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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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SNP BURNS SUPPER AT CRUDEN BAY

Monday, 31 January 2011

Peterhead Branch of the Scottish National Party held its annual Burns Supper jointly with the recently-formed Cruden Bay, Hatton & Longhaven Branch at the Red House Hotel, Cruden Bay on Saturday.

Following the Selkirk Grace from Longhaven farmer Ferg Stephen and the Address to the Haggis by Peterhead Burns devotee Michael Cowie, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead MSP delivered the Immortal Memory. SNP Westminster MP for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford gave the Toast to Scotland. The evening was compered by George Anderson, Convener of the Cruden Bay, Hatton & Longhaven Branch SNP.

Commenting afterwards, Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford said:

“It was a very good evening with an excellent turnout of over 50 guests on the night.

“Credit must go to the hotel management and staff at the Red House for their efficiency on the night and of course the excellent meal they provided.

“The SNP branches in Peterhead and Cruden are going from strength to strength thanks to the efforts of our hardworking local councillors and our local members and I congratulate them on organising another very successful Burns Supper."

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WHITEFORD COMMENTS ON LES TAYLOR GROUP MEETING

Friday, 14 January 2011

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has met with receivers for the Les Taylor Group in Mintlaw, along with MSP Stewart Stevenson who arranged the meeting and Aberdeenshire councillor Norman Smith.

The local Parliamentarians also met with some of the workers at the company’s Mintlaw site afterwards.

Commenting, Dr Whiteford said:

“This was a very useful meeting in terms of some of the positive information the receivers were able to provide.

“It seems that there is a very strong likelihood that some components of the Les Taylor Group, such as the animal feedstuffs division, can be sold on, which is very encouraging news indeed.

“This has come as a big shock to the workforce who expected some job losses but nothing on this scale. I am reassured that support for those who have lost their jobs has already been put in place and that workshops will be taking place at Job Centres throughout the area to help those affected prepare for interviews for alternative employment.

“It is clearly a difficult time for the workers involved but it is good to know that everything possible is being done to minimise the negative impact of the announcement on the workforce and the wider community.”

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LOCAL MP MEETS WITH RAF LOSSIEMOUTH CAMPAIGNERS

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford met with a delegation from the campaign to save RAF Lossiemouth in London today as they took their fight to Whitehall. 30 campaigners journeyed overnight by bus to hand a 30 000 signature petition into 10 Downing Street before lobbying MPs.

Speaking from the House of Commons, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"RAF Lossiemouth is hugely important to the North-east economy and if it were to be closed that would be an economic catastrophe

“In addition, there will be a hugely increased risk to lives on sea and land by closing the search and rescue services at Lossiemouth which currently serve the fishing and offshore oil and gas industry.

"The community spirit that exists is hugely important for the morale of serving personnel at the base. I’m therefore proud to give my full support to the campaigners and wish them every success as they bid to persuade Whitehall mandarins and the Tory-led Government to think again."

SNP Defence Spokesperson and MP for Moray Angus Robertson, who accompanied the group said:

“It’s now almost three months since the Defence Secretary published the Strategic Defence and Security Review, yet we are no further forward in getting any clarity around final base closure decisions or what support and assistance the UK Government intend to provide to communities affected by closures or downsizing.

“Scotland has endured mammoth defence cuts over the last decade, and all the evidence surrounding the SDSR suggests that the Ministry of Defence is set to continuing the trend of concentrating defence manpower, basing and spending in the South of England.

“At present there are only 12,190 UK service-personnel in Scotland. Since the last defence review in 1997 there have been more than 10,000 defence job losses in Scotland and there has been a defence under-spend of at least £5.6 billion. This under-spend constitutes a 36% budget shortfall. Scotland has seen a severe defence shortfall and contraction which cannot continue.”

