Feb 242017
 

With thanks to Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP.

Tory councillors in the North-east of Scotland have rejected plans to offer businesses rates relief for the second time in under a week – after the Tory-led Moray administration recently threw out an SNP amendment encouraging the Moray Council to follow Aberdeenshire’s lead in offering local business rates relief.

SNP councillors in Aberdeenshire last week passed a budget allocating £3 million for a local business rates relief scheme, to help those that have seen larger rates revaluations and are feeling the effects of the downturn in the north east economy.

SNP councillors in Moray had tabled an amendment to the Tory-led budget in Moray suggesting a similar scheme, but this was rejected by Tory councillors, including part-time-MSP-come-referee-come-councillor Douglas Ross.

On the same day as Ruth Davidson has reportedly stated that businesses are “staring down the barrel of a gun” due to changes to business rates, the actions of Tory councillors clearly demonstrated they are more interested in opportunistic soundbites rather than providing firms with meaningful support when they have the powers to do so.

Commenting, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“This is quite astonishing from the Tory-led administration in Moray. They have not stopped criticising the Scottish Government for the changes to business rates, yet they refuse to use the powers that they have at a local level to provide firms with meaningful support.

“It is clear that Ruth Davidson’s Tories are only interested in scoring political points rather than actually providing any support to the businesses they have claimed to support in recent weeks.

“Voters across Moray and Aberdeenshire aren’t daft, and they’ll have seen Douglas Ross and others leading the chorus against changes to businesses rates, before he voted today to prevent businesses from receiving substantial support. Their opposition has been proven to be nothing more than crocodile tears.

“The Tories ought to be ashamed of themselves – and their actions won’t be forgotten by voters in Aberdeenshire, Moray and beyond when they go to the polls in May.”

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Dec 192014
 

YouthCouncilacycThmWith thanks to Michael Hutchison.

Welcoming the news the news that David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon will work together to ensure that 16 and 17 year olds get the vote in time for the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections, Aberdeen City Youth Council Chair, Rebecca Lindsay has commented:
“This is a significant step forward for votes at 16 in all elections.”

“I am delighted that 16 and 17 year olds will have their say in Scottish and Local elections from 2016 onwards.

“There is still however still work to be done to ensure that the voting age is lowered in UK and European elections. The referendum saw young people engage and turnout in amazing numbers and helped us to get to where we are now. We need to see this as an opportunity to do that again and win the vote in all elections.

“This campaign has united the five parties at Holyrood and has seen the First Minister and Prime Minister find common ground. Votes at 16 is a cause people are rallying around and I hope that will continue.”

Martin Close, who will get a vote in 2016 elections if the proposals go ahead, added:

“I was very grateful to be one of the many 16 year olds in Scotland who gained the vote for the referendum earlier this year.

“If it is decided not to lower the voting age then I will be one of the many young people who would not be able to vote in the 2016 Holyrood Elections. It seems strange that I would be allowed to vote on such a huge matter for Scotland’s future but not get to vote in a normal election for parliament.” “Young people have shown that we are more than capable of taking on the responsibility of voting.

“It is very important that young people are given the opportunity to vote in every single election which affects our lives.”

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Sep 122014
 

By Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford.

Eilidh Whiteford MP Peterhead Harbour (1)

It was back to London for me this week as the long Westminster recess came to an end. I was pleased to find it’s still warm and sunny there, even if Summer seems to have abandoned us here in the North-east. As well as parliament catching up on events that have developed over the break, we also passed the second reading of a pensions bill that will give those with occupational pensions more flexibility when they retire.

I’ve been talking a lot about pensions in recent weeks. As I’ve been out chapping doors ahead of the Referendum, I’ve been reassuring pensioners that their State Pensions will be paid on time and in full in the event of a Yes vote, administered from offices in Dundee and Motherwell, just as they are at the moment.

I’ve been reminding them that their entitlement is based on their contributions record – not where they choose to live. Many thousands of pensioners go off to live in Spain and France nowadays, but all receive their pensions, because they worked for it, and I welcome the confirmation from the UK Pensions Minister that state pensions are secure regardless of the outcome of the Referendum.

