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BROCH SNP COUNCILLOR IN APPROACH TO HOTEL CHAINS OVER SALTOUN ARMS

Sunday, 27 December 2009

TOPPING SAYS 'COME TO FRASERBURGH'

Fraserburgh's SNP councillor Brian Topping has taken the unprecedented step of writing to around a dozen of Europe's top hotel chains with the message 'Come to Fraserburgh'.

The councillor – himself a former executive chef in one of the town's hotels - has made his approach after learning that the former Saltoun Arms Hotel in the town had failed to sell at auction in Edinburgh. Councillor Topping has also spoken out against town centre hotels being turned into 'houses of multiple occupation' or HMOs.

Commenting on his approach to the hotel chains, Brian said:

"I for one am not going to sit back and just hope that something happens. The Broch has lost a lot of town centre businesses in recent times but there are still a lot of very good local enterprises out there. The town centre has had a bit of a boost with Iceland opening up recently but we need more. I am also disappointed as someone who worked at the Station Hotel for many years that it is not now operating as a hotel.

"People who know me know that I take every opportunity I can to promote Fraserburgh and I will continue to do that.

"I have therefore written to around a dozen of Europe's top hotel chains alerting them to the fact that the Saltoun Arms is available, is on the market, and we'd love to see one of them come to Fraserburgh and take it over.

"I have no idea whether I'll even get a response or whether we're still too far into the UK's recession for hotels to be even thinking about new acquisitions but I certainly know that if you don't try then you definitely won't succeed. The Broch has the people who can fill the jobs which would be created if one of these hotel chains does decide to come here."

In his letter, Councillor Topping states:

"I am writing to you as the Aberdeenshire councillor for the town of Fraserburgh to draw to your attention the availability of the Saltoun Arms Hotel which I believe could represent an exciting opportunity for your hotel company.

"The town of Fraserburgh is a vibrant fishing port and is one of the pre-eminent shellfish and white fish ports in the EU. In recent years, major tourist attractions such as Scotland's National Lighthouse Museum and the award-winning Fraserburgh Heritage Centre have opened up. The town also boasts a superb 18-hole golf course and has several miles of magnificent sandy beaches which can lay claim to some of the best conditions for windsurfers in the country.

"However, Fraserburgh desperately lacks hotel accommodation and the associated function capabilities which a town of this size (population over 12,000) with its large rural hinterland should have."

Councillor Topping then goes on to offer the services of Aberdeenshire Council's Economic Development Department to those who are interested.

The move has been welcomed by SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford, who said:

"This is typical of Brian's 'can-do' approach to things and he is very much to be congratulated for his initiative.

"It is absolutely vital that Fraserburgh does not lose out by not having enough hotel accommodation. As Brian points out in his letter to the hotel chains, the Broch has a lot to offer visitors which those of us who live locally don't always recognise.

"But there's also the wider message that this send out about the town if we allow town centre hotels to be lost forever. Brian therefore has my full support in what he is trying to achieve and I hope he is successful in his aims."

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WHITEFORD & SALMOND HIT OUT AT SPIRALLING FUEL COSTS

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and local MP Alex Salmond have called on the UK Government to reconsider its fuel duty escalator planned for April 2010 as the petrol prices soar across Scotland. They also highlighted the higher petrol prices which motorists are subjected to in rural Banff & Buchan.

According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), average petrol prices across the UK rose by 2.9p to 108.3p a litre in November – but in parts of rural Scotland, the price has risen to as much as 115p per litre. In many areas of the North-east prices are again nudging 110p per litre and above for petrol and diesel.

SNP MPs have long campaigned for an overhaul of the current fuel taxation system, which discriminates against rural Scotland in particular with fuel being a necessity and not a luxury.

The SNP's Westminster Group of MPs have put forward solid alternative fuel taxation proposals. Their proposals for a Fuel Duty Regulator would offset increased VAT paid on fuel as oil prices rise by reducing fuel tax. The overall result being the same amount of taxation income for the Treasury but cheaper pump prices.

Commenting, SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford said:

“The soaring prices we are seeing at the pumps now are just a glimpse of what is to come next year. In addition to rising inflation, 2010 will see increased VAT and the UK Government’s absurd fuel duty escalator which will push prices through the roof.

“Treasury Ministers in London fail to understand that in rural areas the operation of a car is a necessity rather than a choice. They must reconsider their disastrous fuel duty escalator."

Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond added:

“At present, taxes account for just over 70% of every pound spent at the pumps. The price of fuel influences the cost of every commodity and service brought to the area.

“Instead of pushing prices up with further tax hikes, the UK Government should be cancelling their fuel duty escalator and looking at measures which will stabilise fuel prices such as the SNP’s fuel duty regulator.”

“An oil rich nation such as Scotland should be reaping the benefits from our natural resources – not watching as North Sea revenues flow into a black hole in Treasury coffers while the Scottish budget is slashed.

“Westminster is holding Scotland back. We need the full fiscal powers of a normal, independent nation so we can set fair taxes that do not penalise rural motorists."

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GREEN LIGHT FOR ABERDEEN BYPASS WELCOMED

Monday, 21 December 2009

DECISION IS EARLY CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR NORTH-EAST

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and local MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the much anticipated Scottish Government announcement approving the precise plans for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).

The planned road has been in discussion for many years, but today’s (Monday) announcement represents its final hurdle and work is expected to commence in the New Year.

Welcoming the announcement as a boost for the North-east economy, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“This decision will be warmly welcomed by people in Banff & Buchan who currently face serious congestion problems on a regular basis. When completed, the AWPR will provide a real economic boost to the entire region as journey times come down.

“This is a real good news story for the North-east and is a further sign of the SNP Government’s continued commitment to investing in the region. This has been a project that has long been needed, but I am delighted that we have now reached this point and that work will be going ahead.”

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

“This is the best possible early Christmas present for residents and businesses in Banff & Buchan.

“The road haulage industry will also breathe a sigh of relief as the road will remove one of the major bottlenecks for lorries heading North and South of Aberdeen, greatly reducing transport times and cost.

“It will also be a big boost for the local construction industry as this project will secure jobs over the coming years and ensure developments for the future.

“This proves that all the doomsayers who said it would never be built are wrong, the SNP are investing in the North-east, something which others consistently failed to do.”

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LOCAL GROUPS BENEFIT FROM SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT BLITZ ON CROOKS

Friday, 18 December 2009

'CASHBACK FOR COMMUNITIES' RECEIVES FUNDS SEIZED AS PROCEEDS OF CRIME

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has announced that million pounds of crooks' money will be distributed between more than 230 youth projects right across Scotland.

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and local MSP Stewart Stevenson have hailed this significant boost to a number of local youth projects in the North-east. The successful applicants for a share of Round Three CashBack for Communities YouthLink Scotland funding - money seized from organised crime gangs but returned to communities to encourage healthy activities – include several within Banff & Buchan.

Aberdeenshire is also punching above its weight in the funding stakes with the amount Aberdeenshire is receiving being above it's pro-rata level of 5.5% of all funding announced, compared to a pro-rata population of 4.7%.

Welcoming the announcement from the Justice Secretary, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"It is particularly pleasing that so many local groups are benefiting from this scheme at a time when funding is in short supply. Pressure on the lottery from the London Olympics and the economic downturn means it is becoming more difficult for organisations to access funding.

"I'm therefore delighted that this Scottish Government scheme which aims to deprive criminals of their assets is helping our communities in this way."

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

"CashBack for Communities is a programme of diversionary activities for young people to increase the opportunities they have to develop their interests and skills in an enjoyable, fulfilling and supported way.

"Using funds recovered from the proceeds of crime, the Scottish Government has committed to investing over £13 million in a range of CashBack projects for young people."

Note:

Among the local groups to benefit from the Cashback for Communities scheme are:

£2,515.00 Mintlaw Youth group - Central Buchan Youth Forum
To train the young people to run the café and achieve certificates in Emergency first aid, elementary food hygiene and confidence to cook

£480.00 St Fergus School Sailing Club
Sailing lessons

£10,000.00 Grampian Police Rock Challenge
A performing arts initiative that delivers messages relating to alcohol, anti social behaviour and substance use and misuse

£4324.00 Banff Area Youth Forum
Continuation of youth work service to young people aged 16+

£3596.00 Peterhead Action Group
To deliver summer activiites

£10,000.00 Brighter Horizons
Increase opening hours of drop in. Car driving initiative. Get up and go. Summer programme. Young mum's group. Train youth volunteers - youth work training. Streetwork. Football sessions. Decorate 2 rooms in the facility

£2356.00 Aberdeenshire Council (1)
For stage 3 of Youth Scotland's involvement training, young trainers will put on 6 training events open to all young people

£3614.00 Aberdeenshire Council (2)
To put on 3 conferences within Aberdeenshire

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NORTH-EAST SHORTBREAD IN BRUSSELS SHOWCASE

Thursday, 10 December 2009

St Andrew's Day Theme in European Parliament

Scottish National Party President and Euro-MP Ian Hudghton sponsored part of the annual St Andrew's Day celebration at the European Parliament in Brussels, by commissioning a consignment of shortbread from Banffshire bakers, Donalds of Portsoy.

