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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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MP Welcomes Peterhead Carbon Capture Announcement

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Commenting on today’s announcement from the Department for Energy & Climate Change, Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Today’s announcement is very welcome news indeed and is another step on the road to making Peterhead the centre of excellence for carbon-capture technology.

"I pressed Ed Davey during a Commons debate two years ago to set out a clear timetable for progressing the Peterhead project but I'm pleased he has now recognised the case for Peterhead is extremely strong not only in terms of location, but also the expertise and knowledge that has been built up over a long period.”

Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said:

“We welcome today’s announcement that the Peterhead CCS Project will now proceed to the FEED stage – an outcome we have been campaigning for since the inception of the UK Government’s CCS Commercialisation Competition.

“Indeed, we have been robust advocates of CCS for over a decade now, recognising the strong comparative advantages that Scotland has in academic expertise, industrial know-how and the unrivalled storage capacity in the North Sea – enough to store at least 50 years of current annual CO2 emissions from the European Union. There is also potential to store captured CO2 in depleted oil fields, further maximising oil production.

“To secure a wider CCS industry, it is important that the UK Government continues to encourage and incentivise other highly-innovative CCS projects such as the Captain Clean Energy Project.”

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People Stripped of Benefits Could be Charged for Challenging Decision

Friday, 21 February 2014


“POOREST IN SOCIETY BEING HIT THE HARDEST"

The Scottish National Party have condemned the UK government as it is revealed people who have been stripped of benefits could be charged £250 by the government for trying to appeal against the decision to an independent judge.

In a leaked document from the Department of Work and Pensions, officials say the “introduction of a charge for people making appeals against (DWP) decisions to social security tribunals" would raise money. Other suggestions include selling off child support debt to “the private sector to collect."

In the past year nearly 900,000 people have had their benefits stopped, the highest figure for any 12-month period since jobseeker’s allowance was introduced in 1996. In recent months, 58% of those who wanted to overturn DWP decisions in independent tribunals have been successful.

The latest revelation follows reports that the government is considering saving money by privatising the delivery of the state pension - despite 93% of pensioners being satisfied with the current model.

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

“This is yet another example of how the poorest people in society are being hit hardest by the Westminster government.

“It is ludicrous to suggest someone receiving benefits would be in a position to pay to appeal. The UK government seems to be absolutely ruthless when it comes to welfare cuts.

“Scotland generates massive wealth yet the Westminster system means we do not reap the rewards, and instead our most disadvantaged people are facing the brunt of government cuts through unfair measures such as this."

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MP Highlights Boost to Rural Banking with Expanded Service

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has praised the introduction of an expanded mobile banking service for customers in the Central Buchan area following a visit to New Pitsligo today to meet with staff and see the service in action.

 (l to r): Fiona Kearney, RBS; Eilidh Whiteford MP
Moira Smith, RBS
The Royal Bank initially introduced its local mobile service in 2006 after the Clydesdale Bank closed the majority of its branches in the North-east. The service was recently expanded to include New Pitsligo and Mintlaw every Thursday.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“While a lot of banking transactions can be carried out online these days, there is still a need for a counter service for obtaining cash, paying in cheques or settling bills so I’m delighted that RBS has made this strong commitment to our rural communities by expanding this service to include more villages.

“The service is perhaps particularly important to rural businesses, cutting down time spent travelling to a bank, as well as elderly or less mobile customers who can take advantage of the fact that an RBS branch now comes to their village.”

Anne Dewar, Local CEO at RBS said:

"RBS has been running its mobile banking service in Scotland since 1946 and we have 15 mobile banks, which support 209 communities, five days a week.

“The mobile bank is important to local communities as it gives our customers another way to bank with us, in particular our elderly and vulnerable customers in rural areas of Scotland, so they can still have access to banking services. We were recently given recognition from the RNIB, who awarded RBS an Exemplar award, for our mobile banking service."

