Aberdeen Council enlists PR support to promote controversial city centre development

Aberdeen Council is planning to spend £200,000 on PR agency to help promote a controversial new city centre development.

PR support: Aberdeen Council
PR support: Aberdeen Council
The City Garden Project is a proposed £120-£140m new initiative in a central Aberdeen public park’s Union Terrace Gardens.

The council has launched an international design competition to encourage designs for the project, but it is not popular with the local community.

In August, enterprise minister Jim Mather was urged to investigate the role of Scottish Enterprise and the economic forum Acsef in funding the £300,000 public consultation on the future of the site.

PRWeek has seen the brief, issued on 30 August, which outlines how an agency will be required to provide comms support over three years.  

The brief reads: ‘The City Garden Project has attracted significant coverage in both traditional and online media and there are a number of active campaigning groups that support the status quo of the current Gardens, oppose the City Garden Project concept and/or supported the Peacock Visual Arts ltd re-development proposals for the Gardens’.

The brief also reveals that the council took part in a public consultation over The City Garden Project, which revealed that 55 per cent of Aberdeen residents were against the proposal. 44 per cent were for it and the rest were undecided.

One Scottish PR agency source said: ‘With the local government spending cuts looming, it seems astonishing that the Council's internal PR department are not handling this. There will be a backlash over the budget as well as the scheme itself.’

The agency will be required to review the previous PR activity, develop a comms plan and key messages, and manage day-to-day comms and events. The deadline for the pre-qualification questionnaire is 29 September. Aberdeen is looking for between five and eight candidates.

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