As part of his extensive annual summer tour, the MEP had visited the bakery in September to tour the facility and arrange a special delivery to the European Parliament. The shortbread took pride of place in the Parliament Lobby, where eager diners appreciated the Scottish delicacy as part of events to mark St Andrew’s Day.


Speaking from Brussels, Ian Hudghton MEP said:

“I am always on the lookout for ways to promote Scottish produce and business to a wider audience, and the shortbread from Donalds Bakers proved a big hit at the European Parliament’s St Andrew’s Day celebrations.

“With 27 EU member states represented here, and frequent visitors from around the world coming to the EU Parliament, this is an excellent venue in which to raise awareness of all things Scottish before a global audience.”

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford, who was in Brussels for agriculture and fisheries meetings, said:

“People from all over the EU have been enjoying Donald's shortbread. It disappeared in minutes. It's a great advert for Scottish artisan produce.”

Banff & Buchan MP and First Minister Alex Salmond also dropped by and sampled some of the shortbread whilst in Brussels on Scottish Government business.

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SALMOND & WHITEFORD WELCOME POST BANK CONSULTATION

"MODEL MUST FOCUS ON NEEDS OF COMMUNITIES"

Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond has welcomed the UK Government’s consultation on developing Post Bank services and is urging people from across the constituency to make their views known.

The local MP has been a long-time supporter of the Post Office and has opposed closures and the loss of services such as TV Licensing from the network.

Mr Salmond believes the creation of a ‘Post Bank’ will allow many more people on lower incomes to open a bank account and get a mortgage or loan, making it easier for first-time buyers to qualify for its mortgages. It could also see the Post Office offering more financial services to small businesses.

It also holds out the prospect of allowing those on state benefits to set up direct debits – something which will allow them to take advantage of cheaper energy deals instead of relying on expensive pre-pay meters.

However, the MP has warned that the focus of the consultation must be on the needs of communities – not the needs of banks.

Commenting, Alex Salmond said:

“I think this could be a very valuable initiative. Sadly, the Post Office closure programme has decimated the number of Post Offices across the country. In many of these communities the "traditional" banks have also long since gone.

“Here in Banff & Buchan there is huge support for our Post Offices which has been demonstrated by strong responses to previous consultations and campaigns to protect services.

“We now need to look to the future and see how new services can be introduced at the remaining post offices to build on the network for the future and also to provide much needed financial services.”

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford added:

"Post Offices are not just a business but also provide an invaluable social role, especially in rural communities. They are a focal point for people with information on local events and services, as well as being a meeting point. All of this is additional to the core over-the-counter services but the combination of these things is what makes our Post Office network so critcial.

"In many communities, small businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to get finance from the large banks, despite the fact that they are now largely owned by the taxpayer. It is also clear that the large banks really do not always wish to engage with small savers and borrowers - their deals are all targeted at those who can deposit large sums every month.

"The Post Bank concept gives the opportunity to create a bank that will concentrate on small savers and small businesses, providing essential services in our communities."

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WELCOME FOR BINGO DUTY DECREASE, BUT TOO LATE FOR MACDUFF

Commenting on the Chancellor’s pre-budget report commitment to cut bingo duty from 22 per cent to 20 per cent, SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford expressed regret that the Treasury has not listened to calls to bring Bingo taxation into line with taxation of other gaming activities.

SNP MPs have long campaigned for an end to the unfair taxation scheme which has put great strain on business and played a contributing role in the closure of 31 clubs in 2008/09.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made a step in the right direction, but it’s unfortunately too late for clubs such as Macduff. It does not go far enough towards bringing bingo taxation into line with other gaming activities.

“Bingo actually has a serious social role to play because research has shown that provides a great many people who are elderly and live alone with a social focus. And apart from being good fun it also keeps the mind active.

“Other gambling activities are taxed at 15 per cent and the bingo industry should not be singled out for harsh treatment. It’s good news that Labour is starting to see the error of its ways and beginning to back bingo.”

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WHITEFORD TO DRAW CROSSROADS CHRISTMAS RAFFLE

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford will be making the draw for the Crossroads Caring for Carers Christmas Raffle on Thursday 10 December at 19 Seaforth Street, Fraserburgh at 12.00pm.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"Crossroads in Fraserburgh does a tremendous job providing short breaks for people looking after frail, sick or disabled relatives at home. Christmas is supposed to be a happy time of year, but it can also be very stressful, especially for those who are already stretched by caring responsibilities.

"Most of us will find ourselves caring for an elderly or sick family member or friend at some point in our lives. It's vital that those caring at home get the help and support they need, and also get some time to themselves, to relax or catch up with other day-to-day activities. The services offered by Crossroads Fraserburgh offer invaluable support to those in the Broch and the surrounding area looking after loved ones at home.

"I'm delighted to have been asked to draw the Crossroads Christmas Raffle, and very happy to support this very worthy local cause."

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WHITEFORD WELCOMES EURO-MP's COMMITMENT TO TABLE AMENDMENTS IN BRUSSELS

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Public Hearings on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy taking place in Brussels this week were an opportunity for Members of the European Parliament and experts that included industry representatives to voice opinions and concerns on the European Commission's current White Paper on CFP Reform.
SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford accompanied Euro-MP Ian Hudghton who has resolved to table amendments in the European Parliament to reflect the concerns of the Scottish fishing industry.

Ian Hudghton MEP, who spoke during the sessions, said:

"I am encouraged that nearly all the experts who contributed to the public hearing stressed the need for some form of decentralisation, and stressed the fact that the CFP has been an unmitigated failure up until now.

"Scottish fishing leaders made impassioned contributions at the hearings, voicing the distinct needs of our whitefish, nephrops and pelagic sectors, and the need for policies that promote economic and social sustainability alongside conservation.

"I will be tabling amendments in the European Parliament that reflect the concerns of the Scottish fleets, and seek to return genuine control of fisheries management to Europe's fishing nations."

Eilidh Whiteford, who also attended the Public Hearings, commented:

"It's clear that fishing industry representatives from several parts of Europe share the Scottish Government's vision of a more regionalised approach to fisheries management. We heard repeatedly from experts, and those who represent fishing communities that urgent action is needed on the CFP, and that a 'one size fits all' approach simply does not work.

"Scottish fishermen are leading the rest of Europe in sustainable fishing practices, but we need to ensure that fishing is also economically viable, sustaining jobs and livelihoods in our coastal communities."

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FARMERS SHOULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO CARRY DISPROPORTIONATE BURDEN OF RESPONSIBILITY ON CLIMATE CHANGE – WHITEFORD


SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and Euro-MP Ian Hudghton were in Brussels today for a meeting at the European Parliament on climate change and food policy.
Commenting afterwards, Ian Hudghton MEP said:

“Scottish farmers are already doing a lot to tackle climate change, and farming livestock in sustainable ways. Europe already has the highest standards of animal husbandry and welfare in the world, and Scotch beef and lamb are renowned for their high quality.

"Sizable areas of land where sheep and cattle are grazed are simply not suitable for arable cultivation. Such grazing land is also a 'carbon sink'; grazing animals is a sustainable way to manage it. That needs to be acknowledged when the environmental impact is being assessed.”

Eilidh Whiteford, SNP Westminster Candidate for Banff & Buchan, who also attended the session, said:

“Everyone has a part to play in reducing damaging carbon emissions and we must not expect Scottish farmers, who are custodians of our rural environment and already making huge strides in tackling climate change, to carry a disproportionate level of responsibility.

“All of us can make a difference by using less, reusing more, recycling where possible, and being conscientious in how we use energy and other resources. Those who enjoy prime quality Scottish meat as part of a balanced diet should continue to tuck in with a clear conscience."

