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21 June 2017

MSP Urges Expectant Mothers in Banffshire and Buchan Coast to Sign Up for Baby Box

Expectant mothers are being urged to register for a baby box at their next midwife appointment after the scheme was officially launched throughout Scotland.

MSP Stewart Stevenson, who represents the Banff and Buchan Coast, is encouraging soon-to-be mothers whose babies are due on or after August 15th 2017, to register.

The boxes contain various essential items for a child’s first weeks and months.

The move is a signal of the SNP Government’s commitment to ensuring that every child in Scotland, regardless of their circumstances, gets the best start in life.

The launch of the baby boxes comes on top of the SNP Government using new powers to create new Maternity and Early Years’ Allowances – the Best Start Grant – which provides expectant mothers on low incomes with £600 for their first child, £300 for their second and subsequent children and a further £250 grant when their child starts nursery, and a further £250 again when they start school.

Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Scottish Government is proudly providing a Baby Box to every child in Scotland to help tackle deprivation, improve health and support parents – just one part of our determination to ensure that every child has an equal start in life.

“For mothers in Banffshire and Buchan Coast looking forward to welcoming a new born into the world on or after August 15th this summer, all they need to do to be gifted a Baby Box is apply through their midwife in advance, supplying their preferred delivery address.

“The Baby Boxes are full of useful items such as books, clothes, blankets, a bath towel, a changing mat, a bib and a thermometer, while also providing a safe space for babies to sleep near their parents, to promote bonding and early attachment, and send a signal that every child, regardless their background, matters.

“And with the new powers coming to Scotland, the SNP Government will also provide targeted support of a significantly higher level than elsewhere in the UK, to help low income families via our new Maternity and Early Years’ Allowances- replacing the UK Sure Start grant with our Best Start Grant.

“The new Best Start Grant will be introduced in 2019.”

17 June 2017

North East Processing Sector has Highest Number of EU Workers in Scotland

Figures have revealed the number of staff employed from the European Union in the processing industry is as high as 70% in the North East.

The numbers were revealed ahead of Brexit negotiations which are due to begin next week.

It comes as Scottish Secretary David Mundell visited Peterhead to meet with representatives from the fishing industry in Peterhead before discussion begin with Prime Minister Theresa May and her European Union counterparts.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson asked the Scottish Government what percentage of seafood processing employees in each Scotland region were from the UK, the European Economic Area (EEA) and non- EEA countries.

The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing, said a survey was carried out in March this year on behalf of the Scottish Government, the UK Government and other devolved administrations.

The figures showed the number of EEA nationals in Grampian is 70% compared to 30% for the number of UK nationals.

The nearest region with high non-UK workers was ‘South, Midlands & Wales’, which had 52% EEA workers and 5% non-EEA workers.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“As Brexit negotiations get underway, it is important this Conservative-led government remember that the processing sector in the North East relies heavily on the free movement of people to staff this multi-million pound industry.

“We must ensure the promises made to the fishing sector by the Tories – that they will not be expendable – are followed through.

“The government must also ensure European citizens are given assurances they will be able to remain in this country. Their talent and transferrable skills are invaluable to a number of sectors in UK, particularly the processing industry.”

8 June 2017

Macduff Harbour Night Watch Service Saved from Axe

Stevenson Says Intervention of Cassie and Harbour Users 'Pivotal'

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed today’s announcement by Aberdeenshire Council that the night watch service at Macduff Harbour will remain in place.
The SNP MSP – who raised concerns with Aberdeenshire Council on the proposal to remove the service – said the views of the harbour users and the local community, coupled with the intervention of Macduff councillor Ross Cassie had been ‘pivotal’ in the decision to retain the service.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I very much welcome the decision by the Director of Infrastructure Services to take stock and listen to the range of views expressed on how important the night watch service is to Macduff Harbour and its regeneration and to not now go ahead with its removal.

“The problem we always faced with the lobbying to retain the service was that it was an ‘operational matter’ and, as such, not a decision which rested with elected councillors but was one for officials of the council to determine.

“Here, as well as paying tribute to the community response to the proposals, I must commend Macduff councillor Ross Cassie. He used the new Scheme of Governance which had been brought in only recently by Aberdeenshire Council to take this issue to the Infrastructure Services Committee where it was debated by councillors of all parties and council officers were left in no doubt as to the strength of feeling on the issue, which was pivotal in helping achieve this outcome.

“This is an early vindication of the council’s new Governance procedures brought in by the previous SNP-led administration in Aberdeenshire Council. In the spirit of cross-party co-operation, I also commend Cllr Findlater for his support for the night watch service, notwithstanding the budget put forward by the Conservative-led opposition in February would have removed the funding for the service had it passed.”

SNP councillor for Troup ward Ross Cassie added:

“I’m delighted with this outcome and I’m grateful to the Director for taking on board the very powerful arguments which were made in favour of the night watch, both in Committee last week and also by the harbour users and the local community.

“This gives us good foundations on which to go forward and continue the regeneration of Macduff as a vibrant port.”
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