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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Local MP Comments on St Fergus Post Office Changes

Monday, 30 September 2013

Speaking after the announcement of proposed changes to Post Office opening hours in St Fergus, Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has said that it is imperative that the village retain access to its current range of Post Office counter services.

The village’s Post Office will move from its current location to the village hall, a short distance away. The days of opening have also been changed to Tuesday and Friday, 9.00am-12.00pm.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

“I’m pleased that Post Office management have secured the use of the village hall from which to continue the village’s Post Office service.

“A number of communities locally lost their Post Office completely under the previous London Government. St Fergus had its service downgraded but it is, nevertheless, an important and valued local service and I am keen to see that continue.

“I have written to the local community council in this regard but I’m also happy to hear from any St Fergus residents who may have concerns or suggestions about the new arrangements.”

A local public consultation on the changes runs until November 5.

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MP Takes to the Sea with Broch Lifeboat

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has paid tribute to the dedication of volunteers at the Fraserburgh Lifeboat Station, after taking part in a lifeboat exercise off the town’s coast in the lifeboat ‘Willie and Mary Gall’.

Cllr Hamish Partridge and Eilidh Whiteford MP, with Lifeboat volunteers Barry Pitchford, Rachel Masson and Stephen Brown
Dr Whiteford and Troup councillor Hamish Partridge joined Coxswain Victor Sutherland and the volunteer crew at the station to discuss the challenges involved in running a lifeboat service. They then participated in the crew’s weekly exercise, which saw the crew rehearse a fire drill and man overboard recovery. Dr Whiteford and Cllr Partridge were given the opportunity to pilot the lifeboat at sea, and during the return to port.

Speaking after the event, Eilidh said that even in mild conditions, it was clear that lifeboat volunteers were risking their lives to save others. She said:

“It has been a great privilege to be able to take part in this exercise, and to see the work that goes into responding to a maritime emergency.

“It was really thrilling to be part of the crew’s training evening – experiencing what the Fraserburgh crew face firsthand gives a whole new insight into the risks that these men and women take on a regular basis in order to save the lives of others.”

Troup SNP councillor Hamish Partridge added:

“Victor and the whole team at the Broch lifeboat are very highly respected by the local community who appreciate just what an important job they do.

“It’s been great to see that up close for myself and certainly gives me an insight into the dangers faced when carrying out a rescue.”

Lifeboats have been launching from Fraserburgh Harbour since 1806, and crews from the station have been honoured with 16 awards for gallantry. The station has also seen witnessed tragedy over the years, with thirteen volunteers losing their lives in the act of saving others.

The RNLI is prides itself on being funded by donations from the public and donations are gratefully received and can be made at rnli.org/donateorbecomeamember

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Westminster Hiding Poverty Figures

Sunday, 22 September 2013


MORE INTERESTED IN ERADICATING STATS THAN POVERTY

The SNP have accused the UK Government of trying to hide the devastating impact of their welfare policies by limiting the amount of data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS have now released a consultation on which statistics should be shelved following severe budget cuts made by the Tory-Lib Dem coalition.

Commenting, SNP Westminster welfare spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

"The Tory-led government at Westminster is more interested in eradicating the poverty statistics than eradicating poverty.

“The Westminster Government is trying to cover up the fact their policies are raising the cost of living and increasing poverty – the UK is one of the most unequal societies in the developed world.

“It doesn’t have to be this way, and it won’t be this way in an independent Scotland. Scottish MPs and the Holyrood government have already made their opposition to these Tory welfare cuts clear, and a majority of people in Scotland believe that the Scottish Government - not Westminster - would be best at deciding welfare policy for Scotland."

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MP Praises Fyvie Skills Centre

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has spoken warmly of her visit to the Scottish Traditional Skills Training Centre at Fyvie yesterday [Tuesday].

Youngsters from local schools demonstrated some of the skills they have been learning, including gardening, and the construction of a dry stone wall. Among those participating were pupils from Banff, Inverurie, Meldrum and Westhill Academies, as well as the Gordon Schools, Huntly.


