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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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LOCAL HEALTH SERVICES TAKE TORY TAX HIT

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Health services used by people in Banff & Buchan will be hit by a multi-million pound tax bill as the Tory Government’s VAT rise kicks in at the beginning of January. The VAT increase is opposed by Banff & Buchan SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford, and MSP Stewart Stevenson.

Added to the increase in National Insurance payments that the NHS is picking up the total cost to NHS Grampian is around £4 million.

Because the NHS employs a high number of people it is particularly exposed to the National Insurance changes.

In total the Scottish NHS will have to pay around 17 million pounds in extra National Insurance payments to the London Treasury this coming year and a further 26.5 million pounds increase in VAT payments. A total of over 43 million pounds being lost from frontline services directly to the London Treasury.

In the election the Tories claimed they would scrap Labour’s tax on jobs and immediately after the Tory government’s budget David Cameron told Moray SNP MP Angus Robertson that “our action on national insurance contributions has saved the NHS money”. However backtracking by the Tories have left the rise in place.

Commenting on the multi-million pound tax bill directly hitting local health service users SNP MSP for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Tory government is hitting NHS Grampian with a multi-million pound tax bill and the people who will suffer are the patients.

“This is a double tax bombshell for the NHS – a grotesque Christmas present where the NHS has to pay the UK Government back for the misleading pledges of the Westminster parties.

“Labour introduced the damaging changes to National Insurance, the Tories have left it in place and it is Scotland’s public services and our economy that will pay the price.

“The cost to NHS Grampian is equivalent to over 150 nurses salaries per year.”


Local MP Eilidh Whiteford added:

“The Prime Minister claimed he was saving the NHS money when in fact he is costing it millions.

“Whilst all the London parties have shown they can’t be trusted on tax it is the SNP which is the party that stands for Scotland's people and Scotland's interests. While Tory, Labour and Lib Dem planned to take taxes from Scotland’s NHS the SNP has worked hard to put more money into our health service to ensure it remains the first quality service we all want to see.

“Our public services across Banff & Buchan are being hit by massive tax bills in the coming year over and above the huge budget cuts coming from Tory-led government and people in the North-east are facing a double whammy on public services.”

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WHITEFORD APPEAL OVER FAREPAK ‘NIGHTMARE OF CHRISTMAS PAST’

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson, Eilidh Whiteford, has issued a Christmas Eve appeal to the UK Government calling for compensation for Farepak families, who are still waiting for reparation four years after the collapse.

Comparing the UK Government’s response to bailing out the banks with Farepak, Dr Whiteford has written to Business Secretary Vince Cable, asking why 20,000 Scottish customers, who lost their Christmas savings in 2006 are still out of pocket.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“The UK Government bent-over-backwards to bail out the banks but hasn’t found a single penny for the Farepak families, many of whom are in Banff & Buchan.

“It is four years since Farepak collapsed, but that nightmare of Christmas past is still being felt by many low income families. Savers are likely to recover just 5p in the pound, while the final bill for the administrators and their legal advisers could reach £3m.

“It is simply disgraceful that, years after the company collapsed, that customers are still waiting for their money back.

“The UK Government needs to bring forward compensation for these families, particularly given that it was its failure to secure adequate consumer protection through regulation that allowed the Farepak Christmas crisis to happen.

“UK Ministers should step in without further delay to secure compensation for those who lost out so badly.”

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SNP SEIZE ON NEW LIBDEM MINISTER REVELATIONS

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The SNP have seized on further damaging revelations that senior LibDem Ministers, including Scotland Secretary Michael Moore, have privately condemned coalition policies on welfare reform and university tuition fees in recordings made by undercover reporters.

Commenting SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

"This is devastating for the Lib Dems in Scotland - Michael Moore has shown them to be utterly devoid of principle. Their duplicitous conduct over tuition fees and painful welfare reforms, which Michael Moore voted for publicly but privately condemns, shows why the LibDems just can’t be trusted. These revelations are not just hugely embarrassing they are the death knell of the LibDems as a progressive party either north of south of the Border."

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BAN ‘FAIR-WEATHER FIRMS’ FROM ROYAL MAIL BID - MP

Monday, 20 December 2010

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has called for “fair-weather firms” who abandoned deliveries to addresses in Scotland because of the winter weather to be banned from bidding for Royal Mail under privatisation plans.

The SNP MP – who is a member of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee which is currently examining postal services in Scotland - said the suspension of deliveries by private delivery companies underlined the difference between private firms and Royal Mail whose universal service obligation ensures that deliveries continue in all conditions.

Dr Whiteford has also supported an Early Day Motion (EDM) on the issue in Parliament tabled by an SNP MP.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“The difference between fair-weather firms who abandoned deliveries and Royal Mail who are battling through the winter weather to meet their obligations to people in Banff & Buchan totally reinforces the case to keep the post public.

“The companies that cancelled Christmas deliveries are not up to the standards of the universal postal service, and they should not be allowed to bid for Royal Mail under the UK Government’s privatisation proposals.

“We already know that Vince Cable is considering scrapping Saturday deliveries and switching to five day a week delivery – the absolute minimum allowed under European regulations. It is simply inconceivable that the universal service obligation could survive in its current form after privatisation.

“Any reduction in the universal service obligation will be hardest felt by people in rural areas like Banff & Buchan, and crucially businesses, who rely about these deliveries. More so, at a time of economic turbulence it is absolutely crucial that businesses in rural areas have access to high quality mail services.

“The universal service obligation is vital to individuals and small businesses throughout Scotland and must not be put at risk by privatisation. This should be a wake up call to Vince Cable to reconsider his plans and abandon plans to sell off this vital national resource. At the very least he should make it abundantly clear that no company which is prepared to simply abandon services in Scotland will be considered as a purchaser of any part of Royal Mail.

“Royal Mail cannot be viewed as just another company. It provides an essential public service, especially to smaller communities and small businesses who do not have access to alternative carriers.”

Note:

The text of Angus MP Mike Weir’s EDM is detailed below:

Mail Deliveries

That this House congratulates Royal Mail employees in their sterling efforts to keep mail deliveries going in Scotland despite the recent atrocious weather; contrasts this with the decision of several private delivery services to abandon all attempts to deliver in Scotland; believes that this demonstrates the difference between Royal Mail’s social obligations under the universal service and the attitude of private operators; calls upon the UK government to abandon plans to privatise Royal Mail or, at the very least, to state that no company which has shown itself unwilling to continue deliveries in these circumstances would be considered as a purchaser or partner of Royal Mail.

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LOCAL MP URGES UK TRANSPORT SECRETARY TO ACT ON FUEL SUPPLIES

Friday, 17 December 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has contacted UK Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond to urge a further relaxation of the restrictions placed on driver hours to enable essential fuel supplies to get through.

The SNP MP has acted after being contacted by constituents and fuel suppliers who are experiencing shortages of fuel due to the extreme weather conditions.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“In rural Aberdeenshire and Banffshire, which have once again been hit with severe weather conditions, supplies are simply not reaching the people who most urgently need them. Suppliers report that the weather conditions of recent weeks have created a backlog of orders, with the extended cold snap creating unprecedented demand.

“Suppliers are telling me that journeys are at present taking 3-4 hours longer than normal to complete, and that they are doing their best, but cannot reach some rural areas quickly enough in these conditions.

“I have therefore contacted the UK Transport Secretary, who has responsibility for the regulations which cover lorry drivers, to urge that a further relaxation of the restrictions on working hours be allowed in order to cope with these pressing circumstances.”

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WHITEFORD RAISES DRACONIAN FARM PENALTIES IN COMMONS

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has raised the issue of draconian farm penalties in the House of Commons.

The SNP MP was speaking during DEFRA Questions, where Minister of State Jim Paice MP agreed that the penalties which could be imposed are out of all proportion.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Dr Whiteford said:

“One of the main issues that is raised repeatedly with me by farmers is the whole issue of cross compliance and the very heavy penalties farmers face for very minor infringements of no material consequence whatsoever, and does the Minister share my view that these penalties are out of all proportion, and will he raise it with the Commission as a matter of urgency.

Responding, DEFRA Minister of State Jim Paice MP said:

“I entirely share that view that these penalties are entirely out of proportion. I have raised it with the Commission and more importantly both I and many other Ministers of Agriculture have raised it in the context of the review of the CAP which has just commenced. We have expressed firmly to the Commission that the next system of CAP must be much more simple for individual farmers and for member states to implement.

Commenting afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“This is a serious issue and one which is a cause for much concern amongst farmers all across Scotland.

“Some very minor mistakes indeed may lead to a huge penalty being handed down which simply cannot be justified in the overall context of the original error.

“I am encouraged by the Minister’s response but action speaks louder than words and I hope we will see real priority and progress on this issue as part of the CAP negotiations.”

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LOCAL MP HAILS BANFF CHRISTMAS EVENT

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has congratulated the organisers of Saturday’s Christmas Lights Switch-On and Victorian Theme Day on a successful event.

