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Updates from Holyrood

Alison writes a regular column for local newspapers in the North East to keep residents updated with the latest goings on at Holyrood, and on her work on important issues from around the region. Below you can find a recent column, along with links to those from previous months.

Register to have your say on Scotland's future

This week 1.7 million Scots tuned in to watch the STV debate between the leader of the Better Together campaign, Alistair Darling, and the First Minister.

During the debate it was once again exposed that Alex Salmond still can't give voters answers to the most basic of questions, despite preparing for this moment his entire political life.

But whether you believe we should remain a part of the United Kingdom or go it alone, you must be registered to vote in order to have your say on the future of our country on 18 September.

If you aren't registered already, it takes just a couple of minutes to complete a voter registration form and send it to your local electoral registration office by Tuesday 2 September. For more information about how to register please visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk or call the local voter registration office on 01224 664848.

Make sure you don't miss out!

Summer Tour

Last week I used the break from the normal parliamentary timetable to hold a series of surgeries in supermarkets across the North East.

I really value these opportunities to talk to local residents, listen to their views on policies, understand the issues they care about, and assist with any personal difficulties they may be having.

From Ellon to Montrose, and Aberdeen to Banchory, there was a great turnout.

Turriff Show

On Monday I joined thousands of local people in attending the Turriff Show. A highlight of the North East calendar, this year the event celebrated its 150th anniversary and welcomed a visit from the Queen.

It is undoubtedly one of the best opportunities to parade North East agricultural achievements, showcase our region's thriving food and drink industry, promote the needs of our rural communities and, of course, simply meet people and enjoy a great and varied day out.

I have tabled a motion at the Scottish Parliament congratulating the Turra Show on its anniversary and hope that many MSPs will join me in highlighting this remarkable anniversary.

New CAP rules

During the Turriff show, I spoke to many farmers and NFU Scotland about how the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) arrangements will affect them.

They were clearly frustrated by the long delays faced as a result of the Scottish Government's failure to provide clarity on future rules regarding greening and environmentally friendly areas (EFA). With the harvest already underway, the fine detail still remains vague in several important areas such as potential changes to cross-compliance rules and any potential environmental management requirements for the growing of nitrogen fixing crops.

Scotland's growers need to make decisions now and it is clear that more detail is required to allow them to do this confidently without having to speculate and gamble with the possibility of compliance risk. Farmers tell me that they have been waiting far too long for the information they need to make informed decisions about what to plant next. The Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Richard Lochhead, must know what the farming cycles are so I am disappointed that he has allowed this situation to arise. With the referendum just six weeks away, perhaps he has his mind on other things.

The Commonwealth Games

You may well have spent the last two weeks trying to keep up to date with the Commonwealth Games or even have been lucky enough to travel down to watch the action.

It seems like a long time since the last Liberal Democrat-Labour Scottish Government announced that Glasgow would bid to host the games. But nine years of preparation by organisers, volunteers, and of course the athletes, culminated in 12 outstanding days of sport and culture.

The North East's own Hannah Miley helped set the tone, winning the first of Scotland's 19 gold medals in spectacular fashion in the pool. But exceptional performances from other stars including Oldmeldrum's Viorel Etko (winning Scotland's first wrestling medal since 1994), Aberdeen's Neil Fachie and Arbroath's Darren Burnett ensured that Team Scotland enjoyed its most successful Commonwealth Games ever, winning 53 medals in total.

I would like to congratulate everyone who contributed to the success of the games, from the 4,500 athletes to all the workers, volunteers and fans.

My Holyrood Columns