As a result, the Executive Steering Group has agreed that additional work should be done to establish an alternative Outline Business Case for a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) option. This work was not advanced by the previous City Deal Cabinet, but it is now crucial in order to allow us to make a fully informed choice about which of the options in front of us should be progressed.

“I remain committed to a solution that delivers improved public transport connectivity to Glasgow Airport – but I am determined that it should also provide value for money for the city, and deliver the widest possible inclusive economic benefits. I’m confident that we have made significant progress towards that outcome today.”

 

Although the detail of a PRT scheme would be developed through the new business case, it would be likely to see passengers use the existing rail network between Central Station and Paisley Gilmour Street – and a second shuttle or pod vehicle between Paisley and the airport.

This is a really positive step forward and recognition that a transport link between Glasgow City Centre, Paisley and Glasgow Airport is critical to the success of the city region economy.

Cllr Iain Nicolson
Leader
Renfrewshire Council

Liz Connolly joined West College Scotland in 2013 and took over the reins as Principal and Chief Executive in September 2018.

Here, Liz, a member of Renfrewshire’s Economic Leadership Panel, outlines her ambitions for the college, which is home to 22,000 students and 1,200 staff across its three campuses in Paisley, Greenock and Clydebank, together with the importance she places on contributing to the region’s future economic success.

“Every day, I think how lucky I am to have a role in an organisation that’s helping to transform people’s lives.

“We are in a great place already as we are a great college with fabulous staff who are really committed to changing people’s lives and making a difference. We’ve got a really significant role to play in supporting inclusive growth, which is a key government priority.

“I want us to be an organisation that offers everyone who comes through our doors the opportunity to fulfil their potential, to help raise their aspirations and help them to think about the contribution they can make to society and to the economies in which they live and work, to the companies they are going to work for or the companies they are going to create themselves.

“It’s about providing an environment where people thrive on learning and recognise learning is something they have to do throughout life. Learning is an investment in ourselves that allows us to make an important contribution to our communities.

“Being part of our communities is such an important thing for the college and ideally we’d like each of our campuses to be hubs for community activity.

“We are keen to see development of our Paisley campus and have been working on an outline business case for funding for the redevelopment of the campus.

“It’s about making sure that we have a campus that’s fit for 21st century learning and is an asset that can be used by the community in Renfrewshire and by the business base.

“I love the idea we’ll have a campus where people feel they can come in, have a coffee, discuss things with our teams, a campus that is a gathering place and a real asset for the community.

“We work with a whole range of partners across our communities and we have a great relationship with Renfrewshire Council.

“The relationship with the Council works at so many different levels, from the work we do with Renfrewshire schools to playing a key role in the bid for UK City of Culture, to now helping ensure we deliver on the aims of the bid.

“I’m also very proud that the college is part of Renfrewshire’s Economic Leadership Panel. We live in a very fast moving and challenging economic situation and no one single person or organisation can have the answers to everything, but the power of getting leaders from across industry and public-sector agencies together to share their thinking and insights and to collectively think about what the future is going to look like in Renfrewshire and how do we shape that future is so is important.

“It’s about not being passive, but saying what kind of economy do we want and how do we make that happen? I think that’s incredibly exciting and immensely powerful.

“I believe anything is possible. You have to start with the vision, you have to know where you want to get to. Renfrewshire is in a unique position just now with the significant investment that’s been identified in projects like the manufacturing district and the work to make the area a popular visitor destination.

“West College Scotland has a key role to play in supporting this, helping to develop the workforce that will be needed to deliver our future economic growth whether that’s through the development of our young workforce or supporting the upskilling and reskilling of our existing workforce.

“You can achieve so much more when you work in partnership. It is important to recognise that different partners will have different drivers and pressures, but when you look beyond that and identify your shared priorities and common goals and set out to achieve them, that’s when you can make great things happen and have a real impact.”

Paisley’s popular Halloween and Spree 2019 festivals delivered a £1.2million economic boost to Renfrewshire.

That’s according to the findings of independent assessments into the two October events, which also showed record numbers of people attended the festivals in 2019.

One of the largest events of its kind in the UK, the Dark Circus themed Paisley Halloween Festival attracted 41,000 people across the two-days – up 17% on 2018. The event was delivered alongside internationally-acclaimed outdoor theatre specialists, Cirque Bijou.