Dr Whiteford judged the best shop window display and best dressed Victorian adult and child as part of the day’s festivities. The event, which was organised by Banff, Macduff & District Business Association and the Banff & Macduff Christmas Lights Committee drew a steady crowd of shoppers to Banff town centre.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“I was delighted to be asked to participate in the day’s activities. There were some great costumes on display as people really got into the spirit of the event.

“The organisers put in a huge amount of effort and deserve our gratitude

“The town centre is looking very festive and I hope that it will help to attract more shoppers into the town and give a boost to local businesses in the run up to Christmas.”

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WHITEFORD VOTES AGAINST TIME-CHANGE PLAN

Friday, 3 December 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has today condemned proposals to change daylight savings time after Tory, LibDem and Labour MPs backed a Private Members Bill which seeks to leave Scotland with darker mornings.

The Bill, which now moves to Committee stage, would require the UK Government to conduct a cross-departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year. If this analysis found that a clock change would benefit the UK, the Bill requires that the Government initiate a trial clock change to determine the full implications.

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier today during the debate, the Banff & Buchan MP referred to the dangers of roads remaining icy for longer as a result of the time change. She said:

“The benefits of the measure are rather untested and are outweighed by the dangers of driving in hazardous conditions, which have not been properly considered. Some of the evidence we have heard demonstrates that the methodology is rather flawed and the evidence is incomplete.

“The other factor that has not been considered is that, when the experiment took place in the 1960s, road fatalities in the North of Scotland did, indeed, increase. That happened despite the fact that, during the same period, speed limits, drink-driving legislation and seat belts were introduced. Unless we believe that none of those measures had any impact on road safety, we have to take some of the evidence on road safety with a big pinch of salt. Early mornings are a hazardous time to be on the roads. We cannot just isolate the one issue of darkness and extrapolate from that without considering the wider context.”

Commenting afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“The progress of this Bill is literally a wake-up call to the prospect of dark mornings for everyone north of Manchester, and has been pushed through by MPs from the south with no regard to the impact these changes would have on the quality of life for people in the north.

“The evidence put forward supporting this change is dubious at best and the proponents of this Bill have ignored the sound reasons why this change was abandoned after being trialled in the 1970s, and more recently by other European neighbours who found that the shift had a damaging effect on safety, health, energy consumption and commerce.

“This change would be acutely felt in Scotland, raising real safety and quality of life concerns, and this is now a real test for the Tory Government and its claims of a respect agenda for Scotland. It is also outrageous that this step is being taken without any consultation with the devolved administrations.”

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WHITEFORD LEADS WESTMINSTER DEBATE AHEAD OF EU TALKS

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Leading the fisheries debate in Westminster today, SNP Westminster Fisheries spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP said that the fishing industry must at last be treated as a serious political priority by the UK Government.

The Banff & Buchan MP secured time in parliament for a debate on fisheries ahead of crucial EU talks, and after it emerged that no Government time was to be made available for a fisheries debate, unlike in previous years.

Dr Whiteford used the debate to call for action to end discards with a ‘catch-less and land-more’ approach which incentivises conservation and reduces discarding.

Commenting Dr Whiteford said:

“This is a crunch time for Scottish fishing and the industry must be treated as a serious political priority by the UK Government.

“With the prospects from the Fisheries Council offering a grim outlook for parts of the sector, including likely reductions in Total Allowable Catches for some of our key stocks, this debate comes at a crucial moment.

“The UK Government must finally acknowledge the abject failure of the CFP in its current form. It has failed the fishing industry, it has failed as a conservation strategy, and it’s failed our coastal communities.

“The real challenges we face now have to be seen in the context of a Common Fisheries Policy that for over 30 years has been systematically damaging our marine ecosystems, eroding the livelihoods of fishermen, and is inconsistently applied across the European Union. It is simply not fit for purpose. It’s my belief that we will not realise an economically and environmentally sustainable fishing industry until the CFP is replaced with a workable model of fisheries management.

“There is a growing consensus in the fishing industry, among fishing leaders, scientists, and environmental NGOs that a Regionalised approach offers a better way forward than the one-size-fits-nobody approach we have at the moment.

“Scotland has been at the forefront of pushing alternatives to the culture of discards imposed by Europe's flawed fisheries policy that forces fishermen to dump good quality fish back overboard, dead into the sea. This is a waste of a valuable food and economic resource. Nobody gains from discards, it is an abhorrent practice that can't be tolerated.

“This is a consequence of a European policy that determines quotas and catches based on what is landed rather than what is caught. It is why, in Scotland, have been saying that the way forward must be to 'catch less, land more'. That is, a system where fishermen catch fewer fish in the first place, yet land more of what they do catch. It is estimated that a system of no discarding cod and haddock could add as much as £16 million to the value of North Sea fisheries.

“A priority for the upcoming EU negotiations must be extension of the catch quota scheme trial led by the Scottish Government to one where any fisherman can take part, and to benefit from an increased 'catch quota', as well as extension of the scheme to cover other stocks such as haddock, whiting and plaice.”

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REMOVAL OF MOBILITY ALLOWANCE BRANDED CRUELEST CUT

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has branded Tory Government plans to remove the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) from people living in residential care as the Coalition’s ‘cruelest cut’ after speaking out in a debate on the issue in parliament this morning.

Parliamentary questions by Dr Whiteford have revealed that the cut will impact on approximately 60,000 people living in residential care, including an estimated 8,000 users of the Motability Car Scheme.

Dr Whiteford said:

“Removal of the mobility component from people in residential care is one of the cruelest cuts by the Tory Government and will in some cases leave disabled people totally housebound.

“We are talking about a lifeline payment which gives people, including children at residential special schools, some independence.

“Few residential facilities provide free transport, and the component is often used by disabled people to pay for a taxi to essential hospital appointments, to go shopping, or even just to meet friends and take part in activities in their community.

“Removing this allowance is a hammer blow to people’s independence as well as their pockets. It will effectively mean some people can no longer get out and about and will be confined to their residential care home.

“Nobody doubts that welfare reform is necessary, but this cut by the Tories and Liberal Democrats is totally unfair and will impact on the lives of the most vulnerable in society.”

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LOCAL MP LIGHTS UP PETERHEAD

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford performed the switching on of Peterhead’s Christmas Lights this afternoon.

The MP was invited by the ‘Light Up Peterhead’ Committee to perform the switching-on by the town Christmas tree at Drummers Corner. After the switch-on, the Peterhead Salvation Army Band marched to the town’s Muckle Kirk where Dr Whiteford switched on the tree lights there before joining the carol service in the kirk.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“The Light Up Peterhead Committee have done a fantastic job this year and everyone agreed that the Christmas tree in Drummers Corner looks particularly magnificent.

“The Committee have done a lot of work on behalf of the town over the past twelve months and deserve our gratitude, as do the many local organisations, individuals and businesses who have contributed to the cost of the displays.

“The town centre is looking very festive and I hope that it will help to attract more shoppers into the town and give a boost to local businesses in the run up to Christmas.”

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WHITEFORD SECURES COMMONS TIME FOR DEBATE ON FISHERIES

Banff & Buchan MP and SNP Westminster Fisheries Spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford has secured time in the House of Commons for a debate on fisheries after meeting with the Backbench Business Committee, who agreed to the MP’s request to allocate time for a debate.

The move by Dr Whiteford was necessary after it emerged that no Government time was to be made available for a fisheries debate, unlike in previous years.

Dr Whiteford, along with MPs Andrew George (Lib Dem: St Ives), Margaret Ritchie (SDLP: South Down), Dr Sarah Woolaston (Con: Totnes) and Therese Coffey (Con: Suffolk Coastal), took the case for a Fisheries Debate to the Backbench Business Committee and persuaded Members that time be made available, and will now be held on Thursday 2 December in Westminster Hall, contrary to some incorrect reports that a debate had already been secured for December 9th.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

I am delighted that the Backbench Business Committee has been persuaded of the importance of allowing time to debate the future of an industry that is of huge importance to our coastal communities and the wider Scottish economy.

“Fisheries is subject to one of the highest degrees of political management of any industry and it is therefore vital that MPs representing fishing communities have the opportunity to put forward their views to the Minister ahead of the Fisheries Council.

“This situation simply underlines why we need effective Scottish representation at Europe’s top table. I have been in discussions with Scottish fishing representatives in advance of the debate and I will endeavour to make the case for the Scottish fishing industry on Thursday.”

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TURBULENCE FOR TORIES OVER ‘BREEDING’ COMMENTS

Thursday, 25 November 2010

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has condemned remarks by Tory peer Howard Flight suggesting that welfare changes will encourage "breeding" among poor people.

Dr Whiteford said:

“Howard Flight’s comments are not only offensive and unacceptable they are also a troubling insight into the attitude of Tories on welfare issues. Howard Flight is no stranger to controversy so perhaps it says more about David Cameron’s judgement that he has nominated him for elevation to the House of Lords. Frankly, the prime minister should now reconsider his nomination. The Tories are still totally out of touch which is why the people of Scotland continually reject them at the polls.”

