A former north-east police chief has reflected on his stint at the head of an Aberdeen business organisation – and concluded life behind the thin blue line is not so different from bringing people to the city centre.
Now, six months into his appointment, the chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, Adrian Watson, has opened up on his life on the force and his vision for the future of the city.
In a revealing interview, the former police chief claimed the city should prepare itself for “massive” change in the near future.
A member of Grampian Police and Police Scotland for 30 years, Mr Watson held a variety of different roles within the force before becoming Chief Superintendent and Divisional Commander for the Aberdeen City Division.
In his new role, he is now responsible for the organisation’s investment of a minimum of £6.5million in the heart of the city after levy payers voted to return the business-led initiative for a further five years.
He said: “In some respects, police work is very different, but in other ways there are a lot of similarities.
“Both involve working on a strategic level with various partners and both have the ultimate aim of improving the city. ”
Mr Watson is convinced that projects such as NUart and the return of the city’s comedy festival will help heighten the profile of the city around the country and attract a greater number of visitors.
He added: “I think, sometimes in the north-east, we can be hard on ourselves, where some of the other cities seem to be more proud of what they bring.
“We don’t need to be put off by Edinburgh and Glasgow. This is a wonderful city that I feel very passionately about.
“We have everything to be proud of as Aberdonians and we can’t afford to be second best.”
Mr Watson succeeded Gary Craig after nearly two years in the position.
He also continues to play a part in the organisation’s bid to maintain the city’s Purple Flag status, a campaign he was heavily involved with throughout his time with Police Scotland.
Aberdeen became the first city in Scotland to be awarded the accreditation in 2014 and has now been re-accredited for the third time after it was praised for its strong partnership working alongside its vibrant mix of late night entertainment.
Mr Watson acknowledged great strides had been made recently to improve the city centre’s reputation for safety.
Just six years ago, Union Street was ranked Scotland’s most dangerous thoroughfares.
Mr Watson said: “The night time economy, despite the downturn, is still resilient. I think a lot of this is due to people feeling safe.
“If there is a safe environment, you are more likely to get more people into the city centre.
Speaking of future city developments, Mr Watson said the new £333million exhibition centre being built in Bucksburn “could only be a good thing” for the city centre economy, but said a planned retail park at Prime Four in Westhill was still being considered by the group.
Source: The Press and Journal