Politics: Community projects show people's great pride in the area
Congratulations to Ellie Stewart of Portessie Primary School, whose creative design was selected as the new Banffshire county flag after a public vote.
I was delighted to attend the official launch ceremony on Castle Hill in Cullen.
The flag beautifully captures the spirit of Banffshire, incorporating iconic local bridges, rivers, barley fields and brilliant sunsets.
The flag now flies across the historic Banffshire county, from Tarlair to Tomintoul.
On the "Historic Aberdeenshire" side of my constituency, I was pleased to see the historic Mormond Hill Stag re-emerging after volunteers cleared away years of overgrowth.
This local treasure was originally built in 1870 using white quartz stones.
Standing 220 feet by 240 feet, it commemorates a local laird's wedding.
Unfortunately, it regularly gets lost over time to gorse, heather and other vegetation.
Now the tireless work of local volunteers has restored this impressive feature for all to enjoy.
The stag shares Mormond Hill with a similar feature representing a white horse, which is thought to have been sculpted in the 1790s
Initiatives like these show great pride in the area’s unique heritage and tourism which I do all I can to help promote and protect.
I’m also glad to report that UK Government cost of living support for vulnerable households continues.
Eligible households – 9600 of which in Banff and Buchan – will automatically receive the payment of £300 from October 31 through to November 19.
In total, eligible residents will receive £900 in cost of living support this fiscal year.
This forms part of the UK Government's £94 billion package to help families manage rising prices driven by global factors like recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
The Winter Fuel Payment has also received a £300 boost this year.
The Warm Home Discount provides a £150 rebate on electricity bills for nearly three million low-income homes.
More information on UK Government Cost of Living Support can be found at www.helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk
While providing immediate relief to those struggling, the UK Government is rightly also keeping focus on halving inflation to more broadly ease cost of living challenges.
It is also reassuring to note that the Bank of England has decided for the second time in a row to freeze interest rates.
A recent survey has shown overwhelming support (>90 per cent) for protecting our fishing industry amid increasingly crowded seas due to marine conservation and offshore wind.
Neither I nor the industry object to conservation and renewable energy in principle but effective spatial planning must take into account commercial operations and coastal communities.
I regularly engage with the industry as well as renewable energy developers, and ensure that the appropriate level of engagement is also being held at a Government level.
As we’ve seen historically with the oil and gas industry, I’m sure that a balance can be achieved.
Finally, I was delighted to welcome the long-awaited new ambulance for Turriff last week.
Based in Banff and on stand-by at Turriff Fire Station when on shift, this dedicated resource should dramatically improve emergency response times in the area.
After years of engaging with the local community and Scottish Ambulance Service, I welcome this investment and partnership between emergency services.
I will continue to champion and support local services and projects that enrich life across this area – whether promoting heritage and tourism, driving economic growth or enhancing local services.