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YOUR SCOTLAND, YOUR VOICE

Monday, 30 November 2009


First Minister Alex Salmond today published the Scottish Government's White Paper - Your Scotland, Your Voice - which paves the way for the people of Scotland to be given the right to choose their constitutional future in a referendum.

Scottish Ministers believe that independence delivers a new 21st century partnership of equals between Scotland and England - including giving the Scottish Government and Parliament the responsibilities needed to fight recession, support jobs, and maximise the opportunities that will come with recovery.

As well as setting out the case for independence in more depth and detail than ever before, the White Paper also examines the other constitutional options open to Scotland: the status quo, the proposals of the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution, and maximum devolution including fiscal autonomy.

Mr Salmond said:

"Following a decade of devolution and the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament, there is now a clear and consistent demand for further constitutional progress for Scotland and extending the powers of the Parliament.

"The vast majority of people want to expand the responsibilities of the Parliament, so that we have more powers to do more for Scotland - the economic and financial clout to fight recession and support recovery, the right to speak up for Scotland in Europe, and the ability to remove Trident nuclear weapons from our soil.

"The National Conversation has spearheaded that process, and engaged all those who want to move Scotland forward - both in terms of more responsibilities, and a complete extension of powers with independence. It culminates in this White Paper, paving the way for a Referendum Bill early next year to give voice to the democratic demand of Scotland.

"The debate in Scottish politics is no longer between change or no change - it's about the kind of change we seek, and the right of the people to choose their future in a free and fair referendum.

"The White Paper examines the options open to Scotland: no more powers under the status quo, a few more powers with Calman, a lot more powers through maximum devolution, and the complete extension of the powers of the Scottish Parliament with independence - the policy of the Scottish Government. This historic document sets out the case for Scottish independence with unprecedented depth and clarity.

"Popular opinion in Scotland has moved far beyond the status quo. And Calman has also been shown to fall behind the needs of the people - with the UK Government refusing to make any progress on important issues such as air weapons this side of the election, and substantial doubt as to what if anything will happen afterwards.

"This White Paper charts the route to progress for Scotland - and we are calling on people of all parties and none who want real and substantive additions to the powers of the Parliament to rally to the referendum campaign. That is why we are open to including the option of such powers on the referendum ballot paper, alongside independence.

"It's time for the people to have their say on Scotland's future."

Constitution Minister Michael Russell said:

"The National Conversation has been the most extensive engagement with the people of Scotland on the future of our nation. Today's White Paper is a broad and detailed assessment of where Scotland stands today and the options for our nation's future.

"The people of Scotland have expressed their hopes, views and aspirations through the National Conversation. Their voice must be heard in a referendum, and no politician should seek to stand in their way."

To download your copy of the White Paper click here

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STEVENSON & WHITEFORD WELCOME REVIEW OF SHOW AND GALA REGULATIONS

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


GRAMPIAN POLICE TO LOOK AGAIN AT REQUIREMENTS

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson and SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford have welcomed the commitment from Grampian Police that they will be reviewing the requirements placed on local shows and galas.

The SNP candidate and MSP met with Grampian Police Area Commander for Aberdeenshire Superintendent Mark McLaren where the issue was raised. Stewart Stevenson described the meeting as "extremely positive" and welcomed the recognition by the police that changes in the approach taken were necessary.

Speaking after the meeting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"This was an extremely positive meeting and I was very pleased that there was recognition on the part of the police that the burden placed on local events by licensing conditions was in need of review.

"Indeed, some progress has already been made in this regard and I was delighted to learn that the police have already met with licensing board members and officials to review and reduce the number of conditions which they will be seeking in future."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford commented:

"There is no doubt in my mind that the strain being placed on volunteers by excessive demands and regulations may threaten the viability of our local shows and galas as more and more volunteers simply walk away.

"I am therefore delighted that lessons are being learned from this summer and I am hopeful that the volunteers who give up so much of their time to organise their local shows and galas will see a tangible reduction in the number of requirements placed upon them in future."

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WHITEFORD CONDEMNS FUEL POLICY THAT DAMAGES NORTH-EAST

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

LABOUR’S FUEL TAX HINDERS RECOVERY

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has highlighted figures showing that the costs of diesel with tax in the UK makes it the most expensive in Europe and warned that the UK Labour Government must take account of how its road fuel taxes are affecting the transport industry and the costs of goods in terms of economic recovery.

The impact disproportionately affects the North-east and other areas of rural Scotland, where it adds significantly to the cost of exporting and importing goods.

The latest figures from the European Commission’s Directorate General Energy and Transport – published last week - show that diesel in the UK is the most expensive in Europe at 1.23 Euros a litre. This compares with an EU average on 1.06 Euros a litre.

However when tax is excluded the price of diesel in the UK drops dramatically and is the second lowest in Europe at 0.44 Euros a litre. Only Bulgaria is lower at 0.42 Euros a litre.

The SNP candidate is concerned that the high price of diesel is damaging economic recovery in Banff & Buchan and the many rural industries, including the agricultural sector that have to use diesel powered vehicles on a daily basis.

Commenting on the impact of Labour's fuel tax policy the SNP's Eilidh Whiteford said:

“The Treasury’s tax take on diesel is modern day highway robbery. It is a national scandal that, in an oil rich country like Scotland, we are paying more than 30p a litre more than motorists in Romania and Bulgaria.

“Key sectors like the haulage industry are reeling from forecourt costs, and Alistair Darling must use his Pre-Budget report next month to bring down the cost of fuel. Another factor that cannot be ignored is how these costs impact on the costs of goods in the stores for ordinary households.

"Economic recovery is being slowed by the cost of transporting goods and raw materials and is making the North-east and Scotland as a whole less competitive in critical global markets.

"Here in Banff & Buchan we have high quality food and drink manufacturers that have to compete with companies elsewhere who can get their goods to market much more cheaply. The result is slower recovery, fewer jobs and less money coming into the local economy.

"Our vital haulage industry and the many producers in Banff & Buchan need all the support they can get and that is simply not happening with this oppressive fuel tax regime."

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WHITEFORD & WATSON WELCOME MACDUFF REGENERATION CASH BOOST

Friday, 13 November 2009

JOY AS BANFFSHIRE PORT NETS £¼ MILLION FOR IMPROVEMENTS

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and Troup councillor Bob Watson have expressed their delight at the announcement that Macduff has been successful in bidding for funding from the SNP Government's Town Centre Regeneration Fund.

A grant programme to provide funds for improvements to public areas and shop fronts was put forward under the auspices of Aberdeenshire Council and Minister for Housing & Communities Alex Neil MSP confirmed today that Macduff's bid had been successful.

Today's announcement comes just weeks after Finance Secretary John Swinney announced that funding of over £168,000 for the Moray Street Insulation Project in Macduff as part of the Scottish Government's first Energy Efficiency Design Awards which is aimed at helping to cut bills for people living in fuel poverty and reduce emissions.

Local SNP councillor Bob Watson said:

"I'm delighted that Macduff is set to benefit from this latest round of Scottish Government regeneration funding. The town centre has suffered in recent years, but this cash will help support new local initiatives and make some much-needed improvements.

"I am glad the SNP Government has recognised the importance of the town centre to the wider community, and is providing the support needed to move things forward."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford, who lives in the town, added:

"This announcement is great news for Macduff. It will be a welcome boost to everyone who has been working hard locally to secure investment in the town, and get new projects off the ground."

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson concluded:

"Macduff has had its share of problems in recent times but the town still has great potential. The commitment shown to Macduff by the SNP Government firstly through the Moray Street Insulation Project and now with the town's successful bid for funding from the Regeneration Fund gives us a real opportunity to move Macduff forward.

"I'm delighted that it is the SNP Government which is doing so."

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CCTV PILOT SCHEME PRODUCING 'HUGELY IMPRESSIVE' RESULTS

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A trial scheme currently being piloted on a number of Scottish trawlers involving the voluntary use of CCTV has been hailed for its 'impressive results'.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead is now seeking additional catch quota opportunities for vessels using CCTV next year. He said that developing more intuitive means of counting effort as actual fishing time, not just time away from port, is also a priority. He said this is 'potentially a major step' in raising awareness of the benefits of CCTV as a management tool.

Speaking at a conference recently, the Fisheries Secretary said that a Scottish CCTV pilot launched in August involving seven vessels is already producing 'hugely impressive' results. This type of initiative rewards management measures, whilst at the same time cutting discards.

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford welcomed the progress being made on the issue and said:

"The initial results of this trial are very promising. I hope that the Danish and Scottish experience of CCTV will provide enough justification to allow a trial of a catch quota system next year.