More than 350 costumed performers and community groups took part in the Mardi Gras style parade, the centrepiece of the festival, which wound its way through the town centre. The parade also featured fantastic, giant lion and elephant floats, ferocious fire performers, creepy clowns and curious creatures, to delight the gathered crowds.

Twenty six percent of attendees to the Halloween festival were from outside Renfrewshire demonstrating the popularity and stellar programme of the free, family-friendly activities on offer.

The Paisley Halloween Festival was awarded £16,950 of National Programme funding from EventScotland for the 2019 event.

The festival delivered £824,250 to the local economy with local businesses benefiting from the high number of visitors in the town that weekend.

Paisley Halloween Festival scooped the Best Cultural Event or Festival at the 2019/20 Scottish Thistle Awards West Scotland regional finals and will now go on to compete in the prestigious national final on March 5, 2020.

The Spree also delivered impressive results for the area. More than 12,000 festival-goers turned out to enjoy the diverse range of acts in the stunning Salon Perdu Spiegeltent in Paisley’s County Square – allowing for more people to enjoy the performances.

The numbers also add up, with a £411,000 total economic boost from the 10-day music, arts and cultural festival.

The Spree 2019 saw record ticket sales with music and comedy fans being treated to sell-out shows from Hue and Cry, Glasvegas, The Snuts, Jerry Sadowitz and spectacular performances from Soul legend PP Arnold, Hayseed Dixie, Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook and two Friday comedy nights compered by Fred MacAulay and Scott Gibson.

The festival was programmed by Regular Music and sponsored by Tennent’s Lager.

There was also a packed Wee Spree programme for kids during the school holidays with 2,822 people heading along to enjoy the events – the highest number of attendees on record for the event.

The festival also provided a boost to local traders with many festival-goers choosing to Spend Local and sample the great bars, restaurants and cafes in the area.

Jacqueline McCaig, owner of The Old Swan Inn which hosted the Spree Festival Club of daily events during the festival, said: “We absolutely loved hosting the Spree Festival Club at The Old Swan – it was a fantastic week of live music. The pub was really busy with a great atmosphere and a great mix of customers old and new, who came to see what the Festival Club was all about and enjoy the variety of talent we had on show.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “It was phenomenal to see such great numbers coming along to Paisley’s Halloween Festival and to Spree and now this report shows the positive impact these major events have on the local economy and local businesses.

“We’re continuing to work with partners to offer a fantastic calendar of events to attract residents and visitors from across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“Renfrewshire has so much to offer and major events are an important part of our plans to use our culture and heritage to drive footfall and cement our status as one of Scotland’s top visitor destination.”

Paisley’s Halloween and Spree festivals attracted record numbers in 2018 and delivered a £2.4million economic boost to Renfrewshire.

That’s according to the findings of independent assessments into the two October events, which also showed more people flocked to Renfrewshire from across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Inspired by the town’s dark and deathly witch history and against the backdrop of the 850-year-old Abbey, Paisley’s Halloween Festival welcomed 34,000 people for two nights of ghoulish goings-on, up by 8000 on 2017.

Thirty-percent of attendees were aged 26 and under – reflecting the popularity of the key date on Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 celebrations.

Paisley Halloween Festival was supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.

There was a 30% rise recorded in visitors from the rest of the UK and growing numbers staying overnight, while the festival attracted almost 13,000 Scots from outside Renfrewshire.

This led to a 300% increase in visitor spend to £907,031 and a phenomenal total £1.96million injection into the economy, with traders’ tills swelling from an average spend of almost £60 per visitor on food and drink, entertainment and shopping over the two-day programme.

The numbers also add up from The Spree, with a £434,702 total economic boost from the 10-day music, arts and cultural festival, up by £311,000 on 2017, and an average spectator spend up by 50% coming as music to the ears of Renfrewshire businesses.

This year saw record ticket sales as almost 11,000 people – including 2000 from outside Renfrewshire – enjoyed the festival which featured Motown legend Martha Reeves and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi.

There was also a Wee Spree programme for kids during the school holidays and 1400 people packed out venues across the region as the inaugural Spree for All, took the festival to pubs, community halls and even bowling clubs in Paisley, Johnstone, Linwood, Lochwinnoch and Renfrew.

Satisfaction levels soared at both events and attendance surveys also showed the events reached a new audience and attracted people to return in equal measure.

The festival provided so many fantastic opportunities for young people to show us what they are made of and those involved should be very proud of what they have achieved.

Paul Bush
OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events