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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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MP WELCOMES EQUITABLE LIFE PROGRESS

Monday, 26 July 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the announcement of a repayment scheme for money lost in the Equitable Life collapse but warned that, after a decade of dither and delay over compensation, this progress for policy holders must be maintained.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“Equitable Life policyholders have been badly let down – first by regulatory failure and then by a decade of dither and delay by the Labour Government over a compensation scheme.

“While the commencement of the scheme announced last week is welcome, there is still a long way to go to compensate those who invested with Equitable Life.

“It’s essential the Conservative-Liberal coalition work for a speedy and fair resolution to this sorry saga which has dragged on for far too long.”

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LOCAL MP OFFICIALLY OPENS CAIRNBULG HARBOUR

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford officially opened Cairnbulg Harbour development on Saturday.

The MP cut a ribbon to mark the end of this phase of development which has taken many years of effort and fundraising by the local community. A pontoon has been installed in the latest work and all berths have been taken up. In addition to small locally-owned fishing vessels, a local man is operating boat trips out of the harbour in a boost to local business and the economy.

Commenting after the opening ceremony, Dr Whiteford said:

"This is a great day for Cairnbulg and the community can be rightly proud of its achievement here today.

"Getting to this stage has not only taken many years of effort on the part of individual committee members, but also a huge fundraising effort on the part of the local community, backed up by support from the lottery, LEADER funding and Aberdeenshire Council amongst others.

"It really is a tremendous facility and I'm delighted to see it being so well-used. In particular, the boat trips are a fantastic initiative and should help draw visitors into Cairnbulg which I hope will in turn see them supporting local shops.

"The fact that we had such a glorious sunny afternoon for the opening ceremony made it all the more special for Cairnbulg and I wish the committee well in their future plans for the harbour."

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Whiteford supports new rules to stop holiday mobile bill shock

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed new rules which will stop people facing big mobile phone bills when they return from holidays in Europe.

With internet access on mobile phones it has never been easier to stay in touch with what’s going on at home. However, coming back from holiday to a huge mobile phone bill can be a nasty surprise. New European rules on roaming charges should make this ‘bill shock’ a thing of the past.

All mobile companies now have to apply a cut-off limit once a customer’s mobile internet bill reaches €50 – around £40 – per month, while in the EU. This will happen automatically, unless they opt out. Alternately, customers can select their own limit.

Mobile companies must also send customers a text message or email when they reach 80% and then 100% of the agreed limit. They must then stop providing and charging for that mobile internet service when the limit is met unless the consumer re-authorises their account.

The SNP MP welcomed the new rules as a way of protecting consumers from the shock of a high bill when returning from holidays.

Commenting on the issue, Dr Whiteford said:

"When a customer enters a different EU country, operators must send a welcome SMS/text message with basic price information on roaming services, a free phone number for more detailed price information, and the 112 emergency number. They must also send a reminder of data roaming prices when the customer first connects to that service in a different EU country. I've received a lot of e-mails from constituents on this issue and these changes should go a long way to resolving the issue."

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LOCAL MP VISITS NEW DEER SHOW

Monday, 19 July 2010

Banff & Buchan SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford visited New Deer Show on Saturday where she held a surgery and met with the local NFU Scotland branch. The MP also toured the cattle and sheep lines before visiting the various stalls and exhibitions around the showground.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"I'm very pleased for the organisers that, on the whole, the weather was kind to them this year.

"There is a tremendous amount of work goes into planning a successful show like New Deer and the Show President, Secretary and Committee deserve our thanks for pulling together another excellent showcase for the best of Buchan and North-east livestock.

"The support given to the show by the Buchan community and the public at large is vitally important to ensuring that this 163 year-old tradition continues not only as part of Buchan's farming heritage but also as a vibrant contributor to the rural economy."

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MP DROPS IN TO WISH ERROLL COURT HAPPY 40TH BIRTHDAY

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford dropped in on residents of Turriff's Erroll Court last Friday to help them celebrate 40 years since the complex first opened its doors.

The local MP was invited by staff to join in the celebrations scheduled for last Wednesday but unfortunately couldn't be there as she had to be in the House of Commons that day. However, Dr Whiteford made Erroll Court her first port of call after arriving in Aberdeen on Friday morning direct from London.

Turriff councillor Sandy Duncan, who attended the residents' party last Wednesday, accompanied the MP.