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WHITEFORD COMMENTS ON HARRINGTON WELFARE REVIEW

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP today called for improvements to the system that assesses disabled people for work after it was criticised in an independent review by Professor Malcolm Harrington.

Prof. Harrington said the Work Capability Assessments (WCA) were not working as well as they should be, adding that the system was “impersonal, mechanistic and lacks empathy”.

Dr Whiteford, whose own constituents are part of incapacity benefit reforms being trialled in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, said:

“I know first hand from constituents that the current system is causing distress for disabled people and Professor Harrington’s findings suggest that this is a much wider problem. It cannot be acceptable for a system to be so flawed that it could damage the health of people trying to claim sickness benefits.

“While supporting benefit reform, genuinely vulnerable individuals must not become an easy target for Conservative and Liberal cuts.

“There are already huge questions over the assessment process with people undergoing chemotherapy, in some cases terminally ill people, being ordered to attend back-to-work interviews.

“Return-to-work initiatives can benefit both the economy and the individual, but people should only return to the workplace when they are genuinely able and when correct support measures are available.

“Existing safeguards are not working and, with major reforms in the pipeline, we need real guarantees to ensure that that people living with genuine incapacity and ill health are spared added stress and uncertainty.”

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BANFF & BUCHAN EQUITABLE LIFE MEMBERS LET DOWN BY “ARBITRARY DECISIONS”

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has expressed disappointment that local residents who lost out in the Equitable Life fiasco have been let down by “arbitrary decisions” made by the coalition government.

Commenting on the Equitable Life (Payments) Bill, Dr Whiteford said that whilst she acknowledged the government had moved quickly to tackle the matter, the good work had been undermined by the overall cap on compensation and the inexplicable decision to withhold compensation from pre 1992 With Profits annuitants.

Commenting on the passing of the Bill Dr Whiteford said

“I acknowledge that the government have moved quickly and provided much more than the previous government, but they have not honoured their pre election promise to abide by the whole of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Ombudsman.”

“The good work done is being undermined by arbitrary decisions to impose and overall cap on compensation, which could lead to some members losing almost 80% of what they should have received. This is blatantly unfair and will hit many local pensioners very hard .”

“The decision to refuse any compensation to those who took out annuities prior to 1992 is even more bizarre. The minister’s explanation amounted to arguing that if maladministration occurred before members knew about it then that was OK. This is patent nonsense. Anyone who was affected by the maladministration should have been included for compensation.”

“Debating the bill has been a frustrating experience since the big elephant in the room has been the overall cap on compensation imposed by the Treasury, which is not in the bill. At the end of this process many policyholders will still feel very aggrieved, and rightly so.”

“Policyholders have been let down by the previous government who failed to do anything for ten years and by the present government who have undermined the compensation scheme. The failure of Parliament to fully follow the recommendations of our own Ombudsman also does nothing to repair the reputation of politics.”

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LOCAL MP’s ANGER OVER TORY WESTMINSTER FISHERIES SNUB

Monday, 15 November 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has reacted with anger to the revelation that the Conservative/Lib Dem London Government have decided not to allow time for a debate on the fishing industry in advance of the Fisheries Council negotiations in December.

The debate has been an annual feature at Westminster for many years with MPs representing fishing communities using the opportunity to put forward constituents’ views to the UK Fisheries Minister in advance of the Fisheries Council.

Dr Whiteford has taken the case for a Fisheries Debate to the Backbench Business Committee and has asked that time be made available for a debate should the UK Government continue to refuse to do so.

The SNP MP has also written in strong terms to Tory Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon urging a rethink.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“This decision by the London Government sends a clear message that nothing much has changed since the days of Edward Heath’s Tories when fishing was described as “expendable” in a Government memo.

“Fisheries is subject to one of the highest degrees of political management of any industry and it is therefore vital that MPs representing fishing communities continue to have the opportunity to put forward their views to the Minister in a debate on the floor of the House of Commons.

“I have therefore written to Richard Benyon urging him to reinstate the annual fisheries debate. I have also taken the precaution of lobbying the Backbench Business Committee asking for time to be made available to discuss this issue of vital importance to the North-east economy.

“However, this episode simply underlines why we need effective Scottish representation at Europe’s top table. If the UK Government cannot even be bothered to find time to discuss fishing, what sort of message does that send to the EU about how fishing is viewed by the UK?”

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SNP COMMENT ON WELFARE WHITE PAPER

Thursday, 11 November 2010

ENCOURAGEMENT BACK TO WORK ONLY HALF A SOLUTION

SNP Work and Pensions Spokesperson, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, has warned that the programme of benefit reform set out today is ‘only half a solution’ to the problems facing the unemployed across the UK.

Dr Whiteford welcomed enhanced support for job seekers but warned that the programme would stall if the UK Government did nothing to support job creation.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“Reform of the benefits system is long overdue and some of the measures set out today – particularly the universal credit – are very welcome however, what Ministers put forward today was just half a solution.

“This plan is predicated on massive and immediate growth in employment – a development which no credible forecaster is predicting.

“We must look at how best we get people back into the workplace, but reforms must be undertaken with care and common sense. Apart from anything else, this Tory/Lib Dem idea could well cut across other initiatives, such as prisoners having to do hard work through tough punishment in the community, which both the UK and Scottish Governments are pursuing in order to cut reoffending rates.

“The Tory/Lib Dem assumption does appear to be that everybody on benefits is somehow cheating the system or work-shy – what the Con Dem coalition should be working on most is creating real jobs.

"UK Ministers cannot embark on a back-to-work programme if there are no jobs to go to. Indeed, the decision by the Con Dem coalition to slash public spending too hard and too fast has put thousands of public sector jobs at risk and endangered the Scottish recovery.

“The Con Dem coalition have got their priorities all wrong – they should be focusing on supporting recovery and job creation, instead of spending cuts which are too fast and too deep and will actually worsen unemployment rates.”

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MP MEETS WITH CONCERNED RESIDENTS OVER WARDEN SERVICES

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has met with residents of sheltered housing complexes in Turriff to discuss their fears that warden services will be withdrawn as a result of impending council cutbacks.

Representatives from sheltered housing complexes at Deveron Court, Dawson Court and Erroll Court joined with the residents of Sim Gardens to welcome their constituency MP and express their fears that they will be left to fend for themselves if their wardens are removed as part of a council cost-cutting exercise. Dr. Whiteford conducted an open ‘question and answer’ session, before moving from table to table to chat with the residents personally.

The Banff & Buchan MP told the meeting that she had already written to the Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Council to advise him of her own concerns at the rumours which were circulating in the sheltered housing community.

Residents stressed the important part which the wardens played in their lives as a reassuring influence – as well as their critical role in the day-to-day operation of the complexes, including helping with the organisation of events, reading mail to partially-sighted residents, assisting with domestic accidents and spillages, and being on hand for medical emergencies.

Many speakers said that they paid quite substantial sums in ‘Supporting People’ charges, and questioned how the Council could potentially remove the warden service when they were effectively being charged for it as part of their tenancy agreement. Several residents also expressed scorn at the manner in which a recent consultation exercise was conducted on the Council’s behalf with regard to service provision.

Dr. Whiteford listened intently to the worries being expressed, and assured the residents that she would be pursuing their concerns vigorously.

Commenting on the meeting later, Dr Whiteford said:

“I was very interested to meet with the residents personally, and hear directly of those issues which are the most important to them.

“It is often said that a civilised society may be measured by the way in which it treats the most vulnerable members of its community, and that will surely be the trial which Aberdeenshire Council will face as it addresses the difficult decisions which it will have to make in the coming months.

“I have since received an assurance from Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Community Care that no decisions have been made on the issue of warden cover, and I will be taking further issue with the Chief Executive on a number of factors which should support a presumption against such cuts.

“I would also be particularly keen to ensure that our elderly and infirm residents are not subjected to undue worry and stress as part of that process, and trust that Aberdeenshire Council will do all that it can to allay their fears, by assuring them that they will be fully consulted on any proposals affecting their care.”

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WHITEFORD WARNS CON/DEMS OVER HOUSING BENEFIT CUTS

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Speaking in a debate on the impact of proposed changes to housing benefit this evening, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP warned that changes would hit already hard-pressed families.

Dr Whiteford said:

“These are the wrong cuts being made at the worst time, and will hit low-paid households the hardest.

“Tory and LibDem Ministers either do not care or do not understand the impact that these cuts will have on families across Scotland who will be left worse off at an already difficult time. There is no doubt that in some circumstances people will be made homeless as a result of these changes.

“The Tory/Lib Dem coalition have their priorities all wrong – they should be focusing on supporting recovery and job creation, instead of spending cuts which are too fast and too deep and will actually destroy employment.

“Yes, we must look at how best we can reform the benefits system, but such reforms must be undertaken with care and common sense.

“The Tory/Lib Dem assumption does appear to be that everybody on benefits is somehow cheating the system or work-shy – what the Con/Dem coalition should be working on most is creating real jobs.

