Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Gibson congratulates captains galley on netting prestigious award

News Release
Immediate Use


Highlands & Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament congratulating Scrabster-based restaurant the Captain's Galley after it netted a pestiferous seafood award in London.

The Galley, owned and operated by Jim and Mary Cowie was crowned as the UK's Best Seafood Restaurant at the 2009 Seafood Awards.

Rob said:

"It is a great achievement for those involved at the Captains Galley to land the best restaurant at the seafood awards this year. Jim and Mary Cowie deserve great credit for their commitment and adherence to excellence which has been recognised this week. It is particularly encouraging to see their belief in and sustainable utilisation of local resources."

The restaurant, which has already won a string of awards, has a policy of sourcing it's seafood from sustainable sources within a 50-mile radius of Scrabster.
Mr Gibson continued…

"The restaurant is a great advert for the excellent produce which can be found in and around Caithness. It certainly sets the bar high for its competitors and Scotland is better off because of it."

Rob wrote to the Cowies today to congratulate them on their win.



Copy of motion:

S3M-04241 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): Captain's Galley in Scrabster Crowned UK's Best — That the Parliament congratulates the Scrabster-based Captain’s Galley restaurant, its owners, Jim and Mary Cowie, and its staff for earning the crown of UK’s Best Seafood Restaurant of the Year Award at the 2009 Seafood Awards in London; hails the Cowies for their commitment to local produce, with all of the seafood on their menu coming from sustainable sources within a 50-mile radius; notes that the restaurant already holds a Press and Journal Highland restaurant of the year title, won a top prize in the Taste of Scotland category at the Scottish Thistle Awards and that in 2007 Mr Cowie was named UK Seafood Chef of the Year; applauds the aims of the Seafood Awards, organised by Seafish, which are designed to encourage enterprise, innovation and best practice across all areas of the seafood industry, and finally wishes the Captain’s Galley and all other entrants good luck in the upcoming 2009 Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Gibson backs calls for Derogation

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has backed calls from SNP Euro candidate Drew Hendry's call for fairer fuel prices for remote and rural areas.

Mr Gibson wants to see a special derogation on fuel duty from the European Union for the Highlands and Islands which could see significant cuts to fuel process for both hauliers and private users.

Mr Gibson said....

"These special derogations have been secured for areas in France, Spain and Greece all with the agreement of the UK Government. However despite pressure from the SNP on all levels as well as from business and the public the UK Government refuses to make the same case for the Highlands and Islands."

"In times of recession when oil prices are rising then the case for rural areas to get some fuel relief is all the more compelling. Every penny on fuel duty is another penny onto haulage costs and out of families’ pockets This extra rural tax cannot be fair."


Monday, 25 May 2009

Gibson backs island festival idea

News release
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Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has lodged a motion calling for a debate to raise the potential for a Festival of Island cultures in 2011.

The proposal would run along the lines and be a progression of Homecoming Scotland which could attract more visitors, investment and improve transport links.

Speaking as he lodged the motion Mr Gibson said…

"A year of island cultures is a cracking idea. Not only are Scotland's islands stunning and culturally unique they also have a great deal to offer to the nation's economy."

"A couple of years ago I and a group of writers from the Western Isles, Shetland, Fair Isle, Orkney and Skye attended a book festival on the Breton Island of Ouessant which (that year) was dedicated to the island writers of Scotland. It was a fantastic event which highlighted the wealth of talent both past and present from the islands of the North and West."

"What became apparent to the writer present was that despite their cultural and geographical differences there was a sense of a shared island experience. This has led to greater cooperation and inter action between islands writers across Scotland. So a wider celebration of islands would be something to savour."

"I hope that all MSP's sign the motion so that a debate on the subject can take place in the Parliament to help raise the profile of the potential event. An event which would have the benefits of celebrating the cultures of the islands as well as show casing their positives and pointing to their great potential."

"It is a great privilege to represent some of the finest islands in the world. i hope that islands festival would help raise their profile so people can live, taste and see what they have to offer."

Mr Gibson also urged all elected representatives in the 27 EU member states to agree to inaugurate a European year of islands at the earliest opportunity.



