Business Briefs - May 14

Hazlehead Park
Hazlehead Park

Councillors have backed plans to build a 200-bedroom hotel on green belt land in Aberdeen.

Proposals for the £40 million development at Hazlehead, which were recommended for approval by city planners last week, passed the final hurdle at a meeting yesterday.

Developers Carlton Rock claim the hotel will create 250 jobs and generate “millions” for the local economy.

Planning committee convener councillor Ramsay Milne said it will have “little impact” on the surrounding area.

BMJ Architects and Hyder Consulting are behind the plans.

Up to 400 jobs will be created during the construction of the hotel, which is expected to take two years.

It will also feature a swimming pool, function and conference facilities, restaurants and an equestrian centre.

 

The Bank of England has cut its forecasts for British economic growth over the next three years.

It also cautiously backed bets in financial markets that it will only start to raise interest rates in around a year’s time.

The central bank now expects growth this year of 2.5 percent, down from a 2.9 percent projection in February and closer to most other economic forecasters’ expectations.

Britain was the fastest-growing major advanced economy in 2014, as it made up ground lost during the financial crisis, but the recovery has slowed since the start of this year, the BoE said.

Glasgow City Council has announced £1.6 million in grants will be given towards businesses and projects in the region.

The Calton Barras Action Plan has been established to help regenerate the Barras market and wider Calton area.

The funds have been made available through the Barras Vacant and Underused Floorspace Grant Scheme.

Latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show a fall in the first quarter of this year in the number and the proportion of mortgages in arrears or ending in repossession.

A decline was experienced in all arrears bands, and across both owner-occupier and buy-to-let lending.

The total proportion of all mortgages with arrears equivalent to more than 2.5 per cent of the mortgage balance was 1.03 per cent at the end of the first quarter.

This was down from 1.05 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2014, and well down on the 1.24 per cent recorded at the same time last year.

In numerical terms, there were 113,900 loans in arrears. Of these, just 24,400 were in the most severe arrears band (more than 10 per cent of balance), equating to 0.22 per cent of all mortgages.

This is the smallest number and proportion of mortgages in the most serious arrears band since the end of 2008.

Phil Crooks, currently a partner in forensic and investigations services at Grant Thornton, has been named as a non-executive director of major property franchise MartinCo PLC, as well as a chair of its audit committee, with immediate effect.

Mr Crooks had previously been UK head of audit for 6 years and a member of the International Assurance Advisory Board at Grant Thornton.

Commenting on the appointment Richard Martin, Chairman of MartinCo, said: “We are delighted to welcome Phil to our Board. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and will further strengthen the Board as we continue to focus the Company on becoming the largest property franchisor in the UK.”

Up to 90 jobs are under threat at a subsidiary of Aberdeen and Inverness-based Global Energy Group.

However Isleburn stressed that the potential redundancies may not happen.

A statement from the firm, which employs more than 600 people at operations in the Granite City and Evanton in Easter Ross, said: “We deeply regret having to take this action which, if required, is likely to commence around the beginning of June.

“We are no different from many companies within the oil and gas industry at this time in suffering from a considerable downturn of business within our marketplace.

“Over these last few weeks we have taken a thorough review of our current order book and our current workforce skill sets, and we have been left no choice but to take this regrettable action of advising our people about potential redundancies.

“We continue to work hard in trying to find and secure further work to supplement our existing order book and hope our situation might change in the coming weeks.

“However, for the present, we will be giving notice of redundancy to some of our workforce, with the figure unlikely to go beyond 90 people.

“Our people were advised some time ago of the review being undertaken and we will be doing all we can to keep the redundancy numbers to a minimum, alongside assisting those affected in whatever way we can.”

Founded in 1982, Isleburn describes itself as a world-leader in the manufacture of bespoke equipment for subsea oil and gas projects.

Aberdeen City Council is to use £1 million from bus lane fines to pay for road repairs.

A £60 fine for drivers travelling in bus lanes during peak times was introduced by the council in 2013.

Over the last 12 months, around £1,075,000 was raised through the scheme, which costs £123,000 a year.

On Tuesday, councillors will be asked to approve a report outlining a series of projects for the coming year, including £150,000 to carry out a study on options for the long-awaited Third Don Crossing.

A £100,000 system to make traffic lights more reliable and cut congestion has also been proposed alongside £55,000 to replace bus shelters.

The 2014/15 bus lane enforcement programme helped fund Bikeability training at 19 primary schools, upgrade cycling facilities in the city and improve 17 bus shelters.

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