Council Moves to Address Brexit Threat to Seafood Exports Welcomed

>> 2 October 2020

Aberdeenshire Council has agreed to vary the fees on export health certificates for food producers when they begin exporting to the EU from January 1, 2021.

The greatest volume of both processed and unprocessed food exports from Aberdeenshire is to the European Economic Area. With the end of the EU Transition Deal expected to occur on January 1, the United Kingdom will be considered by Europe as a third country for trade, irrespective of the outcome of ongoing negotiations to agree a Free Trade Agreement.

That will mean businesses exporting animal products to the EU in these circumstances will need to apply for an export health certificate (EHC) in order to clear border controls.

An EHC confirms that exports meet the health requirements of the destination country. The council is providing advice and support to the business sector as the UK nears the end of the EU transition period.

Yesterday (Thursday), the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee agreed that EHC fees may need to be reduced for export certificates to the EU and Northern Ireland to support the North-east fishing industry.

Councillors were told it was anticipated that up to 1,000 export health certificates may have to be issued in Aberdeenshire each week.

The committee also heard that the Scottish Government has requested that Food Standards Scotland take on the responsibility of coordinating national logistics hubs to relieve the burden on local authorities.

These hubs would provide the necessary staffing resources to issue EHCs - located in transportation hubs in central Scotland - and would relieve some of the pressure on Aberdeenshire Council officials.

Commenting, SNP spokesperson on Infrastructure Services Cllr David Aitchison said:

“The need for our high-quality seafood to reach markets in France, Spain, Italy, etc within short timescales is crucial. Any delays in the supply chain are potentially devastating. While it is clear that the council, COSLA and Scottish Government are doing everything in their power to address the challenges faced by the North-East seafood sector, the UK's exit from the EU and failure to reach an exit deal continues to cause huge uncertainty for these exports.

“Aberdeenshire Council’s role in Export Health Certification requires significant resourcing and I welcome the First Minister's confirmation that resources would be made available for greater resourcing for environmental health to the tune of £1.2million this year and £1.9million next year."

Head of Economic Development and Protective Services, Belinda Miller, said afterwards:

“We do, however, anticipate that several North-east fish processing companies, especially the larger ones, who do not use transportation hubs or need to share loads will still expect the council to provide them with EHCs. Our Environmental Health teams are looking into the option of creating a trial base in Peterhead Fish Market which would enable us to issue EHCs 12 hours-a-day, six days-a-week.”


Louise McAllister Named by SNP as By-Election Candidate

>> 7 September 2020

Local Celebrant Aims to Make a Fab Four for the SNP in Ellon

Louise McAllister, a local business owner and community councillor has been named as the candidate for the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the upcoming Aberdeenshire Council by-election for the Ellon and District ward.
The seat is vacant following the election of Richard Thomson MP to represent the Gordon Constituency at Westminster. The by-election was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Aberdeenshire Council has now scheduled the plebiscite for next month.

If elected on October 15th, Ms McAllister would join Gillian Martin MSP, Councillor Anouk Kloppert and Mr Thomson as a fourth SNP representative for constituents in Ellon and District – adding a second councillor to the representatives in Holyrood and Westminster.

Ms McAllister has lived in Aberdeenshire for 16 years and runs her own business from Ellon as a humanist celebrant. Her work in the community includes sitting as Vice-Chair of the Ellon and District Community Council and being a trustee of the Formartine Rural Partnership.

The Formartine Rural Partnership is a charity that works with local groups on environmental issues and manages the Formartine in Bloom and Formartine Beginning to Blossom annual gardening competitions.

Ms McAllister is also leading a drive to introduce allotments into Ellon through the Ellon Now Ellon New initiative.

Commenting, Louise McAllister, SNP Candidate for the Ellon & District By-Election said:

“I have always believed that if you want to make a difference then you have to get involved.

“I feel I understand the people of Ellon and District and share the desire to have the area recognised more widely as a friendly and welcoming destination, and also as both a dynamic, vibrant place for both families and businesses to grow.

“It is hugely important for local politicians to offer a constructive way forward. I want to do just that for the people of Ellon and District.”

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“Louise has the ideal background and experience to make an excellent councillor. She’s heavily involved in the community, and a well-kent figure in Ellon and District.

“I am delighted that she has decided to stand to serve her community even more.”

Commenting, Richard Thomson MP said:

“Louise has been a thoughtful, hard-working and pragmatic member of the Ellon Community Council and has all the attributes to be a highly effective local councillor. She would be a real asset to the communities of Ellon and District ward as a Councillor - I’m delighted to give Louise my backing.”

Commenting, Councillor Anouk Kloppert said:

“Louise has something really special to offer. She has been very active in community life in Ellon for a number of years, in the community council and the Formartine Partnership. In these roles, I know Louise as consistent and warm in her approach, an inclusive thinker and always looking for a way forward together.”

“She has a good understanding of the people of Ellon & District. She believes in our town to be a family-friendly destination, a place for speciality shops & restaurants to thrive and with lots of green spaces for sports and leisure for all to use.”

