NEW YEAR, NEW HOPE
First Minister staying positive for 2019 ... despite Brexit uncertainty
ONE of the things we should be proud of at Hogmanay is the number of people from around the world who come to Scotland to see in the New Year. They come, in part, because of Scotland’s reputation for offering a warm welcome for all. That’s a reputation we should cherish. And it’s one which will endure, regardless of the changes we may see in 2019. In the year ahead, the Scottish Government will continue to do everything we can to protect Scotland’s place at the heart of Europe. However, whatever the outcome of Brexit, Scotland will always offer a warm welcome to the world. In fact, our reputation for being an open, warm-hearted, hospitable country has never been more important. I want to make that especially clear to the hundreds of thousands of nationals from other European Union countries who have done us the honour of choosing Scotland, including Aberdeen and the north-east, as their home. I know that this is a deeply uncertain time for you. But I also want you to know that your contribution to our national life – to our economy, communities and society – is hugely valued. You will always be welcome here. Of course, 2019 will not simply be about Brexit. We will also keep on with the day-to-day business of government. More than 85% of the AWPR is now open to traffic and is delivering huge benefits for people across the north-east. It’s the most extensive new road being constructed in the UK and I’m delighted it’s this SNP Government delivering it. The AWPR is a vivid demonstration of the immense transformation that infrastructure can bring to people’s daily lives, the quality of their environment and the economy as a whole. We will redouble our efforts to support and invest in our key public services – such as the NHS and our education system. NHS Grampian will see its budget increase by more than £37 million to £957.9m in 201920 and we are investing in a new trauma centre, an NHS elective care centre and the Baird Family Hospital and Anchor Centre in Aberdeen. We will continue our expansion of childcare and press ahead with our new Scottish system of social security – making life fairer and helping those most in need. And we will take action to support business and the economy, while also showing global leadership in tackling climate change – undoubtedly the greatest challenge currently facing the world. Through all of this, we will help to make Scotland a greener, fairer and more prosperous country. We will create a better society for everyone who lives here. When I look back on 2018, some of my favourite moments were from events to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Young People. The intelligence, energy and kindness of our young people are an inspiration. They provide a constant reminder of Scotland’s immense potential as a nation. In everything the Scottish Government does in 2019, we will seek to realise and unlock that potential. So I believe there is much to look forward to in the year ahead. Wherever you are – whether you’re here in the north-east or further afield; with family and friends, or at work – I hope you have a wonderful Hogmanay and I wish all of you a great 2019.
From left: The AWPR, the Baird Family Hospital and the new Major Trauma Centre are all new developments around the Granite City