“While the coalition cuts services and support, the SNP is the only party with a clear commitment to protect family incomes. By freezing the council tax, delivering the living wage to NHS and government employees and turning the unfair policies of successive Labour, Lib Dem and Tory Westminster administrations into a fair system for the people of Scotland.”

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MP & MSP HAIL ‘FANTASTIC’ FANTASMAGORIA

Banff & Buchan representatives Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP and Stewart Stevenson MSP have hailed Saturday night’s street performance in Fraserburgh of ‘Fantasmagoria’ as ‘absolutely fantastic’.

Around 400 young people took part in the colourful parade which was watched by an estimated 6500-7000-strong crowd as it wound its way around Fraserburgh town centre. Both Dr Whiteford and Mr Stevenson were among the crowd to see the parade start off from the Dalrymple Hall.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“This was a wonderful spectacle to witness. A huge amount of work had obviously been put in by the young people to their costumes, the floats and the music.

“I don’t think the Broch had seen anything quite like it before and the efforts of the performers were clearly appreciated by those who turned out on such a cold night to see them.”


Local MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

“I’m delighted for the young people involved that they received such strong support from the townspeople of the Broch for their efforts.

“An estimated audience of around 7000 is an absolutely fantastic achievement and all those involved in making Saturday night’s event such a success deserve our congratulations.”

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SNP COMMENT ON WELFARE REFORMS

Sunday, 7 November 2010

CON/DEMS SHOULD PRIORITISE REAL JOBS

Commenting on the preview of welfare reforms in the Sunday press, including forcing long-term benefit claimants to do manual labour, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

"The Con/Dem coalition have got their priorities all wrong – they should be focusing on supporting recovery and job creation, instead of spending cuts which are too fast and too deep and will actuallydestroy employment.

"Yes, we must look at how best we get people back into the workplace, but such reforms must be undertaken with care and common sense. Apart from anything else, this Tory/Lib Dem idea could well cut across other initiatives, such as prisoners having to do hard work through tough punishment in the community, which both the UK and Scottish Governments are pursuing in order to cut reoffending rates.

"The Tory/Lib Dem assumption does appear to be that everybody on benefits is somehow cheating the system or work-shy – what the Con/Dem coalition should be working on most is creating real jobs."

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MP SEES AWARD-WINNING 'Walkodile'® IN ACTION

Friday, 5 November 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr. Eilidh Whiteford recently had the opportunity to see a demonstration of the award-winning 'Walkodile'® in action at Peterhead. 

Children of the First Class Nursery in Peterhead were very enthusiastic about demonstrating the unique road-safety device, which facilitates the safe conduct of small groups of children by foot. 

The product's inventor, local woman Elaine Stephen, gave the MP a demonstration of the unique advantages of the product, and briefed the MP on the many awards which both she, and the 'Walkodile'®, had won for the invention and its development. 

Commenting on the demonstration, Dr. Eilidh Whiteford said: 

"I have followed the development of the 'Walkodile'® with considerable interest, and it was a great pleasure to finally see it in action for myself.  Elaine's invention has made a contribution to the road safety of small children. 

"I was particularly impressed by the very positive and constructive comments from the existing users of the product.  The 'Walkodile'® is now enjoying global recognition and is being exported world-wide.  It is a huge success, both as a safety device, and as a business model.  I wish Elaine continued success, and Peterhead should be proud to be the home of this innovation." 

Elaine Stephen said:

"The main reason I came up with my idea was to make sure the children in my care were as safe as possible.  Taking large groups of unpredictable young children outside class is not an easy task." 

The 'Walkodile'® will feature as part of National Road Safety Week later this month, when it is planned to have a nationwide co-ordinated walk by users of the device, and will feature in Global Entrepreneurship Week.

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LOCAL MP RAISES MACKEREL DISPUTE AT COMMONS QUESTIONS

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has raised the mackerel dispute with the UK Fisheries Minister in the House of Commons.

The SNP MP used the opportunity of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Question Time to urge the UK Government to take a robust line in defence of our historic fishing rights.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Dr Whiteford said:

“I am sure that Ministers share my disappointment that last week’s talks aimed at resolving the mackerel dispute between Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and the EU ended without resolution. The ongoing uncertainty is causing great distress to the pelagic fleet and parts of the processing sector in my constituency, where much of the industry is based. Those people have much to lose and little to gain in the negotiations.

“Will the Minister update the House on the outcome of those negotiations, and assure us that the Government will take a robust line in those talks to defend our historic fishing rights and to ensure that the EU does not acquiesce to the unreasonable and environmentally destructive demands being made by Iceland and the Faroes?"


UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon gave an assurance to the Banff & Buchan MP that both he and his department would take a firm line with the Icelandic and Faroese proposals.

Commenting afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“I am grateful to the Minister for his assurance. However, we need to keep pressing for strong action from the EU over the unilateral quotas set by Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

“Our fishing communities need strong action - and it's also what needs to be done to protect the health of our mackerel stocks. That's why we need a strong Scottish voice speaking-up for the historic rights of our coastal communities.”

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LOCAL MP TO PRESENT COMPUTER EQUIPMENT TO SCHOOLS

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford will present four local schools with computer equipment as part of the Tesco ‘Computers for Schools’ scheme on Friday 5 November (tomorrow) at 2.00pm at Tesco, South Harbour Road, Fraserburgh.

Store Manager Fraser Wenseth will meet the MP on arrival and teachers and pupil representatives from Fraserburgh North School, St Andrews School, South Park School and Inverallochy School will be on hand to receive their equipment.

Dr Whiteford commented:

“I am delighted to be handing out computer equipement to local primary schools.

“‘Computers for Schools’ has been running for nearly 20 years now and a lot of very welcome additional equipment has gone into Banff & Buchan schools during that time. I think it is important that large national chains recognise that they have a duty to put something back into the community and I congratulate Tesco on this excellent initiative.”

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WHITEFORD RAISES POSTAL CONCERNS IN COMMONS

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has raised continuing concern regarding the Tory and Lib Dem plans to sell-off the Post Office and the possible impact on rural areas during a debate in Westminster. 

Speaking during the debate in the House of Commons, Dr Whiteford said: 

"I represent a very rural constituency, and one thing that we have seen over recent years is new businesses springing up and using the internet to sell goods further afield than the isolated rural areas in which they are based.  I am very concerned that the loss both of the universal service commitment and of Post Offices is inhibiting business growth.  That will absolutely undermine existing small businesses and disincentivise new ones, not only in the Post Office network but in the wider rural economy." 

Responding to the debate, the Minister responsible for the Post Office, Edward Davey, confirmed that the UK Government would announce its policy statement soon. 

Speaking afterwards, Dr Whiteford commented: 

"The Post Office plays a vital part in the life of local communities, and the UK Government needs to follow the lead of the Scottish Government and do much more to secure the future of the network in challenging times. 

"While the UK Government claims that there will be no more closure programmes, the fact is that the current privatisation plans threaten the future of deliveries, jobs and services. 

"We need clarity from Ministers over the implications that the Postal Services Bill will have for the network and how, for example, plans for mutualism will work. 

"With so many Post Offices interlinked with other businesses, for example, located in branches of supermarkets or newsagents, it is difficult to see how this diverse structure can easily work as a mutual organisation. 

"The UK Government should follow the lead of the Scottish Government who are doing what they can to support the network through initiatives like the business bonus scheme to provide rates relief and the Post Office diversification fund. These are concrete examples of how relatively small sums of money can be utilised to help strengthen the Post Office network."

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LOCAL MP HIGHLIGHTS ‘PAYE’ BACK TIME UNFAIRNESS

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has questioned the Westminster Government’s commitment to ‘fairness’ after a Parliamentary Question from the SNP revealed that people receiving an unexpected bill from HM Revenue and Customs would be charged interest at 3%, while those owed money by the taxman would only be paid at a rate of 0.5%.

HM Revenue & Customs is in the process of sending letters to 1.4 million people who have underpaid tax and 4 million people who have overpaid following errors in the PAYE system.

Dr Whiteford, a Member of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, said:

“The Tories and LibDems talk about fairness, but where is the fairness in charging six times as much in interest to those who, though no fault of their own, have found they have underpaid tax than will be paid by HMRC to those who have overpaid.

“More than a million taxpayers face the prospect of an unexpected tax bill because of errors made by HMRC, and in some cases these repayments will cause hardship for households.

“We still need to get the bottom of how and when this problem occurred. It is essential that taxpayers can have confidence in the PAYE system, and though this fiasco was Labour’s last data disaster, the current coalition Government must now get a grip.

“This whole debacle further underlines the need for Scotland to have control over taxation. From 10p tax to this, the UK Government lacks all credibility.”


