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Local Councillor Criticises Proposal to Split Methlick in Two

>> 18 October 2017

Boundary Commission Plans See Village Placed in Two Constituencies

Local SNP councillor Alastair Forsyth has criticised proposals from the Boundary Commission for Scotland which would see Methlick split in half and placed in two different constituencies for Westminster elections.

The Boundary Commission are currently consulting on proposals for redrawn Westminster constituencies as a result of the London Government’s intention to reduce the number of Scottish MPs from 59 to 53. For the North-east, this means an expanded Banff & Buchan constituency taking in Ellon and Newburgh, and a new Gordon & Deeside constituency covering much of Garioch and West Aberdeenshire.

Under the new proposals, the boundary between the two new constituencies would see Methlick being divided along the River Ythan, resulting in houses along the B9005 and B9170 roads to New Deer and Fyvie remaining in Banff & Buchan, while the bulk of the village transfers into Gordon & Deeside.

Commenting, Cllr Alastair Forsyth said:

“The proposals for Methlick simply demonstrate the absurdity of the Boundary Commission's efforts to effect a policy.

“I feel that the voters have been subjected to enough confusion over boundaries and for the time-being these should be left until significant changes in population make the case for the sheer expense of boundary changes.

“I understand, of course, the desire to save public money by having less MPs at Westminster. If Scotland’s MPs must be reduced in number, then let’s reduce that number to zero and transfer the powers to the Scottish Parliament, thereby eliminating an unnecessary layer of government.

“I’ll be making a submission to the Boundary Commission that Methlick should remain intact as a whole community and would urge others likeminded to do the same.”

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Opposition Hits Back Over Administration's "Slopey-Shouldered" Visiting Specialist Response

>> 11 July 2017

Commenting on Sunday’s press release from Councillors Owen and Gifford regarding the role of visiting teaching specialists in Aberdeenshire's schools, Aberdeenshire Council's Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Richard Thomson, said:

"This is yet another slopey-shouldered response from a Council Administration which increasingly gives the impression of being in office but not in power.

"Despite the importance of this issue, the basic questions we have been asking since day one are only now beginning to see some clarity. We still need to know how will the specialist skills of these teachers continue to be used to the full; and if specialist teachers are no longer going to be visiting smaller schools with fewer core staff, then how will head teachers in those schools continue to be able to access support to deliver the fullest curriculum?

“There has not been mis-information from the opposition, but there has been a total lack of transparent or useful information from the administration.

"Parents, pupils and the teachers themselves have needed reassurances – instead of passing the buck to council officers, the administration should have been urgently clarifying its own position."

Cllr Alison Evison, added,

“We have been giving proper scrutiny over the last two months to an issue that was presented to us by concerned members of our school communities. Only now are we beginning to receive the answers which they have been seeking.

“We welcome indications that visiting specialists will be the subject of a paper to committee where the issue will be able to be discussed in full.

“We are also pleased to hear today that changes to the visiting specialist service will now be implemented slowly and over a five year period, thus minimising the effects n individuals. We have received reassurance that headteachers are expected to continue to deploy specialist teachers to meet local needs.

“We have shown that we are carrying out our work in opposition effectively and getting results. However we continue to seek clarity on where these teachers will come from in future to augment the curriculum in small rural schools. We are discussing this matter with senior officers of the council.”

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Councillors Comment on Banchory Sports Village Announcement

>> 29 June 2017

Commenting on the statement today (Thursday) from Provost Bill Howatson welcoming a decision by Aberdeenshire Council to proceed with Banchory Sports Village, Leader of Aberdeenshire Labour & Communities Alliance Cllr Alison Evison (Lab-North Kincardine) said:

“I welcome this announcement today. This is good news for the community in Banchory and the Partnership of Aberdeenshire Labour, Communities Alliance and the SNP remain committed to this project which will bring huge benefits to the area and provide top-class facilities.”

Banchory & Mid-Deeside SNP councillor Eileen Durno added:

“I’m delighted with the public announcement that work is due to start on-site for the Banchory Sports Village in August.

“The local community has been tireless in its fundraising towards the cost and I applaud their efforts; a great example of community co-operation with the council.”

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Braemar Castle Congratulated by Cabinet Secretary & Westminster Candidate

>> 3 June 2017

Braemar villagers have been hailed as local heroes by leading politicians as examples of how community empowerment works as they celebrate ten successful years of community management of Braemar Castle.

Braemar Community Limited have seen visitor numbers to the 17th century castle soar by over 277% since they took on a 50-year lease on from Invercauld Estate in 2007.

Raising over £500,000 to renovate the building in the past ten years and – as well as repairing the roof – they now have 12 fully-furnished rooms.

And this weekend the community celebrates a decade of delivery for the iconic tourist attraction with a dinner and Hog roast Ceilidh.

Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing MSP visited the castle on the eve of the party, with local councillor Geva Blackett and West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine SNP candidate Stuart Donaldson.

Mr Ewing said:

“This fantastic community initiative plays such a huge role in the economy of one of Scotland’s most rural communities and draws visitors from around the world. I am delighted to have been able to pay a short visit and will certainly be back with my wife and daughter in the summer to have a proper tour.”

Stuart Donaldson said:

“It’s always a great pleasure to visit Braemar as there is so much going on.

“It’s a truly vibrant community and the work they have done in restoring and improving the castle typifies that.

“Braemar is a small but historic village and there has been terrific buy-in from a huge section of the community to bring visitors back to the castle.

“They are true local heroes who can be immensely proud of the work they have done to restore, improve and promote Braemar Castle.

“I’m delighted they have brought the community together to celebrate the first ten years of community management and I wish them well for the next ten years.”

Councillor Geva Blackett, whose husband Simon is chair of Braemar Community Ltd the community company who run the castle and other projects, is thrilled at the progress they have made since 2007.

Geva said,

“Braemar Castle plays an important role in the life of the village and Stuart Donaldson is very aware of this. But I also wanted the Cabinet Secretary to see for himself how hard everyone here works to ensure Braemar is a sustainable community working together for an exciting future.”

The Earl of Mar initially used the castle as his Highland hunting lodge but after it was partially burnt down in 1689 after becoming the first casualty of the first Jacobite uprising.
The castle has changed several times over the years with a long-list of high profile owners – including a Russian princess and an MP.

Under the community management, visitor numbers have jumped from 4,500 to 12,500 last year - a staggering 277% rise.

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