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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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LONDON GOVERNMENT BETRAYAL OF SCOTTISH FISHING INDUSTRY CONDEMNED

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson and SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford have condemned the position of the UK Government after it issued advice to all UK MEPs arguing that allocating traditional fishing rights to communities "stifles innovative business and the ability to adapt to climate change".

Fishing rights are currently allocated under the principle of relative stability, whereby there is a clear link between individual fishing nations and the waters and stocks they are allowed to fish.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"The UK Government's revealed position on this is staggering and is quite simply an unacceptable betrayal of an industry that has been facing difficulty for a long time now.

"At a time when everyone involved in Scotland's fishing industry is calling for regional control of fishing rights to be at the heart of coming reforms to the CFP, for the UK Government to take this position only goes to show what little regard they have for the people who put fish on our tables."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford commented:

"The London parties have long regarded the fishing industry as expendable and these latest revelations show that their ridiculous attitudes have not changed. For the UK Government to claim that historic fishing rights stifles innovation clearly shows their ignorance of the fact that the Scottish fishing fleet is at the cutting edge of developing new measures to increase sustainability.

"People in Banff & Buchan will be justifiably outraged at the UK Government's stance and there could scarcely be a clearer demonstration of the pressing need for Scotland to speak with its own voice in Europe through having the normal powers of an independent country."

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SCOTTISH OIL RESERVES HIGHER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

LONDON POLITICIANS MUST WAKE UP TO IMPORTANCE OF SCOTTISH OIL FUND
Commenting on the survey by the offshore industry association, Oil and Gas UK, which finds that North Sea oil and gas reserves are higher than previously thought, SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford said that future revenues from oil should be invested for Scotland's future.

Dr Whiteford warned that the lessons of the 1970's, when London politicians claimed the reserves would not last long, must be remembered and makes the case for the establishment of an oil fund to secure the benefits of oil revenues for future generations even more important.

Commenting Eilidh Whiteford said:

"Scotland's oil and gas industry is the only thing keeping the London Treasury afloat - over the next six years, £50 billion worth of North Sea revenues will flow to the London exchequer.

"For Banff & Buchan alone that represents £740million over the next six years.

"The London politicians must not think it they can fool the people of Scotland again.

"This survey underlines how there is a strong economic future for Scotland's oil industry and the jobs associated with it here in the North-east.

"There is a real sense of déjà vu. We have London Labour politicians at the Scotland Office claiming that oil revenues would not help an independent Scotland despite the fact that even their own dodgy figures show Scotland in a better financial position.

"There is as much oil left in the North Sea as has been taken out of it - and much more than half of the revenues. Scotland's oil industry has a positive future. With the UK making billions in revenue from North Sea oil over the last 30 years, it is now time to ensure that future revenues are invested properly for Scotland's future.

"In the 1970's requests for an oil fund were turned down - a repetition of this failure by Labour in the 21st century would be unforgivable.

"The UK Government must see the error of its ways and enable Scotland to invest our own oil revenues for our future.

"Scotland needs more SNP MPs at Westminster to champion Scotland's interests and fight for Scotland's oil wealth to benefit local communities - not prop up the London Treasury. Only SNP MPs will fight for a fairer share of Scotland's oil revenues."

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LOCAL YOUTH CHOIR 'INSPIRE' OVERSEAS DIPLOMATS

BANFFSHIRE GROUP PERFORM AT FIRST MINISTER'S CONSULAR RECEPTION AT EDINBURGH CASTLE

A choir of young people from Banffshire performed at Edinburgh Castle last night in front of Scotland's Consular Corps, representing around 50 countries.

Banff & Buchan MP and First Minister Alex Salmond invited the Inspire Choir to travel to the capital after they performed at the official launch of his 2009 Christmas Card at Duff House, Banff.

Mr Salmond said:

"I'm delighted that the young people in the Inspire Choir agreed to perform at Edinburgh Castle for this special event. The Inspire Choir lives up to its name and I'm sure that all of the Consular representatives will enjoy the performance as much as those of us who heard them at Duff House did."