The SNP’s Parliamentary Question is detailed below.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what steps HM Revenue and Customs plans to take to assess hardship in cases where individuals cannot afford to make repayments of underpaid tax as a result of historical errors in the PAYE system; [15457]

(2) at what rate interest will be charged on underpaid tax owed by individuals as a result of recent miscalculations of tax liability made by HM Revenue and Customs in the PAYE system; [15461]

(3) at what rate interest will be paid on overpaid tax owed to individuals as a result of recent miscalculations of tax liability made by HM Revenue and Customs in the PAYE system. [15462]

David Gauke, Treasury Minister: It is a normal part of the PAYE cycle that changes in circumstances that cannot be reflected in in-year tax deductions need to be reconciled annually. This is not a Revenue error but the PAYE system not being able to react quickly enough to changes. PAYE works well for the majority of people, particularly those with stable circumstances, but because the processes remain fundamentally unchanged since they were introduced in 1944 there are limitations. The coalition Government are looking at how to reform PAYE further and make it more efficient.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) charge 3% interest on late paid tax and pay 0.5% interest on repayments of tax.

Following HMRC's recent end of year PAYE reconciliation exercise for the years 2008-09 and 2009-10, amounts overpaid will be repaid together with any accrued repayment interest.

For individuals who have underpaid tax by less than £2,000 HMRC will where possible collect this through salary deductions by adjusting tax codes. Interest is not chargeable in these cases.

HMRC has put in place a new process for people with 2008-09 and 2009-10 underpayments that cannot automatically be paid through their salary deductions-generally those who owe £2,000 or more. Individuals in this position will be offered the same length of time to pay as those with smaller underpayments and not face interest, provided they engage with HMRC and agree to pay their underpayment. Individuals who owe £2,000 or more will also have the option where possible of paying up to £2,000 through their salaries.

People facing financial difficulties in paying will be treated sympathetically and, where necessary, will be able to spread their payments up to three years.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm101018/text/101018w0005.htm#1010199000586

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LOCAL MP MEETS WITH MINTLAW GROUPS OVER COUNCIL SHUT-OUT

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has met with local sports and community groups in Mintlaw who have been told by Aberdeenshire Council that their use of the community facilities at Mintlaw Academy out-of-hours has effectively ended.

Sports clubs and youth groups who use the facilities in evenings and at weekends have found themselves without access to pitches and changing facilities following recent changes in the council’s janitorial service.

Following a meeting of club representatives and Dr Whiteford, the local MP has taken the matter up on their behalf with Aberdeenshire Council.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“I’m very concerned at the manner in which Aberdeenshire Council has gone about this, which has left many local clubs and sports groups without facilities.

“I understand there are changes in the janitorial service which affect overtime but it should not be beyond the capability of the council to accommodate that and still provide a service to the community.

“If this is a cost-cutting measure then it is way off-target because the potential social cost to our communities is huge. We saw in the 1980s the social problems created when extra-curricular activities provided by schools dried-up. I don’t want to see a repeat of that and I am sure nor do the youngsters affected, who simply want to get on with their sports and I will be making that point forcibly to the council.”

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LOCAL ECONOMY PUT AT RISK BY SPENDING REVIEW

Friday, 22 October 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has hit out at the Comprehensive Spending Review and warned that it could result in serious damage to the local economy of the North-east.

Speaking after the announcements Dr Whiteford said:

“A significant number of people in the North-east are directly employed by the public sector and many local businesses also rely on contracts from the public sector. These cuts, therefore, present a very serious threat to the local economy.

“Unfortunately the Chancellor has not given details of where job losses will occur and it is very difficult to ascertain, at this stage, the exact impact it will have locally but clearly it is likely to be substantial.

“What is worse is that the London Government argues that the private sector will create jobs to take up those losing their jobs in the public sector yet Price Waterhouse Coopers last week issued a report that demonstrated that the proposed cuts would lead to a similar loss of jobs in the private sector. Small and medium-sized local businesses will feel the impact of job losses elsewhere in the North-east economy.

“It is bitterly disappointing that the Chancellor has ignored the cross party case made by the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect growth in the economy and so set the course for sustainable public finances.

“Scotland is on the road to recovery, but these cuts risk cutting off that recovery and plunging us back into recession. The London Government is cutting too far and too deep rather than investing in the future.

“This highlights the need for Scotland to secure economic and financial powers to grow our economy and boost revenues.”

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LIBDEMS DEFEND ‘CALLOUS’ MOBILITY CUT FOR DISABLED

Thursday, 21 October 2010

SCOTTISH SECRETARY UNAWARE HOW MANY AFFECTED BY WELFARE CHANGES

The Liberal Democrats have been branded ‘callous’ over welfare reforms, after Scottish Secretary Michael Moore admitted he had no idea how many people in Scotland would be affected by welfare changes, and LibDem President Malcolm Bruce defended the removal of the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) from people living in residential care.

A transcript of exchanges on BBC Newsnight are detailed below in which Mr Moore, on being asked how many people in Scotland would be affected by changes to the Employment Support Allowance said “We don’t have that figure.”

LibDem President Malcolm Bruce also defended the removal of the mobility component of DLA which allows disabled people to hire or lease a mobility car at an affordable price, or use a taxi to get out and about.

Commenting, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“It is frankly shocking that the Secretary of State for Scotland is unaware how many people in Scotland will be affected by his party’s welfare cuts, and that the LibDems president is defending a callous mobility cut which will hit disabled people.

“It is no wonder the Treasury got their figures wrong about how deep their cuts are in Scotland when they can’t even say how many people will be affected by their welfare cuts.

“Removal of the mobility component of disability living allowance from people in residential care is one of the cruelest cuts within the CSR, and one which will hit disabled people specifically. This is a lifeline allowance which gives people, including children at residential special schools, some independence.

“Few residential facilities provide free transport, and the component is used so that, for example, disabled people can get a taxi for essential hospital appointments, go shopping, or even just meet friends and take part in activities in their community.

“Removing this allowance is a hammer blow to people’s independence as well as their pockets. It will effectively mean some people can no longer get out and about and will be confined to their residential care home.

“Nobody doubts that welfare reform is necessary, but this cut by the Tories and Liberal Democrats is totally unfair and will impact on the lives of the most vulnerable in society.”

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REMOVAL OF MOBILITY ALLOWANCE BRANDED CRUELLEST CUT

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Responding to welfare reforms within the CSR, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has branded the removal of the mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA) from people living in residential care as one of the coalition's cruellest cuts.

At the moment the component is paid at two levels, lower at £18.95 or higher at £49.85 per week. Higher rate mobility component can, currently, be used for disabled individuals to hire or lease a mobility car at an affordable price.

Dr Whiteford said:

"Removal of the mobility component of disability living allowance from people in residential care is one of the cruellest cuts within the CSR, and one which will hit disabled people specifically.

"We are talking about a lifeline payment which gives people, including children at residential special schools, some independence.

"Few residential facilities provide free transport, and the component is used so that, for example, disabled people can get a taxi for essential hospital appointments, go shopping, or even just meet friends and take part in activities in their community.

"Removing this allowance is a hammer blow to people's independence as well as their pockets. It will effectively mean some people can no longer get out and about and will be confined to their residential care home.

"George Osborne needs to say whether disabled people in residential homes will now have to hand back the keys of their motability cars.

"Nobody doubts that welfare reform is necessary, but this cut by the Tories and Liberal Democrats is totally unfair and will impact on the lives of the most vulnerable in society."

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WHITEFORD CONCERNS OVER POSTAL PRIVATISATION

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

LIB-DEMS SELL-OUT OVER SELL-OFF

Commenting on publication today (Wednesday) of the Postal Services Bill, Banff & Buchan SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford expressed concern at the absence of an upper limit on how much of Royal Mail could be sold off to a private company.

Overseas firms will be among those allowed to buy 90% of the Royal Mail, with 10% going in shares to postal workers.

Speaking from Westminster, Dr Whiteford said:

“We can now see in black and white just how far the Tories and Liberal Democrats are prepared to go, with no upper limit on how much of the business can be sold-off. Even Lord Mandelson offered to insert a legislative guarantee that only 33% could be privatised.

“After following the lead of the previous Labour Government and spending months of running-down Royal Mail, Vince Cable is now talking it up in the hope of flogging it off. The wording of any prospectus should be interesting.

“The truth of the matter is that the present state of the Royal Mail has arisen because successive governments have taken money out of the company rather than investing it back into the system.

“If the company is sold off it is inconceivable that there will not be increased pressure on the Universal Service Obligation. Vince Cable has already indicated that he is prepared to reduce the six day a week service.

“The maintenance of a comprehensive mail delivery service is essential for areas like Banff & Buchan and that could best be achieved by keeping the company in public ownership. We have already seen the chaos that has overtaken the Post Office network by the rush to "liberalisation".

“A similar situation could devastate mail delivery services. The report recommending part privatisation also suggests that local sorting centres could be closed.

“Royal Mail is a vital public service and the maintenance of the universal service obligation is essential for communities and small businesses throughout Scotland. Many small businesses rely on Royal Mail and any threat to it could be disastrous at a time of recession when it is essential to support small local businesses.

"It is clear that Royal Mail requires investment, but that should be public investment for the future and to ensure a universal service.”

