Public Sector: Aberdeen tender for regeneration drive

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

The City Garden Project is a proposed £120-£140m initiative in Aberdeen's Union Terrace Gardens.

The council has launched an international 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 gardens, oppose the City Garden Project concept and/or support the Peacock Visual Arts redevelopment proposals for the gardens.'

The brief also reveals that the council took part in a public consultation over the project, which stated that 55 per cent of Aberdeen residents were against the proposal, 44 per cent were in favour, with one per cent undecided.

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

Aberdeen's acting comms manager Graham Lawther said the cost of the project would be fully reimbursed from funds from the Wood Family Trust and the private sector.

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