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17 December 2014

Christmas Website Looks to Net over £1K for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

An innovative Christmas website set up by SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson is on track to raise at least £1200 for his Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency.

Mr Stevenson designed and launched the website ourchristmas.fund at the beginning of December as an alternative to sending out Christmas cards to constituents, and using the money saved to donate to local causes.

He said:

“I have been delighted at the response from the local community to ourchristmas.fund and I hope that people continue to donate and come up with ideas for local causes to contribute to, in the lead up to Christmas.

“At ourchristmas.fund visitors can donate to any business, school or group of their choice in the local area. It is up to each individual how much they donate, and they suggest which group should receive money and why. I will match each donation made through the website until I reach £1000.”

All money collected through the website will be distributed in the New Year and accounts will be published at the end of February showing where the donations have gone.

Mr Stevenson added:

“This is a chance for the community to give to a local cause that they think deserves a boost this Christmas, and have it matched by their MSP!”

16 December 2014

Stevenson Welcomes Progress Towards Votes for 16 & 17 Year-Olds

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed further progress towards extending the right to vote for 16 and 17 year-olds following a meeting yesterday between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron.


Mr Stevenson said:

“During the recent Referendum Campaign, we saw a tremendous engagement in the democratic process by young people which contributed towards the very high turnout figures.

“This was very good for democracy and showed that if young people – who are old enough to marry, pay taxes and are subject to the same laws of the land as everyone else – when given the opportunity to vote, grasped that opportunity and used it to express their view as to the kind of future they wanted to see. This progress towards extending the right to vote in time for the next Scottish Parliament elections is therefore very welcome.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has expressed confidence that the powers necessary to allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote will be devolved to Holyrood in time for the next Scottish Parliament elections.

Speaking outside Number 10 Downing Street after her first meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron since she took office, Ms Sturgeon said she believed both Scottish and UK governments would give the matter the required focus to allow the franchise to be extended before the 2016 vote.

The First Minister said the talks had been “constructive and cordial” and that there was a will on behalf of both governments to work together in the interests of the people in Scotland.

But she warned that the early devolution of the necessary powers via a Section 30 order, would offer a significant early test of Westminster’s desire to implement the wider Smith Commission proposals.

The First Minister said:

“The talks with the Prime Minister in Downing Street were constructive and cordial. Clearly David Cameron and I have big political differences and different views on the constitutional future of Scotland, but there was a real appetite on the part of both to find ways of working together in the interests of the people of Scotland.

“Following the meeting, I am confident that we now have the basis of a deal on the necessary devolution of powers to extend the franchise to 16 and 17 year-olds in time for the 2016 election, giving us the opportunity to build on the huge success of the engagement we saw in the referendum.

“But we need to move quickly if this is going to happen. We need to see a Section 30 order that will transfer the legal power to the Scottish Parliament before Westminster breaks up for the General Election to give us the requisite time to enact primary legislation. Following my discussions today, I think that timetable has been accepted and we now need to see a focus by both governments to make it happen.”

The First Minister added:

“The process necessary to transfer the franchise powers is not just important because it will extend the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland. It offers a significant early test of the desire on the part of Westminster to implement the wider proposals contained within the Smith Commission.

“Given the goodwill outlined by both parties during today’s discussions, there is no reason that the focus and desire to take forward this particular change so swiftly should not be extended to the rest of the Commission’s recommendations.”

New Community Justice Arrangements Sees Responsibility Handed to Local Bodies

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has said the new model to improve the way that community justice services are delivered in Scotland will see a further devolution of powers to local level.

The Scottish Government is transferring the planning and delivery of community justice services to locally to the Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership. The changes are intended to make the best use of the £100 million allocated each year to deliver community sentences, support the rehabilitation of offenders, and reduce reoffending.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“While recorded crime is at its lowest level for 40 years, there is still more to be done to reduce reoffending. In HMP Grampian, we have a modern facility where the staff within work day and daily to try to ensure that prisoners do not go on to reoffend once they reach the end of their sentences.

“That is vitally important work because the investment in time and facilities to do that represents just a fraction of the cost to the taxpayer if former prisoners go on to commit crimes once they are released.

“Having a joined-up approach to community justice and preventing reoffending is a logical next step and by having the courts, the police, employment and training services and other agencies all working together with this aim can only serve to make society a safer place.”

Details of the model are outlined in the Government’s response to a consultation published today. The response marks the final milestone before the changes are introduced as part of the Community Justice Bill, with implementation expected in 2016/17.

The key changes under the new model are:
  • Transferring responsibility for the planning and delivery of community justice services from Scotland’s eight Community Justice Authorities (CJAs) to the 32 Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs). This will ensure criminal justice social workers maintain their links with colleagues in local authorities, while developing stronger links with partners in areas like health, housing and welfare to improve how they work together to tackle re-offending.
  • The Scottish Government will develop a national strategy for community justice and reducing reoffending. This will set the national strategic direction for CPPs to plan and deliver services as well as providing the framework against which progress can be assessed and improvement driven.
  • A new national body will be created to provide leadership and strategic direction for community justice in Scotland as well as providing independent assurance to Ministers on the successes of community justice partners in tackling re-offending. This will give community justice the leadership it needs to continue the progress towards tackling crime and making communities safer.
  • The national body will also have the ability to commission services nationally if required. This will enable partners to maximise their resources and make the best possible use of public money.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP said:

“Recorded crime is at its lowest level for 40 years and reconviction rates are also decreasing, which is testament to the work of Scotland’s Community Justice Authorities in reducing re-offending in our communities.

“Nonetheless, if we are to make further progress in this area it is clear that we need to introduce changes, and that is why we have been working closely with key partners and stakeholders to develop this new model for community justice.

“The new model will create a stronger community justice system that will improve collaboration between professionals at a local level to better support offenders and address the root causes of their offending, with leadership from a new national body driving progress.

“This will result in better outcomes for people and communities, and we will continue to draw on the expertise of key stakeholders as we move towards the new arrangements.”
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