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MP’s PRAISE FOR WILLOWBANK PERFORMERS

Friday, 8 October 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has praised the performers who took part in the Willowbank Centre’s production of ‘The Hoose’ which took place at Peterhead Community Theatre over two days.

Dr Whiteford was part of the audience for Thursday evening’s performance which told the story down through the centuries of the buildings in Peterhead’s Threadneedle Street which are currently being renovated to provide supported accommodation. The performance was supported by the National Trust for Scotland, which is involved in the refurbishment project and involved residents, friends and staff of Willowbank.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“This was a terrific performance by everyone involved which really brought the history of Peterhead to life for all those lucky enough to get to see it.

“It was a truly inspired way to celebrate the provision of the new supported accommodation at Threadneedle Street while at the same time reminding us of the history of Peterhead and some of the characters within it.

“My congratulations go to all those involved both on stage and behind the scenes for a very enjoyable evening.”

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LIB DEMS DITCH SATURDAY POSTAL SERVICE

Thursday, 23 September 2010

SNP MP VOWS TO FIGHT FOR DELIVERIES

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has expressed concern over the future of the universal service obligation after it was revealed Business Secretary Vince Cable is considering scrapping Saturday deliveries and switching to five day a week delivery – the absolute minimum allowed under European regulations. The proposals will be put forward in a forthcoming bill at Westminster.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“It is deeply ironic that, on the same day as Vince Cable was attacking capitalism, that he was himself acting like an unrestrained capitalist with plans to privatise Royal Mail.

“This is an outrageous stab in the back to rural communities across Scotland. Earlier in the week Tavish Scott claimed the universal service obligation was safe, but now we find out that, all along, Vince Cable was planning to ditch Saturday services.

“This is a major reduction in the universal service obligation that people in rural areas, and crucially businesses, rely upon. At a time of economic turbulence it is absolutely crucial that businesses in rural areas have access to high quality mail services.

“Royal Mail cannot be viewed as just another company. It provides an essential public service, especially to smaller communities and small businesses who do not have access to alternative carriers.

“While Lib Dem MPs may have swapped concern for local business for ministerial limousines, the SNP remain committed to fighting for local services.”

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PQ REVEALS HOW MURPHY TOOK TAXPAYERS FOR A RIDE

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Commenting on the publication of a parliamentary question which reveals the amount of public money spent on taxi's by the Scotland Office almost doubled in the final year of the Labour government,

SNP Member of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

"Just as Jim Murphy was telling people in Scotland to tighten their belts, it appears that he and his advisers were buckling up in the back of a taxi, and leaving the public pick up the tab. With this extravagance, it's no wonder Labour left the public finances in such a mess.

"Jim Murphy and his advisers may now have to pay for their own cabs, but he should still explain just how his department's taxi bill nearly doubled in the last year. Where on earth were all these taxis going?"

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THE NEWBY TEAS TIFFIN CUP 2010

B RAJ TANDOORI REPRESENTED AT LONDON LAUNCH

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford and Fraserburgh's B Raj Tandoori Restaurant attended the launch of the Newby Teas Tiffin Cup 2010.  This year a record 74 MPs nominated a restaurant from their constituency to find Britain's Best South Asian restaurant.  

The launch was held at The Red Fort Restaurant in Central London on Tuesday.  All restaurants that were nominated for this prestigious accolade were invited to attend and  were briefed on the next stages of the competition. 

Mr Baldev Soni, owner of the B Raj, travelled to London for the event. Participating restaurants were be able to celebrate their success as regional finalists whilst meeting other nominees who they will compete against for a place in the Grand Final of the Newby Teas Tiffin Cup 2010 which is to take place on Tuesday 9 November 2010 in the House of Commons. 

This year's competition will be the in aid of World Vision which works globally to speak out for children affected by injustice and poverty. 

Commenting, Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford  said: 

"The launch of the Newby Teas Tiffin Cup begins an exciting period for the B Raj Tandoori.  I am sure that it will be a close fought contest, but am confident that with the support and enthusiasm of everyone in Fraserburgh, the B Raj will be chosen to participate in the Grand Final." 

Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Tiffin Club said:

"The UK's love affair with curry has come a very long way since we started the Tiffin Club in 2005.  I am delighted the launch will be at the Red Fort Restaurant in Central London, one of the first to tickle the British taste buds. This will be a first of many events to find MPs' Best South Asian restaurant in the country and it's all for an excellent cause" 

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LIB/DEMS CONVERT TO CONSERVATIVES ON BENEFITS

Saturday, 18 September 2010

The SNP has warned the Liberal Democrats over their new zeal for Conservative plans to dramatically slash welfare benefits after Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander revealed that planned cuts to the welfare budget could be far greater than the £4 billion in extra savings suggested by the Chancellor last week.

Mr Alexander’s enthusiasm for Tory cuts in an interview in today’s Scotsman comes as the Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty revealed research showing that changes to Disability Living Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Housing Benefit, Child Benefit and public sector pensions will take as much as £614million from the economy directly jeopardising 14,000 jobs.

Commenting, SNP spokesperson on work and pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said;

"Having jumped into bed with the Tories, the Liberal Democrats clearly have the zeal of the convert. The next thing, Danny Alexander will be saying there is no such thing as society – real Lib Dems will be horrified.

“Danny Alexander’s assumption appears to be that everybody on benefits is somehow cheating the system or work-shy.

“Of course welfare reform is necessary and of course we must deal with welfare cheats, but reforms must be based on the medical circumstances of individuals, not some random figure which will compound the poverty and social exclusion experienced by disabled people.

“The Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty report shows the changes already announced will have a serious impact on Scotland’s economy attacking the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

“We have the same old Tories, now helped by the Liberal Democrats, cutting too far and too fast and leaving the poorest households to bear the brunt of tax rises, benefit cuts and the loss of public services and jobs.

“We simply must not have cuts for the sake of cuts. Not only would that risk forcing the truly vulnerable in society into a perilous position, it also takes vital capital out of the economy without consideration of the impact.”

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SNP COMMENT ON STUC PLEA TO LIB DEMS

Friday, 17 September 2010

The SNP joined the STUC today in urging the Lib Dems to ensure people do not lose essential help and support through the coalition’s welfare reform plans.

SNP MP and Work and Pensions spokeswoman Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“The STUC are right to raise concerns over Tory and Lib Dem plans to reform the benefits system.

“No one wants to see cheats benefitting from the welfare system but there are plenty of people who have paid their contributions and earned the support and safety net that benefits provide, particularly during a recession.

“Reform of the welfare system must be done carefully, not in the way the Tories and Lib Dems seem to be going about it. The right incentives and support for work must be put in place alongside proper safeguards to ensure those who need support are able to get it.

“There will be many Scots deeply disappointed with the stance being taken by the Lib Dems that could deprive them of their hard earned and paid for rights and of essential help when it is needed.

“With independent assessments showing the Tory Lib Dem budget will hit the poorest hardest I and the SNP will be working hard to hold the UK Government to account, to make sure these changes do not push more people into poverty and that those ordinary Scots who should have access to public support continue to get it.”

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WARNINGS OVER IMPACT OF COALITION WELFARE CUTS ON ECONOMY

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson, Eilidh Whiteford MP, has seized on a report produced by the Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty (SLGFAP) and Rights Advice Scotland (RAS) which reveals the economic impact of the UK Government’s rushed welfare reforms.

The report, “People, Councils, the Economy”, published today (Wednesday) reveals that Con Dem Coalition’s decision to change Disability Living Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Housing Benefit, freeze Child Benefit and increase other benefits, allowances and public sector pensions by the Consumer Price Index instead of the Retail Price Index would take between £514million and £614million from the Scottish economy every year - directly jeopardising 14,000 jobs.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“This report demonstrates the wider impact on the economy of the Con/Dem coalitions rushed benefit reforms which look increasingly look like an attack on the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

“While reform is necessary, it must be done carefully and decisions on entitlements based on medical need.

“We simply must not have cuts for the sake of cuts. Not only would that risk forcing the truly vulnerable in society into a perilous position, it also takes vital capital out of the economy without consideration of the impact.”

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EQUITABLE POLICY-HOLDERS LET DOWN FOR FAR TOO LONG - MP

Speaking up for Banff & Buchan’s Equitable Life policy holders local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford, along with SNP colleagues, is calling for the Government to stop prevaricating and pay up.

During a debate on the Equitable Life (Payment) Bill the SNP has called for a clear deadline for the delivery of a fair compensation scheme for policyholders.

Commenting Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“After over a decade of delay and uncertainty, it is time for the government to stop prevaricating and pay up. While progress on the Bill is a welcome step forward, the government have still given no real detail, and we need a clear timeline for the delivery of the compensation scheme.

“The Parliamentary Ombudsman has been highly critical of the Government’s serious failure to properly regulate Equitable Life and, consequently, the Government are required to compensate policy holders.

“Ministers must end the delay and uncertainty. It is disgraceful that the last Labour government left policyholders waiting for justice for so long, indeed, thousands have died since this process began.

