Aberdeen SOUTH & North Kincardine

_______________________________________________________________________________________ 

                    Aberdeen South & North Kincardine Constituency (Scottish Parliament)                                                                         

 

 

 

________________________________________________________________________________________

MAUREEN WATT MSP 

Became a Regional List MSP on 19 April 2006.   Minister for Schools & Skills and Convener of the Environment & Rural Affairs Committee 2007-9. 

Elected as the MSP for ABERDEEN SOUTH & NORTH KINCARDINE on 5 May 2011, taking the seat from the Liberal Democrats.  Re-elected on 5 May 2016.

Convener of the Infrastructure & Capital Investment Committee and Co-convener of the Cross-party Group on Oil & Gas, 2012-14.  Minister for Public Health Nov. 2014 -- May 2016.  Minister for Mental Health May 2016 -- June 2018.

Maureen was born in Aberdeen, and worked as a teacher and in the oil industry before entering politics. She  has considerable experience, and a strong insight into the challenges and needs of the North-East economy and Aberdeen families. She is married and lives near Banchory in Aberdeenshire.                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Contact MAUREEN WATT at her CONSTITUENCY OFFICE:                                                                                     

Image

       51 Victoria Road,

       Torry,

       Aberdeen, AB11 9LS                                                                                                                                                

       Tel.:  01224 876743   *  Fax:  01224 695397                                 

Office hours:  Monday to Friday, 10.00am -- 4.00pm.

Surgeries:   Appointments can be made for Mondays and Fridays at the Constituency Office.    Surgery times are as advertised in the local press.

E-mail:    Maureen.Watt.msp@parliament.scot                           

________________________________________________________________________________________  

A MESSAGE FROM MAUREEN WATT MSP                                                                                          

It is a great honour to represent the people of Aberdeen South & North Kincardine in the Scottish Parliament. An MSP must be an advocate for her constituents and the communities they represent. The knowledge I have gained in elected office, combined with my previous experience in education, in the oil industry and as a parent are invaluable in fulfilling my duties as an MSP. Image

 

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

ImageWhen e-mailing the MSP's office, please supply your ADDRESS and other contact details. Also check out other news in FACEBOOK and TWITTER, by clicking on the links on this page.

..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................   

  Aberdeen's new SOUTH HARBOUR

Work is well under way to develop a major expansion of Aberdeen Harbour -- in Nigg Bay, to the south of the main port. The project has been accorded national priority status by the Scottish Government.

The Spanish construction giant Dragados S.A. (part of the ACS Group) is the main contractor.  Two breakwaters are being built across the bay, plus 1,400 metres of operational quay. Work on building the north breakwater and its access road commenced in May 2017. Additional infrastructure will initially include car parks, fuel and water tanks, a gatehouse and welfare facilities. The cost of the development will be £350million -- assisted by a £175million loan from the European Investment Bank -- and is due to be completed in 2020.                     PictureFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits on 17 July 2017.

The port of Aberdeen already contributes £510million to the Scottish economy annually, and supports in excess of 11,000 full-time jobs.  Harbour Master Jeff Gaskin said the expansion would make it "the “biggest harbour in Scotland by berthage.” The dredging of Nigg Bay required the removal of over 2 million cubic metres of sand and gravel, plus some blasting of areas of rock. The deeper water will enable very large vessels to berth alongside the quay. This will include cruise ships, and will eliminate the necessity for passengers to be ferried ashore, which was the case at the main harbour. Capt. Gaskin added: "Cruise liners normally sail past us, because they can’t come into the current harbour at the moment. It’s all looking good so far. We’ve already had a few tentative inquiries and a booking. VisitAberdeenshire is working with us to make Aberdeen and the shire a destination, so this can be a huge opportunity for the whole region."

