Two senior Liberal Democrats visited Peterhead recently as a part of a packed trip to the North-east.
Secretary of State for Scotland, Rt. Hon. Michael Moore MP and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP attended a number of engagements on Wednesday August 15 and Thursday August 16.
On the first day of the visit, Michael Moore and Willie Rennie paid a visit to the Fraserburgh Harbour Board where they heard of future plans for the port. They then headed to Banff and Buchan College where they met with the Deputy Principle and were given a tour of the newly redesigned campus. They also took part in a Q&A session with representatives from the fishing industry, community organisations and the college.
On Thursday, Mr Moore and Mr Rennie visited Peterhead Port Authority and the Fish Market in the town.
They also attended a business breakfast with representatives from the fishing industry at Buchan Braes Hotel, Boddam. Whilst there, leaders from the industry discussed their concerns surrounding the upcoming negotiations on the Common Fisheries Policy which are due to be held in December.
Later in the morning, Mr Moore and Mr Rennie visited Score, where they were given a tour of the Wellbank site by Hugh Irvine, Managing Director of Score Engineering. During the visit, Mr Moore was given the opportunity to speak to over two hundred Score apprentices and congratulated Score chairman, Charles Ritchie, for his investment in apprenticeships.
After visitng Score, Mr Rennie visited a Pelagic Fishing vessel and had lunch with Liberal Democrat party members and activists.
Commenting on the visit, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said: “It is incredibly important to get round the country so I am as well-prepared as possible to represent Scotland in cabinet.
“It has been hugely beneficial to see for myself the challenges and opportunities facing the ports in Peterhead and Fraserburgh. It was very useful to meet with fishing industry representatives and to hear about their concerns regarding the Common Fisheries Policy and the conservation steps they have already taken.
“It was very encouraging to see the work going on in places like Score as well. I think that was the first time I have been in a room with so many apprentices employed by one employer,” he added.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie commented: “Meeting representatives from the fishing industry gave me a more in-depth understanding of the challenges in the industry. It is very difficult to balance the sustainability of the industry with the sustainability of fish stocks, but I believe much more emphasis should be on fishermen being able to make these decisions. Fishermen are best placed to make decisions about fish stocks.
“It was also extremely beneficial to see the Banff and Buchan College. They have fantastic facilities and the staff are passionate about learning. It is also amazing that 45% of students at the College are studying engineering. The Scottish Government need to start recognising the value of colleges.”
Whilst on their visit Mr Moore and Mr Rennie also discussed the some of the issues surrounding Scottish independence. Mr Rennie commented: “Britain is a force in the world, along with big players such as India, China, France and Germany. In Europe we are a big force. This is why we stand a better chance of getting what we want in the international arena. That is why the fishing industry, for example, is better served by a UK government than an independent Scottish government.
“There are many small, successful countries in the world but what is unusual is for small countries to break away from large, successful nations. I think we should recognise that we’ve got something good,” he added.