“UK Ministers must bring forward a scheme to compensate all those who have suffered through the UK Government’s regulatory failures. They have had the summer recess to draw up a timescale for delivery of compensation but have failed to do so.

“We need a speedy and fair resolution to this saga from the new Government. Policy Holders have been let down for far too long.”

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APPROACH BENEFIT REFORM ‘WITH CARE’ – SNP MP

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Commenting on reports that Chancellor George Osborne is planning to reduce the annual welfare bill by a further £4bn, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, warned that benefit reforms must be based on genuine medical evidence.

Dr Whiteford said:

“The benefits system badly needs reform but it must be undertaken with care.

“While supporting benefit reform, genuinely vulnerable individuals must not become an easy target for Conservative and Liberal cuts.

“There are already huge questions over the assessment process with people undergoing chemotherapy, in some cases terminally ill people, being ordered to attend back-to-work interviews.

“Return-to-work initiatives can benefit both the economy and the individual, but people should only return to the workplace when they are genuinely able and when correct support measures are available.

“Existing safeguards are not working and, with major reforms in the pipeline, we need real guarantees to ensure that that people living with genuine incapacity and ill health are spared added stress and uncertainty.”

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LOCAL MP TO START FIRST-EVER PETERHEAD HALF-MARATHON

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford will officially start Peterhead's first-ever half-marathon on Sunday 12 September at 11.00am at The Pavilion, Catto Park, Peterhead.

Peterhead JogScotland has organised the event as part of Buchan's Larder Food Festival and all proceeds are being donated to the Scottish Spina Bifida Association. Chairman of Peterhead JogScotland Stephen Bruce invited Dr Whiteford to officiate and the MP will be assisted in this duty by two local spina bifida sufferers.

Previewing the event, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

"Stephen Bruce and his dedicated team at Peterhead JogScotland have really put Peterhead on the jogging map with what they have achieved here.

"I'm delighted to be invited to be part of this extremely worthwhile event and I hope that the weather is kind to the many entrants who I know will be coming from all over the North of Scotland and beyond to take part and raise funds for the Scottish Spina Bifida Association."


For further information or to register please visit www.peterheadjogscotland.com/events.php

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LOCAL MP WARNS OVER HMRC ERROR FRAUDSTERS

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Banff & Buchan SNP MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has warned that local taxpayers could be targeted by fraudsters after errors made by HM Revenue and Customs left up to six million people across the UK facing an unexpected tax bill.

The SNP has led demands in the House of Commons for action, and received an assurance from the Treasury that HMRC will only contact individuals affected by the tax code errors by letter and never by e-mail. Dr Whiteford is warning constituents that there could be an upsurge of scam e-mails seeking to take advantage of the errors.

It is understood that that 4.3 million taxpayers have paid too much, but 1.4 million have underpaid and will receive demands for the money before Christmas. The average amount of tax owed is £1,428.

Speaking from Westminster, Dr Whiteford said:

“As though these unexpected tax demands are not bad enough there are, regrettably, some very unscrupulous fraudsters out there who will try to cash-in.

“Local residents need to be alert to scam emails purporting to come from HMRC that offer ‘tax rebates’ in exchange for bank details.

“When the SNP raised this in Parliament the Treasury Minister confirmed that HMRC will not contact taxpayers affected by the blunder via e-mail or telephone, nor will they ask for bank details. Any local residents who are affected should be aware of this, and if anyone has any concerns I stand ready to pursue matters with the authorities on their behalf.

“This tax fiasco will cause real hardship for a great many households, through absolutely no fault of their own, and the Treasury must now make every effort to ensure that people are not exploited by fraudsters.”


The SNP were first to call for an emergency statement in the House of Commons over concerns about the general situation and demands for assurances over the scale of the error and repayments faced by millions of taxpayers.

SNP Westminster Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said:

“Millions of taxpayers face the prospect of an unexpected tax bill through no fault of their own, and yet we have not had answers to the most basic of questions.

“We do yet have absolute certainty on how many people are affected or precisely how much money is involved. We must have clarity on the full extent of these errors, and assurances that taxpayers who face demands, particularly those whose financial circumstances have deteriorated, will not be hounded or face hardship through no fault of their own.

“We need to get the bottom of how and when this problem occurred, when Ministers knew about it, and what action they are taking. It is essential that taxpayers can have confidence in the PAYE system, and Ministers must now get a grip.

“It does seem that this was another mess made under the last Labour government, and it is yet another example of the financial disarray left by Gordon Brown’s administration.

“This whole debacle further underlines the need for Scotland to have control over taxation.”

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LOCAL MP COMPLETES MARATHON 50-VILLAGE SURGERY TOUR

Monday, 6 September 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has completed her marathon tour across the constituency, holding over 50 surgeries across a five day period in her mobile office.

The SNP MP has now held over 60 surgeries since her election just four months ago. It fulfils a pledge made by Dr Whiteford that she would make herself accessible to constituents in their own communities.

55 towns, villages and scattered communities in Banff & Buchan have now had at least one surgery from their MP, ranging from the main towns of Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Banff, Macduff and Turriff to small communities like Lonmay, Fisherford and King Edward.

Commenting on the tour, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"This was a very good way of getting out and about and finding out about the issues in each community and seeing some of the problems constituents were seeking help with at first hand. 

"It's been a marathon tour and quite a logistical undertaking to schedule it all and arrange posters and adverts to publicise it to people but the turnout suggests that the message was well-received that the local MP would be visiting. 

"While the individual cases which constituents raised with me must obviously remain confidential, there was a wide range of issues raised, some of them of a general nature and some of them people looking for information on a particular Government or SNP policy.   And some people simply saw I was in the area and dropped by to say hello, which was very nice of them. 

"The surgeries have generated in excess of 100 letters and I hope that some input from me can help progress some of the issues which were raised by my constituents." 

Further surgeries are planned for the near future and details will be advertised in the local press.

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BROCH RESTAURANT HEADS FOR WESTMINSTER ONCE AGAIN

Sunday, 5 September 2010

B RAJ TANDOORI WINS PLACE IN SCOTTISH FINAL OF TIFFIN CUP 2010

Fraserburgh's B Raj Tandoori Restaurant has won a place in the Scottish final after being selected to represent Banff & Buchan by local MP Eilidh Whiteford in the prestigious Newby Teas Tiffin Cup 2010 competition.

The UK-wide competition is held each year to find the best South Asian restaurant and attracts stiff competition. The B Raj is no stranger to success in the Tiffin Cup having emerged Best in Scotland and overall Third Best in the UK in the 2006/07 competition, which raises funds for the Roko Cancer Appeal, which also fights tuberculosis in the UK and India.

This year, 73 restaurants from across the UK are competing. The B Raj Tandoori, having won a place in the Scottish final will battle with other restaurants from Scotland to become one of the UK finalists in the Newby Teas Tiffin Cup 2010 Grand Final, to be held at the House of Commons.

Speaking in Fraserburgh during a visit to the B Raj Tandoori to congratulate owners Mr and Mrs Baldev Soni, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

"I am delighted that my nomination for the B Raj Tandoori has won through. The restaurant will now be visited by a 'mystery diner' and I hope that it will be selected to represent Scotland in the Grand Final of such a prestigious award.

"I am sure that everyone in Banff & Buchan will be supporting the B Raj as it flies the flag for the North-east."


Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Tiffin Club, added:

"We are delighted with the nomination of the B Raj Tandoori. It will really put Banff & Buchan on the culinary map."

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MP WELCOMES OFGEM INVESTIGATION INTO ENERGY MIS-SELLING

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Banff & Buchan SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the announcement that Ofgem is to investigate energy providers over claims that they are misleading customers being persuaded to switch supplier on their doorstep or over the phone.

The MP believes the move is a step in the right direction to supporting consumers in the complex energy market but says more is needed to tackle the underlying problem of excessive fuel prices, especially in the heating oil market which has seen huge inflation in recent years.

Welcoming the investigation Dr Whiteford said:

“This is not a new problem, and any steps to end mis-selling are welcome. A great deal of effort has gone into persuading people to switch suppliers but in many cases they have actually ended up with a worse deal.

“The energy market is complex with a multitude of supplier each with a range of energy tariffs. That complexity has clearly been used by less scrupulous sellers over the phone and on the doorstep to persuade customers to switch suppliers.

“Consumers must be afforded greater protection and better options to address complaints and concerns when energy contracts go wrong.

“This action, however, does nothing to tackle the real problem of fuel prices which leave many people in Banff & Buchan facing great difficulty in heating their homes. This situation will only get worse as the Coalition Government target winter fuel and benefit payments for cuts.

“Rather than tinkering around the edges Ofgem should be looking at how to reduce prices for vulnerable households, especially in areas like the rural North of Scotland which suffer very cold winters putting excessive pressure on household budgets.”

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IFS ANALYSIS CONFIRMS COALITION ATTACK ON POOREST HOUSEHOLDS

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The SNP have hit out at the Coalition Government’s regressive agenda after research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) confirmed that George Osborne’s emergency Budget would hit the poorest hardest.