Copy of motion

S3M-04209 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): Festival of Island Cultures— That the Parliament welcomes growing support for a festival of island cultures for 2011; notes that Argyll and Bute, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, North Ayrshire and Highland councils in partnership are promoting the importance of their islands to the nation’s economy, sustainable growth, environment and cultural diversity; believes that such a festival is a natural development of Homecoming Scotland 2009 and will attract more visitors and investment and improve transport links; praises the work of the Scottish Islands Federation as a champion of our islands and commends the extension of its influence through the European Small Islands Network, and urges all elected representatives in the 27 EU member states to agree to inaugurate a European year of islands at the earliest opportunity.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Gibson hears about Scorries success

News release
Immediate release


SNP MSP Rob Gibson took to the field to hear how Cash back for Communities from the proceeds of crime are being put to good use by Wick Academy FC.

Mr Gibson visited Harmsworth Park to hear how the £27,455 grant from the Scottish Government cash back for communities will be deployed.

The scheme which sees criminal's profits seized and given back to community projects throughout the country saw the Scorries net a club development container complete with mobile floodlights, generator, grass cutting machinery, goal posts and sports equipment.

Mr Gibson who met with Chairman Colin Stewart and committee member Ken Wood said….

"This is yet another great result for Wick Academy. The equipment will help improve training for the club."

"Wick Academy has had an excellent record breaking season which has a seen positive and national coverage. It is great to speak to Colin and Ken. Their passion and commitment to the club matches that of the players."

There is a great spirit among the squad and management which saw them go ten games in a row undefeated. I witnessed some of this camaraderie first hand during my assistant Gail's wedding and I am not surprised by their progress."

"I wish them every success for next season."


Copy of photo of left to Right are; Ken Wood (committee member), Rob Gibson MSP, Dr Aileen Mcleod (SNP Euro Candidate) and Colin Stewart (chairman)

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Rural motorist suffer from London vote

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Irelands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has accused North Lib Dem MP's of betraying constituents again after they failed to vote for an SNP proposal which would have reduced fuel costs to motorists and haulage firms.

Mr Gibson was commenting after a coalition of Lib Dems and Conservatives MP's absented themselves to allow Labour to vote down a SNP amendment which would have introduced a fuel duty regulator.

The regulator would see any extra cash raised from VAT on higher pump prices go straight back into an equivalent cut in fuel duty.

Speaking after the vote Mr Gibson said...

"Yet again the Lib Dems and their cohorts did nothing to stop Labour voting down a sensible and fair policy from the SNP which would have reduced the cost for motorists and hauliers in the Highlands and Islands.

"This policy is about protecting jobs in the transport industry and helping motorists and businesses, so it is bitterly disappointing that for party political reasons the Lib Dems fail to back the policy which would benefit their constituents."

"It is a scandal that in an oil rich country key sectors are struggling to fill their tanks, a Fuel Duty Regulator would have made an enormous difference. what is becoming more and more obvious is that people of rural Scotland cannot rely on the UK Westminster Government to reduce their fuel costs.


Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Gibson comments on CHaP

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has called for Highland Council to account for the Caithness Heat and Power scheme.

Commenting Mr Gibson said...

"The time has come Highland Council to account for the botched and complicated Wick CHaP scheme for Pulteneytown. Lessons can be learned and need to be quickly."

"The Scottish Government has indicated a target of 11% of demand for heat will come from renewable sources. At present 1% of demand is met. Therefore the Highland Council can play a key role. Paying for such schemes can reduce over time. Today the SNP seeks assurance that a sustainable scheme will be put in place."


Gibson challenges MoD over environmental claims

News release
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Highlands and islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has challenged the MoD to make public it's environmental impact study on military manouvers around Cape Wrath.

Mr Gibson was speaking after the MoD said that safeguarding the environment was a priority during the Joint Warrior military exercise despite the fact that some of it would take place on environmentally sensitive areas.

Mr Gibson said…

"I think the public should be made aware of what precautions the MoD will be taking to make sure that the 'largest military exercise in Europe' does not adversely affect the land and environment of the tip of North West Scotland."

"The fact that the MoD insist on having this exercise during lambing season and during the Cape Wrath Challenge shows a scant regard and a lack of respect to the people of the area. Given this behaviour I will take the MoD's claims with a pinch of salt."

"I hope that we do not see a repeat of last year when military exercises resulted in a heath fire which led to the loss of much flora, fauna and wild life causing 10 years worth of damage."


Sunday, 10 May 2009

Inquiry into Scots banks’ collapse moves a step closer

Published in the Sunday Herald, 10 May 2009
By Paul Hutcheon and Tom Gordon

Holyrood seeks advice on remit of investigation

A POWERFUL Holyrood committee is drawing up plans for an investigation into the collapse of the country's two largest banks.

MSPs want an inquiry into how HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) turned from profitable institutions into firms requiring a bail-out. The group wants to call ministers from the UK government and key figures in the Bank of England to give evidence.

