Aberdeen SOUTH & North Kincardine

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            ABERDEEN SOUTH & NORTH KINCARDINE Constituency (Scottish Parliament)                                                                      

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AUDREY NICOLL MSP

An Aberdonian, Audrey Nicoll (nee  Gibb) was elected as the MSP for ABERDEEN SOUTH & NORTH KINCARDINE on 6 May 2021, succeeding Maureen Watt. 

Audrey was a police officer for 31 years, followed by 5 years as a lecturer at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.  She became an SNP councillor for the Torry & Ferryhill ward of Aberdeen City Council when she won a by-election on 21 Nov. 2019.

Her husband, Alex Nicoll, is the SNP Group Leader in Aberdeen City Council, and they have a son, Sam.                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                        

 

  E-mail  audrey.nicoll.msp@parliament.scot                                                        

  Tel.:   0131 348 5490  (Parliament).              

  Contact Audrey on Facebook                         

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          CORONAVIRUS is highly contagious -- so remember these F.A.C.T.S.

Face MASKS in shops, buses and other enclosed spaces   ♦   Avoid CROWDED places   ♦    Clean your HANDS and surfaces regularly  ♦  Two-metre social DISTANCING  ♦   Stay HOME and self-isolate

 The City of Aberdeen moved to Level 1 on June 5.

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COUNCIL salary donated

AUDREY NICOLL MSP has been an Aberdeen City Councillor for Torry & Ferryhill since 2019.

Following the example of SNP colleague Jackie Dunbar MSP, she says she will donate her Council salary to "a range of good causes."  On June 16, Audrey added: "I’ve already been in touch with several fantastic local groups, and am privileged to support some amazing community-based projects, organisers and volunteers. Look out for more posts to come."

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EMPLOYMENT opportunities and initiatives

In a Parliamentary Question on June 9,  AUDREY NICOLL MSP asked the Scottish Government about local employment opportunities for people, especially young people, as Scotland moves to a net-zero economy.

As this was an especially important issue for Aberdeen and the North-East, she was encouraged to hear that, among the plans, is a Green Jobs Workforce Academy and a Young Persons Guarantee, to help people find work in this emerging sector.

The creation of a Green Jobs Workplace Academy was announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes in her Budget statement on January 28. This will ensure that those re-skilling or facing redundancy can take advantage of green job opportunities as they emerge. These are expected to come from: (a) the transition to renewable heat, which could create between 16,000 and 17,000 skilled jobs over the next decade; (b) "the more-than ten-fold increase" in Scotland's offshore wind sector which the Scottish Government deems possible by 2030; and (c) continued development of mature technologies, such as onshore wind and solar, and innovative ones like tidal and "floating wind", needed to meet our net-zero target. The Academy will receive financial input of £100million from the Green Jobs Fund.

The Young Persons Guarantee means that everyone aged between 16 and 24 in Scotland will be guaranteed "an opportunity at university or college, an apprenticeship programme, employment including work experience, or participating in a formal volunteering programme". First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the youth guarantee is aimed at ensuring young people do not carry the economic scars of the coronavirus pandemic into adulthood. The £60million initiative will be backed by additional money for apprenticeships.

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FIRST SPEECH in the Parliament

AUDREY NICOLL made her first Parliamentary speech as Aberdeen South & North Kincardine's MSP on June 1. She said: "I was honoured to make my first speech during the debate on the Scottish Government's NHS Recovery Plan. It includes plans to address waiting times, launch a National Care Service and provide support, including mental health, for vulnerable people affected by the pandemic."  This is the first part of her address.

Thankyou Deputy Presiding Officer. It is truly an honour to be elected to this special place, as our nation begins its recovery from Covid-19. My grateful thanks to my campaign team, my loving family, activists and all my constituents in Aberdeen South & North Kincardine. I pay special tribute to Maureen Watt, the first Minister for Mental Health, for her lifetime commitment to the constituency. She will be a very hard act to follow. I go shamelessly big-up on Aberdeen South & North Kincardine -- home to a thriving food and drinks industry, higher education, innovation and a stunning coastline. It is also home to a global energy sector. However, the sector is now experiencing a significant downturn, placing jobs and livelihoods at risk. This situation has been compounded by the pandemic and a disastrous Brexit, and created a perfect storm that has had a profound effect on many, specifically their mental heath.
Following a 31-year policing career, I joined the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Paramedic Practice at the Robert Gordon University, delivering nurse education across the health and policing intershift. Never did I imagine that when lecturing to my First Years on global health challenges, weeks later that they would be facing the prospect of their first placements on the front-line of one. I pay tribute to them all, to all NHS staff and all my colleagues who also returned to the front-line. I pay tribute to former colleagues in the emergency services, particularly Police Scotland, who had to balance daily law enforcement duties using emergency Covid legislation, and responding to the growing demands for mental health distress. Deputy Presiding Officer. I'm pleased to focus my first speech on mental health, in support of the motion today.

