NEW YEAR, NEW HOPE

First Min­is­ter stay­ing pos­i­tive for 2019 ... de­spite Brexit uncer­tainty

Evening Express (City Final) - - Front Page - BY NICOLA STUR­GEON FIRST MIN­IS­TER

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

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