Speaking afterwards, Dr Whiteford said:

"I very much enjoyed my visit to Erroll Court and meeting the residents and staff there.

"It seems like a very happy place and it was a great pleasure to be able to share in some of the celebrations with the residents.  They were keen to share with me a large pile of photographs taken at the party on Wednesday and it certainly looked like everyone had an enjoyable day."

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TORIES AND LIBERALS VOTE FOR VAT BOMBSHELL

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

VAT INCREASE WILL HIT RURAL AREAS HARDEST - WHITEFORD

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has hit out at the London parties after the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats this evening (Tuesday) voted to raise VAT, while Labour MPs abstained in a vote for an SNP amendment to bring relief for households and businesses.

Speaking from Westminster this evening, Dr Whiteford said:

"The Con/Dem coalition's decision to proceed with this rise is economically illiterate. This increase in VAT will cause real pain for households and businesses, and hinder economic recovery. 

"For Labour MPs to sit on their hands and abstain on this vote is absolutely unforgivable.  First Labour let the Tories into government, and now they are standing back while the Tories and Liberals impose savage cuts and painful tax hikes.  This failure will haunt the Labour Party in Scotland for years to come. 

"The VAT increase will hit rural areas like ours hardest.  VAT increases on fuel will be in addition to the increases in duty, which will have a knock-on effect on the price of all goods transported into the North-east.  We will see prices of food and other essentials rise, and all of us will be affected, at a time when many are already feeling the spending squeeze.

"Increasing VAT will put a strain on our public services at a time when they need support more than ever. The NHS in Scotland, for example, will be hit by a £26m hike in the VAT bill.

"The VAT increase also piles the pain on businesses already struggling through Labour's recession – taking spending power out of the economy and exacerbating cash flow problems.

"The Tories and the Liberals have already endangered the recovery by cutting too far and too fast. The decision to increase VAT is a political choice and it is a wrong choice."

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SNP WANTS BETTER DEAL BANFF & BUCHAN FUEL POOR

MILLIONS DRAINED OUT OF LOCAL ECONOMY EVERY YEAR

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford, along with other SNP MPs at Westminster, is calling on the UK Government to take more action to help those in fuel poverty, especially those not connected to the gas grid.

In Banff & Buchan thousands of people rely on domestic oil to heat their homes and with prices trebling in less than 8 years many households are finding bills harder and harder to pay.

This week domestic heating oil prices were around 47p per litre in the North-east compared with around 15p a litre in 2002.

For someone taking delivery of 1000 litres this represents a difference in price of £470 compared to just £150.

While mains gas and electricity prices have also increased in that time the difference is significantly less.

In a House of Commons debate on Fuel Poverty the SNP has put across the point that those off the gas grid "slipped through the cracks" and did not receive the benefit of social tariffs.

The SNP are calling upon the UK government to adopt a scheme that they put forward during the debates on last years Energy Act to spread the cost of social tariffs amongst all fuel providers. In response the energy minister has indicated that he is prepared to consider the idea.

Commenting on the issue, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

"It is vital that a wide range of measures are used to help those that are fuel poor.

"For a customer using 2,000 litres of oil a year - which is around 2 fills of an average tank - the increased cost in the last 8 years is around 6 to 7 hundred pounds. This is a whopping increase and money that is making its way into the coffers of oil giants.

"In Banff & Buchan as a whole that equates to millions of pounds leaking out of hard-pressed families pockets and away from the local economy.

"Local distribution firms are not the ones who are making massive profits, it is all going up the chain to the major multi-national companies running the oil industry.

"I want to see a system of social tariffs available to customers using all forms of energy. That is extremely important for people across Banff & Buchan.

"Heat is a basic human need.  For far too long the difficulties of bringing help to those off the gas grid has been rejected as simply too difficult. What we need is a radical solution to ensure that all those who are living in fuel poverty can get the help they need."

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WHITEFORD WELCOMES PLANS FOR PETERHEAD CARBON CAPTURE

Thursday, 8 July 2010

PETERHEAD BID TO BE AT CENTRE OF CARBON CAPTURE REVOLUTION

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed today's announcement that Scottish and Southern Energy plc is to develop a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project at its gas-fired power station at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.

The project would demonstrate post-combustion capture of carbon dioxide emissions relating to the electricity output of the equivalent of 400MW of capacity.  It would involve using an existing gas turbine, an existing steam turbine, an existing electricity network connection and land adjacent to the power station already owned by SSE.

