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17 July 2014

£500K Investment in Prostate Cancer Research Welcomed by MSP

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed £500,000 for researchers at Dundee University to fund an innovative five year clinical research project into prostate cancer.

The six-figure sum provided by the Scottish Government, Prostate Cancer UK and The Movember Foundation will enable researchers to look at ways to identify how advanced a tumour is, thus reducing the number of unnecessary biopsies and improve diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in Scotland and Mr Stevenson supports Prostate Cancer UK’s national campaign, ‘Men United v Prostate Cancer’, which uses the language of sport to engage men in the battle against the disease.

He said:

“Each year almost as many men are diagnosed with prostate cancer as women are diagnosed with breast cancer. But research into prostate cancer has suffered from a historic legacy of neglect, leaving tests and treatments trailing decades behind other common cancers - men are dying needlessly due to inadequate methods of testing for the disease.

“I am therefore delighted that the Scottish Government and Prostate Cancer UK, through their partnership with The Movember Foundation, have been able to jointly fund the research, with the work being undertaken at one of Scotland’s top universities. We can, and will, beat prostate cancer – and this announcement is another step towards this ultimate destination.”

Work on the research project will be led by Ghulam Nabi, from the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine. Mr Nabi’s project is to investigate whether MRI and ultrasound scans could be used to reduce the number of biopsies required to confirm a prostate cancer diagnosis, and more easily identify the difference between aggressive and non-aggressive prostate cancers.

Mr Nabi said:

“It is my hope that the work I am able to do with this funding will lead to more streamlined diagnoses, with fewer biopsies and the potential to tell the difference between aggressive and non-aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

“Small studies suggest that using a special type of MRI before a biopsy can help to achieve these aims. This funding allows me and my team to expand these studies into a large trial, with better comparison methods and more rigorous protocols.”

Stevenson Welcomes Lottery Award for Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast is delighted that Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust has received a £2,000 award from the Big Lottery Fund’s 2014 Communities programme.

The charitable Trust plan to buy a double-handed dinghy with the new funds, so that they can grow their membership numbers.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I am very pleased that Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust has been awarded this funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s 2014 Communities programme.

“For many years the experts at the Trust have made dingy sailing accessible to all ages and abilities, and brought out a new passion for some who may never have even sailed before. The North-east has a rich heritage steeped in the sea, and this is one way that locals and visitors alike can experience that.”

The 149 grants totalling £257,977 from the Big Lottery fund’s 2014 Communities programme across Scotland will see all ages of people try out new activities, boost their skills and train to become sporting stars of the future.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn added:

“Whatever age we are, it’s never too late to take up a new physical activity. With the Commonwealth Games just one week away, I am delighted that more people will now have the opportunity to play their own part in the legacy of the Glasgow Games.”

16 July 2014

BA Reveal That Air Passenger Duty to Blame for Axing of Aberdeen Route

The revelation that APD charges are behind the decision by BA to cut the Aberdeen to London City route has been described as “the final wakeup call” for North East politicians.

In today’s Press & Journal (Wednesday), BA Executive Chairman Keith Williams blamed the Westminster Government’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) as a key factor in the decision to axe the route. Keith Williams stated that “air passenger duty has played a significant part in this route failing to reach commercial viability. It would be encouraging if Sir Malcolm Bruce continued the campaign against APD, which has been repeatedly increased by the government he supports.”

Malcolm Bruce has previously campaigned for a cut to Air Passenger Duty, but despite his elevation to Deputy Leader of the LibDems in the House of Commons, the tax remains in place.

Research revealed by the SNP last week showed that before 2007, a family of four going on holiday to Spain would have paid just £20 in APD for the return trip. The same family making the trip today face a surcharge of £52.

For long-distance flights the cost is even more marked. In 2007 a family of four travelling to Florida would have paid £80 in APD for their trip. Today the ‘tourism tax’ would cost them £276.

Scotland’s Future sets out plans to cut APD in Scotland by 50% before moving towards the complete abolition of the charge that discourages airlines from flying to and from Scotland.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“These remarks from Keith Williams are deeply telling as once again Westminster’s Air Passenger Duty has damaged Scotland’s economic interests.

“The Aberdeen to London City route is an important service, but is trying to compete with one hand tied behind its back thanks to the punitive tax applied to such services.

“The fact is that despite repeated opportunities and calls to act, all we have seen from Westminster is Air Passenger Duty rise and rise.

“It is abundantly clear that the only way we will get action on APD is with a Yes vote in September.

“Keith Williams is also right that all North East politicians – including Sir Malcolm Bruce – should recognise how damaging APD is to the economy of this part of Scotland and be actively campaigning for its abolition. This must be the final wakeup call for all North East politicians.

“But the fact that despite his promotion to Deputy Leader, Malcolm Bruce has been unable to make any inroads into cutting APD shows that it is only with a Yes vote that we will see real progress.

“With a Yes vote in September, we can cut APD with a view to abolishing it completely – making major savings for air passengers and supporting jobs across Scotland’s economy.”
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