Eilidh Whiteford


SNP Office Moves To New Premises In Peterhead

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

After nearly quarter of a century, the SNP Constituency Office which has served as a base for the area’s Parliamentarians is moving home.

The office, based in Maiden Street, has moved to more modern, serviced accommodation at Peterhead’s Burnside Business Centre, just off South Road. The move has been welcomed by staff and Parliamentarians as it will mean a more professional environment for dealing with constituency casework and meeting with constituents.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“I’m delighted we have secured new premises at the Enterprise North-east Burnside Business Centre.

“Maiden Street has been my base for over ten years and we have steadily been reaching the point where our office accommodation there has become less and less suitable both in terms of workspace and the environment needed to work with modern IT equipment.

“My staff and I look forward to welcoming constituents to our new premises.”

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford said:

“This move will allow Stewart and myself to work together more effectively. We already share some staff and resources and sharing the same building will lead to greater efficiencies.

“In addition, I’m pleased to announce that the public opening hours of both offices will be extended by an extra ten hours per week in order to increase our availability to constituents.

Peterhead South & Cruden councillor and Office Manager Stephen Smith has worked in the Maiden Street office since 1996. Reflecting on the volume of casework dealt with since the office opened in 1987, he said:

“17 Maiden Street has been the Constituency Office since 1987 and during that time thousands of cases and issues have been dealt with here.

“I did a rough estimate recently of the volumes of mail sent out from the office during the last 24 years based on the weekly average and it was staggering, it was over 370,000 with the figure for inward mail not far behind.”

Many of the staff who have worked in Maiden Street have gone on to much greater things. Former Office Manager, Richard Lochhead, is now in his second term as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Fisheries in a majority SNP Government. The first Office Manager, Peter Murrell, is now Chief Executive of the SNP.

Minister for Learning & Skills and Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan had two spells working in Peterhead while newly-elected Regional MSP for Glasgow Humza Yousaf spent a summer working in Maiden Street getting political experience which stood him in good stead for his new role.

Cllr Smith explained:

“The experience gained working in the Peterhead Office meant that we were never short of applications from people who wanted to work for Alex Salmond or Stewart Stevenson or serve an internship.”

He continued:

“The range of issues dealt with in the normal course of a week in Maiden Street was staggering.

“A lot of the issues people seek assistance with are what you would expect, such as housing and benefits. Benefits in particular is a difficult issue at the moment because of the changes being introduced by the Tory Government in London. In that respect, I suppose things haven’t changed a lot since the Constituency Office opened in 1987 as we had a Tory Government then too which seemed intent on punishing the most vulnerable sections of society.

“I always say however that you are can never be sure who is going to phone or come through the door or what issue you will have to deal with next.

“Trying to save factories from closure is not something that most MPs will tackle, probably through fear of being associated with failure. With Alex Salmond however, we found ourselves doing exactly that and, against the odds more often than not, managing to get a result.

“For example, Buchan Meat in Turriff went under just at the time when the public were getting concerned about BSE and the meat industry was facing a crisis. The prospect of saving the factory, let alone persuading anyone to take it over looked remote. But through working with the employees and trades unions, as well as highlighting the plight of the factory in the House of Commons, we ended up with two or three companies bidding to take over Buchan Meat with Kepak ultimately being successful. Today, Buchan Meat continues in Turriff in the shape of Woodhead Bros who supply Morrisons Supermarkets.

“The Simmers of Hatton factory is another good example of how local jobs were saved through tough negotiating with a multinational firm which allowed a local company to step in.

“The Sapphire Campaign, which resulted in the bodies of the four crew members lost at sea being returned to their families for Christian burial is also something that I will never forget. It was very humbling to be a part of that and to help the bereaved families achieve their dearest wish.

“Maiden Street was also the nerve centre of various political campaigns as well, including both of Alex’s leadership elections in 1990 and 2004, and the 2001 by-election which saw Stewart Stevenson elected as local MSP. There’s quite a bit of history been made within that building.

“But we’ve really outgrown the building and it no longer serves our needs. We’re looking forward to working in more modern accommodation at Burnside Business Centre which will allow us to deliver an efficient service to constituents in a better working environment.”

Contact details for Stewart Stevenson MSP and Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP are as follows:

Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast
Unit 8 Burnside Business Centre
Burnside Road
Peterhead AB42 3AW
Tel. 01779 470444
Fax. 01779 822025
Office Hours: Mon-Fri; 9.00am to 5.00pm

Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan
Unit 7 Burnside Business Centre
Burnside Road
Peterhead AB42 3AW
Tel. 01779 822022
Fax. 01779 822025
Office Hours: Mon-Fri; 9.00am to 5.00pm

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