Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Mark Cummings - Invicta PR latest

From The Sunday Times by Jason Allardyce August 9, 2009

Labour candidate ‘was sent sectarian messages’

Lothian and Borders police are studying offensive text messages received by Dunfermline and West Fife candidate Thomas Docherty

Police are investigating allegations that a Scottish Labour candidate was subjected to sectarian abuse by text message.

Lothian and Borders police are studying text messages received by Thomas Docherty, who will contest Dunfermline and West Fife in the general election.
The messages, which contained a lyric from the so-called Famine song, were allegedly sent from a mobile telephone number belonging to Mark Cummings, a lobbyist. His clients have included Premier Property Group, a firm owned by David Murray, the Rangers chairman.

Two weeks ago, Docherty, a Catholic, received a message repeating a line from the Famine song which has been banned at Rangers’ Ibrox ground, and which was recently ruled by Scottish law lords to be racist. The song pillories people of Irish descent whose ancestors came to Britain to escape the potato famine which began in 1845.

The message to Docherty allegedly read: “The famine is over. Why don’t you go home? FTP.” FTP is commonly used as an abbreviation for the sectarian phrase F*** The Pope.

It is alleged that when Docherty texted the sender to check whether the message was intended for him, he received the reply: “Yes, because you are one of them.”

As a Labour candidate, Docherty is campaigning against a proposed major housing development in Dunfermline which Cummings’s firm, Edinburgh-based Invicta Public Affairs, is lobbying for.

In a statement, Cummings, director of Invicta, said: “I am aware of the matter as it has been brought to my attention. I am responding properly on a voluntary basis with the relevant authorities.

“This is a private matter that relates to me in a personal capacity only. It in no way relates to any commercial relationships that I have.”

A police spokesman said: “Police are investigating after a 34-year-old male received an offensive text message of sectarian nature.”

Docherty was unavailable for comment.

Mark Cummings pictured above with former client Manish Chande of Caltongate's Mountgrange.

Here is a bit of history on this man known throughout the country for his pr for developments on the whole unwanted by communities -

In Nairn he is well known see here

He worked with PPS who were the PR Company behind Developers Mountgrange (Caltongate) also Viridor Waste at Portobello.

The company`s motto is - "Call PPS if need to undertake community consultation or if you feel your scheme may run into political or community opposition." hotlinehere

They featured in The Evening Standard in July 2007 in an article titled "Bugging, Bullying, Forgery: Property PR Tricks" EveningStandard30thjuly2007

See Dispatches Programme aired on Monday 30th July 2007 Scroll down page to find link to programme (PPS part starts at 16 minutes 50 seconds to 25 minutes 24 seconds) although all of programme worth watching!) On the 6th August 2007 another story concerning Mountgrange`s PR company PPS was published in EveningStandardaug07

In Private Eye issue no. 1192 31st August 2007 are Caltongate developers Mountgrange and their PR lobbying firm PPS to read article select your print preview and enlarge to 100% see here

"Mark Cummings the Scottish Director of PPS and Mountgrange`s spokesperson for the last two years or so left the company, 2 weeks after the Private Eye story was published in August. Now it appears he is still working for Mountgrange just under his new company name “Invicata”"

"Mark Cummings, the spin doctor who left controversial lobbying firm PPS this autumn, has landed a contract with PPS’s most high profile client in Scotland. Cummings worked on the Caltongate development account for PPS, but despite his departure was spotted at a meeting of the Caltongate Liaison Group last week. His new firm, Invicta Public Affairs, has now been taken on by Caltongate’s developer Manish Chande for what Cummings describes as “PR and public affairs, all the usual stuff”. Chande’s firm Mountgrange is expected to retain PPS’s services despite giving Invicta some work on the project." SOSarticle

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Bye Bye Mountgrange

Lots of news about the Caltongate site!!! Hardly news really, but Mountgrange have decided not to return to the Waverley valley that they helped "uglify" by being the catalyst to emptying out the council homes and Canongate Venture and worst still knocking down the bus garage to create a gap site.

Oh and we are getting a Tsar for the World Heritage Site, what we actrually need is the planners and officials to follow their own policies and guidelines and take a common sense approach.

Capital to get tsar for world heritage site
Edinburgh Evening News - Edinburgh,Scotland,UK
Unesco called for reviews into two controversial schemes that had previously been approved – Haymarket and Caltongate, which includes a 17-storey hotel. ...
Ex-Caltongate owner officially rules out developing on site
Scotsman - Edinburgh,Scotland,UK
By MICHAEL BLACKLEY THE former owner of Caltongate has formally dropped its interest in the site – but insisted it still wants to invest in Edinburgh. ...

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Kashgar's endager Old Town

Was reading the Guardian yesterday ad found this interesting article about the Old Town of Kashgar in China. About to be wiped out by a £300 million development. Where have we heard that before? £300 million to destroy the heritage on an Old Town. Kashgar is an old ancient city on the Silk Road from China to the West- you would find it to the very west of China, north of Tibet. Here lives China's Uighur population, the majority who are Muslims.

The Kashgar streets were used in the film Kite Runner to depict the streets of 70s Kabul.

Whilst the article is interesting my beef with it is not about preserving the Old Town of Kashgar for the Uigur people and for its historical contribution but so tourists can go see it.

Unfortunately the people of Kashgar probably won't be able to set up a Save Our Old Town campaign as such a campaign would probably banned in China.

To view a video about Kashgar the link is here

To read the article in the Guardian the link is here

Old Town Development Trust Meeting 26th August 7.30pm

Old Town Development Trust Meeting 26th August 2009 7.30pm

Invitation to the 5th Meeting on setting up an Old Town Development Trust

Wednesday 26th August 7.30 – 9pm.

Blackfriars Community Rooms, Coinyie-House Close, Edinburgh EH1 1NL

see map

Last year SOOT carried out The Canongate Project, 6 weeks of community consultation and action research, funded by Scottish Communities. You can find the report and findings on our website

During the project Wendy Reid of Development Trusts Association Scotland, presented two workshops about how communities can take control of their assets and be involved in community development. Wendy was invited back in April this year to explain more about setting up such a trust in the Old Town.

When we launched our report on the project in February this year, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Pauline Gallacher from the Neilston Development Trust gave a presentation on the work they have been doing in Renfrewshire.

At our AGM on the 20th May this year we agreed the following motion -

Save Our Old Town (SOOT) supports the setting up of a Old Town Development Trust. SOOT will be pro-actively contacting other groups, organisations and individuals in the Old Town to start discussions. SOOT will host a meeting for mid-June to facilitate this discussion. Over the summer there can be constructive discussions about an Old Town Development Trust. If there is a feeling and commitment to set up a development trust there will be a meeting in the Autumn to set up the Trust.”

There are many buildings that are empty, under used or in disrepair, there is a dire need for housing, particularly family sized. Public events happen in the area, but often the people of the Old Town are not consulted or even considered. We are proud of the Old Town and appreciate it qualities but are also very aware that it could be improved upon, but without the need for garish new developments and demolitions and can see that it is stewardship in hand with community led incremental small developments that is sorely needed. This is where a development trust or trusts can be helpful.

Development trusts offer a fresh approach to community regeneration. Independent and under community control, these organisations draw together the energy, commitment and creativity of local people to tackle local issues. Through enterprise and the ownership of local assets, development trusts address the economic, social, cultural and environmental needs of their communities.” - Development Trusts Association Scotland