The STSTC was established in 2006 in response to skills shortages in the historic buildings conservation sector. The centre provides education and training programmes related to the internal and external maintenance of historic buildings, engineering and landscaping. The centre has attracted funding from the Scottish Government in the past, including a Sustainable Action Grant of £30,000 in 2006-07, £20,000 in 2007-08 and £20,000 in 2008-09 to deliver training in conservation skills. The centre also works closely with a number of corporate partners across a range of sectors.

Speaking at Fyvie, Eilidh said:

“It was a real pleasure to meet staff and students at the training centre. The fact that the North-east now hosts this facility is testimony to the drive and dedication of staff at the centre.

“Scotland is a nation famed for its historic buildings, and training a new generation of skilled craftsmen who can care for them is a worthwhile endeavour. Our built heritage is critical to the continued success of the Scottish tourism industry, and it is great to see this particular skills shortage being tackled head-on.”

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Lobbying Bill Will Hit Charities - MP

Monday, 9 September 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has attacked the UK Government’s ill-thought-out proposals for a Lobbying Bill in the House of Commons.

Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons, Dr Whiteford drew attention to the Bill’s flaws, which have generated widespread concerns among charities and voluntary organisations.

The provisions as they stand would place heavy legislative burdens on charities and third sector bodies that campaign on political issues. Particularly onerous are significant new restrictions on what charities will be able to spend in the year before General Elections.

The Bill will come before the house for a second reading later this week, when it is hoped by campaigners that MPs will have an opportunity to amend the bill.

Speaking in the Commons debate, Dr Whiteford said:

“The measures in part 2 are particularly deeply flawed, and in spite of all the assurances we have heard from the Leader of the House, they will place undue restrictions on the ability of campaigning organisations to raise legitimate concerns about public policy issues.

“My key point is that an active, politically engaged, challenging civil society is a hallmark of democracy and the lifeblood of live political culture, every bit as much as a free press or free and fair elections. I have grave concerns that a side effect of the Bill will be to restrict the discursive space where citizens can make a fuss about public policies that affect their lives.”

The cross-party Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has already commented that the lobbying bill had been "unnecessarily rushed".

In their report, the committee said:  

"We do not believe that the government has... provided a satisfactory account of the basis on which the new levels for registration and expenditure by third parties have been set.

“The definition of spending 'for electoral purposes' as currently drafted is likely to cause confusion."

Commenting afterwards, Dr Whiteford said that she would continue to oppose the bill in its present form. She said:

“Dozens of constituents have been in contact with me regarding the impact this Bill will have on charities and voluntary organisations. I share their concerns, and have made my feelings clear in the House of Commons.

“While I recognise the need for a lobbying bill which encourages openness and transparency, the legislation as it stands pleases no one save the government. I will continue to argue for a sensible lobbying bill, which does not penalise voluntary bodies and charities.”

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Tory Welfare Cuts "Flawed" - Welfare Cuts Scotland Didn't Vote For

Thursday, 5 September 2013

SNP Westminster welfare spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has condemned the UK Government as a spending watchdog has said welfare reform has been badly managed, is “over ambitious” and is poor value for money.

The National Audit Office said risks were taken with the universal credit to hit targets, IT systems had "limited functionality" and an unfamiliar project management approach was used.

Under the government's plans, six key means-tested benefits - jobseeker's allowance, employment support allowance, housing benefit, working tax credit, income support and child tax credit - are to be combined into a single payment which ministers say will ensure that claimants are always better off in work and also reduce fraud. All new claimants were supposed to receive the universal credit from next month as part of a phased implementation plan but this has been delayed following a number of pilots earlier this year.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“This report highlights many problems with the project including officials being unable to explain the reasoning behind their timescales or their feasibility, inept computer systems, and no real leadership.

“Expenditure on IT systems has accounted for more than 70% of the £425m spent to date but the report suggested officials do not yet know whether the infrastructure in place will support a national rollout.

“We already knew the Tory- Lib Dem government’s welfare reforms were discriminatory, but we can now see the extent of how badly managed this project is.

