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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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BIG TURNOUT FOR SNP BURNS SUPPER IN CUMINESTOWN

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Scottish National Party held a Burns Supper in the Commercial Hotel, Cuminestown on Saturday. Organisers were delighted with a turnout of over 130 guests for the event which saw the Immortal Memory delivered by local MP Alex Salmond.

Also speaking were Banff & Buchan Westminster candidate Eilidh Whiteford, Gordon Westminster candidate Richard Thomson and Professor James Mitchell of Strathclyde University. Cllr Ian Gray said the Selkirk Grace and Cllr Bob Watson Addressed the Haggis.

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

"I was absolutely delighted with the turnout for the Burns Supper. It was the first time we've held one in the Commercial Hotel and to get over 130 people there was just fantastic.

"All credit must go to the hotel management and staff for the efficient way they coped with such a huge number, and of course the excellent meal they provided.

"The SNP branch in Turriff and District is going from strength to strength thanks to the efforts of our hardworking local councillor Sandy Duncan and his team. I've been campaigning in and around Turriff for over a year now, most recently with a visit to Dawson Court last week where it was my pleasure to meet with staff and residents there."

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SNP SLAM TORIES FOR NOT SUPPORTING WHISKY INDUSTRY

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

IMPORTANT BANFFSHIRE INDUSTRY LET DOWN BY CONSERVATIVES

Conservative MPs have come under fire for letting down a key Banffshire industry in the House of Commons.

With Banffshire being the pre-eminent whisky-producing region, the issue is relevant for local jobs and the wider economy at a time of growing recession and uncertainty.

Tory MPs on the Delegated Legislation Committee controversially abstained on the important vote which was dealing with the record tax increases proposed by the UK Labour Government. Not a single Scottish Labour MP attended the important Delegated Legislation committee meeting. Their English and Welsh Labour MP colleagues voted the measures through.

The SNP which stood up for the industry in the vote has described the Tory abstention as "a reminder why local people had turned their back on this anti-Scottish Party".

Local SNP candidate Eilidh Whiteford condemned the Tories lack of support for the whisky industry:

"It is unbelievable that the Tories have failed to back the whisky industry and everyone who works for it Banffshire.

"It is bad enough that the London Labour Government has had plans to raise duty on whisky by a record 40 year high. Quite why Tory MPs sat on their hands and failed to vote against these daft plans is beyond me, particularly at a time when we are seeing locally the first expansion of the industry in the form of the re-opened Glanglassaugh Distillery.

"More than ever, in these tough economic times, it is crucial that the Treasury commit to a fairer spirits duty regime.

"The whisky sector is one of Scotland's key industries both in export, earnings and employment terms, and the failure to secure a fair tax regime will undermine investment and competitiveness as well as damaging international trading conditions.

"The SNP will continue to stand up for the whisky industry in Banffshire and the rest of the country. It's a shame that both the Tories and Labour have in contrast let it down.

Note: The Members of the Delegated Legislation Committee are as follows:

Atkins, Charlotte (Staffordshire, Moorlands) (Lab)
† Blizzard, Mr. Bob (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)
† Carmichael, Mr. Alistair (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)
† Challen, Colin (Morley and Rothwell) (Lab)
† Chaytor, Mr. David (Bury, North) (Lab)
Clarke, Mr. Tom (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (Lab)
† Coffey, Ann (Stockport) (Lab)
† Crabb, Mr. Stephen (Preseli Pembrokeshire) (Con)
† Duddridge, James (Rochford and Southend, East) (Con)
† Eagle, Angela (Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury)
† Greening, Justine (Putney) (Con)
† Greenway, Mr. John (Ryedale) (Con)
† Holloway, Mr. Adam (Gravesham) (Con)
† Owen, Albert (Ynys Môn) (Lab)
† Robertson, Angus (Moray) (SNP)
† Stewart, Ian (Eccles) (Lab)

† denotes attended the Committee

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REOPENING OF LOCAL FISH TRADE WITH RUSSIA BOOST FOR ECONOMY

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson and SNP candidate Eilidh Whiteford have welcomed the news that the Scottish Government has successfully persuaded the Russian Federation to lift restrictions on Scottish fish being exported to Russia that had been in place since April 2008. The Russian market is a vital one to the fishing industry, with 48,000 tonnes of pelagic fish worth over £42 million having been exported there in 2007.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

"The reopening of this critical trading link can only be good news for fish processors in Banff & Buchan that for months had been denied access to this market.

