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SNP activists poised to deliver £1.4 million boost to north-east economy

Nicola Sturgeon.
Nicola Sturgeon.

The north-east economy is poised to receive a £1.4 million boost as about 2,500 delegates flock to Aberdeen today for the start of the SNP conference.

Nicola Sturgeon’s party return for its second consecutive spring gathering in the Granite City, having lost five of its six seats in the region at last year’s Westminster election.

The two-day event at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre will kick-off this morning with a welcome from local MP Kirsty Blackman.

A new deputy leader of the party will also be announced, after former Moray MP Angus Robertson quit the role in February.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown, councillor Chris McEleny and activist Julie Hepburn are the three candidates in the running for the job.

Delegates will also hear from Westminster leader Ian Blackford and Deputy First Minister John Swinney today, with First Minister Ms Sturgeon due to give her keynote address to the conference tomorrow.

Last night, Ms Blackman, the party’s deputy leader at Westminster, hailed the impact of the event on the local economy.

“While conference is a great opportunity for members of the SNP to meet, debate, discuss and help shape our vision for Scotland – it’s also a huge boost to the local economy,” the Aberdeen North MP said.

“It’s estimated that the event will inject around £1.4million into the north-east as people enjoy the great hotels, restaurants, pubs and shops that we have to offer.

“That’s fantastic news for Aberdeen and the wider region, with the benefits being felt well beyond the two-day conference.”

In March, about 1,200 delegates were due to attend the first Scottish Conservative conference in Aberdeen for more than 20 years, but the event had to be cancelled at the last minute due to the “Beast from the East” snowstorm.

Last night, north-east Tory MSP Liam Kerr urged SNP politicians visiting the city should use the “great opportunity to actually talk to some of the businesses” still waiting for the results of non-domestic rates appeals and “facing very tough decisions about the very future”.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour said its activists would be “hitting the streets to deliver our message of hope and real change” in key seats it hopes to win from the SNP at the next elections, including the Western Isles.

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