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Caithness News Bulletins Elections 2003

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  Elections May 2003
Rob Gibson - Scottish National Party - Archive Items

17 March 03
Rob Gibson Welcomes Jobs At Forss
SNP welcomes new opportunity for HQ of UKAEA 'environmental restoration division' in Caithness The SNP welcomes the announcement that Forss Business and Technology Park will host a new centre for nuclear decommissioning expertise. With 140 staff already in office space at Dounreay moving to the new site, this new UKAEA Division could become the international centre of excellence in a much-in-demand technology.

This was said by Rob Gibson, the SNP's prospective Scottish Parliamentary candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. He explained, Scotland must play a major world role in decommissioning technology and with Independence when all AEA operations in Scotland can be headquartered in Caithness. The SNP will back such a shift of job opportunities to Caithness locations. International law states that the Vienna Treaties guarantee finances will always flow from the government in London whose responsibility does not end, for the Dounreay site and many others, when Scots achieve Independence.

26 February 03
Rob Gibson On Population Decline
Wake up call - Scottish government must help more to stay in North - SNP The Far North, the islands, Glasgow and Dundee all share depopulation that threatens real hopes of future prosperity. It is time to wake up and ask why the Scottish Executive is only now talking of the consequences?'  said Rob Gibson, SNP prospective Scottish Parliamentary candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. He continued, 'Yesterday's plea by First Minister Jack McConnell that more graduates should stay to work in Scotland is a stark admission that prospects are thought to be better elsewhere. But very soon an ageing population will not  have enough younger people to do all the necessary jobs.

'The SNP believes that increasing population creates greater economic activity. It is the most pressing task we face in the north today, because the census data shows Caithness and Sutherland in particular losing far too many young talented people. HIE has welcomed an increasing Highland population but that is in Inverness, Skye and Lochaber. It has not addressed the repopulation of the Far North. 'SNP strategy sees this as key. The farming analogy fits well. We are long famed for raising store cattle and sheep that are bred for export for finishing elsewhere. Must our youngsters follow the same path? Older folk as a key voting group must be made aware that they can't expect to keep up the level of existing service with a constantly falling population. It seems the Lib Lab Scottish Executive has not grasped how to stem the tide so it is time for others to try.

Public service jobs must be dispersed to the small towns of this area.  Around these more professionals and trades will see a future. That has to be a high priority for the government after May 1st.  Additionally the SNP has already argued that hard-to-fill Far North health job could be filled by fast-tracking qualified asylum seekers with their families to take up medical and other vacant posts. But the Home Office bureaucracy makes this almost impossible. We disagree with those who say that Scotland has no place for new blood. But we hope that our own youngsters will see a really positive future when Independence is achieved.'

 

23 March 03
Job Dispersal Must Not Stop At Inverness - SNP
Rob Gibson, SNP Scottish Parliamentary candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross said: 'Removing the HQ of Scottish Natural Heritage from Edinburgh to Inverness has proved how difficult it is to effect the dispersal of public service jobs around Scotland. Yet there are many places that urgently need such stable long term work to alleviate the poverty created by centralisation of local government and health service jobs.'

'Prising the workforce of Scottish Natural Heritage out of Edinburgh proved difficult. But future departmental and agency dispersal plans have to be more ambitious and spread much-need work well beyond Inverness.

'While welcoming the SNH move to the city Stuart Black, the acting chief executive of Inverness and Nairn Enterprise predicted that Inverness will double in size within 30 years. Since the infrastructure of the city will need huge investment to cope, surely it makes sense to spread the benefits and the jobs across the North?

'HIE must promote the needs of smaller Highland towns with an injection of public sector jobs. They know that European funding packages for regional development insist on quality development for all areas and in order to promote multi-centred regions the Scottish Government must take firmer steps to apply these ideas in practice. From Invergordon to Wick we need dispersed government job now to stem population loss and create quality jobs.

'The SNP is committed to government job dispersal, so every part of the Highlands must demand their fair share.'

17 March 03
Rob Gibson Welcomes Jobs At Forss
SNP welcomes new opportunity for HQ of UKAEA 'environmental restoration division' in Caithness The SNP welcomes the announcement that Forss Business and Technology Park will host a new centre for nuclear decommissioning expertise. With 140 staff already in office space at Dounreay moving to the new site, this new UKAEA Division could become the international centre of excellence in a much-in-demand technology.