The new harbour is in the Aberdeen South & North Kincardine constituency of SNP MSP Maureen Watt.  She commented: "The fact that Aberdeen Harbour is currently nearing capacity is a demonstration of the enormous success of the Scottish North Sea oil and gas sector. It is extremely positive for the Harbour Board to be so confident of this success continuing that it proposes such significant expansion plans. Aberdeen prides itself on being the Energy Capital of Europe. It is clear that the port currently plays a fundamental role in both the local and national economy, and that working to maintain this position for the future is essential. A key factor in achieving this will be to ensure that the port has the capacity to meet the increasing demands of both the oil and gas sector, and the offshore renewables industry. I look forward to the Harbour Board developing their proposals so that we can all see and contribute to their vision for the city.”

### More information at:--  http://www.aberdeen-harbour.co.uk/    Cllick on "South Harbour Development."                                

________________________________________________________________________________________                                                                                          

LINN MOOR School

A new hall has been opened at the Linn Moor School by MAUREEN WATT, the Minister for Mental Health.

The school, in the Aberdeen suburb of Peterculter, provides residential care and education for children and young adults with autism, learning disability, and related conditions such as social and communication difficulties. The £90,000 A.G. Bain Activity Hall will enable residents to take part in a large range of activities, including forming a cinema club, a youth club, playing tennis and running a tuck shop.

On January 22, Ms. Watt said: “It is an honour to open this new facility. Linn Moor has long been an outstanding part of the community. It’s very important to discover the abilities that autistic people have, so we can find a job that they are suited to.” Much of the funding came from the A.G. Bain Trust, which has given financial support to the Voluntary Service Aberdeen (VSA) charity organisation for many years. John Booth, the deputy chief executive of VSA, said: “For more than 30 years, the Trust has supported the work of the charity, and helped us achieve our aims of supporting those with additional support needs. The naming of the hall is a thank-you to them.”

________________________________________________________________________________________

AWPR delay due to CARILLION                                                                                  

The collapse of Carillion plc will result in a delay in completion of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR).

Together with Balfour Beatty plc and Morrison Construction Ltd., the giant Wolverhampton-based company was part of the Aberdeen Roads Ltd. (ARL) consortium, which is building the 28-mile, £745million by-pass. The road was scheduled for a spring opening, but there will be a few months delay while the remaining companies adjust their contract, including recruitment of nearly all of the workers made redundant by Carillion.

On January 25, Keith Brown, the Secretary for the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work, said: "The situation with Carillion does not, in itself, affect project delivery timescales. However, given the scale of this issue, and the potential for a loss of confidence in the supply chain, it is important that we now take the necessary time to work closely with ARL, to identify any impacts they can foresee on delivery. We will then consider what we can do to mitigate any issues that may arise as a consequence of that. There are around 70+ direct employees of Carillion employed on the contract, plus 190 employed on other terms, including some agency staff." The northern part of the road -- from Parkhill, near Dyce, to Blackdog -- was opened for traffic on June 27. This was later followed by the 7.5mile-long A90 Balmedie-Tipperty dual carriageway on August 15. The road is expected to be completed in October or November.

The GoNorthEast Road Festival, on Sept. 8 and 9, was a free public event to celebrate the part opening of one of the largest infrastructure projects in the country. 14,000 people were allowed onto a section of the route. Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman was one of the 1,500 cyclists who "tried out" the new road.

________________________________________________________________________________________                                                                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        Dolphin viewing at GREYHOPE BAY       

Aberdeen is regarded as one of the best places in Europe to watch dolphins in the wild.

With this in mind, the developers behind the Greyhope Bay project are establishing a £10million dolphin viewing centre near the Girdleness Lighthouse, in the Torry area of the city. 

A temporary building, called "The Bridge", was constructed from 14 disused shipping containers in April-May 2018. Following extensive fundraising, the site will be occupied by a permanent centre, comprising a wellglass-fronted wildlife viewing platform, restaurant and art exhibition space.

On 13 November 2017, Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, met with marine biologist Dr. Fiona McIntyre (pictured), co-founder and now managing director of Greyhope Bay Ltd., to discuss the development. Ms. Watt said: "I am delighted to support this project, which will provide Aberdeen and the North-East with the world-class natural visitor centre it deserves."

