Strathy Article: Celebrating Good News

It is more important than ever to celebrate good news given that it’s been in such short supply of late.

That’s why I was delighted to welcome the news that Speyside Distillers are building a new distillery near Kingussie. This news follows the now well underway construction of the Gordon and MacPhail development on the outskirts of Grantown on Spey. In times of such upheaval, these investments are a vote of confidence in our communities and help promote our area for further inward investment.

Securing inward investment has always been an area of great interest for me, so I am delighted to take on the role of shadowing International Trade for the SNP at Westminster.

When you get down to it, Trade is simply the exchange of goods. The better the quality on offer and better the reputation a brand has, the more likely it is to take off and create jobs and opportunity. I’m going to do all I can to ensure that our quality products, services and offerings are given as much exposure and opportunity as I can influence. That, of course, means more than goods.

As hotels, pubs, bed and breakfasts, retail shops, gyms and stores remain closed, businesses are hurting, and understandably people are frustrated. Many of you have already been in touch with me to seek help and advice. While I cannot promise to fix the issues, I will always do what I can to help, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you think I can assist you with an issue.

Over the past year, I have been working with a group of cross-party MPs urging the Chancellor to get much-needed help to those who need it most. I have made countless pleas to him to provide funding for those excluded from any help, convert his promised and underspent ‘package’ of ‘loans’ into grant funding, and make simple adjustments to the borrowing rules allow the Scottish Government to do more. So for he hasn’t listened, but my colleagues and I will keep on the case.

In their respective ministerial roles, my constituency colleagues, Kate Forbes MSP and Fergus Ewing MSP have been working hard to plug the gaps in support left by the UK Government. As Scotland’s Finance Secretary, Kate has the impossible task of trying to make limited funding stretch to help everyone missing out on UK support, including the newly self-employed and many freelancers. I have been very grateful for how she has listened when I have raised issues and continues to take on board the concerns of different sectors and put help in place where possible.

Two new funds are particularly welcome; the new self-catering grant announced by Fergus Ewing MSP to help bed and breakfasts and self-catering establishments and the new discretionary fund managed by The Highland Council, which will hopefully offer help to those who have missed out on other grants. I would encourage anyone still in need of support to visit the Highland Council website for more information on these funds.

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