The fantastic result for the whole of Scotland in last week’s general election means that Scots now have the strongest voice we have ever had to represent the interests of us all at Westminster.
The enthusiasm, experience and common sense of our local MPs Stuart Donaldson and Mike Weir in their West Aberdeenshire and Angus constituencies will ensure that they do a fine job for their constituents. I am greatly looking forward to working with them both and with the tremendous local party members who campaigned so strongly for their success.
We have a lot to do locally and my priorities for the next twelve months include continuing to press the Scottish Government for a commitment to solve the problem of the Laurencekirk Junction.
I met recently with The Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek Mackay to ensure that the views of local people are at the foremost of the minds of him and his officials in Transport Scotland, and I look forward to hearing the outcome of the full transport study in June.
Aberdeenshire Council have agreed to a £15 million flood protection scheme for Stonehaven to prevent the kind of flooding the town saw in 2009 and 2012 and I will be pushing for this scheme to be realised as quickly as possible. The open public consultation for the scheme will take place next week and I urge all my Stonehaven constituents to make their views on the scheme known. Work is under way on the flood prevention scheme in Brechin and folk there are looking forward to the day when they can say the risk of their homes being flooded is past.
Work has also started on the Western Peripheral Route and whilst this will bring some local disturbance in the short term it will bring huge economic benefit by opening up the area north of Aberdeen, and improving road access to Aberdeen for all of us.
I recently presented Paul Wheelhouse, the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, with a petition signed by more than 3000 of my constituents for the “Forfar says no to legal high shop” campaign. I would encourage constituents across all of Angus North and Mearns towns to be vigilant to these shops springing up. I understand that the Scottish and UK Governments are discussing the options for legislation against new psychoactive substances, recognising the havoc they can bring to families and communities.
This week’s parliamentary programme included a debate on apprenticeships. I am pleased that there has been so much effort put into up-skilling our youngsters, and i shall be interested to see what plans there are to do more.
Finally, austerity is going to continue under the new UK Tory Government at Westminster and many of the most vulnerable in our communities are going to continue to suffer as a result of the further £12 billion of cuts still to come. I urge all of my constituents to work together to mitigate these effects as far as possible; for example by looking after and supporting family, friends and neighbours, contributing to food banks and supporting local businesses.