Inspire Choir's musical director Hannah McGinlay, 20, said:

"We were really excited to be invited to Edinburgh to sing at the Castle for the reception hosted by the First Minister. We hope that everybody enjoys our performance."

Background:

55 countries are represented in the Scottish Consular Corps, from full diplomatic consulates to honorary consulates.

Led by Ms McGinlay and choir director Hugh Johnstone, 19, Inspire Choir is a group of 8-to 18-year-olds who have sung at more than 50 local concerts, as well as performing in Paris and singing with Keith Jack, runner-up in BBC's Any Dream Will Do. They performed at the unveiling of the Gerard Burns painting featured on the First Minister's 2009 Christmas Card - the sale of which will support four charities, CLIC Sargent, Glasgow the Caring City, J-A-C-K Foundation and Mary's Meals.

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WHITEFORD HEARS OF ST COMBS ISSUES AND PRAISES COMMUNITY SPIRIT

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has praised the community spirit of St Combs following a series of visits and meetings in the village.
Dr Whiteford paid a visit to the village Post Office where she met with sub-postmistress Ann Pirie and local residents. The Post Office will close in its present location in April due to the retirement of Ann and it is understood that several local businesses are expressing interest in taking on the running of the lifeline facility.

The SNP candidate also attended the consultation on the proposed replacement for St Combs Community Hall which was destroyed by fire last year which was held in the St Combs Kirkie.

Speaking afterwards, Eilidh Whiteford commented:

"Village halls and Post Offices are the cornerstones of many of our smaller communities. To lose the community hall due to vandalism was a huge blow and one from which some communities may not have recovered.

"However, it was clear to me from the first public meeting I attended in St Combs after the fire that this was a village with an extremely strong sense of community spirit. That was in evidence again on Saturday at the public consultation on the proposals for a replacement hall held in the Kirkie. There are some very positive proposals being put forward and the hall committee are to be commended for involving the entire community in this way.

"Similarly, with the impending retirement of Ann as the village postmistress, I was delighted to hear from local residents that other local businesses have expressed an interest in providing the lifeline Post Office service.

"I will be contacting Post Office management to ensure that the village does not suffer any undue delays while the new Post Office service is being worked up."

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SUPPORT FOR FARMERS SHOULD COME SOON

Thursday, 18 February 2010

SNP MSP Dave Thompson and SNP Candidate for Banff and Buchan Eilidh Whiteford have written to Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead urging him to introduce cold weather payments for farmers as soon as possible.

Mr Thompson and Ms Whiteford welcomed the Government’s efforts to champion Scottish farmers as they joined calls by farmers organisations for additional support to be available for farmers who are facing unexpected costs as a result of this winters snow and ice.

Highlands and Islands MSP Dave Thompson said:

“It is becoming increasingly clear that many farmers are struggling to meet the unexpected costs of the harsh winter.

“The high levels of snow and ice have seen buildings damaged and roofs collapsed. Damage that could not have been predicted and which many farmers are uninsured for.

“Since 2007 this Scottish Government has always recognised the needs of farmers and farming communities and has worked hard to support them.

“I know Richard Lochhead has listened to the calls from NFU Scotland and I have today written to him asking that he look into introducing some financial support to help farmers in these exceptional circumstances as soon as possible.”

Eilidh Whiteford, SNP candidate for Banff and Buchan added:

“Scotland’s farmers did an excellent job to carry on through the bad weather and in many cases it was farmers efforts that saw remote roads and paths cleared or cars pulled out of the snow.

“SNP MPs and MSPs have always championed the needs of Scotland’s farmers and as they face cost pressures after the difficult winter we will continue to do so.

“This Government has always listened to Scotland’s farmers and I hope the Cabinet Secretary will support this call.”

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WHITEFORD BACKS TURRIFF'S 'RELAY FOR LIFE'

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has given her backing to the launch of Cancer Research's 'Relay for Life' at the Turriff United Social Club last night.