But in Scotland we can do better. We spend a lower proportion of our GDP on pensions than the rest of the UK, and life expectancy lags stubbornly behind the UK average. A Scottish pensioner retiring in 2016 will, on average, receive £10,000 less in pension over their lifetime than pensioners elsewhere in the UK.

That’s one reason why we need to tailor pensions to Scotland’s circumstances and look again at whether we really need to raise the pension age beyond 67, as the UK plans to do. Control of our economy would also give us the levers to address the longer term demographic challenges faced by all Western countries with low birthrates and aging populations.

Scotland’s relative economic strength means that we are better placed to ensure that our citizens enjoy a dignified retirement with a secure income in old age.

We can afford to do things differently, and a Yes vote in September will allow us to do just that.

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Sep 122014
 

SaltireJack2By Fin Hall – Writer Photographer, Realist.

I am rapidly approaching my 62nd birthday; in fact by the time that I cast my vote on the 18th of September, that milestone will have passed.
My views on independence has never changed since I first was eligible to put a cross on my first voting paper. It has always been an easy choice to be a yes voter.

When I was 18 I voluntarily joined the army, not any of the Scottish regiments, that would involve too much, hard, physical work, but The Royal Signals, as a radio operator.

When I was filling out my application form, two things rankled me. One was the fact that it was not permissible to put the word ‘atheist’ in the box for my religion. The other being, that I wasn’t allowed to enter ‘Scottish’ in the section reserved for nationality.

I have never been anti-English, nor, on the other hand, have I ever been a Braveheart style nationalist. Both of these options are narrow minded, and potentially dangerous characteristics.

Not long after enlisting, there was an election of some sorts in Aberdeen. I remember getting my dad to vote by proxy for me, something I don’t believe one can do now. This is where I am not sure of my facts, but spurred on by the application form, I seem to recall getting him to vote for the SNP candidate. I am not sure who that would have been, but it was the start of the road to where I am now.

In the seventies when Jim Callaghan’s Labour Government ( remember them? Real labour) cheated us out of our right to devolution, by stating that we needed to get at least 46% of the population to cast their vote for the victory to be assured, I was devastated that our proud people, couldn’t drag themselves along to the polling stations in the appropriate numbers.

Fast forward to Tony Blair and his New Labour posse riding into town and delivering the promised, no strings attached, devolution referendum, the result of which is the position we find ourselves in just now. Getting the chance to decide our own future, hopefully the chance to stand on our own two, or should I say five million feet in a few weeks.

There are many reasons why I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone, I mean anyone, could even consider not voting to be 100% in complete control of their own lives, whilst still being in a close relationship with their partner.

Scotland is not, and never will be a third world country. We have no need to have to go cap in hand to Westminster, no need for charitable aid donations.

Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since then, and will develop even further in the future

We have vast oil resources, and despite the fact that Alistair Darling and David Cameron call it ‘volatile’ and that it will run out eventually, I always argue the fact that they have had oil in the a Gulf of Mexico area since 19th century and in the Middle East since somewhere in the middle of the 29th century.

I realise it is different geological circumstances, but it shows no sign of running out there.

I have been hearing this in Aberdeen since it first started coming ashore in the seventies.

Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since then, and will develop even further in the future, meaning it will be possible to get even more out. Never mind the Clair Ridge recent discovery. So why is it volatile here and not in other parts of the world? How come our oil-sharing neighbours, Norway, aren’t tearing their hair out worrying about the successful country they are?

I have friends that continuously spout out about supporting local businesses as opposed to putting money into the pockets of the multi-nationals, and then support the Better Together side of things, not getting the irony in what they are doing and saying.

By forever being beholden to a power other than our own is like living at home as an adult, in a great, well paying job, handing over all your salary to your mum, getting some pocket money back, and still having to do your own laundry and make your own tea.

In my day job, or should I say my afternoon and evening job, I am a self employed taxi driver. I have been for 37 years, and all but one of non Scottish people I have had in my cab, and discussed the referendum, have stated that they would have voted yes, or will vote yes, for those eligible.