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The SNP : Delivering for ABERDEEN

AUDREY NICOLL reminds us what the SNP Government has delivered in the city since 2007:--

► Investing in 13 new schools, including Lochside Academy.

► Providing 9,141 new homes, including over 1,600 Council and Housing Association homes.

► Supporting small businesses, with over £230million from the Small Business Bonus.   

► Helping families on low incomes with the Best Start Grant, the Scottish Child Payment and the Carers Allowance Supplement.

► Completing the £745million AWPR Aberdeen bypass.

► Upgrading the A92-A96 Haudagain junction and replacing homes in Middlefield.

► Starting work on the £350million South Harbour in Nigg Bay.

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  Preparing for our NATION'S FUTURE

The SNP Government's SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM BILL was published on March 22.  It includes:-- 

►The TIMING:  A decision for the Scottish Parliament to take.

►The QUESTION: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"  Yes/No.

►The FRANCHISE:  Extend the right of foreign nationals to vote.

Read more athttps://www.gov.scot/

 

 

STUC backs REFERENDUM

At its meeting on April 21, delegates to the Scottish Trades Union Congress backed this motion:-- 

"Congress believes that the right to hold a Referendum should lie with the Scottish Parliament as elected by its people. Congress calls on the General Council to be proactive in ensuring this right to sef-determination is upheld, including the holding of a Referendum on Independence, with or without the consent of the UK Government."
UNISON's Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said: “UNISON is proud of the role it played in delivering devolution We were part of the movement which came together from across Scottish society, and which won a Scottish Parliament over 20 years ago. The principle then was that the form of Government of Scotland is a matter for the people of Scotland to decide."

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The SNP's ACHIEVEMENTS for Scotland

AUDREY NICOLL says: "Since 2007, every home in Scotland has benefited in some way from SNP Government policies."

We have transformed education, strengthened our NHS, created a new social security system with new game-changing benefits, and built thousands of affordable homes    We’ve used our powers to build a fairer country, by making Scotland’s tax system more progressive –- and launched the Scottish National Investment Bank to invest in our future. ♦   Internationally, Scotland has been recognised for its global responsibility, progressiveness and social conscience –- receiving praise from the UN for our climate action, for example.  ♦   After a decade of Westminster cuts, we’ve got on with the job of delivering the best public services anywhere in the UK.

Here are some of our top achievements:--

 1. Baby Box.  Giving every baby born in Scotland the best start in life, by providing families with a Baby Box filled with essential items needed in a child's first six months.

 2. Childcare.  600 hours of early learning and childcare, saving families up to £2,500 per child per year. In August 2020, over 60% of funded children were accessing 1,140 hours, worth around £4,500 per child per year.

 3. Free Tuition.  Students in England face tuition fees up to £27,750. Scottish students receive university tuition free.

 4. Period Poverty.  Scotland is the first in the world to make sanitary products available to all those who need them, free of charge.

 5. Record high health funding.  Our latest health and care portfolio spending will exceed £16billion, with resource funding up by over 60% under the SNP.

 6Free prescriptions.  Prescription charges were abolished in Scotland –- now cost £9.15 per item south of the border.

 7. Lower Council Tax.  Every Scottish household benefits from cheaper tax bills – on average £500 less than England, and we’re delivering a national Council Tax freeze.

 8. Care For All.  Free personal and nursing care has been extended to everyone who needs it, regardless of age.

 9. Free Bus Travel.  Over one million Scots now enjoy free bus travel across the country, including over-60s and disabled people –- and we’re now expanding it to all under-19s.

10. Scottish Child Payment.  This new benefit for families, the only one of its kind in the UK, has been called “game-changing” by anti-poverty campaigners, and will help lift around 30,000 children out of poverty.