"Scotland has already designed and implemented measures to improve fisheries management, and I am proud to see them at the forefront of developing new thinking for the future. The European Commission must keep an open mind to allow Scotland to demonstrate innovative fisheries management.

"Further cuts in quota are due to come in next year that will have a serious impact on our white fish fleet. Doing nothing is not an option. Those who stand on the sidelines complaining about the CCTV pilot scheme need to tell us what they would do instead."

Commenting, 'Fairline' skipper John Buchan, who is taking part in the pilot scheme said:

"The reason for having the CCTV is to open the possibility of being able to land more fish as a result. With cutbacks on the cards for whitefish next year, I need to keep my business viable.

"This is a voluntary scheme, and I put my name forward for it. It's all very well to complain about CCTV, but what would those complaining propose instead? The situation with discards is an absolute disgrace and CCTV cameras are the only viable proposal put forward so far.

"We should also remember that retailers increasingly want assurances about the sustainability of their supplies, which this also help ensure."

Commenting on the local Tory candidate's claim that the voluntary CCTV scheme was an invasion of privacy, Peterhead councillor Stephen Smith added:

"I'm impressed with the commitment of skippers like John Buchan to volunteer for this because they feel it will help their industry. It really is quite comical for a star of reality television who invited an entire camera crew on his boat to film for primetime TV to complain about a pilot scheme aimed at helping the industry as an invasion of privacy!"

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LOCAL BOATS LEADING THE WAY IN FIGHT AGAINST DISCARDS

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

WHITEFORD AND SALMOND WELCOME INNOVATIVE APPROACH

The first trial of new selective fishing gears underway in the North Sea, as part of the SNP Government's 'land more, catch less' approach, has been welcomed by SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and local MP Alex Salmond. The Fraserburgh-registered Caspian, a whitefish boat, is one of five vessels taking part. Both whitefish and prawn gears will be used in the trials.

On Friday the Caspian started using equipment which prevents unwanted cod from being discarded, whilst at the same time allowing groundfish such as monkfish and megrim to be caught.

The move is the latest initiative in the SNP Scottish Government's drive to allow our fishermen to land more of what they catch and to end the waste of discards.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"These trials are to be welcomed as they will help tackle the sheer waste of discards, and allow fishermen to gain more days at sea. At a time when our fishing industry is under a lot of financial pressure, with the effects of the recession compounding the underlying problems caused by European regulations, this scheme will help ensure our fishing industry remains both economically and environmentally sustainable."

Alex Salmond MP added:

“The Scottish Government has already provided £95,000 for the development of the highly selective gear known as the 'Orkney Trawl'. This is now being used by whitefish boats to help fish more sustainably and also to boost their days at sea under the cod recovery plan.

”When fully developed, the new selective gears will allow Scottish fishermen to buy back additional days at sea through the Conservation Credits Scheme in the 2010/11 fishing year.

“By taking innovative measures such as this, along with help from the Scottish Government, our fleet can help to end wasteful discarding. Once more, Scotland is leading the way in ensuring that our fisheries can be a sustainable resource into the future.”

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WHITEFORD VISITS PETERHEAD LIFEBOAT

Sunday, 8 November 2009


SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford paid a visit to the Peterhead Lifeboat last week.

The SNP candidate took time out to hand over a donation to the RNLI from local MP Alex Salmond. The Banff & Buchan MP took part in a recent research survey being conducted by a national company which offered a small sum of money to a local good cause for his time. Mr Salmond nominated the Peterhead lifeboat as a worthy recipient.

Whilst there, local RNLI official Andy Elliot gave Eilidh a tour of the lifeboat and briefed her on operations at the station.

Speaking afterwards, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"The RNLI plays a vital role in the coastal communities of the North-east. We owe a huge debt to those people who are prepared to give their time and risk their lives as volunteers on the lifeboat.

"This was the first time I have been aboard "The Misses Robertson of Kintail", and I was really impressed by the incredible technology on display. This is a real state-of-the-art vessel of which Peterhead can be justifiably proud."

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OBITUARY: MARY CHRISTIAN TAIT, FORMER PETERHEAD TOWN COUNCILLOR

Friday, 6 November 2009


Former Town Councillor Chris Tait died on 30 October. Here, SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford pays tribute to Chris's dedication to community service:

Mary Christian Tait (nee Buchan), known to all as Chris, was born in 1926, at the family home in Roanheads. Chris attended the North School and Peterhead Academy, where she achieved excellent grades, before enrolling at Webster's College in Aberdeen where she specialised in Secretarial Studies.

While a student in Aberdeen, Chris became involved with the Scottish National Party, an association that was to last for the rest of her life, and in the 1960s she was elected to Peterhead Town Council, one of only a very small number of women of her generation to hold elected public office.

In her professional life, Chris worked as a secretary for a number of local firms, including Sutherlands of Peterhead, Cleveland Twist Drill, Euclid, and the Kirkburn Mills, from where she retired 23 years ago. She also spent some time working in Canada.

Chris married Joseph Tait, a baker, in 1965. They were both active members of the Peterhead Baptist Church, and assisted with the Church Youth Club. Joseph died in 1981.

Chris combined a deep faith with a keen awareness of local and national events, and always had an astute analysis of current affairs. In particular, she gave great support and encouragement to the young people she met in church and political environments.

When I was a young SNP activist, Chris was always ready to share her wisdom; her confidence that Scotland was on the road to independence and a better future was a great inspiration to me, and others. She was also famous for popping into the SNP office with ‘fine pieces’ for the staff!

Just a week before she took ill, Chris attended an SNP function in New Deer to mark my formal adoption as candidate for Banff & Buchan at the next Westminster election, telling friends afterwards that she’d had an excellent evening. Chris will be warmly remembered by those who knew her, and greatly missed. She is survived by her sister Elizabeth (Betty).

Mrs Chris Tait (nee Buchan), 1926 - 2009

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SALMOND SLAMS FAREPAK ADMINISTRATORS AS FUNDS GO TO ACCOUNTANTS NOT CUSTOMERS

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

ADMINISTRATORS TAKE HALF FAREPAK PAY OUT

Administrators have taken half the money recovered from the collapsed Farepak hamper firm, while customers continue to wait for compensation.

Media reports show that of the £6 million recovered so far, £3 million has paid the bills of accountants and lawyers.

Meanwhile customers are expected to receive only 5p for every pound lost and a report into the collapse has still to be published.

Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond, who took up the cases of many constituents who lost money in the collapse of Farepak said:

“It is the final insult that, after three years, the Farepak victims have been left with pennies while the administrators have made millions.

“Farepak victims have already seen the bankers that shut them down walk away with their bonuses and benefits packages – now they are seeing the organisation supposed to recover the money taking more than it is giving.

“I hope this situation can be resolved and Farepak victims will finally receive a decent compensation package.

“The UK Government needs to take a serious look at the workings of the insolvency industry which is raking in a fortune at the expense of creditors.”

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WHITEFORD LENDS SUPPORT TO DEVERONVALE ANNUAL DINNER

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford showed her support for local team Deveronvale Football Club by attending their annual dinner last Friday.

The event – which had SFA Chief Executive Gordon Smith and local MP Alex Salmond as guest speakers for the evening – was a huge success with a large turnout of players, officials and supporters.

Commenting after Friday's event, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"Deveronvale has had a great start to the season, which is testament to everyone involved. I certainly wish them well, and hope their current run of form continues.

"It's also great to see such strong community involvement in everything the club is doing, on and off the pitch."

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WHITEFORD ATTENDS ST COMBS MEETING

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford attended tonight's village meeting in St Combs.

The meeting was called following the malicious fire which completely destroyed the village hall at the weekend. Police announced today that a suspect has been arrested in connection with the fire and reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

Speaking afterwards, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"Naturally, people are angry and upset about the hall, but there's a strong community spirit in the village and everyone is committed to moving forward from this point.

"It's clear from listening to the concerns raised by residents that more needs to be done to tackle vandalism and anti-social behaviour in the village, including improving police response times to complaints. I'll be raising these issues with the authorities, and doing all I can to support the community in the days and weeks ahead."

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WHITEFORD & WATSON COMMENT ON CULTURE MINISTER'S VISIT TO ROSEHEARTY

Monday, 26 October 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and local councillor Bob Watson have welcomed the backing of the Minister for Culture Michael Russell for the work of the Pitsligo Castle Trust.

