A busy programme of Parliament Day visits by the Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon Tricia Marwick MSP and constituency MSP Graeme Dey, will take place on Monday 4 November in Arbroath.
The Finance Committee chaired by Convener Kenneth Gibson MSP will also lead workshops with local businesses and organisations and hold its meeting with John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary of Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth on Parliament Day.
Parliament Day is intended as a “snapshot” of the Parliament’s work and activities and allows people to meet and question MSPs and become involved in the work of their nation’s Parliament.
Parliament Day Arbroath activities will range from the Presiding Officer receiving a lesson on traditional boat-building and smoking the EC-protected ‘Arbroath smokie’ to meeting the young people involved in a community café and a leading engineering-training company.
Among the organisations the Presiding Officer will visit is Mackay’s Boat builders, one of the few remaining boatyards in the north-east specialising in traditional boat-building skills.
There will also be a demonstration by Iain R. Spink from Original Smokies from Arbroath. Mr Spink will show the Presiding Officer exactly how the famed haddock, smoked using traditional methods within a 5-mile radius of Arbroath, earned its officially protected status at the highest levels in Europe.
The next stop will see the Presiding Officer visit the leading engineering-focussed company Angus Training Group, where she will meet young men and women studying for their Engineering Modern Apprenticeships.
There will also be a welcome stop at the award-winning ENABLE Scotland community café Darling’s Coffee Shop which trains young people with a learning disability to improve their employability skills. The Presiding Officer will meet the manager and Community Woman Award recipient, Doreen Walkinshaw and her staff of volunteers at the cafe.
Welcoming Parliament Day to Arbroath, the following Arbrothians gave their reaction:
Doreen Walkinshaw from Darling’s Coffee Shop said: “It is all about the Scottish Parliament becoming more visible and accessible to local communities and I’m sure the people of Arbroath will welcome that.”
Alan Swankie from Angus Training Group said: “It is a chance for Arbroath to make itself known and to look at some of the issues and find out a little more about what is happening in Parliament.”
Brian Stormont the Group Editor of Angus County Press said: “It is not so easy for people to get down to Edinburgh and so for the Scottish Parliament to come out and about and visit towns like Arbroath it will be extremely informative in letting people know about the Parliament’s work.”
Chic Grant from Outdoor Action Scotland said: “It is a great opportunity for local people to go and express how they feel about what is happening in the country.”
The Finance Committee will also take part in Parliament Day. The Committee is responsible for scrutinising public spending and examining the Scottish Government’s £30 billion draft budget for 2014-15.
Scrutiny of public spending means that the Committee believes that it is vital to hear from local groups and organisations. This is why it will hold private workshops with over twenty Arbroath organisations on the morning of Parliament Day.
Those attending include Chick Grant, the owner of Outdoor Action Scotland and Chair of the Arbroath Town Centre Retailers Association, along with representatives from Angus Council and Angus Housing Association Ltd.
The issues raised by the people of Arbroath at the workshops will then be put directly to John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary of Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, when he gives evidence to the Finance Committee at 2pm on Monday 4 November.
The formal Finance Committee meeting will begin at 2.00 pm in The Webster Theatre, 64 High Street, Arbroath. Tickets for the Committee meeting are free and can be booked in advance by contacting the Scottish Parliament’s Visitor Services on:
Photographs of the event will be available free of charge from Andrew Cowan, Scottish Parliament photographer on 0131 348 5878 or [email protected].