###  For more information, click on:--  http://www.greyhopebay.org.uk/

________________________________________________________________________________________

DOUG is the new Political Education Convener                                       

DOUGLAS DANIEL was elected as the SNP's national Political Education Convener, in Glasgow on 10 October 2017.

He succeeded Julie Hepburn, who had decided to step down due to other commitments. Kevin Stewart MSP spoke for all the SNP members in Aberdeen when he said: "Ever since the Independence Referendum, the time and commitment Doug has given our party has been nothing short of phenomenal." 

"If there's a job to be done, Doug can always be relied on to do it, and do it well. Which is why I had no hesitation in asking him to be my Election Agent in 2016 -- a job he had never done before, but which he picked up straight away and excelled at, as I knew he would. The passion, intelligence and dedication Doug would bring to the role, are why I gave him my vote for Political Education Convener." 

________________________________________________________________________________________

Fishermen can't use COVE HARBOUR 

Local fishermen are to be denied access to Cove Harbour, on the southern outskirts of Aberdeen.

The harbour has been used by fishing boats since the 1700s, and by an increasing number of recreational craft in more recent years. However, the landowner, Pralhad Kohle -- whose house overlooks the bay -- has blocked the entrance for some time and, by continuing to do so, has stoked up considerable resentment from Cove residents.  Jim Adam, chairman of the Cove Fishermen's Association, fought hard for his members to continue using the refuge, and delivered an 11,000-signature public petition of support to Aberdeen City Council. The fishermen also had the firm backing of Maureen Watt MSP, and her SNP colleague Stephen Flynn (the councillor for Kincorth, Nigg & Cove), who suggested that the Council should explore the possibility of using the purchase powers contained in the Community Empowerment Scotland Act 2015 to facilitate a community buyout of the harbour. 

On 11 July 2018, after a long-running legal dispute, the fishermen were told to move their boats and equipment from the harbour. In a written judgement, Sheriff Andrew Miller gave the fishermen 28 days to comply, but also ordered the removal of obstructions to vehicular access onto the pier.

### More information on:--  "Save The Fishing Boats of Cove Harbour" page on Facebook.        

________________________________________________________________________________________

Changing HOLYROOD's voting system                                                                                                          

The Aberdeen South & North Kincardine Constituency Branch has moved to radically change how MSPs are elected in Scottish Parliamentary elections.

Despite winning more constituencies than it did in 2011, the SNP Government was unable to achieve an overall majority in 2016. 65 of the Parliament's 129 seats are required for a majority. The party won 59 of the 73 constituency seats, but was only awarded an additional four MSPs by the extremely complicated d'Hondt Regional List system currently in operation.

ASNK's resolution to the 2016 SNP Annual National Conference asked delegates to support the adoption of the Single Transferable Vote (STV), which is the party's preferred electoral system, and is already used for Local Government elections. The full text of the resolution was as follows:--

 

SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT VOTING SYSTEM.

Conference notes that having four different electoral systems in use is potentially very confusing for voters. Conference also notes that Schedule 4 of the Scotland Act 2016 gives the Scottish Government control over all aspects of elections to the Scottish Parliament, including the franchise, the number of MSPs elected, and the voting system used.

Conference believes that the Single Transferable Vote (STV), which is the party's preferred electoral system and used for Local Government elections, is accepted and understood by voters. Conference resolves that implementing STV in Scottish elections would remove an element of complexity from Scottish elections by reducing the number of different electoral systems, help to raise turnout and ensure all MSPs must win a personal mandate from voters.

ABERDEEN SOUTH & NORTH KINCARDINE CONSTITUENCY BRANCH.

 

Amendment:--

Delete from "Conference believes" and insert: "Conference reaffirms the party's long-held view that all elections in Scotland should be fought under fair proportional representation.

Conference believes that following the third Local Government elections in 2017, under Single Transferable Vote (STV), there is an opportunity to assess this electoral system and its operation in practice, including whether it is accepted and understood by voters.