Mr Russell performed the official unveiling of the new display panels detailing the aims of the Trust to consolidate Pitsligo Castle and to create the Peathill Jacobite and Heraldic Centre at a ceremony on Friday.

Councillor Watson has been a strong supporter of the work of the Trust and since becoming a member of the Pitsligo Castle/Peathill Kirk working group, has secured support from Director of Education for Aberdeenshire Bruce Robertson for the project. As a result, Aberdeenshire Council Education Department is now a partner in the initiative, and local schools, e.g., Fraserburgh Academy, Turriff Academy, Rosehearty Primary etc., are coming on board as part of their local history 'curriculum for excellence' agenda.

An Education Department working sub-group has also been formed to report back to Pitsligo Castle/Peathill Kirk working group in December, with their views on how they see the project develop and integrate with the education curriculum. With Councillor Watson's backing, the Trust also received £4750 of funding from Aberdeenshire Council to purchase the display panels unveiled by the Minister.

Commenting after attending Friday's event, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"The Pitsligo Castle Trust are to be congratulated on having made such excellent progress with the Peathill Kirk project.

"The North-east has a rich cultural heritage that deserves to be better known, and it's great to see efforts to transform the old kirk into a centre for education and research about the Jacobite era and Scottish heraldry steadily taking shape."


Local SNP councillor Bob Watson added:

"I am delighted that the Minister was able to accept my invitation to come to Peathill and see for himself the work being done by the Trust.

"This is a very exciting project led by an ambitious and knowledgeable group of volunteers and it is thoroughly deserving of Ministerial support."

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CULTURE MINISTER TO VISIT PORTSOY SALMON BOTHY

Friday, 23 October 2009

Minister for Culture, External Affairs & the Constitution Michael Russell MSP will be visiting Portsoy's historic Salmon Bothy, Links Road, Portsoy AB45 2SS on Friday 23 October at 1.15pm.

Mr Russell has been invited to visit by SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"I am delighted that the Minister for Culture has accepted my invitation to visit the Portsoy Salmon Bothy this week.

"The Salmon Bothy is a real asset to the town and is being well used by locals and tourists alike. The exhibition celebrates Banffshire's traditional maritime industries, and some of the community activities going on in the Bothy also reflect that history, such as the boat building 'Faering Project' involving young people. With art, drama, photography and knitting groups, and a thriving folk club there's something for everyone.

"The Salmon Bothy has been supported by a range of funding bodies including the Scottish Government, which is testament to the hard work and commitment of those involved in bringing this project to fruition and I'm pleased the Minister will be able to see this at first hand during his visit."

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LOCAL MP DEMANDS DELIVERY DEADLINE ON EQUITABLE LIFE COMPENSATION

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Speaking following an opposition day debate on the UK Government’s role in paying compensation to Equitable Life policyholders, local SNP MP Alex Salmond repeated calls for UK Ministers to accept the recommendations of the Ombudsman.

Mr Salmond believes that a deadline for delivery of a compensation scheme is now needed, following last week's ruling by the High Court that slammed the UK Government's handling of the compensation issue

Commenting, Mr Salmond said:

"The UK Government must stop prevaricating and pay up. This saga has dragged on long enough – with many of my constituents in Banff & Buchan being affected. After ten years what policyholders deserve now is a clear deadline for the delivery of a compensation scheme. It is unacceptable and unfair for Downing Street to let this drag on indefinitely.

"It was a decade of regulatory failure that led to this mess, and we have had a decade of dither in dealing with it ever since. It is disgraceful that policyholders have had to go through so much. Thousands of policyholders have died since this process began, and many surviving policyholders are still being denied justice.

"UK Ministers must finally accept their responsibilities and bring forward a scheme to compensate all those who have suffered through the UK Government's regulatory failures."

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WHITEFORD & STEVENSON WELCOME MACDUFF PROJECT'S FUNDING SUCCESS

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

19 October 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and local MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the announcement from Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Sustainable Growth John Swinney that the Moray Street Insulation Project in Macduff has been awarded grant funding from the Scottish Government.

Aberdeenshire Council is to receive £168,580 for the energy efficiency project as part of the Scottish Government's first Energy Efficiency Design Awards which is aimed at helping to cut bills for people living in fuel poverty and reduce emissions.

Commenting on the announcement, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"I'm extremely pleased that Macduff is one of the communities which will benefit from this funding from the Scottish Government.

"It shows that it is the SNP Government which is acting to reverse decades of underfunding in Scotland's housing under successive Unionist governments. This investment in Macduff's housing stock is very welcome indeed."

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

"The Moray Street Insulation Project in Macduff consists of 20 solid granite flats. Aberdeenshire Council will re-point the buildings, install internal wall insulation, insulate the floors and upgrade the heating systems with energy efficient boilers, resulting in a 40 per cent reduction in emissions, which is good news for the environment but particularly for the residents."

Announcing the awards, Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Sustainable Growth John Swinney said:

"Around a quarter of Scotland's properties, particularly older buildings, are classed as 'hard to treat' and the Energy Efficiency Design Awards encourage innovation in designing energy saving solutions for existing homes. The winning projects have all demonstrated a unique approach to make the biggest impact on bills and emissions, taking into account the type and location of the building.

"In Energy Saving Week, it is important to realise we can all do our bit now to stop wasting energy and reduce our emissions - and save some money too."

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WHITEFORD BACKS RNID SCOTLAND’S CHECKS FOR A HEALTHY HEARING FUTURE

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has joined RNID Scotland’s call for people to value their hearing and take the charity’s specially developed hearing check.

At the Scottish National Party conference in Inverness, Eilidh took RNID’s five-minute hearing check, which assesses your ability to hear someone speaking with background noise – similar to being in a crowded room – and helps identify whether you have a hearing loss.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Many people don’t realise how important their hearing is in their everyday lives, until they start to lose it. I’m lending my voice to RNID Scotland’s Hearing Matters campaign, which is encouraging you to look after your hearing by visiting www.rnid.org.uk/check or dialling 0844 800 3838 and take immediate action to avoid experiencing unnecessary isolation from friends, family and colleagues.”

Delia Henry, Director of RNID Scotland, says:

“On average, people take 15 years to deal with their hearing loss and, in that time, a person’s quality of life can be greatly reduced. We urge people in Banff & Buchan to follow Eilidh’s example take our check today, so that you can start addressing any hearing loss and ensure you don’t miss out on leading a fulfilling and active life.”

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CURRENT REVIEW IS OPPORTUNITY TO SCRAP COMMON FISHERIES POLICY – WHITEFORD

SNP Conference delegates reiterated their support for scrapping the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) at their Annual Conference in Inverness.

Among those leading the calls were SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and SNP President and Euro-MP Ian Hudghton.

Speaking to a packed conference hall, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"These are exceptionally challenging times for our fishing industry. The recession is putting our fishermen under intense pressure, with lower fish prices compounding the underlying problems caused by the failures of the Common Fisheries Policy. There's universal agreement that the CFP has failed, and the current Review of the CFP is an opportunity to scrap it. However, change won't happen soon enough for our fishermen.

"The Scottish Government has been working hard to cushion the industry from the effects of the recession, building evidence to show the economic impact of current EU measures on the industry, and offering additional financial support for fuel efficiency and safety measures. The Scottish fleet has led the rest of Europe in pioneering conservation methods, and needs to see rewards for its efforts. We need to end the scandal of discards by allowing our fishermen to land more of what they catch.

"When the Tories took us into the CFP in the 1970s, the Heath Government said at the time: 'Scottish fishing is expendable'. The last 30 years have seen a catalogue of neglect and betrayal by successive London governments. Only when decision making power is brought back to Scotland will we see an end to the bureaucracy and mismanagement that characterise the current regime."

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SALMOND WELCOMES TEMPORARY PO FACILITIES FOR MINTLAW

Monday, 19 October 2009

Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond has welcomed notification from Post Office Ltd. that services will be resumed at Mintlaw with the provision of a temporary Post Office with effect from Thursday 22nd October.

Speaking from his Peterhead Constituency Office, Mr. Salmond remarked:

“Following my intervention with the Managing Director of Post Office Ltd. on the temporary closure of Mintlaw Post Office, I am pleased to hear that the branch will re-open in temporary premises at 9 South street, Mintlaw, AB42 5EL, just 200 yards from its former location.

“I had cause to take issue with the Chief Executive of Post Office Ltd. over the sudden closure of Mintlaw Post Office, without satisfactory alternative arrangements being put in place, and the poor communication which was associated with the closure.