A earlier proposal to capture carbon dioxide emissions at Peterhead, and then export them to the North Sea for enhanced oil recovery and ultimate storage, was abandoned in 2007 because the previous Labour Government refused to provide certainty over the policy framework required or financial support.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

"This is great news for Peterhead and excellent news for Scotland's renewable sector given we have some of Europe's largest carbon storage reserves in our North Sea oil and gas fields combined with the expertise on how to access them.

"SSE are to be commended for their continuing commitment to carbon capture and this project has huge environmental potential, and must be embraced by the government. This has been a key campaign for the SNP, and Alex Salmond, as First Minister and as the former local MP, battled to bring the development of carbon capture to the area. I am delighted that these longstanding efforts may soon be realised.

"This project would put Peterhead at the cutting-edge of carbon capture technology.  The UK Government must now recognise the very strong case which exists for this project going ahead and the investment it will bring to Peterhead.

"People have not forgotten that Peterhead could already have been three years ahead of where it is now had the last Labour Government not decided to pull back from its support for the previous carbon capture project."


SNP Westminster Energy spokesperson Mike Weir MP, who lodged an amendment to the Energy Bill earlier this year to extend the CCS levy and allow gas projects to be included, also hailed the news. 

Mr Weir added: 

"For too long, the UK Government has dithered over developing this vital resource and the new administration must finally take steps to support the sector. 

"Scotland could have been the world leader in CCS had the last Labour government given sufficient backing to the proposed development at Peterhead, instead it let that go overseas with its blinkered attitude to only developing coal based CCS."

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WHITEFORD ELECTED VICE-CHAIR OF ALL-PARTY FISHERIES COMMITTEE

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has today been elected as a vice-chairperson of the House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries. 

The All-Party Parliamentary Fisheries Group has existed for many years to support the fishing industry throughout the UK. 

The Group meets regularly with representatives from the fishing industry and with Government Ministers.  

New UK Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon MP, was also present at today's Annual General Meeting. 

Speaking from Westminster, Dr Whiteford said:

"Fishing is vitally important to Banff & Buchan and I'm honoured to have been elected as a vice-chairperson of the All-Party Group on Fisheries.  I think it is a reflection of the importance of Banff & Buchan to the industry as a whole. 

"Scottish fishermen are leading the rest of Europe in sustainable fishing practices, but we need to ensure that fishing is also economically viable, sustaining jobs and livelihoods in our coastal communities. 

"I look forward to using the opportunities presented by the All-Party Group to further the cause of the Scottish fishing industry with both the Westminster Government and in Brussels."

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EILIDH WHITEFORD MP CHAMPIONS DEAF AWARENESS IN BANFF & BUCHAN

Thursday, 1 July 2010

To mark Deaf Awareness Week (28 June – 4 July 2010), Eilidh Whiteford MP is supporting leading charities and calling on her constituents to help remove communication barriers faced by people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Eilidh Whiteford MP attended a deaf awareness reception in the House of Commons organised by the UK Council on Deafness (UKCoD) and supported by RNID and the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS). The event highlighted important ‘dos and don’ts’ to help improve communication with adults and children who are deaf or hard of hearing including:

  • Do learn some basic signs and fingerspelling
  • Do repeat yourself or rephrase until you’re understood
  • Do face me when you speak
  • Do think about communication support
  • Don’t have lots of background noise
  • Don’t shout
  • Don’t avoid conversation
Eilidh Whiteford MP says:

“Many shops, services and residents in Banff & Buchan may not realise the barriers faced by people who are deaf or hard of hearing and how small changes, such as holding face-to-face conversations in well lit places, can significantly improve communication. I encourage others to join me in learning about the communication needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

Chair of UKCoD, Susan Daniels, said:

“Adults and children who are deaf or hard of hearing face communication barriers due to a lack of awareness in the community which can lead to issues such as isolation and exclusion from society. We’re urging everyone in Banff & Buchan to follow Eilidh Whiteford’s example and improve their everyday communication with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

UKCoD, RNID and NDCS are encouraging everyone to get involved in the discussion on ‘do’s and don’t’s’ of communication by uploading a photo of their top communication tips and sharing their thoughts at www.flickr.com/groups/daw2010

One in seven people in the UK are deaf or hard of hearing, and of those, over 45,000 are deaf children.

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