>> 24 April 2009

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the decision by Aberdeenshire Council to support the under-threat National Trust for Scotland property Haddo House, near Methlick.

The NTS have scaled-back operations at Haddo House and instead of the house being open to visitors it has reduced access to an afternoon guided tour only and pre-booked groups. Access to the grounds is unaffected. Councillors have backed a proposal at yesterday's meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee to underwrite the cost of introducing an additional guided tour in the morning at Haddo House to complement the NTS afternoon tour.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"I'm delighted with this helpful intervention from Aberdeenshire Council, but remain disappointed that the National Trust has found it necessary to reduce access to a magnificent local attraction during the year of the Homecoming.

"I visited Haddo House last summer and it is a truly magnificent building with a wonderful history. I hope that this funding will help to sustain local tourism in the longer term by demonstrating that there is a need for us to maintain the visitor attractions we have."

Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith, who is a member of the committee which approved the support for Haddo House, has also expressed his delight at the scheme's introduction.

Councillor Smith had previously written to the National Trust's Chief Executive Kate Mavor pointing out that the NTS properties featured regularly on the tour itinerary of passengers from the cruise ships which berth at Peterhead harbour, and expressed concern at the potential knock-on effects on local tourism.

Councillor Stephen Smith added:

"This is an excellent example of partnership working. Like most people, when I heard the news about the National Trust's intention to scale-back its operations at Haddo House I was very concerned at the impact this might have on local tourism.

"I'm therefore very pleased that the council has stepped in and has been able to underwrite up to £5000 the cost of providing a guided tour for visitors during mornings. This should help establish the demand for such a facility and hopefully make it self-sustaining for next year."

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