Earlier this month I was delighted to report that the Banff and Buchan 'Cultural Tides: North Sea Connections’ Levelling Up bid had been successful – bringing fantastic opportunity for regeneration and growth to Peterhead and Macduff.
£20 million of UK Government funding has been secured to go towards restoring Arbuthnot House in Peterhead and extending the already popular visitor attraction Macduff Marine Aquarium.
UK Government Minister for Scotland and Scottish Conservative colleague, John Lamont MP, joined us in Peterhead to join the celebrations. And the next day, I went along to Macduff Aquarium to make sure their success was also acknowledged.
Banff and Buchan was one of ten bids that were successful in Scotland – each one a great example of direct UK Government funding and support towards projects that would otherwise likely not happen under the usual Scottish Government and Local Authority prioritisation.
Predictably perhaps, Nicola Sturgeon has complained that she and the SNP Scottish Government have not had a say in where and how these funds have been distributed.
She mentions, “remote, rural and sparsely populated areas being ignored”, but that is demonstrably not true.
The bids themselves have all be submitted by local authorities – including the successful £27 million bid by Shetland Islands Council for a Fair Isle Ferry, which is about as remote as it gets!
I’m sure that we will all – including the First Minister – be watching the progress of that ferry project with great interest.
Besides, I’m sure that many residents right across rural Scotland – particularly here in the North East– can think of many examples of places and devolved services which have been neglected under the SNP’s control.
One example of the SNP’s failure to deliver for rural Scotland is their much vaunted ‘R100’ Programme – originally promised in 2017 to deliver 100% superfast broadband by 2021.
15% of my constituents do not have access to superfast (24Mbps) broadband – compared with about 5% across the rest of Scotland
Some areas in my constituency are being quoted 2026 and beyond!
Recycling centres in Portsoy and Macduff had their appointment booking systems removed last year, but, since November, Turriff have been trialling a ‘hybrid’ system, meaning Wednesdays and Saturdays became non-booking days, with the hope it would increase recycling across the region.
Data collected during the trial will, I am told, be used by the council to determine the next steps, which could involve the complete removal of the booking system.
But it came to my attention recently that signs at the recycling centre, stating that bookings were required, remained in place on those non-booking days.
I have written to Aberdeenshire Council to address this oversight which, as well as being confusing for residents, may also risk skewing the results of the trial.
We should all be encouraged to use these centres to dispose of recyclable household waste as much as possible and so it is disappointing that these barriers are in place.
Finally, I am delighted to once again support the Moray & Banffshire Heroes Awards.
Nominations are still open for these awards which celebrate the inspirational individuals we have across Banffshire communities - which of course includes large part of my constituency.
The deadline for entries is midnight, Friday 10 February, with an Awards Ceremony on 10 April and nominations can be submitted on: https://www.hnmedia.co.uk/morayheroes/