Commenting, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“This analysis removes any doubt that the Tory/Liberal coalition is pursuing a regressive, not progressive, agenda which will widen the gap between rich and poor.

“We have the same old Tories, now helped by the Liberal Democrats, cutting too far and too fast and leaving the poorest households to bear the brunt of tax rises, benefit cuts and the loss of public services and jobs.

“The IFS research totally contradicts claims by the Chancellor that the emergency Budget was progressive, and exposes the measures being taken as an unfair attack on the most vulnerable households.”

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WHITEFORD VISITS BANFFSHIRE DISTILLERY

Monday, 23 August 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford visited Glen Deveron Distillery, Macduff today.

Dr Whiteford was invited to visit a local distillery by the Scotch Whisky Association as part of their briefing on the importance of the whisky industry to the Scottish economy.

The MP met with Campbell Evans, Director of Government & Consumer Affairs for the SWA and Ian Lochhead, Operations Director of John Dewar & Sons, who hosted the visit and gave a tour of the distillery.

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LOCAL MP UNVEILS PLAQUE TO FORGLEN HERO

Friday, 20 August 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford unveiled a plaque commemorating Victoria Cross winner Piper George Findlater at a ceremony in the Public Hall, Forglen last Friday. The event was attended by members of the Friends of Forglen Hall, Turriff Royal British Legion as well as descendents of Piper Findlater.

Dr Whiteford was also able to present Piper Findlater's descendents with a copy of the announcement of the awarding of his VC which appeared in the London Gazette in May 1898 which she had asked the House of Commons Library to see if they could obtain from their archives.

Piper Findlater was a local Forglen man who enlisted in Gordon Highlanders in April 1888 and being interested in music started the study of the bagpipes after he joined the army.

For bravery under battle in 1897 in the NW Frontier in British India (now Pakistan) he was awarded the VC. He was wounded in both ankles but continued to play the pipes. In 1898 Queen Victoria travelled from Windsor to Netley Hospital, Southampton to award him the VC.

Piper Findlater served in WW1 and was wounded again. After the war, he was active in Turriff Pipe Band as Pipe Major.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

"It is a huge honour to be asked to unveil the new plaque and great that Forglen is remembering its most famous son.

"Many VCs were awarded posthumously but he survived his injuries and settled back in the North-east, contributing to the civic life of his local community."

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EILIDH WHITEFORD MP OFFICIALLY OPENS NEW ST COMBS POST OFFICE THAT HAS SERVICE LICKED

Customers in St Combs can now lick their ice-creams and postage stamps at the same time thanks to the opening of the new post office service.

The new service in Buchans Ices, Mid Street, St Combs, will be officially opened today (August 20 2010) by Banff and Buchan MP, Eilidh Whiteford. The MP will be able to watch as customers post parcels while ordering their ice cream cones in the new venture.

Dr Whiteford said:

“Post Offices are at the heart of rural communities across Banff & Buchan offering local people access to vital services. This is also a fantastic example of where different services can be combined to help small communities.

“I know that there were some concerns when the previous branch closed, and this new service will be a real boost for residents of St Combs, safeguarding services in the area.

“I am delighted that Buchan Ices has been appointed and I would like to wish them and Fiona every success in their new venture.”


Local woman, Fiona Thomson, who will run the service, said:

“We offer a wide range of post office services and our customers are enjoying a first class service and we would like to thank them for all the support they have shown us so far.”

Kenny Lamont, Field Change Advisor for Post Office Limited, said:

"I am absolutely delighted that we have been able to re-open a Post Office service in St Combs. Post Office services are extremely important for the community and this service is a vital asset to the local area.”

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MP TO EMBARK ON FIRST SURGERY TOUR

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford will be embarking on her first surgery tour this coming week. The SNP MP, who was elected in May, has already held 10 surgeries in the constituency's larger towns but is now aiming to cover communities stretching from Fisherford in the far south-west to Inverallochy in the north-east and 50 other communities in between.

The local MP has been busy preparing for the tour and is looking forward to getting out and about into some of the smaller communities which she represents.

Looking ahead to the marathon tour, Eilidh commented:

"I'm keen to get around as many communities in Banff & Buchan as possible during the Parliamentary recess and this is an excellent way to do it.

"My MSP colleague Stewart Stevenson has been doing this for 10 years and I aim to use his example to ensure that as many communities as possible have a visit from their Member of Parliament during the five days which it will take to cover the constituency from end to end.

"There's no appointment necessary unlike the 'static' surgeries which I hold and constituents are welcome to raise issues with me, discuss aspects of policy, or just simply drop by for a chat. I'm looking forward to meeting as many people as possible during the tour."



Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford will be available for consultation in her Mobile Office at the following locations:



Thursday 26 August

New Pitsligo 10.00am – 10.25am The Square
Strichen 10.40am – 11.05am North Street
Memsie 11.20am – 11.35am by BT exchange
Rathen 11.45am – 12.00pm by Public Hall
Lonmay 12.10pm – 12.25pm adj. Ban Car Hotel
New Leeds 1.45pm – 1.55pm Manse Street
Fetterangus 2.10pm – 2.25pm Hall car park
Old Deer 2.40pm – 2.55pm opp. old Post Office
Stuartfield 3.05pm – 3.20pm The Square
Auchnagatt 3.30pm – 3.45pm Hall car park
New Deer 4.00pm – 4.20pm Hall car park
Maud 4.30pm - 4.45pm Station car park

Friday 27 August

Longside 10.15am – 10.30am Main St. car park
Mintlaw 10.40am – 11.05am Newlands Road
Hatton 11.30am – 11.45am Hall car park
Cruden Bay 12.00pm – 12.20pm Main Street
Longhaven 12.30pm – 12.45pm Hall car park
Boddam 12.50pm – 1.05pm Russell Street
Rora 2.35pm – 2.45pm Hall car park
St Fergus 2.55pm – 3.10pm opp. Shop
Crimond 3.25pm – 3.45pm Kirk car Park
St Combs 3.55pm – 4.15pm Hall car park
Inverallochy 4.25pm – 4.45pm adj. Post Office

Monday 30 August

New Byth 10.25am – 10.40am The Square
Gardenstown 11.00am – 11.15am adj. Petrol Station
Macduff 11.30am – 12.00pm Knowes Hotel car park
King Edward 1.20pm – 1.30pm lay-by at Kirk
Fisherie 1.40pm – 1.50pm Craigwall Cottages
Crudie 2.00pm – 2.10pm lay-by
New Aberdour 2.30pm – 2.45pm car park
Rosehearty 3.00pm – 3.20pm The Square
Sandhaven 3.30pm – 3.45pm St Magnus Road opp. park
Tyrie 4.00pm – 4.10pm adj. old Post Office

Thursday 2 September

Easterfield 10.15am – 10.25am adj. School
Aberchirder 10.45am – 11.10am The Square
Cornhill 11.25am – 11.45am Car park
Fordyce 12.00pm – 12.15pm adj. Castle
Sandend 12.30pm – 12.45pm adj. Phone Box
Portsoy 2.00pm – 2.25pm Church Street
Boyndie 2.40pm – 2.50pm opp. Boyndie Centre
Whitehills 3.00pm – 3.20pm Seafield Street
Inverboyndie 3.30pm – 3.40pm adj. Bridge
Alvah 3.55pm – 4.05pm adj. Linhead Hall
Forglen 4.25pm – 4.35pm Bogton Row

Friday 3 September

Methlick 10.30am – 10.50am Main Road car park
Woodhead 11.10am – 11.25am adj. Notice Board
Fyvie 11.35am – 11.55am car park opp. Co-op
Rothienorman 12.20pm – 12.45pm Hall car park
Fisherford 2.00pm – 2.15pm Fjord Inn car park
Auchterless 2.35pm – 2.50pm adj. Hall
Cuminestown 3.15pm – 3.35pm opp. Shop
Garmond 3.45pm – 4.00pm Main Street

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CON DEM BENEFIT SQUEEZE ‘THE WRONG CHOICE’

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

CUTS WILL HIT SCOTTISH HOUSEHOLDS HARD

Commenting on the announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, that the Con Dem coalition are making plans to scale back some universal benefits including child benefit and winter fuel allowance, SNP Work and Pensions Spokeswoman, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, said the UK Government kept making the wrong choices.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“The Con Dem coalition is piling the pain on Scottish households – hiking prices and squeezing incomes.

“Taking the axe to child benefit and winter fuel allowances at the same time as increasing VAT will hit families and old folk hard. While the frontbench of Tory millionaires might not miss these small but essential allowances, people across Scotland will.

“Choices must be made by the coalition government but they keep making the wrong ones. Instead of squeezing incomes for vulnerable households and trying to take milk away from young children, the coalition should scrap what we don’t need – starting with Trident.

“The SNP believe in the principle of universal benefits. That’s why we’re committed to ending prescription charges by April next year and guaranteeing free personal care for the elderly and concessionary travel for old folk.”

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