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Boost for VICTORIA ROAD SCHOOL project  

The 19th century school closed in 2008, and initial plans to demolish the well-loved granite building were fiercely opposed by locals.

Their perseverance paid off when the Grampian Housing Assoc., in partnership with the Torry Development Trust, acquired the site from Aberdeen City Council in Sept. 2018. The partnership's plans to transform the existing building into affordable housing got a major boost when the project received £1.4million from the Scottish Government's Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. 
Audrey Nicoll, who is a Torry councillor in addition to being the SNP's Aberdeen South & North Kincardine candidate in May, expressed her appreciation on January 27. She said: "The volunteers on this project have worked unbelievably hard to ensure the building meets the needs of the community. I welcome the funding from the Scottish Government to regenerate and revitalise key community buildings throughout the country. The Victoria Road School Development will benefit from a share of more than £25million of funding going to remote and disadvantaged communities to support regeneration and employment. This could not have come at a better time."

And the latest on TORRY ACADEMY. On Feb. 1, Audrey Nicoll said: "At last week's meeting of Aberdeen City Council's Capital Programme Committee I asked for an update on the situation at the old Torry Academy. Council officers are aiming to complete demolition of the building by May, with construction of the new Primary School and Community Hub commencing in June. I will be monitoring progress on this." On March 13, Audrey said: "Big sigh of relief the demolition is now underway and building work can commence as soon as possible. The project cannot be delayed any further. This facility will be so important for Torry children picking up their learning again in their new school."

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SCOTTISH CHILD PAYMENT

The Scottish Government Budget for 2021-22, presented by Cabinet Secretary for Finance KATE FORBES on January 28, included substantial funding for social security & welfare, including the ground-breaking Scottish Child Payment (SCP).

To help with the costs of supporting a family, parents can now claim £10 a week for every eligible child under 6 years of age. Decisions on applications will begin on February 15, with the first payments reaching families a week later. Claimants are encouraged to apply now, to ensure their payment is calculated from this date. However, Social Security Scotland is expecting a high number of claims, which may cause inevitable delays. Successful applicants will receive their payment every four weeks. Parents can use the extra money for things like general childcare, nappies and other essentials and travel costs, etc. Only one person can get SCP for a child. This means that if two people apply for the same child, Social Security Scotland will decide who is to get the money. This payment does not affect any other UK or Scottish Government benefits that a parent, or any person in his/her household, currently receives.

The additional support announced for families with young children was warmly welcomed by Audrey Nicoll, who said: "One of the highlights of the Budget was the £3.5billion earmarked for Social Security and welfare payments. This includes £68million for the Scottish Child Payment, which will have the potential to lift 30,000 children out of poverty." Over the course of the Holyrood five-tear term, a re-elected SNP Government would double the payment for every eligible child to £20 per week.

### For more information, Google "Scottish Child Payment."     Or call Social Security Scotland free on 0800 182 2222.
        For details of the Budget, click on the SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT link on this page ►     

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SOUTH HARBOUR progress delayed                           

Full completion of the £350million South Harbour in Nigg Bay has been delayed until 2022, due to the impact of the coronavirus. However, Aberdeen Harbour Board hopes it will be able to open elements of the expansion during 2021. 

Work began on the North Breakwater in June 2017. The main contractor was the Spanish construction giant Dragados SA. In order to provide water deep enough to accomodate very large vessels, extensive dredging and some blasting of rock was necessary. A South Breakwater will also be constructed and, once completed, the harbour will add 1,700 metres of quay length to service the offshore oil, gas and wind industries, cruise ships and ferries. It is envisaged this will create significant economic growth opportunities for the harbour and its customers, and the project is considered of national infrastructural significance by the Scottish Government. Aberdeen Harbour Board said that the four quays of the new port will be named Dunnottar, Crathes, Balmoral and Castlegate, "in honour of the history and heritage of the North-East."

In June 2020, Dragados decided to quit its contract, citing the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The Harbour Board then took full control of the project and awarded a £1.6million contract to Northern Ireland's Ashleigh Contracts Ltd. to complete work on the North Breakwater. The noise from "revetment" or blasting has led to a considerable number of complaints from Torry residents. Local councillor Audrey Nicoll passed on their concerns to the Harbour Board, who responded: "We have brought the complaints from residents to the attention of our contractors and will continue to work with them to ensure their noise is being kept to a minimum. We will also be closely monitoring the data from our live noise monitors, particularly at night. The revetment work is due to be completed at the end of February."

