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Kate Forbes visits Perthshire farm as part of SNP leadership campaign

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Kate Forbes has pledged the Scottish Government cabinet will undergo a "refresh" if she is elected First Minister - as her campaign trail came to Perthshire this week.

The finance secretary also vowed to work with councils to keep leisure facilities open if she becomes the new SNP leader during her visit to Jamesfield Farm Shop in Abernethy on Wednesday.

The SNP leadership candidate is in a two-horse race with Humza Yousaf to replace Nicola Sturgeon, with Yousaf backed by Perthshire North constituency representative John Swinney.

Third candidate Ash Regan is behind in the polls so far.

Ms Forbes visited Jamesfield Farm Shop in Abernethy to discuss Scotland's food and drink industry.

SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes talking with Jamesfield Farm Shop owner Ian Miller (Image: Daily Record)

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said she would choose ministers with "lived experience" of the sectors they would represent.

"I would expect to see a refreshed cabinet, ensuring we appoint the best people for the job," Forbes said.

SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes MSP (Image: Richard Wilkins / Perthshire Advertiser)

"I would like to see people in jobs who have lived experiences, perhaps have a background in the particular areas and sectors, and ultimately a cabinet reflective of the people of Scotland."

The region is still reeling from the news that both Perth Leisure Pool and Dewars Centre in Perth are under threat of closure.

Live Active Leisure's board of directors met yesterday to come to a decision.

Wednesday also saw Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announce his spring budget, which included a £63 million package that help keep pools facilities open in England.

Ms Forbes said the reduction of "ring fencing" for council budgets will be crucial and that the government needs to work closely with local government to "invest in all local facilities".

She also wished to highlight the importance of "unlocking" the potential of the nation's food and drink industry.

The finance secretary believes that "Brand Scotland" will be the key in recapturing that "traction and attention to turbo-boost the sector's ambitions".

She said: "Scottish-branded business of all shapes and sizes are part of a Scottish food and drink movement which has the potential to continue to grow exponentially with the right encouragement and investment.

"The dynamism of this industry means that we are seeing more and more Scottish produce, labelled as Scottish on UK supermarket shelves and in restaurants across the world. This is a fabulous endorsement and testimony of the value of Brand Scotland, and just reward for the huge efforts and hard work of this sector, and a recognition of (former cabinet secretary) Richard Lochhead's vision for the potential this industry has.

"Protecting and encouraging use of that brand must be a major part of how we go forward."

The finance secretary added: "Right now, however, the industry is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, the cost of living crisis and the issues caused by Brexit.

"So, we will reignite the fire that fuelled this industry's previous success, and make sure all of those ambitions we previously had are pursued with vigour. The industry has already demonstrated how well it responds to government encouragement, so I am confident people who work in the sector will respond again.

"From fisher folk, farmers, crofters, brewers, distillers, producers large and small, from farm shops to supermarkets and everything in between, be assured that our ambition is as big as yours."

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