This was said by Rob Gibson, the SNP's prospective Scottish Parliamentary candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. He explained, Scotland must play a major world role in decommissioning technology and with Independence when all AEA operations in Scotland can be headquartered in Caithness. The SNP will back such a shift of job opportunities to Caithness locations. International law states that the Vienna Treaties guarantee finances will always flow from the government in London whose responsibility does not end, for the Dounreay site and many others, when Scots achieve Independence.

26 February 03
Rob Gibson On Population Decline
Wake up call - Scottish government must help more to stay in North - SNP The Far North, the islands, Glasgow and Dundee all share depopulation that threatens real hopes of future prosperity. It is time to wake up and ask why the Scottish Executive is only now talking of the consequences?'  said Rob Gibson, SNP prospective Scottish Parliamentary candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. He continued, 'Yesterday's plea by First Minister Jack McConnell that more graduates should stay to work in Scotland is a stark admission that prospects are thought to be better elsewhere. But very soon an ageing population will not  have enough younger people to do all the necessary jobs.

'The SNP believes that increasing population creates greater economic activity. It is the most pressing task we face in the north today, because the census data shows Caithness and Sutherland in particular losing far too many young talented people. HIE has welcomed an increasing Highland population but that is in Inverness, Skye and Lochaber. It has not addressed the repopulation of the Far North. 'SNP strategy sees this as key. The farming analogy fits well. We are long famed for raising store cattle and sheep that are bred for export for finishing elsewhere. Must our youngsters follow the same path? Older folk as a key voting group must be made aware that they can't expect to keep up the level of existing service with a constantly falling population. It seems the Lib Lab Scottish Executive has not grasped how to stem the tide so it is time for others to try.

Public service jobs must be dispersed to the small towns of this area.  Around these more professionals and trades will see a future. That has to be a high priority for the government after May 1st.  Additionally the SNP has already argued that hard-to-fill Far North health job could be filled by fast-tracking qualified asylum seekers with their families to take up medical and other vacant posts. But the Home Office bureaucracy makes this almost impossible. We disagree with those who say that Scotland has no place for new blood. But we hope that our own youngsters will see a really positive future when Independence is achieved.'

16 February 03
Pensioners Toothache Trip To Snowy Golspie
Rob Gibson SNP Says it is because LibLab Executive train too few dentists!   'No matter how they wring their hands LibDem and Labour MSPs have only themselves to blame. Firstly Tony Blair in 1997 and then Donald Dewar and his successors from 1999 onwards have failed to reverse the previous Tory cuts and train sufficient dentists or doctors to meet the country's needs.

Extracts From Adoption Speech Golspie
November 2002
Full financial independence to succeed needs to involve every part of Scotland. So the SNP is happy to look at some internationally recognised measures for national economic success:

We can achieve sustainable economic growth. The north must attract the manufacture, installation and operation of various forms of clean energy.

Why? Because we have biggest waves and huge tidal power in the Pentland Firth and live in the windiest corner in Europe. How? Just like whisky distillers who use local resources and export much of the product, so we must grasp the chance to lead the way out of fossil fuel and nuclear dependency across Europe.

Our oil resources also produce big taxes - but Scotland could gain all the tax from the new fields such as the refurbished pipeline from the Talisman field to the Nigg terminal in the Cromarty Firth to reinvest through independence. A major offshore windfarm in the same area off the Caithness coast could also boost the Scottish Treasury for many years to come. 

At Nigg we should already be building renewable energy equipment if the Scottish Executive had any ambition to lead a Scottish energy strategy.  Instead we are told of speculative bids to weld bits of an aircraft carrier order, possibly in 2006. Such a once in twenty-five year lottery is a hailed a 'golden opportunity for the North' according  our LibDem MSP.  Could we not be ahead of the game for once with renewables and be building new tanks for on-shore fish farms that are needed to boost protein food production? Sustaining our environment is an essential part of sustainable economics, so we must ban dangerous cargo vessels from the Minch and re-organise the Pentland Firth traffic if there's every going to be a deep sea/shallow sea transfer port at Scapa.

On land we must speedily curb over grazing by deer and free range sheep . Regenerated woodlands can turn a devastated Highland landscape into balanced uses with plenty jobs like our Norwegian neighbours do so successfully in a more extreme climate.  Surely that will attract many more visitors to enjoy our scenery and vibrant human communities than mere wilderness does today?

Diversifying land ownership and use has long been a top SNP priority.  First re-jig the LFA payments to favour the most needy.  Second, grant hereditary farm tenants the right to buy and release their potential.