“However, I am very satisfied with the temporary arrangements which have now been put in place, and I trust that this will have provided a salutary lesson for the Post Office management, should the temporary closure of any other essential facilities prove necessary in future.”

The opening hours of the temporary office will be:

Mon 9.00am – 5.00pm
Tue 9.00am – 5.00pm
Wed 9.00am – 1.00pm
Thu 9.00am – 5.00pm
Fri 9.00am – 5.00pm
Sat 9.00am – 5.00pm

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SNP CANDIDATE APPLAUDS FRASERBURGH HERITAGE FAIR

Monday, 12 October 2009

Commenting on the highly-successful Fraserburgh Heritage Fair which took place at the weekend, SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford said:

"I was delighted to be able to drop in to Fraserburgh Heritage Centre on Saturday and take in the Heritage Fair.

"It really was a fantastic occasion with so much for all age groups. The Heritage volunteers really made it come alive and they deserve congratulations for organising such a successful event."

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WATSON WELCOMES MINISTERIAL VISIT TO ROSEHEARTY

Local SNP councillor Bob Watson has welcomed the confirmation that the Minister for Culture Michael Russell MSP is to visit Peathill Kirk, Rosehearty, next week as a guest of the Pitsligo Castle Trust.

Mr Russell will perform the official unveiling of the new display panels detailing the aims of the Trust to consolidate Pitsligo Castle and to create the Peathill Jacobite and Heraldic Centre at a ceremony on Friday 23 October.

Councillor Watson has been a strong supporter of the work of the Trust and since becoming a member of the Pitsligo Castle/Peathill Kirk working group has secured support from Director of Education for Aberdeenshire Bruce Robertson for the project. As a result, Aberdeenshire Council Education Department is now a partner in the initiative, and local schools, e.g., Fraserburgh Academy, Turriff Academy, Rosehearty Primary etc., are coming on board as part of their local history 'curriculum for excellence' agenda. An Education Department working sub-group has also been formed to report back to Pitsligo Castle/Peathill Kirk working group in December, with their views on how they see the project develop and integrate with the education curriculum.

Commenting, Councillor Bob Watson said:

"In line with the Scottish Government's desire that bodies such as the National Trust and Historic Scotland should, as far as possible, indulge in 'joined up working', the National Trust for Scotland has also 'come on board' as an advisory non finance contributory partner.

"Seeing the potential of the Pitsligo Castle/Peathill Kirk project for the economic development of the Rosehearty area, I encouraged Pitsligo Castle/Peathill Kirk Trust to apply for funding from the Banff & Buchan Area Committee to go towards marketing the project. With my recommendation and support in committee, the project received £4750. That money has been used to pay for the production of display banners which will be used at events throughout Aberdeenshire and beyond to promote the project, an information leaflet, and the construction of a web site: www.pitsligo-castle.org.uk

"I am therefore absolutely delighted that the Minister for Culture Michael Russell will be visiting the Trust to see for himself this exciting project."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford added:

"I was pleased to be able to visit Peathill Kirk at their recent Doors Open Day and see the excellent progress they are making for myself.

"The 'Friends' have done an exceptional amount of work in recent years to move this project forward and I know that Bob has been working hard as their local councillor to support them in their aims. I'm very pleased that Michael Russell is taking time out from his schedule to give his endorsement to the project and it is a great reflection on the 'Friends' and their efforts to date."

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WHITEFORD & TOPPING DELIVER CONGRATS FROM FIRST MINISTER TO BROCH CENTENARIAN

Friday, 9 October 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and Fraserburgh councillor Brian Topping dropped in on retired teacher Vi Johnston yesterday to deliver some special 100th birthday wishes.

Miss Johnston received a bouquet of flowers from Councillor Topping on behalf of Aberdeenshire Council. A letter with a message of congratulations from First Minister and local MP Alex Salmond MP was delivered by Eilidh Whiteford.

Speaking to the Fraserburgh Herald afterwards, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"I was delighted to meet Miss Johnston, and pass on the good wishes of the First Minister. Vi had a steady stream of visitors and well-wishers dropping by, and certainly seemed to be enjoying her day. We had a lively chat about her life as a teacher, and life in the Broch over the years. I'm sure her party went with a swing."

Councillor Brian Topping added:

“Delivering these good wishes on such occasions is one of the more pleasant civic duties I have to carry out on behalf of the council from time to time and I was delighted to be able to present Vi with her bouquet on behalf of the council.”

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WHITEFORD OFFICIALLY ADOPTED AS BANFF & BUCHAN CANDIDATE

Sunday, 4 October 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford was officially adopted by the local Constituency Association on Saturday night as their candidate for the next UK General Election.

Eilidh has been campaigning across the constituency since being selected in 2007 but the political tradition of holding an 'adoption meeting' as the election approaches was continued on Saturday at an event in New Deer Public Hall attended by over 120 people.

Local MP Alex Salmond and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead spoke in support of Eilidh, who was unanimously adopted. Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson and Euro-MP Ian Hudghton officiated at the event.

Speaking in New Deer on Saturday night, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"I'm very honoured to be the SNP candidate for Banff & Buchan.

"The SNP's priority right now is protecting jobs and working for recovery. At the next General Election the choice will be between London parties intent on slashing public spending, or the SNP, defending our interests and moving Scotland forward.

"My top priority will be to stand up for our local industries and way of life."

Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond said:

"In Eilidh Whiteford people can be sure that we have a strong local voice to stand up for our vital interests.

"I am delighted that Eilidh will be leading the campaign in Banff & Buchan for the SNP at the next UK election, whenever Gordon Brown decides to call it.

"I know that Eilidh will work hard to earn the trust of voters in this constituency and build on the proud record of service provided to constituents by their SNP representatives at all levels – councillors, MEPs, MPs and MSPs."

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead MSP added:

"The SNP Government has achieved much for Scotland's farming and fishing industries – but we could do so much more with our own independent representation at the top table in Europe.

"We must never forget that it was the Conservatives who devastated much of the Scottish fishing industry with their dismissal of the industry as "expendable" and taking us into the Common Fisheries Policy.

"Eilidh Whiteford will be a strong voice at Westminster, defending our industries and interests from an uncaring London Government."

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WHITEFORD WELCOMES SNP GOVERNMENT’S COMMITMENT TO REGIONAL MANAGEMENT OF FISHERIES

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed assurances from First Minister and local MP Alex Salmond that returning management of fishing grounds to regional control is at the core of what the Scottish Government believes should replace the Common Fisheries Policy.

In response to a question from North-east MSP Maureen Watt Mr Salmond confirmed that the SNP Government would work hard to bring control over historic fishing grounds to Scottish control and praised the Scottish fleet on their continued innovations.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“It is clear that the CFP’s top down, inflexible approach has been totally ineffective and I welcome the assurance that the SNP Government will seek to make management of fishing grounds more effective through regional control.

“The fishing industry itself has the most to gain from making fishing a sustainable, profitable industry and the Scottish fleet has been at the cutting edge of innovations to encourage this such as real time closures. As such, it is absolutely right that decisions over what the best measures are for Scottish fishing grounds should be taken in Scotland.

“I sincerely hope that the UK Government will follow Scotland’s lead and recognise that decentralising responsibility for historic fishing grounds must be at the heart of negotiations over what should replace the Common Fisheries Policy”
.

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EURO-ACCOLADE FOR BANFFSHIRE BAKERY

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Shortbread from a Portsoy bakery will be served in the European Parliament as part of events to mark St Andrew's Day this year thanks to SNP Euro-MP Ian Hudghton, who stopped off in Portsoy yesterday as part of his surgery tour.

Mr Hudghton is arranging for Donalds Bakers’ shortbread to be the ‘official’ shortbread of the European Parliament’s EFA (European Free Alliance) Group St Andrew’s Day celebrations and ‘sealed the deal’ whilst in Portsoy on Monday. The SNP MEP was accompanied by Banff & District councillor Ian Gray, who suggested Donalds for the accolade, and SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford.

Speaking in Portsoy, Ian Hudghton said:

“I am delighted to be able to assist the company in promoting their excellent products in this way.

“I firmly believe in giving local firms the opportunity to get their products into places where it may not always be possible to do so and I will be extremely proud to point out to guests and dignitaries in the European Parliament that the shortbread comes from my constituency.”

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford added:

"Donalds' has been a familiar feature in Portsoy for many years and is a traditional bakery. Ian is always looking for ways to promote North-east businesses and I was pleased to be able to accompany him as he toured Banff & Buchan holding surgeries and visiting local businesses."