Communities in Banff & Buchan served by the RBS Mobile Bank are:

    Portsoy Every Wednesday 1.45pm to 2.15pm Main Street
    Aberchirder Every Wednesday 2.40pm to 3.10pm The Square
    Cruden Bay Every Thursday 10.15am to 10.40am Main Street
    Mintlaw Every Thursday 11.10am to 11.30am The Square
    Maud Every Thursday 11.50am to 12.10pm Station car park
    Strichen Every Thursday 12.30pm to 1.00pm High Street
    New Pitsligo Every Thursday 2.00pm to 2.20pm High Street
    Methlick Every Thursday 2.50pm to 3.15pm Car park
    Rothienorman Every Friday 9.50am to 10.20am Car park
    Fyvie Every Friday 10.35am to 11.00am Main Street

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Whiteford Visits New Pitsligo Social Enterprise

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has praised Fraserburgh Development Trust, after a tour of the John Smith and Sons bakery in New Pitsligo.

Dr Whiteford met with Ian Watson, Chair of Fraserburgh Development Trust, and General Manager Andy Leiper, before taking a tour of the current facility and meeting staff members.

Eilidh Whiteford MP, Andy Leiper with
Fraserburgh Development Trust Director Ian Watson
The family business was established in 1903, and remained in family ownership until earlier this year, when it was sold to Fraserburgh Development Trust for conversion into a social enterprise. The business employs 25 people locally, and sells baked goods across the north-east of Scotland. The Trust plans to replace the current premises with a new, state of the art bakery within the next two years, at a site close by.

Speaking afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

“These are truly exciting plans, and a long-term blueprint for a business that is both socially and financially sustainable. The Smith family deserve congratulation for building and developing the business over the 20th century, and Fraserburgh Development Trust deserve credit for taking it into the 21st.

“Naturally, I am pleased to hear that those who currently work at the bakery will keep their jobs, and that further opportunities may arise when the business moves to its new premises. As part of my visit, I was able to view the plans for the new bakery. The building is set to be truly innovative, and I would like to wish Fraserburgh Development Trust the best of luck in their funding applications.

“I look forward to seeing the business develop in years to come. And I look forward to enjoying John Smith’s butteries long into the future!”

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Local MP visits Peterhead Foodbank

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford visited Joseph’s Storehouse – Peterhead’s foodbank – yesterday (Monday) to meet with the volunteers who run it and hear at first hand about the lifeline support which it provides to the local community.

(l to r): Christine Summers and Sheena Gordon
of the Joseph Storehouse with Eilidh Whiteford MP
The facility, which started operations in April 2013, is based at the Apex Centre in Broad Street and is run by volunteers from the church.

Speaking after her visit to Joseph’s Storehouse, Eilidh said:

“I was very pleased to be able to visit Joseph’s Storehouse to learn about the very valuable support the volunteers are providing to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

“It was good to meet the volunteers from the Apex Church who manage the foodbank, who work with a wide range of statutory and voluntary sector agencies to make sure that those in need get support. Most of the donations come through church members who give small amounts on a regular basis.

“Across Scotland, foodbank use has increased fivefold in the last year, with increases driven by mostly steep hikes in the cost of living – especially for essentials like food and heating – and the UK Government’s cuts to welfare provision.

“No-one in a country as prosperous as Scotland should be dependent on food parcels. Although Peterhead is one of the wealthier parts of Scotland, it’s important to remember that there are significant numbers of people struggling on very low incomes in our community.”

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Labour Vote Against Welfare Inquiry

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


SNP EXPRESS DISAPPOINTMENT FOLLOWING WESTMINSTER DEBATE ON “FAIRNESS & INEQUALITY”

The Scottish National Party has expressed disappointment following a House of Commons debate on “Fairness and Inequality” where Labour chose to vote against a SNP motion which calls on the UK government to halt further spending and welfare cuts.

The ‘opposition day’ motion recognised that the UK is one of the most unequal states in the OECD ranking 28th out of 34 countries for income inequality in the developed world, and called for the UK government to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the impact of the Government’s austerity measures on the incidence of poverty and inequality.

Commenting after the debate, SNP spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“Inequality in the UK is the biggest scandal of our age.

“We had this debate at Westminster because the Westminster system is driving so much of the inequality and unfairness blighting our society which has got us into this sorry state.

“It was very disappointing to see such low numbers of the UK government on the benches for this debate when they were perfectly happy to turn up and show contempt for Scotland during a recent debate on Scotland’s future.

