Aberdeen SOUTH & North Kincardine


            ABERDEEN SOUTH & NORTH KINCARDINE Constituency (Scottish Parliament)                                                                      



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:                                                                                     


       51 Victoria Road,


       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                           


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  A message from AUDREY NICOLL 

I am delighted to have been adopted as the SNP candidate for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine. I look forward to speaking to as many residents as possible before the election next year, when I will ask them to put their faith in me to continue the brilliant work of MAUREEN WATT MSP. 

Interview from The National newspaper

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 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 racism.



On September 7, Maureen Watt announced that she would not seek re-election for her Aberdeen South & North Kincardine seat in next May's Scottish General Election. 

Maureen said: "I will be nearly 75 by the end of the next term, and the time is right for another woman to take on the role."  She added: “I love my job. Since spring 2006 it has been a huge privilege and a joy to represent the people in the North-East, and subsequently those in the constituency of Aberdeen South & North Kincardine. However, after months of deliberation and 15 years as an MSP,  I have decided not to seek re-election next year.”

The daughter of the late Hamish Watt MP, Maureen joined the SNP in 1974, "when persuading the people of Scotland of the merits of independence for our country was hard graft. The prospect of elected office, never mind an SNP Government in a devolved Scotland, was a distant dream. But through responsible governance and bold leadership, we are now on the brink of independence." She entered Parliament as a Regional List MSP for the North-East on 19 Apr. 2006; then won her constituency in the election on 5 May 2011 and was re-elected five years later. She served as the Minister for Public Health in Nov. 2014 -- May 2016, and Minister for Mental Health in May 2016 -- June 2018.

Maureen said: “For me, the most rewarding part of holding elected office has always been helping constituents and assisting the communities I serve, to make their surroundings better places to live and work. Although I will continue to campaign with all my vigour, it will be for others in an elected capacity to take us there. I am also hugely grateful to my husband Bruce, and children Stuart and Kirsty, for their unstinting support. I will continue in these last few months to work as hard as ever in the constituency and Parliament. I will miss my job and colleagues."


  Watching dolphins at TORRY BATTERY

Torry Battery is a very large former military gun emplacement, situated south of the entrance to Aberdeen Harbour.

A "blockhouse" had been there since 1780, but was replaced by the present structure in 1859-61. The battery housed nine heavy guns -- six 68pounders and three 10" shell guns -- capable of attacking ships over ten miles out to sea. Reconstruction took place in 1904-06 and the site was fully operational throughout the First World War. During World War II, the battery's artillery was augmented by anti-aircraft weaponry.

In the housing shortage that followed the war, the battery was occupied by a number of homeless people. Aberdeen City Council later took over provision of housing, and the buildings in and around the emplacement remained home to several families until 1953. The artillery was removed three years later, and demolition of most of the buildings followed. Now unused, the site was virtually abandoned and became increasingly derelict. However, some restoration took place in the 1970s and, today, Torry Battery is a scheduled ancient monument, managed by Historic Environment Scotland.

Aberdeen is regarded as one of the best places in Europe to watch dolphins in the wild, and Greyhope Bay Ltd. is a charitable organisation which is on course to deliver a £10million dolphin viewing centre. In 2018, they began by constructing a temporary building  -- composed of 14 disused shipping containers --  on the coastal road, near Girdleness Lighthouse. It was originally intended to build a permanent centre on the site, but it was later decided to relocate "up the brae" to the nearby Torry Battery. Dolphins at the Battery will consist of a glass-fronted viewing platform, café and outdoor exhibition, and is scheduled to open in 2020. 

In November 2017, Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, met with marine biologist Dr. Fiona McIntyre, 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."

### More information at:--   https://www.greyhopebay.com/about-us       


CASHBACK for Communities

A highly successful Scottish Government programme involves recovering funds through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. CashBack for Communities re-invests the money gained from criminal activity into community programmes, facilities and activities. This benefits mainly young people at risk of turning to crime and anti-social behaviour as a way of life.

