SNP leader makes commitment to village hospital during a visit to Insch
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Don't leave anything to chance - give both votes to the SNP was the message repeated time an again by SNP leader Nicola Surgeon during a visit to Insch today.
Ms Sturgeon came to Insch, her only stop in the north east, to support the Aberdeenshire West candidate Fergus Mutch who hopes that he can take the seat, won by the Conservatives in 2019, by a majority of 900.
First stop was at the Butterfly Refillery where she heard of the business expansion, met supporters and stocked up on pasta!
After 45 minutes there, she walked to the Bennachie Leisure Centre, stopping to chat en route.
Tom Robinson, chairman of the board at the centre welcomed her and Mr Mutch and took them on a tour of the community managed facility.
A pre school group were unfazed by the high profile visitor who joined in their games and raced against them in her bare feet.
The SNP have made a manifesto pledge to support community hospitals such as Insch which closed early in the lockdown in 2020.
Local campaigners have put plans to NHS Grampian for how the hospital could re-open and have pledged cash towards the cost.
Friends members were out in force for the First Minister's visit where she told The Huntly Express that she was determined the hospital would re-open.
She said: "The SNP are committed to making funding available to have it re-opened - any alternative is not acceptable."
She confirmed that an SNP government would remain committed to dualling the A96 but conceded that as a result of the Covid pandemic and its impact on consultation events, the time frame for it could be delayed.
Surrounded by rich arable farming land on the edge of Insch, Ms Sturgeon said that an SNP government would do everything it could to support farming communities through the post Brexit period.
She said: "Farmers have been badly let down by Brexit - promises were made but not realised. We will support them through the post Brexit period and to make progress to being net zero - farms have a big part to play for Scotland to become net zero."
Town centre regeneration is a key part of the SNP manifesto and Ms Sturgeon said: "Town Centres needed investment pre pandemic but the pandemic has underlined the urgency of that."
On the subject of independence she said: "I believe Scotland would be better independent but we will work patiently and persuasively to get to that point. The most important jobs right now are community and town centre regeneration, the transition to net zero and to make sure that young people do not bear the burden of the pandemic.
"The SNP is the only party campaigning to be a government, other parties are vying for the role of opposition."