Conference therefore considers that the Scottish Government should review STV alongside other systems of proportional representation that include a personal mandate and are in operation elsewhere, including modified forms of STV. Conference believes that a single electoral system for Local Government and the Scottish Parliament would reduce complexity and help raise public understanding of elections."

EDINBURGH CENTRAL CONSTITUENCY BRANCH.

 

Douglas Daniel, Kirsty Blackman MP and Cllr. Stephen Flynn spoke for the resolution. Although nearly all of the delegates indicated they wanted to change Holyrood's voting system, they were unsure whether they wanted to replace the current Additional List regimen with STV. The amended resolution was subsequently passed overwhelmingly.

________________________________________________________________________________________

  Scotland's STOLEN SEAS

In 1999, UK PM Tony Blair, aided and abetted by the Scottish Labour leader Donald Dewar, redrew the North Sea boundary to annex 6,000 square miles of Scottish waters to England, including the Argyll field and six other major oilfields.

The Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999, a "statutory instrument" of the UK Government, was debated by a Westminster committee on March 23, and introduced as an adjunct to the Scotland Act 1998, which established the devolved Scottish Parliament. The map shows the 1987 boundary, which went due east from Berwick, and the new borderline which stretches as far north as Arbroath!  The legislation came into force just before the first elections to our restored Parliament, and was clearly intended to weaken Scotland’s economic case for independence.

In Jan. 2012, Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Ukbekistan, and head of the Maritime Section of the UK Foreign & Commonweath Office, said: "The UK’s other maritime boundaries are based on what is known formally in international law as the "modified equidistance principle." The England-Scotland border was of course imposed, not negotiated. It is my cold, professional opinion that this border lies outside the range of feasible solutions that could be obtained by genuine negotiation, arbitration or judgement." 

"It is essential that Scotland is not conned into accepting this maritime boundary as a precondition of any independence referendum. This boundary must be subject to negotiation between equal nations post-independence, and in my opinion is most likely to end with referral to the International Court of Justice. I have no doubt the outcome would be a very great deal better for Scotland than the Blair-Dewar line, which would cost Scotland billions."

________________________________________________________________________________________

ALTENS and COVE get grant

Altens & Cove Community Association has been awarded funding to the tune of £3,340.00

It is planned to use the money to pay for a family open day, which will bring different nationalities together for various cultural displays and activities. The grant came from the Communities & Families Fund, a programme jointly run by the Scottish Government and the Big Lottery Fund. Altogether, £6million in grants has been given to local grassroots projects.

On 15 December 2015, Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, commented: “This is fantastic news for the Cove and Altens communities. I am delighted that the hard work of their association has been recognised by the Communities & Families Fund and that funding has been secured. I look forward to hearing more about the proposed event, and attending if possible."

_________________________________________________________________________________________

High FEMALE EMPLOYMENT rate

The latest Eurostat  figures show that Scotland’s female employment rate is second only to Sweden in Europe.

From April to June 2015, the rate stood at 70.6%, while Sweden’s was 74.0%. The UK is in eighth place at 67.4%. Scotland also recorded the second lowest female unemployment rate among the 28 EU countries at 4.9%. Only Germany recorded better with 4.2%.

On 16 November 2015, Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, commented: “Once again the Eurostat figures show that Scotland is among the best in Europe for women’s employment. This is something we can be proud of, but it also means we can look to countries like Sweden and Germany to see what further improvements we can make. We recognise how effective role models are in encouraging more women to believe in themselves, and the Scottish Government is supporting a range of training in this area.”

The Minister for Youth & Women’s Employment, Annabelle Ewing, will join representatives from other European countries in Brussels this week to discuss how they are tackling gender inequality in the workplace.

### Eurostat data can be found athttp://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/home                 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Community will own MARYCULTER woodland                                                                    

Inevitably, concerns have been raised over the impact the new Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) will have on the highly scenic area of Maryculter, to the south-west of the city.