Since it began in 2008, the programme, which is unique to Scotland, has re-invested almost £110million. Applications are invited from organisations who wish to become a CashBack Partner for Phase 5 of the scheme, which runs from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2023.  Organisations must have a proven track record of delivering activities and opportunities to young people, families and communities most affected by crime. 

On 16 May 2019, Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine. commented: "I welcome the next phase of funding from CashBack for Communities. The scheme re-invests criminal assets into community projects which support young people into positive destinations -- diverting some away from potentially criminal or anti-social behaviour. In the city of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, almost £4million has gone to help local projects that help young people. The next phase of funding will focus on projects that support young people and communities most affected by crime. Phase 5 of the programme opened for applications from 12 noon on 15 May until 28 June 2019.

### More information at:--  https://cashbackforcommunities.org/   


The AWPR is opened                          

The Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR), the city's long-awaited bypass, was finally completed on 19 February 2019.

Announcing the opening, Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure & Connectivity, said: “The new section of the AWPR, between Parkhill and Craibstone, now allows the full benefits of this transformational project to be fully realised. The bypass was first proposed over 70 years ago, but it was the SNP Government which took the project forward in 2007." 

"Despite the many challenges since then, we have taken a responsible and steadfast approach to delivering for the long-term benefit of the people and businesses of the North-East and Scotland as a whole. We will continue to work constructively with Aberdeen Roads Ltd., as it moves into the operational phase of the project and builds stronger relationships with the community it now serves. We would like to thank local communities, road-users and businesses, in the North-East and beyond, who have been extremely patient waiting for the final section of the road to be opened.”

The road's northern Parkhill to Blackdog section was opened for traffic on 27 June 2018, followed by the 7.5mile-long A90 Balmedie-Tipperty dual carriageway on August 15. The major 20-mile part of the route -- from the Craibstone roundabout near Bucksburn to the A90/A956 junction at Charleston, together with the "fastlink" to Stonehaven -- opened, in stages, on 12 December 2018. 

►Considerable delays and cost increases for the project were initially incurred through expensive and never-ending court actions by the "RoadSense" group, led by university lecturer William Walton and Cllr. Marie Boulton, who is now the Deputy Leader of Aberdeen City Council.  

The collapse of Carillion plc in January 2018 also resulted in an inevitable delay in completion. The giant Wolverhampton-based company, together with Balfour Beatty plc and Morrison Construction Ltd., was part of the Aberdeen Roads Ltd. (ARL) consortium, which built the 28-mile, £1billion route.       Picture: Blackdog Junction.                      

###  AWPR Virtual Flyover: --  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDkc2s0XVFo 


Celebrating 20 YEARS of our PARLIAMENT                                                                                     

In 2019, the nation celebrated the 20th anniversary of the restored Scottish Parliament.                                           

The first session actually took place on 12 May 1999, at the Assembly Hall (of the Church of Scotland) in Mound Place, Edinburgh. The SNP's Winifred Ewing, it's oldest member, chaired the meeting and began with the words: "The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on the Twenty-fifth day of March in the year Seventeen Hundred and Seven, is hereby reconvened."

However, it is the later "official" opening, on 1 July 1999, which was commemoratedA year-long programme of special events were held in Holyrood, designed to showcase the positive impact the Parliament has had on the lives of all of those living in our country over the last two decades. The full programme was released throughout the year, with many opportunities for the public to be involved. This included up to 163 individuals -- who were actually born in Scotland on 1 July 1999 -- being invited to take part in the main celebration, which was held in the Debating Chamber on Saturday, June 29.                                   