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WHITEFORD PRAISES FRIENDS OF PITSLIGO CASTLE

Monday, 21 September 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has commended the Friends of Pitsligo Castle for their work after visiting Peathill Kirk as part of their ‘Doors Open day’ on Saturday.

Whilst there, the SNP candidate took the opportunity to view the historic Laird’s Loft and was shown around by Chairperson of the Friends of Pitsligo Castle, Therine Henderson.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“The Laird’s Loft is widely considered to be one of Europe’s finest examples of Jacobean woodcarving and it was fascinating to see it and hear some of the history behind it from Therine.

“The Friends of Pitsligo Castle Trust have really done a power of work in recent years and they have exciting plans to establish a centre for Jacobite History and Scottish heraldry.

“Such a centre would be a tremendous asset to the North-east and also be a huge draw for tourists, particularly given the interest in local history and family history and I wish the ‘Friends’ every success with this venture.”

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EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT TAKES THE BISCUIT

Friday, 18 September 2009

HUDGHTON VISITS PORTSOY BAKERS

SNP Member of the European Parliament Ian Hudghton will take time out from his surgery tour of Banffshire on Monday 21 September at 3.00pm when he visits local bakers Donalds Bakers, Seafield Street, Portsoy.

Mr Hudghton is arranging for Donalds Bakers’ shortbread to be the ‘official’ shortbread of the European Parliament’s EFA Group St Andrew’s Day celebrations and will ‘seal the deal’ whilst in Portsoy on Monday. The SNP MEP will be accompanied by Banff & District councillor Ian Gray, who suggested Donalds for the accolade, and SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford.

Mr Hudghton commented:

“I am delighted to be able to assist the company in promoting their excellent products in this way.

“I firmly believe in giving local firms the opportunity to get their products into places where it may not always be possible to do so and I will be extremely proud to point out to guests and dignitaries in the European Parliament that the shortbread comes from my constituency.”

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WHITEFORD WELCOMES MEP TO PETERHEAD

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford will welcome Euro-MP and SNP President Ian Hudghton to Peterhead on Monday 21 September at 10.00am at the Lido car park as part of his surgery tour of Banff & Buchan.

Although Mr Hudghton’s “constituency” now covers the whole of Scotland since the introduction of proportional representation for European elections, he has been a regular visitor to Peterhead with visits to Peterhead Port Authority in July and the Willowbank Centre in May of this year.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Ian is a tremendously hard-working Member of the European Parliament and stands up for our vital local industries in Europe.

“While it must be a bit of an impossible task trying to cover the whole of Scotland as an MEP, Ian is a regular visitor to Peterhead. Indeed this will be his third time in five months which I think underlines the importance of the key local industries of fishing and farming and the seriousness with which they are treated by the SNP.

“There is no other MEP makes himself available to constituents locally in the way Ian does and I think this is reflected in the high regard he is held locally. I’m very much looking forward to welcoming him back to the town.”

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WHITEFORD VISITS LEADING BUCHAN CATTLE BREEDER

CANDIDATE MEETS NEW CATTLE BREED, THE ‘BUCHAN BLACK’

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford visited West Knock Farms, Stuartfield, yesterday to hear about the opportunities and challenges facing the farming industry.

West Knock is owned and operated by leading cattle breeder Albert Howie, who is also an Independent member of Aberdeenshire Council for Central Buchan. During the visit, Eilidh Whiteford toured the cattle operation with Cllr Howie as well as his flock of Texel sheep.

Buchan has long had an enviable reputation as the home of the best of Scotch Beef and this was underlined with the ongoing breed development being carried out at West Knock with the ‘Buchan Black’, an Aberdeen Angus-Limousin cross.

Speaking after the visit, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“I welcomed the opportunity to visit West Knock Farms to see the livestock and learn more about the challenges North-east farmers face on an on-going basis.

"I particularly enjoyed meeting Albert's ‘Buchan Blacks’ - an Aberdeen Angus-Limousin cross - from which he is aiming to develop a new breed of cattle. It's great to see that innovation is still a major part of Buchan farming."

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ENCOURAGING ECONOMIC INDICATORS FOR SCOTLAND

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

SCOTLAND HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO WEATHER RECESSION

Commenting on a range of publications that indicate some encouraging factors in the Scottish economy SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford said the statistics were grounds for hope and confidence that Scotland was well placed to come out the recession.

The following has been reported today by a range of organisations:

  • According to the latest survey data from Lloyds TSB, Scottish businesses are showing signs of coming out of recession by the end of the year. Whilst the private sector may still be shrinking, it is doing so at a slower pace, the bank's quarterly business monitor has found, and business bosses' expectations of activity over the next six months could move the economy back into growth.
  • A survey by the Scottish Retail Consortium found that Scotland’s retail sales continued to climb during August, with total sales increasing by 5.7%. This compares with total UK sales only up 3% compared to Scotland's 5.7%.
  • New Business Start-up Statistics from the Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers show that the number of businesses opening up new accounts has actually increased from the previous quarter. This is following falls in the previous three quarters.

Commenting Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Whilst the news on unemployment is something that obviously cannot be welcomed, these indicators coming are something that can be welcomed and offers real hope that Scotland can weather this recession and come out stronger.

“I am convinced that the Scottish Government's recovery plan to support 15,000 jobs is adding to this confidence as is the fact we have higher employment, lower unemployment and higher rates of economic activity compared to the UK.

"Accelerating major infrastructure investment was vital in ensuring that Scotland is able to weather the recession.

“In essence these latest economic indicators show Scotland has what it takes to come out of this recession stronger. And it is important to remember that small businesses in Banff & Buchan have received a lifeline boost with the SNP Government’s small business bonus scheme which has seen business rates removed completely or dramatically reduced for thousands of businesses.

"It is crucial that no action is taken to disrupt recovery. That is why we are urging the UK Government to use their pre-Budget report to ensure a further acceleration of capital spending into 2010-11, just as was done this year. It is vital to ensure the support for thousands of jobs across Scotland."

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WHITEFORD CONGRATULATES JAGS ON CUP WIN

Sunday, 13 September 2009

SNP CANDIDATE SEES BUCKIE THISTLE TRIUMPH AT THE HAUGHS

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has congratulated Buckie Thistle after they triumphed in the Aberdeenshire Cup final over rivals Cove Rangers at The Haughs in Turriff on Saturday.

The SNP candidate was accompanying Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond who officially opened Turriff United FC's new stand and presented the Man of the Match Award to Buckie Thistle striker Steve Bruce.

Commenting after the game, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"It was a very good game and I thoroughly enjoyed it but as a Banffshire quine I must confess to being delighted for Buckie Thistle and send my congratulations to the team and management.

"To beat the current Highland League leaders in the final of the Aberdeenshire Cup is a tremendous achievement, which bodes well for the rest of the season. It will be a real boost for Banffshire in general and Buckie in particular.

"I was also very impressed with the new stand that Turriff United have built which is an excellent facility and a real asset to the town."

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WHITEFORD GETS TO GRIPS WITH BITES

Thursday, 3 September 2009

MAUD E-LEARNING CENTRE PRAISED BY SNP CANDIDATE

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford paid a visit to BITES – Buchan IT & E-Learning Service – at the Community Service Centre at Maud yesterday.

General Manager Denise Belshaw briefed Eilidh on the facilities on offer at BITES and introduced her to staff and service users on a tour of the premises.

Commenting after the visit, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"BITES is providing a very useful and flexible service in the community.

“It was great to meet the staff and some of the clients, who range from first time computer users, to those working towards professional qualifications, and those simply wanting to improve their existing skills.

"There's a very friendly and supportive atmosphere, which helps build clients' confidence, even if they've never used a computer before. Many of the training courses on offer are now ILA certified which means they are a great way for local people to improve their career prospects at very low cost. I wish Denise and her team all the best for the future."

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HUDGHTON ANNOUNCES NORTH-EAST SURGERY TOUR

SNP Euro-MP Ian Hudghton will be embarking on his annual surgery tour of North-east communities next month. Mr Hudghton will be visiting local towns in his mobile office to allow constituents who may wish to raise any European-related issues direct access to him.

Mr Hudghton’s surgery tour is now an established fixture and in previous years many people have taken up the opportunity to quiz their Euro-MP on various topics.

Previewing the tour, Ian Hudghton commented:

“I was very pleased with the success of last year’s tour which resulted in quite a number of enquiries and casework being picked up and I am looking forward to getting out and about in the North-east during September.