In its appeal for funds to preserve the Kirkton of Maryculter Wood (coloured in red on the map), the Maryculter Woodlands Trust said: "The land around the woodland has long been thought of as an area with development potential and this has now become a reality. To the east, the AWPR bypass will drive through the ancient woodland of the Kingcausie Estate. Further east, the Blairs development project will consist of 280 homes and a golf course. To the south, the AWPR will continue its southward track, skirting the Chapelton (of Elsick) development, where thousands of homes will be built. The chance to purchase the wood for the community means that we could have one place that will remain wild, and be a refuge not only for people but for the animals displaced by roads and houses."

On 8 September 2015, it was announced that, as part of its National Forest Land Scheme,  the Scottish Land Fund would contribute £196,000 towards a community buyout of the 67-hectare woodland.  The Fund supports rural communities to become more resilient and sustainable through the ownership and management of land and land assets. It provides practical support and funding so that local people can work together to develop their ideas and aspirations, put in place effective structures, and plan and complete viable land acquisition projects. It is funded and delivered by the Scottish Government, in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands & Islands Enterprise.

Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, said: “This is fantastic news. With Kirkton of Maryculter Wood belonging to the local community, it paves the way for fresh ideas on to what to do with, and how to maintain the land in its natural state. Everyone will get to have a say and it will be a tremendous asset. The Scottish Government is committed to distributing money to good causes and local organisations that can really make a difference. Instances like this demonstrate how important it is to fund organisations like the Scottish Land Fund, to ensure that local initiatives like the Maryculter Woodlands Trust benefit.”

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Multi-storey CAR PARK for ARI

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is to have a new multi-storey car park, which will be built opposite the main hospital entrance in Foresterhill Road.

It is estimated that around 11,000 vehicles visit the hospital every day -- bringing patients, staff, visitors and deliveries. Currently, there are only 800 parking spaces available to cope with this huge volume of traffic. The new parking block will have five or six storeys, with space for 1,000 cars, and there are plans to connect it to the main hospital building via a covered walkway. Balfour Beatty will be the main contractor, with work due to begin early next year. Construction of the building is being funded by oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood, who will donate £10million from his family’s charitable trust. Sir Ian said he was considering financial backing for other big projects in the city.

Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, commended this latest development at the ARI. Speaking on 29 July 2015, she said:  “It goes without saying that the city of Aberdeen is grateful for the immense generosity of Sir Ian Wood in donating such a large amount towards the cost of providing this much-needed facility. The new car park will make a big difference to many people, both in the city and the North-East, who have occasion to visit the ARI. Going to hospital can be a worrying and stressful time. The last thing people should be worrying about is whether they can find somewhere to park before even setting foot in the premises, so this multi-storey car park is exactly what is needed."

______________________________________________________________________________________

Fall in hospital INFECTIONS

A Health Protection Scotland report published on July 7 shows that "C.diff" (clostridium difficile) infections in patients aged 65 years and over in Scottish hospitals have fallen to the lowest level on record.

When compared to the previous quarter, there was a decrease in clostridium difficile infections across all age groups: Patients aged 65 and over, by 19.4% (at their lowest level since monitoring began), while infections for  patients aged 15-64 went down by 29.5%.  MRSA infections decreased by 35.3%, when compared to the previous quarter. However. incidences of MSSA increased slightly by 3.8% over the same period

Minister for Public Health Maureen Watt commented: “There is no doubt we have made considerable progress in tackling healthcare-associated infections in our NHS. We have seen huge reductions in infections across the board since 2007. That is a tribute to the hard work of NHS staff at all levels, who are doing all they can to ensure we have some of the safest hospitals in the world. But there is more we must do. We will continue to work closely with Health Protection Scotland and the Healthcare Associated Infection Task Force to carry on reducing these infections and support health boards deliver further improvements for patients. We are taking forward the recommendations which came from the Vale of Leven report, to improve the systems in place – such as creating local infection taskforces, and working to give the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate the power to close wards to new admissions.”

### Full report at: http://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/news/newsdetail.aspx?id=21031

 

Improvements in A&E waiting times

The statistics also showed improvements in waiting times for patients in Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments.

