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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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THREAT TO BROCH RETAINED FIREFIGHTERS DROPPED

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

WHITEFORD WELCOMES ‘NO CHANGE’ IN CURRENT STATUS

Scottish National Party Westminster candidate Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the news that the current threat to retained firefighters from the EU’s working time directive has been removed.

Eilidh Whiteford visited Fraserburgh Fire Station in February along with Ian Hudghton MEP and Broch councillor Brian Topping to meet staff and discuss the threat from the EU directive.

The European Parliament’s vote to end the UK opt out on the working time directive had caused concern particularly among retained fire fighters unions. SNP MEPs have called for future discussion on work time issues to support both workers rights and the provision of public services.

Talks broke down after attempts to reach compromise on ending the UK opt out from the package, the definition of on call time and issues over multiple contracts failed. There will now be no changes ahead of the European elections.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“This is excellent news and it will come as a great relief to the firefighters I met in Fraserburgh recently.

“I was left in no doubt by what I heard during my visit that we had to do all we can to save the retained duty system from the threat it faced.

“We are very fortunate to have such dedicated firefighters like the ones I met in Fraserburgh who also serve their community in this way in addition to their own full-time jobs. The consequences of losing such a dedicated band of people who serve in this way would have been unthinkable.”

Fraserburgh & District SNP councillor Brian Topping, who is also a member of Grampian Fire & Rescue Service Joint Board, said:

“I’m very grateful to our MEPs Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith who have been strongly supportive of our firefighters from the outset.

“This has been a matter of great concern to the Fire Board for some time so I’m pleased that we have achieved a positive outcome today.”

SNP MEP Alyn Smith added:

“It is far better that we have no deal, than rush a bad deal through before the elections.

“In Scotland we’ve got what it takes to protect both public services and workers rights and the end of these negotiations gives us the opportunity to see legislation that works for Scotland, not damages us.

“Where other parties have scaremongered and sought to exploit this issue SNP MEPs have given Scottish concerns a voice in Europe, voting to protect Scottish interests and working with the Scottish Government. In the next Parliament we will continue to support our essential services and our public sector workers.”

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WHITEFORD WELCOMES HADDO HOUSE INITIATIVE

Friday, 24 April 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the decision by Aberdeenshire Council to support the under-threat National Trust for Scotland property Haddo House, near Methlick.

The NTS have scaled-back operations at Haddo House and instead of the house being open to visitors it has reduced access to an afternoon guided tour only and pre-booked groups. Access to the grounds is unaffected. Councillors have backed a proposal at yesterday's meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee to underwrite the cost of introducing an additional guided tour in the morning at Haddo House to complement the NTS afternoon tour.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"I'm delighted with this helpful intervention from Aberdeenshire Council, but remain disappointed that the National Trust has found it necessary to reduce access to a magnificent local attraction during the year of the Homecoming.

"I visited Haddo House last summer and it is a truly magnificent building with a wonderful history. I hope that this funding will help to sustain local tourism in the longer term by demonstrating that there is a need for us to maintain the visitor attractions we have."

Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith, who is a member of the committee which approved the support for Haddo House, has also expressed his delight at the scheme's introduction.

Councillor Smith had previously written to the National Trust's Chief Executive Kate Mavor pointing out that the NTS properties featured regularly on the tour itinerary of passengers from the cruise ships which berth at Peterhead harbour, and expressed concern at the potential knock-on effects on local tourism.

Councillor Stephen Smith added:

"This is an excellent example of partnership working. Like most people, when I heard the news about the National Trust's intention to scale-back its operations at Haddo House I was very concerned at the impact this might have on local tourism.

"I'm therefore very pleased that the council has stepped in and has been able to underwrite up to £5000 the cost of providing a guided tour for visitors during mornings. This should help establish the demand for such a facility and hopefully make it self-sustaining for next year."

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LONDON PARTIES VOTE TO SELL-OUT FISHERIES ONCE AGAIN – WHITEFORD

Thursday, 23 April 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has expressed her shock and anger at Conservative, Labour and Liberal Euro-MPs voting to allow unused Scottish fishing quotas to be transferred to other EU countries.

The vote means that fishing fleets from around Europe, including Spain, which currently does not have access to Scottish quotas in the North Sea, could gain access to Scotland's historic fishing rights.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"This is absolutely shocking behaviour from the Conservatives and the other Unionist parties which could see our important fishing rights transferred away from local boats to countries without even a coastline in the North Sea.

"Sadly, in spite of all the recent noises from the Tories about how they are reformed since the bad old days of remote control of Scotland from London, it seems that nothing has changed since the days of the Heath Tory Government which – according to Cabinet documents – described the Scottish fishing industry as "expendable".