“And Labour have stuck to the ‘Bain’ principle of not voting for an SNP motion - putting tribal party politics ahead of common sense.

“In September this year people in Scotland have a choice of two futures, and today’s debate focused on the dangers for Scotland of remaining in a system in which austerity, cuts and even greater inequality appear to be the only things on offer from a No vote. The Westminster system is letting Scotland down badly, and in the referendum we have an opportunity to change the future and create a fairer and more prosperous society.”

The motion:

11 people voted in favour, 283 against.

OPPOSITION DAY (20th ALLOTTED DAY)
Until 7.00pm (Standing Order No. 9(3))
Fairness and inequality
Angus Robertson
Mr Elfyn Llwyd
Caroline Lucas
Dr Eilidh Whiteford
Jonathan Edwards
Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil

That this House notes that the United Kingdom is one of the most unequal states in the OECD, ranked 28 out of 34 countries for income inequality and the fourth most unequal country in the developed world according to some analyses; further notes that low and middle income families have borne the brunt of the Government’s austerity measures; further notes that the Government has plans to cut a further £60 billion in public spending over the next four years; further notes that successive governments of all political hues have presided over an underlying trend of rising income inequality since the early 1980s; recognises that men have consistently higher employment rates than women and that women are more likely to work in lower paid, low-skilled occupations; further notes the growing numbers of workers on minimum wage and zero-hours contracts, and that there are more people now in working poverty than out of work poverty; further notes with concern the sharp rise in the number of people relying on foodbanks across the UK, including significant numbers of people in work; and calls on the Government to halt its further spending and welfare cuts and to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the impact of the Government’s austerity measures on the incidence of poverty and inequality.

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Local MP & MSP Welcome Bedroom Tax Mitigation

With a majority of the Scottish Parliament endorsing additional funds to help combat the bedroom tax, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford have said it showed Scotland should have the powers to scrap the Bedroom Tax.

Alongside targeting Westminster welfare cuts, the budget will continue the small business bonus scheme, protect free education, entitle primary one to three pupils to free school meals - saving at least £330 per eligible child; extend childcare provision to 600 hours for three and four year olds and for vulnerable two year olds - saving around £700 a year; and continue the Council Tax freeze that will have saved households £1,200 on average by the end of this Parliament in 2016.

Investment in infrastructure in Scotland will be supported to the tune of over £8 billion over the next two years, creating over 50,000 full time equivalent jobs.

As well as targeting Westminster’s welfare cuts, the budget continues the small business bonus, entitles primary one to three pupils to free school meals, extends childcare provision to 600 hours for three and four year olds and for vulnerable two year olds, and continues the Council Tax freeze, saving households £1200 on average by the end of this parliament.

The passage of the SNP Government’s budget in the Scottish Parliament last week will boost Scotland’s economy, help with the cost of living and deliver vital action to mitigate Westminster’s iniquitous bedroom tax.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“The purpose of this week’s budget was to boost our economy and support households with the rising cost of living.

“The money has been put in place to mitigate the bedroom tax and the only thing standing in the way of immediate action is Westminster. Given that the Scottish Parliament has backed this budget with a large majority, Westminster must not ignore our desire to rid Scotland of this unfair and iniquitous tax on some of the poorest in society.

“The Scottish Parliament has voted to put in place sufficient funding to pay the additional cost for every family affected. Of course far better than having to mitigate the deeply unfair bedroom tax would simply be to abolish it altogether. Only a Yes vote in September will give the Scottish Parliament that right and ensure that Scotland’s welfare system reflects the priorities of people in Scotland rather than the Westminster Treasury, which seeks to only further widen the gap between the rich and the poor.”

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson, who backed the Scottish Government’s budget, said:

“Delivering free school meals, extending childcare and protecting the Council Tax freeze will save hundreds of pounds for households across the North-east.

“That is vital action to help people during difficult times and will be warmly welcomed by people right across the county and across the country. What is also particularly welcome is that even more action is being taken to help people affected by Westminster’s bedroom tax.”

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MP Gets a Taste of Fraserburgh at Broch Resource Centre

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has hailed the Robertson Road Resource Centre ‘Taster Session’ last Saturday as a tremendous success.