None of them can understand why any one would vote no. They just don’t get it. In fact one Indian guy stated that independence is in their blood from birth.

The one who said she was voting no was a young English born girl of Romanian descent. Her reason was that when Romania became a free country, it didn’t fare well to start with.

this isn’t set up to be a slight on our southern neighbours, but more showing our standing in the world

I asked her if she had the chance back then, would she have voted to remain under the control, effectively of USSR? She thought I was asking a stupid, irrelevant question. Totally failing to get the point, that, because of the fall of the aforesaid communist empire, she wouldn’t necessarily be free and here in Scotland just now.

I have travelled to well over 30 different countries, and generally what happens is, that locals ask if you are English; when you point out to them that you are Scottish, a smile as wide as the Firth of Forth come across their countenance.

This happened to us in August in Northern a France, when in a pizza restaurant ( don’t ask, it was all that was open) when the owner came over and introduced himself to us, and asked that very question. When we told him we were Scottish, he apologised, and got even more friendlier.

Now this isn’t set up to be a slight on our southern neighbours, but more showing our standing in the world, despite the Better Together campaigners saying we are only good because we are conjoined to England via the Westminster umbilical cord. And despite the Better Together rampagers spreading fear and loathing about currency, our pound, pensions, (safe) health service. ( safe unless Westminster cuts funding, which they could do) and other spurious tittle tattle,every day more people are turning our way.

We are a rich and diverse country fill of artists, inventors, discoverers etc. By saying that, I am not implying that we are unique in such a thing, there are many countries the same. The only difference is that they are independent and stand and fall on their own choice, unlike us, who have the burden of paying the price of Westminster’s failings and bullying.

I am voting yes because I come from a proud country, and would like to leave the future totally in the hands of our own decisions, so my grand children and my soon to be born great grand daughter, and for generations to come, can be proud that we, Scotland the Brave, made the right decision, for the right reasons, and not immediately thinking of the penny in our pocket at thus precise moment, and not because we were fearful of being ejected from the EU the rest of the UK may vote to stay in anyway, and not because we hate anyone, but because we are a nation ready for independence and have no wish to still live with our parents, paying our board and living off handouts .

We are not a third world country, but a globally successful one.

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Jun 102014
 

FULL COUNCIL MEETING – 19 JUNE, 2014

 

Vote 1 – Review of Community Councils Scheme

 

Councillor Ford, seconded by Councillor Johnston, moved approval of the arrangements for a review of the Scheme for Community Councils, the revised scheme to offer Community Councils devolved budget and decision making from the Council, subject to appropriate governance safeguards and Community Councils opting for the additional responsibilities.

 

Councillor K L Clark, seconded by Councillor Kitts-Hayes, moved approval of the arrangements for a review of the Scheme for Community Councils as set out in the report.

 

The members of the Council voted:-

 

for the motion                                 (3)            Councillors Ford, Johnston and D Stewart.

 

for the amendment                       (59)            Councillors Agnew, Aitchison, A J Allan, Argyle, Bellarby, Bews, Blackett, A Buchan, C Buchan, Carr, Chapman, Christie, G Clark, K Clark, L Clark, Cowling, Cox, Cullinane, Davidson, Dick, J Duncan, S Duncan, Evison, Farquhar, Findlater, Gardiner, Grant, Gray, Hendry, Hood, Howatson, Ingleby, Ingram, Kitts-Hayes, Latham, Lonchay, McKail, McRae, Merson, Mollison, Nelson, Norrie, Oddie, Owen, Partridge, Pirie, Pratt, Robertson, Ross, Roy, Shand, N Smith, S Smith, Strathdee, B Stuart, Tait, Thomson, Vernal and Webster.

 

declined to vote                              (2)            Councillors Topping and Walker.

Jun 062014
 

1656206_672162342847660_436365328_nWith thanks to Paul Robertson. 

Banff & Buchan campaigners for independence have thanked visitors following a good turnout at a Yes Coffee Morning in Macduff on Saturday, May 31.

Dozens of residents turned out to ask questions, speak to political representatives, and learn more about the benefits of independence for Scotland at the event in Buchan Street Hall.