In week-ending 28 June 2015, 94.7% of people were seen within four hours at Scotland's core A&E sites. This is an improvement from 93.9% the previous week, and the best performance since weekly reporting began. During May, 93.5% of attendees at A&E services were seen -- and subsequently admitted, transferred or discharged -- within four hours. This compares with 92.8% in April, and the fourth consecutive improvement since January 2015.

Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, said: "The latest figures show A&E performance is steadily improving, with weekly figures getting closer to meeting our world-leading targets. However, we cannot afford to lose momentum now. Our focus remains on hitting that target, ensuring the best possible service for patients across Scotland. Furthermore, monthly performance has improved by over six percentage points since January – showing that our NHS staff are continuing to work hard towards delivering a first class service for Scotland. Long waits of over eight hours have significantly lessened by nearly 90% since weekly reporting began in February."

“It is vital that, with ongoing support from the Scottish Government, health boards continue to deliver strong performance in the summer months, to ensure they are in the best position they can be before heading into next winter. We have put record funding and staffing in place, and are committed to tackling delayed discharge, including through the integration of health and social care. That means we have the strong foundations in place to ensure our NHS continues to deliver quick, high-quality care for the people of Scotland.”

______________________________________________________________________________________

TTIP is threat to NHS                                                                                                                          

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States of America.

The new agreement has the support of the UK Government, which says that it would create jobs and economic growth by reducing tariffs, harmonising regulations and generally making it easier for businesses to trade with the US. However, the SNP is concerned about a potential loophole in the deal, which would apparently enable large US multinational companies to take legal action to block any moves to remove large parts of the National Health Service from corporate ownership.

On 18 February 2015, Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South &  North Kincardine, added her support to the campaign to protect the NHS. She commented: “The status of Scotland’s NHS as a publicly-owned and operated institution is too important to be put at risk from the TTIP. It must be protected, and the SNP will do everything in its power to ensure that happens. This is why SNP MSPs are pledging that if the NHS is not explicitly exempted from the agreement, we will call on the Prime Minister to veto it." The Unite trade union shares the SNP's concern about this threat to the NHS, and Ms. Watt (pictured) was one of the first MSPs to sign their pledge in the Scottish Parliament.

Ms. Watt -- who is the Minister for Public Health -- added: “The Scottish people have the opportunity to secure meaningful influence and power in Westminster by voting SNP in May. The more SNP MPs there are, the more we’ll be able to ensure that Westminster does not lose sight of the things that are most important.  Protecting Scotland’s NHS is at the heart of our campaign, and our MPs in any hung Parliament will use their clout to protect our budget from the UK Government's agenda of austerity, patient charging and privatisation."

______________________________________________________________________________________

BUDGET benefits for Aberdeen

The economy and future of Aberdeen are set to benefit from the 2015-16 budget delivered by Finance Secretary JOHN SWINNEY.

The city will receive a better deal than ever before, by sharing in the Scottish Government's £10.8billion local government allocation -- including an extra £11.3million from the new 85% funding floor formula. Aberdeen will also benefit from a £6.1million boost to its housing stock, plus investment in the new Torry-Kincorth Academy and the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary campus. This comes on top of the Government's financial contribution to the Aberdeen Community Health & Care Village and Woodside Health Centre, the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and the Aberdeen-Inverness rail improvements.

On 5 February 2015, Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, commented: "I believe that the budget's investment in key areas over the coming year will substantially benefit the people of Aberdeen. Especially welcome is the increase in spending on health and social care in NHS Grampian, which has had its frontline budget increased by almost £246million since 2007. This is the largest increase awarded to any health board in Scotland. Top-class services are also being developed through the new cancer centre and the women’s hospital at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary campus."

______________________________________________________________________________________

ENERGY JOBS Taskforce

The Scottish Government has set up a new Energy Jobs Taskforce, to support the country's oil & gas sector.

Chaired by the chief executive of Scottish Enterprise Lena Wilson, the taskforce will report to the Scottish Energy Advisory Board, and will focus on supporting jobs across the energy sector, with an initial emphasis on oil & gas. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also guaranteed that Modern Apprentices (MAs) facing redundancy in the oil & gas industry would be offered continued training, pending alternative employment. Specific support will also be made available through the Adopt An Apprentice programme, which offers incentives to re-employ MAs who have been made redundant.