Dr Whiteford passed on a message of support to the organisers of the extremely well-attended meeting from local MP and First Minister Alex Salmond.

Speaking at the meeting in Turriff last night, SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford said:

"The fact that so many people of all ages, and from across the community, turned out for the launch reminds us that most of us have had our lives touched by cancer, directly or indirectly.

"Relay for Life is a great reminder that treatment is improving all the time and many people are recovering from cancer nowadays. Taking part is a great way to remember those we've lost, and through fundraising, provide hope for the future. Above all, events like Relay for Life let those currently undergoing treatment that they have the support of the whole community behind them.

"I'm delighted to support the Relay for Life and wish Lynne and her team every success in organising the event."

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STEVENSON & WHITEFORD MEET WITH NEW DEER BRANCH NFUS

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson and SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford attended last night's meeting of the New Deer Branch of the National Farmers' Union Scotland held in Maud.

Speaking after the meeting, Stewart Stevenson said:

"I was very pleased to be invited along to speak to the branch members and we had a wide-ranging question and answer session afterwards covering subjects as diverse as cattle ear tags to wind turbines to climate change and transport issues.

"I meet regularly with local NFUS members and officials at the summer shows and other times but visiting the branches is an important way of keeping in touch with the industry's grassroots."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford added:

"It was good to see such a healthy turnout at the meeting in spite of the return of the wintry weather yesterday.

"It is vitally important that the farming industry's voice is heard on the major issues affecting it and I think the local NFUS branches do an extremely good job in that respect."

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SALMOND & WHITEFORD WELCOME SHIRE COUNCIL TAX FREEZE

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Local MP Alex Salmond and SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford have welcomed the decision by Aberdeenshire Council to freeze Council Tax bills for a further year.

The council tax freeze is fully funded by the Scottish Government, ensuring councils can continue to invest whilst giving hard working households a break from high bills during the recession. The decision to freeze the tax is expected save households in Aberdeenshire an average of £142 over the course of the year.

Speaking following the announcement, Mr Salmond said:

"Hard pressed households across the country will welcome the news that councils are to freeze the council tax.

"We are all having to tighten our belts as a result of the London Government’s decision to slash over £800 million from the Scottish budget. That’s why I welcome the decision of Aberdeenshire Council to support the SNP's efforts to help households across Scotland through the tough times by agreeing to the council tax freeze."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford, added:

"This is good news for people in Banff & Buchan. With many people facing tighter household budgets, this saving will go some way to help them in these more difficult times.

“Council Tax increased by a staggering 93% in Aberdeenshire before the SNP came to Government. We are taking action to ensure that the unfair council tax does not penalise hard-working families and pensioners even more."

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SALMOND & WHITEFORD ENCOURGE BANFFSHIRE & TURRIFF RESIDENTS TO GET READY FOR DIGITAL SWITCHOVER

Monday, 15 February 2010

Local MP Alex Salmond and SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford have urged Banffshire residents to visit upcoming drop-in meetings being held by Digital UK to discuss the digital switchover.
The Durris transmitter and associated relays are set to begin the switchover process from the 1st of September 2010 while Knock More begins switchover from 8th September.

In preparation for the switchover, Digital UK will be holding a series of public ‘drop in clinics’ around the North-east, including one in Banff on Wednesday in the Bridge Street Community Centre from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. and in Turriff on Friday in the Gateway Community Centre from 10.30am to 12.30am.

Commenting, Alex Salmond said:

“The switchover will mean that a lot of people throughout the North-east will be able to get digital TV for the first time, without having to use a satellite dish.

“These meetings are an excellent opportunity for anyone who is concerned about whether they have the right aerial or equipment and what channels they will be able to receive to get expert advice, so that they can plan ahead before the change to digital TV in September."

Eilidh Whiteford added:

“The improved picture quality and increased choice of channels which arises from the switchover are things which I’m sure will be welcomed by everybody.