The Sunday Herald last month called for a special Holyrood inquiry into the near-demise of the two financial institutions. The financial incompetence of the banks has cost the UK taxpayer billions of pounds and tarnished Scotland's international reputation for financial management.

It is understood that Holyrood's Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee is considering plans for a full-scale inquiry into the banking disaster. The committee's clerk is compiling an options paper for MSPs on the group.

One of the thorny issues is whether the remit should extend to beyond the poor-decision making of HBOS, which is now part of Lloyds Banking Group, and RBS.

Nationalist members would prefer an inquiry that also focused on the role of the UK government, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and other players on the UK stage.

Rob Gibson, the committee's SNP deputy convener, said:

"The response I got from Iain Smith MSP, the committee's convener was that he was taking advice from the clerk, who is drawing up a paper."

"We need to have the widest ranging inquiry to make it work, which would include the political leadership in London, the FSA, and the Bank of England."

Liberal Democrat and SNP support for an inquiry would command four votes of the eight-member committee.

A tie would hand the casting vote to Smith, who is also a LibDem.

Another member of the committee, Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald, said he was keeping his options open.

He said: "I want to wait and see whether it is possible to have a meaningful and detailed inquiry. I'm open to persuasion."

Gavin Brown MSP, a Conservative, said he was sceptical of the idea but willing to discuss options.

He said: "I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. The question is whether an inquiry would add value, or whether it would be a pale imitation of the Westminster inquiry."

The campaign has already attracted high-profile support.

Former judge Lord McCluskey; the STUC general secretary, Grahame Smith; historian Tom Devine and former Bank of Scotland chief executive Peter Burt have all endorsed an inquiry.

Other support has come from Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron; Canon Kenyon Wright, one of the architects of devolution, and John Kay, an economic adviser to the Scottish government.

Political support has come from Scottish LibDem leader Tavish Scott, First Minister Alex Salmond. the Scottish Greens and Margo Macdonald MSP.

Scott has said: "I would be totally in favour of any mechanism which allowed the full weight of parliamentary scrutiny to come to bear on what has been an enormous event in the history of Scotland's financial industries."

Salmond said: "I would support any Scottish parliamentary inquiry into the banks and the bad decisions that were made."

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Gibson attends 'fun' climate change festival

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson joined the throng celebrating Eigg's first Giant's Footsteps Family Festival last weekend.

Mr Gibson also lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament congratulating the people of Eigg for holding the festival and wishing them every success in the final of the NESTA big green competition.

He said…

"The organisers claim that it provided 'the most fun you can have while combating Climate Change' was very true."

"Eigg's wind, hydro and solar power system shows how communities large and small can shape their own carbon footprint. A small island has set the pace and deserves to win the NESTA prize."

"Among the many delights of an eco friendly weekend was the children's play by EcoDrama. The off the wall eco fable had kids and adults alike in the village hall in stitches and tears of laughter. It should be shown round Scotland to inspire others to emulate the innovation on Eigg."

"I will be exploring ways to have a performance in the Scottish Parliament."


Note to editor
Copy of motion

S3M-04045 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): Salute Eigg— That the Parliament congratulates the people of Eigg on holding the first Eigg Giant’s Footstep Family Festival on 2 and 3 May 2009, which will focus on the island’s renewable electricity scheme that powers most of the island’s homes and businesses; notes that the festival will include talks, workshops, music and theatre as well as a host of experts to provide advice and answer questions on what individuals and communities can do to tackle climate change; recognises the gigantic strides that the islanders of Eigg have made and are continuing to make since taking control of their island in 1997, and wishes every success to the island's bid, as Scotland’s only finalist, to win the UK-wide NESTA Big Green Challenge competition.

Gibson comments on John O' Groats proposal

News release
Immediate release

SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands Rob Gibson has advocated the use of compulsory purchase to help speed up the regeneration of John O' Groats.

Commenting on proposals to help regenerate the village he said….

"John O' Groats has languished for far too long. Caithness needs a speedy breakthrough.
"HIE must come up with a solution within three months. Caithness Chambers of Commerce must be directly involved. Scotland's own 'Land's End' has great potential. But previous Highland Councils and previous Lib/Lab Scottish Executives showed no urgency.

"A new spirit is enterprise spirit is awakening in the Far North. The prize of renewables, the success of Mey selections, the growing acclaim for world surfers around north beaches. I believe that compulsory purchase should be applied to the derelict hotel to show the community's determination to make John O' Groats a sustainable success.