“Having represented only the North-east previously, it is now quite a challenge under the new system where I share responsibility for the whole of Scotland, which is now one electoral “region”. However, I am determined that this should not mean that Euro-MPs become more remote from the public and this surgery tour is an excellent way of giving people direct access to me in their own community.”

Note: Ian Hudghton will be available in his mobile office and will be calling at:

Monday, 21 September

PETERHEAD, Lido car park - 10.00am
FRASERBURGH, Hanover Street car park - 11.00am
MACDUFF, Knowes Hotel car park - 1.50pm
PORTSOY, Church Street - 2.55pm
TURRIFF, Victoria Terrace - 3.45pm
FYVIE, Main Street - 5.00pm

Wednesday, 23 September

HUNTLY, The Square - 10.00am
INVERURIE, North Street - 11.00am
KINTORE, The Local Hub, The Square - 11.45am
NEWMACHAR, Hall car park - 3.45pm
OLDMELDRUM, Library car park, Colpy Rd - 4.20pm
ELLON, Somerfield car park, Ythan Terrace - 4.50pm

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WHITEFORD PRAISES GLENDAVENY PRODUCTS ON FYVIE VISIT

Monday, 31 August 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has given her backing to the Glendaveny social enterprises based at the Willowbank Centre, near Peterhead, for adults with special needs. The famous Glendaveny Teddy Bears are made there as are the increasingly-popular Glendaveny Jams and Preserves.

The SNP candidate caught up with Di Faithfull at Fyvie Castle where she was staffing the Glendaveny stand as part of the Homecoming event held yesterday.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“I was pleased to be able to visit the Willowbank Centre back in May where I met the staff and service users with my colleague Ian Hudghton MEP, so it was very good to catch up with Di who was busy promoting Glendaveny teddy bears and jams as part of the Homecoming.

“As well as making some quality products locally which are also sold through a dedicated outlet in Peterhead town centre, the whole ethos around Glendaveny products is extremely innovative and worthwhile and performs a valuable function in helping people.

“I’m also very pleased to report that I can highly recommend Glendaveny’s strawberry and redcurrant jam!”

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HIGH SPEED PROPOSAL WELCOME, BUT NORTH-EAST MUST NOT BE FORGOTTEN

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Following reports that Network Rail has proposed a new £34 billion high-speed railway line linking London and Scotland by 2030, SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the proposals.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said.

“The SNP has previously pressured the UK Government for assurances that any future high speed rail project would be continued into Scotland. It is crucial not only for our economic but also our environmental goals and the proposed link from network rail would certainly compete with flying.

“However the proposal still requires to be approved by the UK Government, who have been vague in the past as to their intentions of high speed links reaching Scotland. I sincerely hope that UK Transport Minister Lord Adonis ensures that this link is stretched past the Midlands providing Scotland with the benefits that this improved infrastructure will offer.

“The current proposals only take the high speed link as far as Glasgow and Edinburgh. It is imperative for the North-east that the network is expanded to Aberdeen, and I would urge Network Rail to include this in their plans. In the meantime further thought needs to be given as to how existing links from the Central Belt can be upgraded to take advantage of the proposed new links.”

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WHITEFORD WARNS AGAINST FUEL TAX HIKE

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and SNP colleagues are calling on the UK Government to scrap next weeks planned 2p increase on fuel prices - warning the hike could hinder economic recovery.

The SNP has vigorously opposed previous fuel price rises and Eilidh Whiteford says it is a tax on rural Scotland where car use is a necessity and not a luxury.

With fuel prices once again over one pound per litre the SNP candidate believes that for many families and rural businesses the planned tax hike will put yet more pressure on stretched budgets.

Speaking ahead of the next week's tax deadline the SNP's Eilidh Whiteford said:

"Pushing up fuel prices is absolutely the wrong thing to do in the grip of recession and this increase could actually hinder economic recovery.

"Just when the UK government should be stimulating the economy, the Treasury is intent on slapping another 2p on the price of petrol and diesel - hitting already hard-pressed households and businesses. The increase is especially damaging for the haulage industry.

"Fuel duty now accounts for about 71 pence of every pound the motorist spends at the pump and for areas like Banff & Buchan where many have no choice but to use cars this is a severe financial burden.

"Increases in fuel duty are not a green tax, they are a Brown one, and people across Scotland have had their fill of Labours fuel duty increases. What Treasury Ministers in London forget is that for people in rural areas, a car is a necessity and not a luxury.

"On the back of an income tax hike affecting the lowest paid a further tax increase would be simply scandalous."

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HENDRY CONGRATULATES GRAMPIAN POLICE PIPE BAND

Monday, 24 August 2009

Grampian Police Joint Board member and Mid-Formartine SNP councillor Allan Hendry has congratulated Grampian Police Pipe Band on being crowned Champion of Champions for the North of Scotland.

Councillor Hendry, a former drum major in the pipe band and former police officer, has sent his personal congratulations to Pipe Major Drew Sinclair, Lead Drummer Nicky Gibson and band manager Murray Main.

The band – fresh from a stunning performance at the World Championships in Glasgow – retained their standing as the best pipes and drums at a competition in Mintlaw. SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford also attended the event held in Aden Country Park on Sunday.

The band triumphed in the Grade 1 and Grade 2 sections also won the best bass drum section of the competition and the best overall North of Scotland drum corps in Grade 1 and 2.

Commenting, Councillor Allan Hendry said:

"This is the result of many months of hard work and dedication by all the band members. As a former drum major, I know just how much efforts the band members have put in and their success is thoroughly deserved."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford who was at the Aden Park event added:

"In spite of the weather, a very large crowd turned out to give support to the bands. I was pleased to be able to attend and congratulate Grampian Police Pipe Band on their success."

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SALMOND PRESENTS AWARDS AT UK TUG-O-WAR CHAMPIONSHIPS

Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond was at Banff Rugby Club, Duff House, Banff on Sunday to present some of the awards at the UK Tug-O-War Championships.

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford was also in attendance and met local team Cornhill and chatted with supporters.

Commenting after the event Alex Salmond said:

"I very much enjoyed the Tug-O-War Championships in Banff on Sunday and it was a privilege to present the prizes to the club teams.

"The event drew in huge crowds and was a great chance to highlight what a fantastic place the North-east is to host such a prestigious event. I would like to congratulate all the teams that took part for making it such a fantastic day."

SNP Westminster candidate Eilidh Whiteford added:

"Despite the terrible weather on the Sunday, this really was a tremendous event and full credit must go to the organisers and the teams who took part. I am of course particularly pleased that the local team from Cornhill performed so well.

"I was chatting to some of the Irish contingent in the clubhouse afterwards and they were impressed with their visit to Banffshire. I very much hope that this event comes back to Banff in the future."

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LOCAL MP WELCOMES FURTHER £2 MILLION POUND INVESTMENT AT MACRAE FRASERBURGH

Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond today visited Fraserburgh's largest employer, Macrae, to mark completion of the first phase of a £2 million investment programme to upgrade its fish processing factory. Also visiting the Macrae plant was SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford.

Macrae Fraserburgh, part of The Seafood Company, has a core staff of 550 and employs up to 800 staff during peak season, contributing more than £9 million to the local economy.

The company has now finished the £1 million refurbishment to its smoked fish facilities with a new kiln built on site and the addition of new loading bays. A further £1 million of upgrades to the site will be made over the next two years.

Speaking in Fraserburgh, Alex Salmond said:

"Macrae Fraserburgh has a vital role within the local economy. The company's continued growth, investment and employment in Fraserburgh brings significant benefits to the North-east economy. It is the area's largest employer and contributes more than £9 million to the Scottish economy.

"The £2 million upgrade of the factory will provide better facilities for the 800 staff working at the seafood factory and enable even greater outturn of produce.

"The Fraserburgh factory produces 3.4 million packs of fish, largely salmon, every month. I am particularly impressed to hear that 2.6 million salmon are processed each year, 99 per cent of which comes from Scotland. If these were laid end to end it would span 1,250 miles, proving the global reach of the Fraserburgh company!

"Macrae is a key player in Scotland's food industry and a great contributor to our economy. I wish the company and its staff the very best in its improved site."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford added:

"Macraes are a valued local employer as well as a highly-regarded company. The local Fraserburgh economy benefits enormously from the company's presence here, as does the Scottish fishing industry, from which the company buys £43 million-worth of fish annually.

"I was delighted to be able to visit the company today and to hear at first hand details of this Fraserburgh success story."

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