Star Miley was inspiration for Aberdeen’s Olympic pool
I was delighted that our local swimming star Hannah Miley stormed to gold medal victory on the opening day of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and shattered her previous Commonwealth record.
I first met Hannah almost ten years ago when she was a promising competitor with the Garioch swimmers doing her training in the Inverurie pool which opened in the wee small hours but saw her carrying on when the pool admitted the general public.
It was her dedication and that of her fellow swimmers that prompted me to start campaigning for an Olympic-sized pool in the North-east. It didn’t catch on at first.
Sport Scotland was not keen. However, with persistence, interest grew and once Aberdeen City and Aberdeen University joined forces it became a reality and Sport Scotland eventually chipped in.
I have watched Hannah’s progress, coached by her equally dedicated father, with growing admiration over the years.
It takes immense commitment, dedication and quite a lot of sacrifice to get to the top in such a competitive event. Hannah has all of those and remains charming and likeable.
Well done, Hannah!
UK finally emerges from recession
This week the UK economy returned to the level it was at before the recession.
The UK economy is now growing faster than any other developed economy with growth predicted by the IMF at 3.2 per cent this year and 2.7 per cent for next year.
This was the key reason the Liberal Democrats entered the coalition at a time of crisis after the UK economy had contracted by more than 7 per cent in a single year, and the public deficit was running at an unsustainably high level – in percentage
terms higher than that of Greece.
The Government has had to take difficult decisions on benefits and public spending.
In spite of that education and health spending have been protected and, thanks to the Liberal Democrats, the income tax threshold has been raised to £10,500, state pensions have been boosted and reformed, non-work related benefits have been increased with inflation and there has been a dramatic expansion of low carbon energy and green jobs.
I hope that in the coming year more people will start to feel the benefit of the recovery and recognise the risks of abandoning the deficit reduction strategy, which risks undoing what is being achieved.
In my view, political parties that offer increased spending with no tax increases or even tax cuts are not economically or practically credible and would put the recovery at risk just as it is taking hold.
That will be central to the political debate over the coming year.
The stated objective of the Liberal Democrats in coalition has been to build a stronger economy and a fairer society enabling everyone to get on in life.
This is clearly beginning to happen.
Thanks to Flybe for stepping into BA gap
I was surprised and disappointed to learn that BA were discontinuing the Aberdeen Aiport to London City service less than two years after it started.
I was informed of this by a constituent who was trying to book flights ahead only to find that they did not exist. There was no announcement. The flights simply disappeared from the timetable.
I raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House and Mr Cameron offered to look into it.
My correspondence with British Airways was entirely negative -namely that the route was not profitable, the aircraft had been designated to other routes and a meeting would serve no purpose.
I was then advised by the airport authorities that they were negotiating with an alternative operator, which I very much welcomed.
Within days Flybe announced they would be operating a twice-daily service from the day after the BA service ended.
I very much hope that in spite of different timings and a reduced frequency local business people and others will make good use of the service which offers good connections to Europe and a quicker and cheaper route into central London than Heathrow. From experience, services are less subject to delay or disruption.
Thank you Flybe for your prompt response to the situation.