Lossiemouth SNP Councillor and Chair of the ‘Save RAF Lossie’ Action Group, David Stewart, added:

“The battle bus has taken us through rain, sleet and snow to deliver this 30,000 strong petition to the Prime Minister. We are absolutely clear that Lossiemouth must not close.

“The community of Lossiemouth and the wider community of Moray and beyond have made clear their views with massive march and rally and now with the petition.

“The community integration between the armed forces and the local community has been built up with over 70 years of RAF presence in Moray and the support that integration provides for the armed forces personnel and their families must not be lost at the stroke of a pen.”

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1800 NORTH-EAST FAMILIES SET FOR TAX CREDIT HIT

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has commented on figures published by the think tank, Resolution Foundation, which show that more than 1800 working families across Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and Moray are set to lose over £380 a year in support for childcare costs from April next year.

The Tax Credits hit is due to the Tory/LibDem UK Government’s changes to the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit. The report has also suggested that some families could lose as much as £1,300 a year.

Commenting on the news, Dr Whiteford said:

"This report makes grim reading at a time when the North-east economy is being battered by defence cuts and households are being hit hard by soaring fuel, electricity and heating costs.

"The findings of this research that around 1880 families in the North-east could lose over £380 is a wake up call on the agenda of the Tories in Westminster. Without moving the full responsibility for our social and economic wellbeing to the Scottish Parliament from Tory dominated Westminster we will all be fighting poverty with one hand tied behind our backs.

"Improvements in childcare, preventing people being caught in a poverty trap, regulation of credit and measures to ensure everyone has access to a decent pension are all policies the SNP would like to see implemented.

"However without the powers to introduce them or to generate and access the wealth we need to pay for anti-poverty measures Scotland is stuck with the prospect of Tory cuts to services that affect the most vulnerable."

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WARNING OVER LIVES AT RISK IF LOSSIEMOUTH CLOSES

Monday, 3 January 2011

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has appealed to the UK Government to stop the closure of Search and Rescue (SAR) services from RAF Lossiemouth after a parliamentary question revealed the role played by the helicopter cover in operations involving fishing boats.

Dr Whiteford’s constituency, which neighbours Moray, is home to a large part of the UK’s pelagic fleet - with Peterhead being Europe's premier white fish port, and Fraserburgh, Europe's biggest shellfish port. A Parliamentary Question – detailed below – has revealed the number of times search and rescue helicopters have been called out to rescue troubled fishing vessels.

The SNP MP is now calling for the UK Government to consider the impact that the closure of the UK Air Rescue Coordination Centre and Search and Rescue Squadron 202 at RAF Lossiemouth would have on the fishing and offshore oil and gas industry, as well as mountain rescue.

A decision on SAR privatisation had been expected before Christmas, but has been indefinitely delayed after the preferred bidder said it had become aware of a possible issue with its bid. The UK Government has also announced plans to cut Coastguard stations from 18 to 8 with only one in Scotland.

Commenting Dr Whiteford said:

“The UK Government will put lives at risk on sea and land by closing the search and rescue services which currently serve the fishing and offshore oil and gas industry.

“The Search and Rescue helicopters and their military crews from Lossiemouth have played a key role is the rescue and location of fishing boats over many years, indeed they have been called out five time in the last year. The loss of this cover would be extremely troubling.

“The UK Government must consider the impact that the closure of the Rescue Coordination Centre and Search and Rescue Squadron 202 at RAF Lossiemouth would have on the fishing and offshore oil and gas industry. Lossiemouth is the obvious and best strategic location for this cover.

“It would be extreme stupidity to withdraw military aircrews and privatise search and rescue cover from Lossiemouth, given the massive capability gap already created by the decision to axe the Nimrod fleet at RAF Kinloss.

“The military training and excellence of our RAF and Royal Navy helicopter crews have helped to save so many lives and maintain the highest rescue standards, and these skills and services must not be lost.

“Given a decision on privatisation has already been delayed because of problems with the preferred bidder, the UK government must step back from making a reckless decision that will put lives at risk.”

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