“It is very clear that Louise will work very hard for everyone and would make a difference as the next councillor of the Ellon & District ward.”

Commenting, Councillor Gwyneth Petrie, Leader of the SNP Group in Aberdeenshire Council said:

“Louise would be a great asset to both the SNP council group and the people of Ellon and District.”

“The SNP group in Aberdeenshire Council have, throughout the pandemic, worked constructively for the benefit of those we represent, whilst also challenging the current administration and holding it to account where required. Louise’s skill set will make her an excellent addition to our team, and to the wider councillor cohort.”


Peterhead Councillor Backs Towns Partnership 'Shop Local' Campaign

>> 21 July 2020

SNP councillor for Peterhead South & Cruden Stephen Smith has given his backing to the campaign launched this week by Scotland’s Towns Partnership to ‘Shop Local’ to help fuel the economic recovery.

Scotland’s Towns Partnership has launched its campaign – in association with the Scottish Government – encouraging everyone to support the businesses which are at the heart of their home communities.

The campaign follows the publication of new polling figures which showed two-thirds of Scottish residents intended to shop locally once their high streets reopen post-Coronavirus and that the successful future of town centres depends on support at a local level.

Businesses across the country have been working with Business Improvement Districts, Local Authorities and others to put in place arrangements which mean people can shop locally, but safely. These arrangements include the use of screens, distance markers and signage, the provision of hand sanitizer instore and capacity limits.

It comes at a time when the need to safely and responsibly support town centres has never been greater following the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commenting, Cllr Stephen Smith said:

Cllr Stephen Smith and 
Cabinet Secretary Aileen Campbell
at a previous event in Parliament 
supporting Town Centres.

“These last few months have been hard for many of our town centre businesses and other small enterprises.

“Many traders – some of whom have been at the heart of community response campaigns during the crisis – have been forced to temporarily close throughout lockdown, with customers turning 
instead to large internet retailers. I therefore very much welcome this initiative and hope people will support their local businesses.*

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell MSP said:

“It is now more vitally important than ever to consider shopping, eating and drinking locally as we all have a role to play in Scotland’s economic recovery. Simple steps like choosing to visit a nearby shop or cafĂ©, or buying goods or services from a business in your own community, help support jobs and goes a long way to fostering the vibrant selection of products and services on offer close to home.

“By following the public health advice, we can all make exploring what the neighbourhood has to offer as safe as possible. I would encourage everyone who is able to head out and discover for themselves what living locally can offer them – I know that business owners at the heart of our communities will appreciate it immensely.”

Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said:

“The impact of coronavirus has hit our town centres and local businesses hard. Now is the time for us all to support them to get back on their feet in a way which recognises that we still need to stay safe and follow the public health guidelines.

“By thinking local first, we can help Scotland’s economic recovery from its grassroots, supporting our town centres within all of the public safety guidelines. The impact we can have by doing this should not be underestimated.

“The breadth of businesses in our town centres is vast. Whether you need a book, a pint of milk, a night out and a meal or some garden furniture, please think local first.

“Scotland Loves Local is all about getting people back to their roots and recognising that our town centre businesses and the people who run them are part of the fabric of our communities. Sometimes for generations, these people have been there for us. Now it’s time for us to be there for them. One of the great positives of the terrible times in which we have found ourselves has been the greater appreciation of localism. We must now harness that to keep our communities vibrant and lay firm foundations as we work to ensure our town centres are fit for the future.”

Scotland Loves Local will highlight the fact that it’s the people behind the businesses which make our high streets special – not simply the buildings and shop units which are found on them.

It also encourages people to show their support safely, following all social distancing and hygiene guidance shared by the Scottish Government as part of the ongoing vigilance to keep rates of Covid-19 suppressed.


Councillor Blackett Calls for Flexibility in Furlough Scheme

>> 30 April 2020

A councillor has made a call for some flexibility to be introduced to the UK Government’s furlough scheme at today’s virtual meeting of the full Aberdeenshire Council.

Councillors were discussing the response to Coronavirus during which Cllr Geva Blackett (SNP-Aboyne, Upper Deeside & Donside) requested the UK Government be asked to make adjustments to the furlough scheme.

Cllr Blackett used the example of a local community business engaged in heritage and tourism where being able to have their single furloughed worker spend the 20 per cent of their time they are not being paid for to safely engage in preparatory work for when restrictions are lifted would be beneficial to both the business and the community.

Speaking during the virtual meeting, Cllr Blackett said:

“Employers are able, as we know, to claim back 80% of a furloughed employee’s salary up to a £2,500 per month ceiling. Employees are not allowed to do any work for their employer while furloughed however if their contract allows, they can go and take paid employment elsewhere.

“Quite a number of employers are topping up those salaries with the remaining 20% and this is where I believe there needs to be an amendment. Many businesses, particularly those in tourism, could actually do with having someone working that 20% that they are paying for.

“I have written to the Scotland Office and the Leader of Aberdeenshire Council reiterating what I hope will be viewed as a constructive suggestion to aid and assist local businesses during this time.”


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