On a visit to Aberdeen and Westhill on 14 January 2015, the First Minister commented: "While oil prices are at a low level we need to pull together to support the industry. For example, it is essential that the UK Government immediately introduces tax breaks to enable the oil & gas sector to weather the current storm." Membership of the  Energy Task Force will include industry bodies and commercial interests, as well as cross-Government representation. Ms. Sturgeon attended its first meeting in Aberdeen on Jan. 28, and later addressed 60 delegates at an Aberdeen Oil & Gas "summit meeting" at the Exhibition and Conference Centre on Feb. 2. The First Minister stressed that investors needed a “strong signal that the North Sea is open for business. I hope oil companies will do all they can to avoid making apprentices redundant. It is essential that Scotland retains and improves their expertise and skills."

Welcoming the creation of the taskforce, Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, said : “The North Sea has made an enormous contribution to the Scottish and UK economies over the last 40 years. In order to prolong the life of the industry beyond 2050 and maximise economic benefits, it is now vital that the Westminster Government maintains the momentum for urgent fiscal and regulatory change in the oil & gas sector. The recent drop in the price of a barrel of crude oil -- combined with the UK Government's chronic mismanagement of its oil & gas fiscal policy, and other challenges facing the industry -- poses a threat to a number of jobs. So I am delighted to see the formation of the new Energy Jobs Taskforce, to maintain jobs across the sector and mitigate the potential impact of any losses.”

Kevin Stewart, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, added: “Our oil & gas industry is resilient and I am sure that it will weather this current downturn. However, it is essential to ensure that those who make their livelihoods in the industry are supported, and in particular those young folk who are new to the industry. The guarantee given to modern apprentices shows our Government’s commitment to tackling youth unemployment, and I am pleased that it continues to support young people.”

_______________________________________________________________________________________

New homes at CRAIGINCHES site                                                                                                    

Affordable homes -- many overlooking the River Dee -- will be constructed on the site of the former Aberdeen Prison at Craiginches in Torry.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) is in the process of transferring the land, between Grampian Rd. and Wellington Rd. (pictured) to the Scottish Government -- for onward sale to the Sanctuary Scotland Housing Association, which will build 127 flats and terraced houses on the site. In order to attract key workers to  Aberdeen, the target market for the new development will be council workers, medical staff and schoolteachers. Pending planning approval, construction will start in early 2016, with completion scheduled for autumn 2017.

Craiginches Prison closed in January 2015, with its unwilling residents being transferred to the new HMP Grampian in Peterhead. Demolition of the 13 prison buildings began soon after, and was completed on July 14. All that remains is the high granite boundary wall, which contributes to a significant narrowing of Wellington Road -- one the city's main arteries. Aberdeen City Council says it plans to remove this traffic bottleneck by buying the necessary land, demolishing the wall and adding a second lane to the southbound carriageway. 

After persistently campaigning for more affordable housing to be provided in the North-East, Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, is delighted the site will now be used to attract people to locate in Aberdeen. She commented: “I saw a great opportunity arising from the newly vacated site of the former prison. When the decision to build much needed homes at Craiginches was announced in August last year, it was a great result for the North-East. I am please to see the plans progressing swiftly, and hope that it will not be long before public sector workers can benefit from these new homes. This development will significantly boost the local economy and job market by improving local recruitment and retention of staff.

________________________________________________________________________________________

 WINNING FOR SCOTLAND

The SNP won all three ABERDEEN constituencies in the Scottish General Election on 5 May 2016.                        

Election Result:     ABERDEEN SOUTH & NORTH KINCARDINE

Maureen Watt            SNP       13,604

Ross Thomson            Con.      10,849

Alison Evison              Lab.        4,994

John Waddell        Lib. Dem.     2,284

 

SNP HOLD.         Maj. 2,755          Turnout 54.2%