The event included a range of activities organised by ‘Celebrating the Difference’ and Home Start North-east Aberdeenshire. The taster session afforded the opportunity to try different cuisines from around the world, as well as entertainment and fun for local families.

Commenting after attending the Fraserburgh event, Eilidh said:

“I was very pleased to attend the taster session, and meeting local families on what proved to be a fun day out for everyone.

“There is a serious purpose, though – the event afforded an opportunity for local groups such as Home Start to reach out to families who may need help and support, as well as those seeking volunteering opportunities in the area.

“There was an excellent turnout on the day and I think the organisers were really pleased with that. Some good ideas came from the event and those attending seemed to enjoy the range of activities – and food from around the world – which was on offer.”

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SNP Debate to Focus on "Fairness and Inequality"


DECADES OF WESTMINSTER POLICIES HIGHLIGHT NEED FOR YES VOTE

Commenting in advance of a House of Commons debate today (Tuesday) held by the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the Green party in which the motion for debate will be ‘Fairness and Inequality’, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, SNP Welfare and Pensions spokesperson, said:

"We are having this debate at Westminster because the Westminster system is driving so much of the inequality and unfairness blighting our society which has got us into this sorry state. In September this year people in Scotland have a choice of two futures, and today’s debate will focus on the dangers for Scotland of remaining in a system in which austerity, cuts and even greater inequality appear to be the only things on offer from a No vote. The Westminster system is letting Scotland down badly, and in the referendum we have an opportunity to change the future and create a fairer and more prosperous society.

"We live in a country brimming with resources and talent but also a country where in the last 40 years the gap between rich and poor has widened at alarming rates, and where men still make up the vast majority of top earners and women are still far more likely to work in low skilled, low paid jobs. Westminster governments, over many years, have allowed these inequalities to grow and show no signs of reversing the trend.

“The Scottish Government with the current powers available to it has taken a number of steps to boost jobs and fairness. These include the modern apprenticeship programme which is doing so much in terms of skilling young people. The fact that the Scottish Government, uniquely in these islands, has a minister dedicated to youth unemployment, that child poverty has fallen more rapidly in Scotland than any other part of the UK, and that a higher proportion of women are in employment in Scotland, are all part of - and results of - that different approach.

"The Scottish Government’s White Paper 'Scotland’s Future' outlines the step-change in childcare provision we can achieve with the full powers of an independent Scotland. It also commits to access to higher education based on ability – not wealth - with a guarantee of no tuition fees for young Scots. While Westminster debates inequality today, we can look towards a better future in an independent Scotland. The NO campaign has outlined nothing that would be a change for the better after a No – just more cuts, more austerity, and increasing inequality as the price of Westminster government in Scotland. That is why it is vital we achieve a Yes vote in September."

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Secure Future for New Pitsligo Bakery Welcomed by MP & MSP

Friday, 7 February 2014

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford and Aberdeenshire East MSP Alex Salmond have welcomed confirmation that a deal has been struck which will secure the future of a vital Central Buchan business.

Fraserburgh Development Trust have concluded arrangements to buy the long-established New Pitsligo bakery business John Smith & Sons. The family business was established in 1903 and employs 25 people locally.

The Trust has been working with John Smith, of John Smith & Sons, to conclude a deal that would mean the bakery would operate as a Social Firm, which means that any surplus generated will go towards building the business and developing future training and employment opportunities.

Commenting, Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford said:

“John Smith & Sons is a major employer in New Pitsligo and this announcement means that not only are the jobs there secure but the proud tradition of baking in New Pitsligo which has been on the go for over 100 years can continue.

“This will be an exciting venture for the firm, for Fraserburgh Development Trust and for the village as it will involve a move to new, purpose-built premises and a change in how the bakery operates, while maintaining employment and the products which have proved so popular for generations.”

Aberdeenshire East MSP Alex Salmond added:

“John Smith & Sons bakery is a pillar of the community in New Pitsligo. As the single largest employer in the village, and supplier to many rural shops in the North-east, it is vital to the local economy.”

“I am delighted that the brand will continue; that jobs will be maintained; and that a focus on tradition, training, and progress is being pursued. I hope that the Fraserburgh Development Trust will continue to be successful as it pursues further funding.”

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