“I would encourage everyone to make the most of this opportunity to meet with Digital UK representatives, so they can discuss any remaining questions they might still have about the forthcoming switchover.”

More information can be found at: http://www.digitaluk.co.uk/

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PETERHEAD 'INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL EVENT' HAILED AS GREAT SUCCESS

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and Peterhead South & Cruden councillor Stephen Smith have hailed Saturday night's "International Cultural Event" organised by Community Learning & Development staff from Aberdeenshire Council and the Migrant Workers' Association as a great success.

The event, which took place in the Rescue Hall on Saturday night, saw a huge turnout of local people and local residents from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia. Traditional Scottish music and dance kicked off the event followed by traditional and contemporary music and dance from Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.

Commenting afterwards, SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford, who attended the event, said:

"This was a thoroughly enjoyable event. The performers seemed very enthusiastic about bringing their own culture to a wider audience and did exceptionally well on the night.

"It was also really good to see so many young people there, supported by adults and other youngsters of all the nationalities present."

Local SNP councillor Stephen Smith, who also attended, added:

"I think the organisers of this event have to be congratulated for their tremendous efforts, which were well-rewarded with such a huge turnout. I don't think the Rescue Hall will ever have witnessed anything quite like that before.

"Everyone, regardless of nationality, was extremely supportive of all the performers who did an absolutely fantastic job of entertaining the audience, so if one of the aims was to bring the new Peterhead residents and the existing Peterhead population closer together then I think it did that very effectively."

The event organisers are hoping to arrange another such event for Saturday 6 March.

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DELIGHT AS PETERHEAD IS NAMED STRATEGIC HUB FOR OFFSHORE RENEWABLES

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson and SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford have welcomed the announcement from Scottish Enterprise that Peterhead is to be one of 11 strategic hubs in Scotland for the maintenance and manufacture of offshore wind turbines.

Peterhead will now receive investment over the next five years to take advantage of expected £15 billion that is expected to be spent on offshore wind turbines in coming years.

The identification of these sites is the first phase of Scotland’s National Renewable Infrastructure Plan, led by Scottish Enterprise (SE) with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“This is excellent news for Peterhead and has the potential to be a real boost to the long term economy of the region. Renewables technology will be an important cornerstone to Scotland’s future economy and it is fantastic that Peterhead will have the chance to be one of the key locations in that development."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Peterhead’s deep water harbour makes it an ideal location for the offshore renewables industry and this planned investment will help improve the infrastructure that the industry needs, helping to make Peterhead an attractive place for such companies to operate.

“This announcement will help to bring numerous, high quality jobs to Peterhead and is a fantastic boost in these difficult economic times.”

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SNP BURNS SUPPER AT CRUDEN BAY

Peterhead Branch of the Scottish National Party held its annual Burns Supper at the Red House Hotel, Cruden Bay on Saturday. Despite atrocious weather conditions, the organisers were relieved when their top table guests, some of whom had travelled long distances, made it through the snow to entertain the audience.

Following the Selkirk Grace from local farmer Ferg Stephen said the Address to the Haggis by Doric Festival stalwart Cllr Sandy Stronach, Convener of the Scottish Parliament's Rural Affairs Committee Maureen Watt MSP delivered the Immortal Memory. SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford gave the Toast to Scotland while the speeches were rounded off by Gordon SNP candidate Richard Thomson giving the Toast to the Lassies with the Reply being given by Scotland's youngest Parliamentarian and MSP for the South of Scotland Aileen Campbell. The evening was compered by Sandy Allan.

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

"I was delighted with the excellent turnout when the weather conditions were so bad.

“Credit must go to the hotel management and staff at the Red House for their efficiency on the night and of course the excellent meal they provided.

“The SNP branch in Peterhead and District is going from strength to strength thanks to the efforts of our hardworking local councillors and their team and I congratulate them on organising another very successful Burns Supper."