  Demand for OIL REVENUES to be devolved

The SNP has stepped up its demand for revenues from our oil and gas reserves in the North Sea and Atlantic to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

It is estimated that more than 20billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) remain in the Scottish sector –- enough to maintain production beyond the next two decades. Norway, which has far fewer oilfields, has wisely invested in its reserves. Its Sovereign Wealth Fund is set to reach a staggering £1trillion by 2020. Reports have shown that had Scotland had the power to set up a similar fund in the 1980s, it would be worth in excess of £500billion now. However, the London Treasury has long treated the North Sea as a cash cow -- siphoning off virtually all of the revenues over the past 50 years, with none of it directly invested in Scotland.

Prior to becoming the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, Maureen Watt worked for an oil-related company, and currently co-convenes Holyrood’s cross-party Oil & Gas Group. On 8 November 2018 she said:  “Over the past decades, successive UK Governments have squandered billions in North Sea revenues, with little reinvested in Scotland’s economy. We shouldn’t make those same mistakes again. It’s high time that Scotland took control of oil and gas revenues  – allowing us to use these more wisely to grow our economy, create jobs, realise our potential and build for the future.” 

Alex Russell, Professor of Petroleum Accounting at the Aberdeen Business School of Robert Gordon University, agreed and  commented: "As the bulk of the profits are being made by the oil companies and not the UK or Scottish Governments, it is through mismanagement of the oil resources, which rightfully belong to Scotland and not the UK,  We’ve got to maximise the returns for the long-term good of the country, and the only way to do that is to have a Sovereign Oil Fund that should have been there right from the word Go.”


Scotland's STOLEN SEAS                                                                                                           

In 1999, UK PM Tony Blair -- aided and abetted by the Scottish Labour leader Donald Dewar -- annexed 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, was a flagrant "statutory instrument" of the UK Government. It was merely conceived by a Westminster committee on March 23, rubber-stamped on April 13 and came into force on 1 July 1999. With the full agreement of Donald Dewar, the Order was quietly made an adjunct to the Scotland Act 1998, which established the devolved Scottish Parliament. Its introduction was also timed for just before Holyrood's first elections. The map shows the 1987 sector boundary, which went due east from Berwick, and the new borderline which stretches as far north as Arbroath! The annexation was clearly intended by Labour to be a crude measure 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."



The UK Government's controversial Universal Credit social security benefit was rolled out in Aberdeen on 31 October 2018.

It has replaced six means-tested benefits and tax credits:-- Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment & Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.  Anyone currently receiving any of these benefits cannot claim Universal Credit at the same time.

Speaking in a Scottish Parliament debate on 6 November 2018, Maureen Watt, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, strongly condemned the UK Government for the misery its draconian welfare cuts will bring to thousands of people in Scotland. She said: "I am ashamed, angry and despondent that in the 21st century, in one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, we have a situation where the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting even more rich -- when that is solely due to Westminster Government policy choices. It is so bad that it has, in fact, attracted international attention and condemnation from the United Nations and other bodies concerned about human rights. I am mortified."

"The roll-out of Universal Credit began in Aberdeen last Monday and, to be honest, all of us in any way involved in it are just dreading the consequences. Whether it be all of the public sector agencies involved, Citizens' Advice Scotland locally, food banks, housing providers or my own staff -- all of whom are expecting to see a rise in demand for their services. In Scotland, we have already demonstrated that we can treat people with dignity and respect with the welfare benefits we now control. It is time that we had control of all of them."

### To view Ms. Watt's speech in full, click on: --  https://www.facebook.com/maureensnp/videos/2250253351861761/


  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.

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. Dragados S.A. was the main contractor, but the Spanish construction giant left the project on 15 June 2020, and Aberdeen Harbour Board took over full control of the development. On July 1, a £1.6million contract for completion of the harbour's north breakwater was awarded to Ashleigh Contracts. On Aug. 31, the Dutch company Van Oord was awarded a £20million contract for rock removal and revetment work. The project was originally scheduled for completion in Aug. 2020, but this has been put back to 2021.     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 on the ABERDEEN HARBOUR website.  Click on "South Harbour Development" 



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.”


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.        



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."



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.



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


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%