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13 June 2007

Celebrating Scotland's beaches this summer

WITH the summer well and truly under way and the official bathing season kicking-off this week, the spotlight was on Scotland's beaches.

With this summer set to be another magnificent one, we should take full advantage of our many spectacular beaches and use the opportunity to appreciate their distinctive beauty.

We can also afford to take some credit for the excellent condition of our beaches around the country and indeed in Banff and Buchan.

This year seven Scottish beaches and one marina were awarded with the internationally recognised Blue Flag and a total of 51 gained the Seaside Award for more rural beaches.
Here in Banff and Buchan, two of our beaches, at Inverboyndie and Cruden Bay, were credited with this prestigious award.

This recognition is given on the basis of good bathing standards, litter management, information provision and community involvement and is certainly not easily achieved.

It is a major tribute to the efforts of local people who have shown remarkable community spirit in contributing to the upkeep of our beaches and indeed to all of those who use the beaches, for acting so responsibly and respectfully during their visits.

Each of these beaches has its own distinctive assets and amenities which makes it so appealing to visitors and local people, and attracts tourists to Banff and Buchan.

Inverboyndie for example has a four star council-managed caravan park adding to its attraction while Cruden Bay lies close to the historic Slains Castle and boasts superb sandy dunes.

We also have numerous other beaches including Peterhead Lido, Fraserburgh Beach, Rattray and Sandend which host a variety of visitors every year with many diverse interests ranging from families and holiday makers to surfers and water sports enthusiasts.

These awards will ensure that standards remain high and guarantee that visitors continue to come along with all the revenue that that brings to our area.

I was delighted to be asked to present the award at Inverboyndie Beach and, swept away in the spirit of the impending summer, was even persuaded to join Keep Scotland Beautiful's Chief Executive in the worthy exercise of building a sand castle – some welcome light relief from my ministerial duties.

Positive action on post offices

IN THIS, the third session of the Scottish Parliament a sense of freshness and a break from the past can be distinctly felt in the corridors at Holyrood.

Even at this early stage the new SNP government are making their distinct impression on Scottish politics and bravely delivering on their policy commitments.

This dedication was illustrated in one of the first days in the chamber; in Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney’s statement to the Parliament on Post Offices.

The Cabinet Secretary’s statement reiterated the SNP’s determination to safeguard the Post Office network in Scotland. Following the UK government’s decision to support the closure of 2500 post offices, about 200 in Scotland, he vowed to fight for the maintenance and, indeed, development of Scotland’s postal service.

The SNP are committed to protecting access to post offices in rural areas through pragmatic measures such as co-locating public services.

This move by the UK government only serves to further illustrate the unfair nature of the current devolved settlement, and to highlight how much more could be achieved in Scotland’s interest in an SNP-run independent Scotland.

However, an SNP government at Holyrood is the first vital step in releasing Scotland’s true potential and one from which there is no turning back.

Stewart Stevenson
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