with Alex Salmond, First Minister and MSP for Aberdeenshire East

Ellon Academy construction to begin

Last week marked the turf-cutting at the site of the new Ellon Academy and I look forward to witnessing the construction of this first-class new facility for our local young people.

The building, which received £25million directly from Scottish government funding as part of its wider £1.25 billion Schools for the Future Programme, will provide state-of-the-art facilities, allowing pupils to learn in the best possible environment in order to reach their full potential.

Ellon Academy has a history of academic excellence and a positive reputation within the local community. This will only be strengthened upon the completion of the school in two years’ time.

I am proud that the SNP is committed to continuing Scotland’s rich history of first-class education and that the new academy will be a modern school fit for purpose in the 21st century. Indeed, it is vital that our innovative young minds are adequately equipped for the competitive world of work and that our youngsters are provided with the best opportunity to develop and flourish.

With this in mind, I also welcome figures released this week which demonstrate that a record number of young people in Scotland now remain in positive destinations nine months after finishing school. The figures show that the number of young people in employment, training or education nine months after leaving school has increased to 89.5 per cent, up from 87.2 per cent the previous year.

This record high is great news for Scotland’s young people, our employers, and the wider economy and is evidence that, provided access to the right support and opportunities, our young people are eager to learn and secure a brighter future.

Scottish Government initiatives – including the guarantee of an offer of a place in education or training to all 16 to 19 year olds – are having a tangible impact on youth employment and the Scottish Government will continue to make efforts to ensure that our young people are given every opportunity to make the most of their potential.

Welcome to Christian Allard MSP

On the 15th May, the Scottish Parliament welcomed Christian Allard as the new regional SNP MSP for North East Scotland.

Christian succeeds Mark McDonald, who resigned his seat in order to contest the by-election in Aberdeen Donside, prompted by the sad passing of Brian Adam MSP.

Born in France, Christian moved to Scotland over 25 years ago through his work in the fishing industry. He subsequently moved to the North East to work for a seafood exporting company.

I am pleased that Christian will be sharing my constituency office in Inverurie, and look forward to working with him on local issues throughout this Parliament. He has a thorough understanding of rural affairs and the challenges facing the fishing and farming communities. I have no doubt that he will be a strong voice for the North East and a passionate advocate for a successful Scotland in the coming years.

Christian is already taking an active role at Holyrood, as a member of the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee and the Equal Opportunities Committee, alongside serving as a substitute member for the Local Government and Regeneration Committee.

At a local level, Christian has already been engaged in local events including holding his first constituency surgery last weekend at Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival.

Inverurie Independent’s Day

Much like our American friends, Inverurie businesses will be hosting their own celebrations on 4th July.

‘Independent Retailers Day’ will see participating local businesses opening until 8pm, with activities for children taking place in the town centre alongside market stalls. The aim is to showcase the very best on offer from Inverurie’s independent retailers.

I never cease to be impressed by the efforts of the business community in Inverurie. Collaboration through Inverurie4U and the Inverurie Business Association has helped to ensure the town’s resilience to some of the economic challenges of recent years.

With such a great array of shops and restaurants in the town and an exciting programme shaping up for 4th July, I’m sure that the event will be an enormous success.