"I really cannot fathom why the Tories thought that voting against the interests of Scottish fishermen was the right thing to do."

Notes:

The vote in the European Parliament was on proposed EU legislation on control and compliance in fisheries.

The vote included a text added by a Spanish MEP which allows the Commission to reallocate unused fishing quota during a year to other Member States (Amendment 41). Currently quotas within the EU are allocated to countries on the basis of their historic rights.

Records published after the vote show that whilst the SNP voted against the text, Scotland's other 5 MEPs (2 Labour, 2 Tory and 1 LibDem) voted in favour.

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SALTIRE COULD SIGNIFY BONUS POINTS FOR SHOPPERS SAYS WHITEFORD

Monday, 13 April 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has called for action by leading supermarkets to encourage shoppers to buy Scottish produce, using a ‘bonus points’, similar to a system already operated successfully by retailers in Ireland promoting local products.

Shoppers in Irish supermarkets are to local produce by shamrock symbols on supermarket shelves, which then also appear on till receipts. These products can often earn bonus points through supermarket loyalty schemes. Eilidh Whiteford is suggesting that Scottish produce could be clearly ‘flagged up’ on till receipts with a small Saltire, which could also earn bonus points where loyalty scheme exist.

The SNP candidate has now written to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, to ask him to raise the idea with Scotland’s major retailers. The Scottish Government has already established working relations with the major supermarkets to promote environmentally friendly practices such as reducing carrier bag use.

Commenting on the scheme, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Earning bonus points for buying local could be an excellent way to boost Scotland’s economy and cut down on unnecessary food-miles.

“There are already a number of labelling initiatives run by the supermarkets and producer groups, and introducing a further incentive to buy local could be a shot in the arm for Scotland’s farmers and producers.

“Just like the shamrock in Ireland, a Saltire on the shelves and then on the till receipt would help to emphasise how easy and important it is to buy decent local produce, and reward shoppers in the process“

“I have written to the Cabinet Secretary asking him to look at the idea in more detail, and hopefully discuss it at his next meeting with the major supermarkets.

“We need to make full use of Scotland’s magnificent larder if we are to promote healthy eating, reduce pollution from transporting food, and boost the economy during the current downturn.

“A simple scheme like this could make all the difference.”

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STAMP PRICE HIKE 'BAD NEWS FOR BUSINESS', SAYS WHITEFORD

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

SNP Candidate says increases will hit those on fixed incomes

Scottish National Party Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has described this week's increase in the price of stamps as ‘yet another blow to small businesses and those on fixed incomes’.

The price of a first class stamp is now 39p, with a second class stamp costing 30p. The Royal Mail's Special Delivery Next Day service has also increased in price, up 35p to £4.95 for mail weighing up to 100g.

The SNP candidate is concerned that rural and home-based businesses in Banff & Buchan and pensioner households will be particularly affected by the rise.

Commenting Eilidh Whiteford said:

"This is yet another blow to small businesses and those on fixed incomes.

"These are substantial increases which will hit those who rely on the Royal Mail - individuals and small businesses - very hard indeed.

"Those Banff & Buchan businesses that do not have access to alternative carriers or bulk mailing arrangements will suffer as a direct result of this increase.

"This is particularly the case for rural and home-based businesses in Banff & Buchan. What we need from Westminster are incentives for businesses, like the SNP's Small Business Bonus Scheme has provided, and not a constant undermining of Royal Mail's position forcing it to make eye-watering price hikes.

“Although many people now use e-mail as an alternative to the post, those folk who continue to rely on letters for their family and personal communication will be hard hit. It will tend to be pensioners and those on fixed incomes that are affected, and this price hike is a cruel blow to them in the midst of a recession.

"I fear that this could well be a sign of further rises to come if Lord Mandelson pushes on with his crazy privatisation plans.”

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WHITEFORD WELCOMES REVIEW OF FREE-TO-AIR SPORTING EVENTS

SCOTTISH SPORTS FANS MUST MAKE THEIR OPINION KNOWN

The SNP’s Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the announcement of a review of the list of events which are protected for free broadcast coverage.

The Broadcasting Act 1996 allows the Secretary of State to draw up a list of sporting and other events of national importance reserved for broadcast by public service broadcasters with the aim of giving them the widest possible broadcast coverage. The list was last revised in 1998 and is now under review by a panel of sport, broadcast and business experts. The panel have also invited the general public to submit their views.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Calling for the revision of this list has been a long running SNP campaign so this consultation is warmly welcomed.

“This review must listen to the voices of Scotland fans who want to watch our national team qualifying matches with their friends or family in the comfort of their own homes.

“I encourage all sports fans in Banff & Buchan to make their opinions known to the panel.”

