Sher­iff tells ben­e­fits cheat she nar­rowly avoided go­ing to jail

Evening Express (City Final) - - News - By Danny McKay

cen­tre is clos­ing. I can un­der­stand that the foot­fall is down in ar­eas and VisitS­cot­land is try­ing to make a de­ci­sion, but what is its next move?

“A place like Stone­haven has thou­sands of vis­i­tors to places like Dun­not­tar Cas­tle, the fire­balls, the open air pool and Feein Mar­ket.

“There should be a visi­tor cen­tre so that peo­ple can see what great things there are to do in the town.”

Cllr Brian Top­ping, who rep­re­sents Fraser­burgh and dis­trict, said he was sad to hear that the town’s tourist cen­tre was shut­ting down.

He said: “I’m re­ally dis­ap­pointed that it is to close. I’m not aware of any con­sul­ta­tion that has gone on re­gard­ing this and I would hope that even at this 11th hour some­thing could pos­si­bly be done for it to stay open.

“Fraser­burgh is a re­gen­er­a­tion town and a lot of money has been spent to make it more ap­peal­ing; tourism is a big part of that.

“I don’t think ev­ery­one is on the in­ter­net and if peo­ple came into the town the visi­tor cen­tre would be the best place for them to find out about other places to visit.”

VisitS­cot­land said it in­vests £10 mil­lion each year in dig­i­tal ac­tiv­ity – which in­cludes its travel hubs in Aberdeen and Brae­mar.

Jo Robin­son, re­gional di­rec­tor at VisitS­cot­land, said: “The way vis­i­tors ac­cess in­for­ma­tion has changed sig­nif­i­cantly over the past five years.

“It’s time to switch our fo­cus and in­vest in new and di­verse ini­tia­tives to en­sure we are reach­ing as many vis­i­tors to Aberdeen and Aberdeen­shire as pos­si­ble with the in­for­ma­tion they want, in the way they want it, when they want it.

“With three-in-four adults now own­ing a smart­phone, a key fo­cus is en­sur­ing our dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­vide suc­cinct in­spi­ra­tional and in­for­ma­tional ad­vice to vis­i­tors at ev­ery stage of their jour­ney.

“How­ever, we know that speak­ing to lo­cals is also im­por­tant to our vis­i­tors and with our high foot­fall iCen­tres in Aberdeen and Bal­later, more than 100 VisitS­cot­land in­for­ma­tion part­ners lo­cally and our

cen­tre.

The Mu­seum of Scot­tish Light­houses in Fraser­burgh and, in­set, left, Dun­not­tar Cas­tle and Mac­duff Ma­rine Aquar­ium.

Stone­haven’s tourist in­for­ma­tion

team of out­reach staff trav­el­ling around the coun­try, it means there is al­ways ad­vice on what to see and do and where to go, wher­ever peo­ple are,” she added.

“The in­for­ma­tion rev­o­lu­tion is upon us and we look for­ward to telling more and more vis­i­tors all about Aberdeen and Aberdeen­shire across all our dif­fer­ent chan­nels for many years to come.” A WOMAN has been or­dered to carry out un­paid work af­ter fraud­u­lently claim­ing £12,500 in ben­e­fits she wasn’t en­ti­tled to. Linda El­rick, 62, ap­peared at Aberdeen Sher­iff Court, pic­tured, yes­ter­day where she was sen­tenced for the of­fence which took place be­tween April 30, 2012 and Au­gust 28, 2015.

El­rick, whose ad­dress was given in court pa­pers as Jes­mond Av­enue, in Bridge of Don, pre­vi­ously ad­mit­ted fail­ing to no­tify of­fi­cials in the De­part­ment of Work and Pen­sions (DWP) that her part­ner had ob­tained em­ploy­ment and was in re­ceipt of earn­ings.

Les Green, El­rick’s solic­i­tor, told the court his client had a num­ber of health dif­fi­cul­ties, but would be ca­pa­ble of do­ing un­paid work and car­ry­ing out light du­ties.

He said: “One of the things she en­joys do­ing is paint­ing ce­ram­ics.”

But Sher­iff Gra­ham Buchanan said:

“It’s not much of a pu­n­ish­ment if she en­joys do­ing it. It’s just ex­er­cis­ing her hobby.” Sher­iff Buchanan said he had pre­vi­ously im­posed a jail term in a case in­volv­ing a sim­i­lar amount, but had seen this over­turned on ap­peal. He said: “The ap­peal court took the view that a cus­to­dial sen­tence was ex­ces­sive for an amount of just about this sum.

“It was an ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for me and it acts as guid­ance to me as to how to deal with these cases in the fu­ture.”

In sen­tenc­ing El­rick, Sher­iff Buchanan told her: “This is a se­ri­ous mat­ter and you ob­tained £12,500 of pub­lic money to which you were not en­ti­tled as a re­sult of fail­ing to dis­close at the ap­pro­pri­ate time that your part­ner was work­ing and earn­ing money.

“In your case the sum in­volved is such that you are on the mar­gin of a sen­tence of im­pris­on­ment or a di­rect al­ter­na­tive. “In light of per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence I have in deal­ing with cases like this it seems to me that your case just tips on the side of a non-cus­to­dial sen­tence.” Sher­iff Buchanan or­dered El­rick to carry out 200 hours of un­paid work over the next 10 months and told her: “It won’t nec­es­sar­ily be the type of work that Mr Green has de­scribed.”

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