Foodbank use is continuing to rise...


The schools have broken up for the summer holidays, and unfortunately so far we have had some very mixed weather.

Let’s hope that the sun comes out, and stays out, for the next six weeks to allow the young one’s to get out and about and enjoy their break.

I recently attended the Torphins in Action event, which was organised by the Torphins Medical Practice Patient Participation Group. The event highlighted the huge variety of local groups available which promote and allow local people of all ages to take part in an array of physical exercise. The one thing which I felt really stood out on the day was the great sense of community spirit, and I would like to extend my thanks to the team who organised the day. I hope that similar events can be held in the future.

The following day, I was at Meldrum Academy to welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay to Aberdeenshire. The Baton travelled through much of my constituency over the following days, and there was always a great crowd of people waiting to see it and encourage and cheer on the Baton bearers. Following on the tail of the World Cup and Wimbledon, excitement for the Commonwealth Games is really growing, and I believe that they will be a great opportunity for communities to come together and get behind Team Scotland.

Last week, I took the opportunity to support Tesco’s fourth National Food Collection during a visit to the Banchory store. The Collection is carried out in conjunction with the Trussell Trust and FareShare and shoppers are invited to donate an item or two to help those in their community who are struggling to afford to eat.

Since Tesco held their first Food Collection in 2012, they have donated 10.3 million meals to those in need, and I was delighted to hear that they also have a new scheme with FareShare where surplus food from their online and fresh distribution centres is donated to those who need it.

Scotland is such a prosperous country, with Aberdeenshire one of the most affluent parts of the country, and I find it incredulous that foodbanks are even a requirement, never mind that the use of them continues to rise. Foodbanks have seen an astonishing rise in use of 400% in the last year according to figures released by the Trussell Trust, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff and volunteers who make the foodbanks possible.

A recent report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that Westminster continues to fail the people of Scotland on the cost of living; since 2008, the cost of living has increased by 28%, yet average earnings have risen only 9%. The report states that for ever £1 gained by low income families from the increased tax allowances, they have lost £4 as a result of cuts to tax credits and child benefit. Yet again, the most vulnerable in our society are being hit the hardest by Tory cuts. Let’s allow Scotland to make its own choices to ensure that tax and welfare reflect the priorities of the people here with a yes vote in September.

I had the privilege of attending the Holyroodhouse Garden Party this year. There have been a number of questions raised over the position of the monarchy following the referendum; should Scotland become independent, the Queen would remain Head of State for Scotland. The Queen is already Head of State in 16 Commonwealth countries, and an independent Scotland would be part of this family of nations.

I also had time for a visit to Westhill Sorting Office to hear about the work being done by Royal Mail for their Dog Awareness Week, which ran from June 30 until July 4. Every year, around 3000 posties are attacked by dogs, and this awareness week was a way of finding ways to prevent such attacks, as well as encouraging responsible dog ownership. With this in mind, I would encourage all dog owners across the constituency to ensure that, if there are out and about with their pets over the summer months, that they are kept on leads when appropriate, especially around livestock, and that you are picking up any mess they may leave behind.