Third give support to crofting communities who have already taken over their land like the Assynt and Melness. They need fostering and not ignoring just because they don't fit the 'one-size-fits-all' New Labour model. Many others will emerge when we build up trust and confidence, as opposed to Labour's divide and rule.

Fourth, we welcome the NW Cattle Producers Association launched last month.  It aims to supply locally bred beef to local markets before thinking about any export trade.

Fifth, process timber for construction, not for paper pulp. Building new wooden homes with top insulation values, aided by low cost, low tech, water powered solar heating could all make many new jobs in the Far North.

Our languages and culture are key parts of the North renaissance. Bigger spin-offs will flow from local self-confidence generated by Gaelic medium education as well as the individual and community confidence boosted by the Feis movement. More of our young people are making music today than ever
before. So let's encourage them with the early go ahead for big annual celebration centred on our Celtic Highland music.

An international festival on the Cape Breton model - called Highland Colours - could boost many small communities. In Cape Breton they use thirty-three venues, and the bonus is we could celebrate Highland Colours in far better weather than St Andrews Day, or Burns Night.  Our cultural life is a magnet to international visitors. So lets firm up the 2006 date Highland Council has mooted, the
financial prize is the equivalent of the 2m plus earned by the Celtic Colours week Nova Scotia in 2001. Who says culture doesn't create jobs?

Next we need more business HQs set up here. AEA Dounreay has to become a world centre of excellence in nuclear decommissioning skills. We should start to negotiate now to bring its HQ to Caithness. Also we should lay claim to a department of government from the pick of those that return from London as we move from devolution to Independence. As I've said, a ministry is for life, unlike a call centre. And is it too much to hope that Kyndal, the Invergordon & Dalmore independent whisky makers could bring their HQ
north to Easter Ross as a signal to so many more to do likewise?

New business births are a key indicator of our ambitions. Solar panel making, kiln-dried timber frames for houses, far more local food and drink makers like the success of the Golspie water mill, local energy co-ops using biomass and other renewables can build local income. A very minor transport revolution could bring year round attractive steam trains to run the Lairg Loop and also build a Dornoch Rail Bridge to speed up the far north rail route without damaging Mid-Sutherland.

The proposed Highland Clearances Centre and monument at Helmsdale will become a world-wide attraction and big new employer. We need the ambition here of the magnitude of Cornwall's Eden Project whose huge biomes show that humans have to live in harmony with the world's plants. It employs nearly 700 in what was recently a worked-out china clay pit.

Another key is to develop, attract and retain work in the Far North.  Our youngsters at school need to know what careers opportunities they can enter here once qualified either from a city campus or in the UHI Millennium Institute. Skills at all levels are needed. The agricultural skills in crofting need to be augmented by the opportunities provided by poly tunnel and solar panel technology. Our Return to Scotland visitor strategy could re-introduce young Scots to their own beautiful country. Youth hostels like Carbisdale and derelict hotels like the Sutherland Arms, Lairg could become major outdoor centres for the North linked by rail to the network.

Leisure and cultural skills are needed, translation skills and the wider use of Gaelic must play a part. In short the confidence to build a satisfying life here can only be assured with well-paid jobs. For every parent who says what a great place it is to bring up kids, we have a duty to make it possible for succeeding generations of young Highlanders to do the same.

To sustain our population levels and increase them are the most pressing tasks we face in the north today. The census data shows Caithness and Sutherland in particular loosing the biggest numbers. Contrary to HIE propaganda about an increasing Highland population our SNP strategy will repopulate the Far North. The farming analogy fits well. We have been used to breeding store cattle and sheep for export and finishing them elsewhere.

Must our youngster follow the same path? Only the SNP will drum it into the election debate that folk here can't expect to keep up the level of existing service with a constantly falling population.  In addition as we argue in the Caithness health job crisis, we should seek out qualified asylum seekers with their families to take up medical and other vacant posts.

The final proof of success is much-improved life expectancy. A hand to mouth existence, seasonal work patterns, poor pay, damp homes are the lot of far too many of our people, and along with rising drug abuse patterns and disguised unemployment through emigration they all eat into our basic health. We really have to get more exercise, cut down binge drinking and a curb a fast food diet, the statistics are plain to see. We could really enjoy more relaxation, active sport and bit of indulgence in the sustained pleasure of food, family and active community life. These are proven indicators of longer, more fulfilled lives everywhere.  Friends, we must be ambitious to realise our nation's true potential, we need voters to understand how Independence for Scotland holds the key to
transform the North Highlands and I aim to see us taken seriously. At the same time we can only achieve that goal if our national government is adding our weight to the international struggle for a fairer world.