Politicians visit Aberdeen Garden Centre and Nursery to address horticultural industry challenges
Ben Reid Garden Centre and Nursery in Aberdeen had the privilege of hosting two distinguished political figures last week. On Thursday, 31 August, Stephen Flynn, Member of Parliament for Aberdeen South and Leader of the SNP in the House of Commons, visited the garden centre. His visit aimed to shed light on the pressing issues confronting the horticultural industry in Scotland.
Stephen Flynn engaged in a productive discussion with Simon Fraser, the director of Ben Reid Garden Centre and Nursery, delving into topics such as the use of peat by commercial growers, plant health concerns, and the challenges of importing plants. They discussed the Horticultural Trades Association's active lobbying efforts with Defra and the Scottish Government to address these critical issues. Simon also highlighted the financial strains placed on small businesses, including the burdensome costs of rates, utilities, escalating insurance premiums, and IT licenses.
As part of the visit, Ben Reid's donated a tree to a community garden or public space of Mr. Flynn's choosing this autumn.
On Tuesday, 29 August, Audrey Nicoll, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Aberdeen South, also made a special visit to Ben Reid to meet with Katie Lindsay, another director of the centre. The purpose of her visit was to promote the #ScotlandLovesLocal week initiative. A passionate gardener herself and a frequent visitor to the garden centre, Audrey Nicoll shared her enthusiasm for local horticultural businesses. As a token of appreciation, Ben Reid has also pledged a tree to be placed in a deserving location of Audrey's choice.
At a Scottish Parliamentary event, earlier this year, held by the Horticultural Trades Association, to discuss the Environmental Horticulture Growth Strategy for Scotland, many MSPs pledged to plant a tree in their community. The initiative is kindly sponsored by members of the HTA.
Simon Fraser commented:
“We were pleased to support these visits as they help highlight the vital role that horticulture plays in our communities and the active engagement of politicians in addressing the industry's challenges. Ben Reid Garden Centre and Nursery remains dedicated to supporting the growth of sustainable horticulture in Scotland and beyond.”
Horticulture and landscaping supported contributions of £2.8bn towards GDP and over 64,000 jobs in Scotland in 2019. This has the potential to rise significantly by 2030.
The HTA has been working closely with MSPs and the Scottish Government to produce the Growth strategy, which has seven key ambitions for Scotland:
- Health – to create a healthier Scotland through horticulture
- Economy – Develop green economic growth, high-quality jobs, and invest in education/skills
- Environment – to mitigate climate change
- Local – Increase the use of Scottish and UK-grown plants as import substitution
- Industry – Drive Scottish growth through investment, development grants and reducing the cost of doing business
- Urban Nature – Produce a greener planning system
- Biosecurity – enhance and protect Scotland’s natural capital.