Notes:

The consultation document is available here:

http://www.culture.gov.uk/freetoair/Consultation/introduction.html

Submissions should be sent by 3 July 2009 (at the latest) to:

David Patterson
5th Floor
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
LONDON
SW1Y 5DH

or to the Review’s e-mail address – freetoairevents@culture.gov.uk

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BOOST FOR PORTSOY AS LIFELINE FILLING STATION RECEIVES SCOTTISH GOVT SUPPORT

Thursday, 2 April 2009

A Banffshire petrol station is to receive financial support to help it remain open and support the rural communities it serves.

Almost £20,000 will be pumped into the garage in Portsoy, enabling it to upgrade its fuel supply equipment, become more economically viable and less vulnerable to closure. As well as maintaining an essential service for local people and businesses and safeguarding local jobs, supporting the petrol stations will also make the town more attractive to tourists.

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

"I'm delighted that the SNP Government is helping Portsoy to retain this vital local facility.

"We've seen a lot of petrol stations along the Banffshire coast close down in recent years and this scheme will help keep the local infrastructure in place."

Announcing the grants, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP said:

"Our rural communities are part of the economic and social fabric of Scotland and to keep them vibrant and viable we have to ensure they have a robust infrastructure.

"Local petrol stations help keep rural communities moving. Without them local people and local businesses have to splash out extra money to fill up elsewhere. And, with rural garages employing on average four full-time staff, they also boost the local job market.

"The Scottish Government is doing all it can to help hard-pressed communities and businesses through the economic downturn. This investment is further proof of that commitment and will help ensure the rural economy is well-positioned for recovery."

June Masson of Portsoy Motors, one of the recipients of the funding, said:

"Without this support the future of fuel retailing in Portsoy could not have been guaranteed. This would undoubtedly have had a detrimental effect in the local area."

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WHITEFORD WELCOMES POSITIVE ACTION ON SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

STEVENSON ANNOUNCES NEW SAFETY MEASURES FOR SCHOOLCHILDREN

Innovative new technology which aims to improve the safety of children boarding school buses is to be trialled across the North-east.

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson who is also the Scottish Transport Minister announced the measures during a meeting with the Scottish Parliament's Petitions Committee, which met in Fraserburgh Academy this week.

Following a meeting with bereaved parents, Mr Stevenson has been keen to work jointly with councils to look at what further measures can be taken to improve school bus safety. The local MSP then arranged to meet with Aberdeenshire Council officials, local safety campaigner Ron Beaty and bereaved parents at Aberdeenshire Council's headquarters where various ideas were discussed.

SNP Westminster candidate Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the positive progress from the Scottish Government on this important issue and expressed disappointment that the UK Transport Minister Geoff Hoon had not shown the same level of support.

The "SeeMe Bus Stop" technology, which warns drivers to exercise extreme caution when school buses are in operation, has already proven a success in Sweden.

The six month trial is part of a range of measures councils and the Scottish Government is looking at within their devolved competencies as they seek to improve school bus safety.

Other measures include:

  • Options to increase the visibility of the school bus sign
  • Reaffirming the appropriate use of the school bus sign
  • Clear requirement within current bus contracts for the use of hazard warning lights when picking up and dropping off pupils
  • Requesting that all operators also use dipped headlights when picking up and dropping off pupils
  • Education resource and publicity campaign for schoolchildren and drivers urging extreme caution when approaching school buses (entitled "1 second, 1 life")

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"The families who have lost children as a result of road accidents have faced unimaginable tragedy.

"The Scottish Government doesn't currently have powers over road safety legislation, but I am determined that we make full use of our devolved responsibilities to ensure action is taken in Scotland.

"This is very much a work in progress, but the Scottish Government is considering a wide range of measures to increase the safety of our children, through better education of children and drivers, through to greater visibility.

"We are looking at measures to increase the visibility of school children, new education resources, and advanced warning systems which urge drivers to exercise extreme caution.

"The SeeMe technology has proven successful in Sweden and looks promising, but we also want to look at what other technology is available elsewhere in the market. This trial will allow the Scottish Government to properly assess its impact.

"These measures being outlined today have the potential to improve child safety and as we move forward we want to identify further action which can be taken over the short, medium and long term to make school bus services safer."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford added:

"This is very good news indeed and I very much welcome the fact that these safety measures will be implemented in the North-east first as part of their evaluation. It is just a pity UK Transport Minister Geoff Hoon has not shown as much engagement with the issue as Stewart Stevenson and the Scottish Government has done.

"It is also a testament to the hard work of local campaigner Ron Beaty and the effort he has put in over a prolonged period on this issue.

"We now have to see how these safety measures being piloted locally work out but improving safety on school buses will be a continuous campaign as new generations of schoolchildren – and drivers - will require constant reminders."

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