Among those in attendance was local Yes campaigner Ross Cassie, who welcomed the turnout and said that momentum was now clearly with the campaign for a Yes vote.

He said:

“It was a great day with a fantastic turnout. Many people who have not previously engaged in the political process are energised by the debate we are having just now. There were a lot of undecided people who came to find out the truth – and the truth is that Scotland is uniquely well equipped to be a successful, independent country.

“We will be heading out around Banff and Buchan in the weeks ahead to make sure that undecided voters get the answers they want and the information they need to cast a Yes vote for an independent Scotland on 18 September.”

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Oct 182013
 

With thanks to Alexander Henderson of the Aberdeen Yes campaign.

Blair Jenkins - Peter McNally

Blair Jenkins, head of the Yes campaign.

The 24th of October marks the intensification of the referendum debate in Aberdeen with the first visit of a major name to the Granite City.

Blair Jenkins, head of the Yes campaign, comes to the city to put forward his vision and opinion on the positive, inclusive vision of Scotland a Yes vote in September 2014 could deliver.

Blair will give a short address before opening the floor to questions from the audience.

This event provides a unique opportunity for the public to put their questions and concerns to the very top man in the Yes campaign.

For those unsure or sceptical about the advantages of a Yes vote in September next year this is a great opportunity to come along and listen to and discuss with Blair a whole range of topics including defence, welfare, the economy and much more.

The event begins at 19.30 in the MacRobert Lecture Theatre at Aberdeen University.

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Jun 102013
 

On behalf of Aberdeen Voice, and in response to complaints from readers, Editor, Fred Wilkinson comments on the Labour Party’s latest election literature.

It’s flattering to see that our provision of a local news service has been a success in our three-year existence, to the extent that the Labour Party in Aberdeen has used the title “Aberdeen Voice” for its election communication to the electors of Aberdeen Donside.

We can see why some have raised their eyebrows at this, and wish to make it clear that we are non-partisan when it comes to political issues and will consider publishing material, whatever its political viewpoint as long as it conforms to the standards of decency and truth on which we’re based and which we’re proud to uphold.

The Labour Party’s communication is its business, not ours. We feel it unfortunate that they have chosen, carelessly, it seems, a title that has come to mean non-partisan and fair journalism to those who have been with us for our three years of publication.

We have nothing to do with this piece of election material and hope that our neutrality has not been compromised.

Thanks for sticking with us.

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Mar 142013
 

With thanks to Kenneth Watt.

Candidates in the Scottish Youth Parliament elections in Aberdeen were today joined by councillors and MSPs in a bid to push for more young people to vote before the close of the polls this week.

Organised by Aberdeen City Youth Council, who are hosting Friday’s results evening, Chair Barry Black ( pictured ), an outgoing MSYP, welcomed council leaders and Kevin Stewart MSP to the Town House.

With polling closing on Friday Barry said:-

“Voting takes two minutes and is very easy. This year we want as many young people as possible to log in and have their say in choosing their youth representative.”

“The SYP is a great forum which has influence at local, national and international level. I have had a fantastic experience over the past two years as MSYP for Aberdeen Central and am proud to have helped make a difference on many issues, like Equal Marriage and Votes at 16.”

Frank Doran MP today said:-

“As the deadline for casting votes fast approaches, I would urge those aged 14-25 in the city to participate, to have their say in electing representatives to campaign on issues that matter to them.” 

Voting is done online in three easy steps:

1. Go to elections.youngscot.org
2. Enter YoungScot card number
3. Vote for your preferred candidates

If electors, aged 14-25, don’t have a YoungScot card number, they can obtain a polling code by emailing info@youngscot.org with their name and postcode.

Monday’s event was attended by Council Leader Barney Crockett, Deputy Leader Marie Boulton, Cllr Scott Carle, Cllr Ross Thomson and Cllr Fraser Forsyth. Kevin Stewart MSP also came along to show support.

Candidates for election are as follows:

Donside
Braden Davy
Dainius Balcytis
Jamie Ross
Stephen Anderson

South and North Kincardine
Kris Chapman
Megan Lukins
Piotr Teodorowski

Central
Michael Hutchison
Struan King

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