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GOOD NEWS AS COUNCIL TAX FREEZE ON CARDS FOR BANFF & BUCHAN

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

SNP BUDGET CAN SAVE £142 FOR ABERDEENSHIRE COUNCIL TAX PAYERS

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the result of the Scottish Parliamentary vote on the Scottish budget as a huge victory for the people of Scotland, and especially for Banff & Buchan as it secured funding to give Aberdeenshire Council the means to freeze Council Tax for the third year in a row.

With the budget now passed, local authorities will receive funding to freeze the local Council Tax again. This equals an average saving for Aberdeenshire Council Tax payers of £142 for each payer - a significant sum to help families in the present difficult economic circumstances.

Welcoming the budget, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"In these tough times this is good news for Banff & Buchan. With many people facing tighter household budgets as Labour's recession bites this sum will go some way to help them in these times. £142 is a saving that will help people in these times.

"Council Tax is an unfair tax and I am glad that the SNP Government has taken this action. Council Tax increased by a staggering 93% in Aberdeenshire before the SNP came to Government and we are taking the action to ensure that unfairness is being mitigated."

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

"The SNP is committed to scrapping the unfair council tax – a position which is yet to carry majority support in the Scottish Parliament – and replacing it with a fair local income tax based on the ability to pay.

"People and organisations across Scotland support the SNP's plans to make local taxation fairer and this year's election affords people the chance to reiterate their desire to abolish this unfair tax and replace it with one based on ability to pay."

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LOCAL MP & CANDIDATE WELCOME MINTLAW PO RE-OPENING DATE

Commenting on the news that the new Mintlaw Post Office counter is to open on 10 February, local MP Alex Salmond said:

"I'm very pleased that the new service is due to be up and running shortly.

"There's no doubt that the new shop at Mintlaw is a valuable addition to the community. While the temporary Post Office arrangements put in place at such short notice during the renovation works were still very good, the reincorporation of Post Office services with the shop and petrol station is something which I'm sure everyone will welcome wholeheartedly."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford added:

"At a time when we've seen the loss or reduction of many rural Post Office services because of the actions of the London Government, it's good to see this investment in new facilities for Mintlaw which should secure the future of the Post Office."

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WHITEFORD & SALMOND VISIT FACTORY LOCAL MP HELPED TO SAVE

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford and local MP Alex Salmond paid a visit to a local bakery yesterday to catch up with management and staff some eight years after Mr Salmond played a key role in saving it from closure.

United Biscuits announced plans to close their factory in Hatton in September 2001. Following a campaign led by Alex Salmond, the factory was saved from closure and taken over by Buchan firm Murdoch Allan & Sons, safeguarding over 100 years of bakery tradition and jobs in the village.

The factory is just one of a number in Banff & Buchan which faced closure in the 1990s and early 2000s which were saved from closure thanks to the efforts of Alex Salmond MP, other notable examples being Buchan Meat Producers in Turriff (now Woodhead Brothers), and a fish factory employing over 600 people in Fraserburgh.

Speaking after the visit, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"Murdoch Allan's now employs more people than were employed at the Hatton site before they took it over from United Biscuits. This goes to show that there is a growing market for quality Scottish produce, and is testament to the hard work of Paul Allan and his staff.

“Small and medium sized firms involved in food production are the backbone of many North-east towns and villages, and it's been a priority for the SNP Government to create the conditions where they can thrive, through the Business Bonus Scheme, and support to develop new markets and improve facilities.

“I wish Murdoch Allan's every success in the future."

Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond added:

“It’s good to see after all these years the factory is still going strong.

“There’s more jobs and bigger contracts so this is definitely good news for Hatton and the North-east.

“There’s no doubt that turning around the fortunes of the factory from being threatened with closure under United Biscuits to being taken over by an ambitious locally-owned company was a tremendous result for the Buchan area. Now, eight years on from when the factory was supposed to be closed we have a vibrant local employer in its place.

“I’m proud to have played my part in defending the jobs of Hatton workers and I know that in Eilidh Whiteford, the people of Banff & Buchan will have an equally strong MP protecting their interests.”

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