“It doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way. Scotland has already made its opposition to welfare cuts absolutely clear, and a majority of Scots believe that the Scottish Government would be best at deciding welfare policy for Scotland.”

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Whiteford Raises Rural Post Concerns in Commons Debate

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has hit out at the UK Government’s plans to privatise Royal Mail. The local MP was speaking during a debate in the House of Commons on the future of rural postal provision.

Speaking during the debate, Dr Whiteford drew attention to the fact that rural communities relied heavily on the postal service, and that any change to the Universal Service Obligation would have a devastating impact on rural constituencies like Banff & Buchan.

Commenting afterwards, Eilidh said:

“It is difficult to overstate just how important the Royal Mail is to residents and businesses in my constituency. In many areas of Banff & Buchan, the postal service is more than a service – it is a lifeline.

“Businesses in rural areas depend on a reasonably priced postal service. It is difficult to see how a privately owned and run business will be able to replicate the reach and cost effectiveness of the Royal Mail as it operates at present.

“By pushing ahead with these wildly unpopular privatisation plans, the UK Government is doing the country a profound disservice. I am hopeful that regulation of the privatised industry will preserve the Universal Service Obligation, however I am under no illusions that a privatised Royal Mail, operating in a privatised delivery market, will come under severe market pressure.

“I and many others have campaigned to keep the Royal Mail in public ownership. However, the UK Government are ideologically determined
to push ahead with privatisation, and that being the case I seek to secure the next best thing – a permanent, cast iron commitment to the Universal Service Obligation.”

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SNP Highlight UK's £87.5 Billion of 'Missing Aid' Ahead of Westminster Debate


UK AID FAILURE IN CONTRAST TO RECORD OF SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRIES

Ahead of a Westminster debate (today) on Scotland's role in the UK's international development programme after 2014 , the SNP has highlighted House of Commons library research which shows the financial impact of the UK failing to meet its aid targets for over 40 years.

The research, which calculates the annual financial gap between the UK’s aid promises and what they actually spent, shows cumulative missing aid of £87.5 billion since 1970, when the UN set the target to spend 0.7% of wealth on aid. This year – for the first time in 43 years – the UK has at last budgeted to meet the target, but has backtracked the promise in the coalition agreement to enshrine the target in statute – opening up the prospect of the UK missing its aid targets in future years.

Successive Conservative and Labour Westminster governments failed to meet the target, despite devastating levels of global poverty. In contrast Sweden met the target in 1974 and by 1975 was joined by the Netherlands. Norway and Denmark reached it in 1976 and 1978 respectively, and all four countries have met it ever since. Luxembourg joined the group in 2000.

Commenting ahead of the Westminster Hall debate, SNP International Development Spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP, who is a former Campaigns Manager for Oxfam, highlighted the impact of the UK breaking promises on aid – and outlined the role an independent Scotland can play.

Commenting Dr Whiteford said:

“This House of Commons research lays bare the decades of broken promises by the UK. Cumulatively those years of missed targets show a staggering £87.5 billion of missing aid over the last 42 years.

“We know aid saves lives – be it in humanitarian emergencies or in long terms efforts to get children into school or to improve healthcare. Every day almost 19,000 under-fives die from poverty-related conditions, and around 800 women die in childbirth or from pregnancy complications. The UK’s missing aid reflects a huge missed opportunity to both save lives and improve lives.

“Small independent nations like our Scandinavian neighbours stepped up to the challenge and met their promises decades ago, and an independent Scotland would do the same. Furthermore we would enshrine the 0.7% target in legislation – something which was in the coalition agreement but which the UK Government have not brought forward for legislation.

“In contrast to the cross-party support in Scotland, there are those on the Tory backbenches in Westminster who are opposed to meeting the 0.7% target, and lobbied hard for it to be dropped. They seem to forget that such absolute poverty is a political issue. Almost all these deaths are preventable through low-cost interventions; to stand aside, to pretend it's nothing to do with us, or convince ourselves we can't make a difference runs counter to a current that runs deep through Scottish history and culture.

“With independence we can ensure we meet our promises to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.”

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