It was to be expected that improved road links to the new harbour and the proposed Energy Transition Zone would be required. An initial plan to provide a link between Souter Head Road and the Coast Road was dropped.  Local residents and SNP Cllr. Miranda Radley (who had pledged to oppose the route in her by-election campaign in November) had pointed out that this would have led to an unacceptable number of heavy goods vehicles in the Burnbanks village area. It is now recommended that the harbour will be mainly accessed via Wellington Road, Hareness Road and the Coast Road. The latter will be widened, and a new bridge constructed over the railway. On Feb. 7, Audrey Nicoll said: "At this week's City Growth & Resources Committee meeting, the SNP members informed councillors of the significant safety concerns raised by residents. We proposed that HGVs should be prevented from accessing the harbour through the residential streets of Torry and Cove. However Tory, Labour and Independent councillors united to vote AGAINST the proposal."

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  AUDREY NICOLL interview, 6 Nov. 2020

Q. Can you explain your motivation for wanting to become an MSP?
A. I have spent my working life in public service, serving as a police officer for 31 years, followed by five years of university lecturing. During this time, I was elected as a Councillor in the constituency. I am passionate about helping people who are at a vulnerable point in their lives. My professional background has helped me embrace my role and deliver results. I am now ready to use my talents and skills in a new sphere of political life, representing the constituency and, of course, securing the only option for the people of Scotland: independence.

Q. What first got you into politics?
A. The devastating outcome of the 2014 Referendum was a turning-point, when my long-standing interest in Scottish politics became a deeper personal passion. My husband is SNP group leader in Aberdeen City and I gradually became part of the SNP “family” in Aberdeen. Witnessing the consequences of Tory austerity in my policing role and the 2016 EU Referendum further re-inforced my belief that the SNP is the only viable option for the future of Scotland.

Q. What’s your career experience beyond politics?

A. During my time in uniformed and specialist policing roles I was immersed in both operational delivery and policy development for public protection. After retirement, I lectured in the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Paramedic Practice at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. I have built a wealth of professional experience in law and justice, health and education which I now use in my role as a Councillor. 

Q. Why should the people of your constituency vote for you?

A. I know the constituency well. I am an Aberdonian and know the area’s history, demographics, attributes and challenges. I worked throughout the area for many years, in my policing role and as councillor for Torry & Ferryhill. I understand the challenges and expectations of elected office, and have invaluable insight into what we must do to develop our city for the future. 

Q. If you’re elected, what do you hope to achieve?

A. The next Parliamentary session will see the social, economic and health impact of Covid-19 frame much of the work of MSPs. I want to support the development of economic policy that moves in line with public health policy, ensuring equity of access to support and opportunities by everyone who needs it. At a constituency level, I want Aberdeen to be the home of the energy transition that will offer opportunities to create new sustainable jobs. I want new rail stations built to improve connectivity in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen, and even greater investment in safe, secure housing. 

Q. With the powers of independence, what’s the one thing about Scotland you would change? 

A. Scotland has seen a disproportionately low fiscal benefit from the North Sea oil and gas sector with significant revenue flowing directly to the UK Government. While this sector declined, the Scottish Government's Programme for Government outlines a commitment to support businesses in growing and diversifying towards energy transition. Independence will bring an opportunity to have greater fiscal control, and also to set the pace for achieving our net-zero emissions target. 

Q. Tell us something unusual about yourself? 

A. I was vetted to top-secret level by the security service during my police career and remain passionate about protecting our national security, countering extremism, and tackling polarised debate and rhetoric in communities.

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WINNING FOR SCOTLAND!

The SNP won all three ABERDEEN constituencies in the Scottish General Election on 6 May 2021.

Election Result:   ABERDEEN SOUTH & NORTH KINCARDINE.

Audrey Nicoll                SNP        16,500

Liam Kerr                      Con.        14,829

Lynn Thomson              Lab.          4,505

Ian Yuill                  Lib. Dem.        2,889

Stephen Jamieson   Libert'n.           286

                                                                                                                                     

SNP HOLD.         Maj.  1,671.       Turnout  64.0%.