"That these restrictions have only been lifted north of the border is testament to the hard work of the Scottish Government in negotiations with Russia over the issue, and is a much needed boost to Banff & Buchan's fishing industry."

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford commented:

"The easing of these restrictions shows what can be achieved when Scotland speaks with its own voice in the world. Had this been left to the UK Government to resolve, who knows how long the fishing industry in Banff & Buchan would have had to suffer waiting for trade to resume?"

Peterhead South & Cruden councillor Stephen Smith, who is a member of Aberdeenshire Council's Fisheries Working Group added:

"This has been a matter of concern to members of the Working Group for some time and I have been encouraging the council to lobby the Russian authorities. This was a course of action the council felt disinclined to take so I'm very grateful indeed to the SNP Scottish Government for its efforts in this regard which has restored a vital market to North-east fish processors."

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WHITEFORD COMMENTS ON CUMINESTOWN AND ROTHIENORMAN POST OFFICE DECISION

Monday, 12 January 2009

Commenting following the announcement that, after a consultation period, Post Office management have decided to press ahead with the replacement of the Post Offices at Cuminestown and Rothienorman with a mobile service, SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford said:

"This is very disappointing news indeed although not unexpected given the track record of closure decisions made by Post Office management nationally.

"Post Offices provide an essential public service and in both Cuminestown and Rothienorman these could have been providing valuable support and footfall for established local businesses.

"The Post Office network cannot be treated as simply another private enterprise. It is an essential national provider of public services which should be maintained.

"It is an absolute disgrace that things have reached this stage and instead of stripping Post Offices of valuable functions such as television licensing, benefits payments and pensions to make them unviable in some cases, the London Government should have been supporting rural businesses and investing in their future as an essential service."

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"NEW DEER PLEDGE" TO FARMERS BEARS FRUIT

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

APPEALS REVIEW RECOMMENDATIONS ACCEPTED BY LOCHHEAD

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the announcement by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead that he has accepted sixteen of the seventeen recommendations made by a review team led by former NFU President John Kinnaird, including the principle of an independent appeals procedure.

The independent review is a direct result of a commitment given by local MP Alex Salmond at a meeting with local farmers at the 2006 New Deer Show that if the SNP won the 2007 election he would reform the appeals system which had been a cause of great concern among the farming community. The SNP's election manifesto contained the following commitment:

"…we will introduce a truly independent appeals panel in response to the existing system's shortcomings. SEERAD officials should not sit in judgement on decisions made by colleagues".

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford said:

"This is an excellent example of the SNP acting on the concerns expressed by farmers and following-through on our commitment made at the last election. John Kinnaird is highly respected across the industry and both he and his team have done an excellent job with their review.

"Nearly 700 Single Farm Payment claimants in 2005 and 2006 had penalties totalling over £1¼ million applied to their claims due to errors found within the completed forms.

"In the context of overall number of claimants, this is not a large number but it is still far too high and I believe more could be done to address this at an earlier stage in the process. The review is therefore absolutely right to have focussed in on the relationship between farmers and the department, with officials unfortunately being viewed as enforcers of rules rather than being there to offer help and advice.

"The positive relationship which once existed can and indeed must be rebuilt and positive assistance offered to claimants where necessary."

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson added::

"I am delighted by the progress made and particularly pleased that John Kinnaird, with his depth of knowledge of the system and its shortcomings, agreed to head-up the review.

"This is yet another example of the fresh approach of the new SNP Government and one which I am sure will be welcomed by North-east farmers."

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WHITEFORD COMMENTS ON TORY CANDIDATE SELECTION

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Commenting on the announcement of the Conservative candidate for the Banff & Buchan Westminster seat, SNP Candidate Eilidh Whiteford said:

"I welcome the announcement from the Tories of their new candidate and congratulate Mr Buchan on his selection. I look forward to debating the issues with him and the other candidates once they are selected.

"The SNP has built up strong support in the coastal communities of Banff & Buchan through the tireless efforts of Alex Salmond, Stewart Stevenson and Richard Lochhead in championing the interests of the Scottish fishing industry in London and Brussels. I will be building on their formidable track record of supporting not only fishing but also the other local industries, like agriculture and energy, so important to the North-east economy and our way of life.

"During uncertain and difficult economic times for many people in this area, the SNP is the only party that can be trusted to stand up for the interests of people in Scotland."

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