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23 December 2002

Post Office Regulator “Out Of Touch With Scottish Needs and Interests” – Stevenson

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has branded Post Office regulator PostComm as short-sighted and out of touch. The claim follows a meeting with Scottish management of Royal Mail to discuss the future of postal services which Mr Stevenson and other North-east SNP MSPs had requested.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“It is vital to our rural areas that the universal service obligation which ensures that every part of Scotland has access to vital postal services is maintained. There is a growing feeling that this is being neglected by the regulator, PostComm. This is not surprising as the board of PostComm has no Scottish representation and shows little sign of understanding the unique needs of rural Scotland.

“I will be writing to PostComm urging them to bring forward plans for an update to the universal service obligation and to simplify the regulations to allow the Post Office to have the necessary funding to enable them to deliver a service to rural Scotland.”


Commenting on the Government’s plans to make benefit and pension payments through bank accounts, a change which will affect Post Offices, Mr Stevenson continued:

“The Post Office is being discriminated against again in the Government’s plans to pay benefits into bank accounts as people are being encouraged to use commercial banks rather than continuing to support their local Post Office. I am calling for an information campaign to ensure that people are informed that they can continue to receive pension and benefit payments at their local Post Office and also do their banking their in future.

“It is vital that the new modernised Post Office has the opportunity to compete successfully and remain as it always has been as a vital cornerstone of our villages and towns throughout Scotland.”

‘Yule Be Lucky!’ MSP Candidate Tells Her Supporters

“PARLIAMENTARY HOPEFUL IS ANYTHING BUT” - STEVENSON

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has revealed an astonishing gaffe by his Lib Dem opponent at next May’s Scottish Parliament elections.

The Liberals’ candidate for the Banff & Buchan Scottish Parliament seat has already raised the white flag – just weeks after announcing her selection as a candidate. In her website, Gordon councillor Debra Storr admits that a Liberal vote is a wasted vote by conceding defeat stating that “Banff & Buchan is an unlikely win for the Liberal Democrats”.

Commenting on the amazing admission, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I am all for honesty in politics and I congratulate my opponent for being so up front with the electors about the prospects of the Liberal Party in Banff & Buchan.

“This must surely be the first time that a candidate for election cannot be described as a ‘Parliamentary hopeful’ because she is clearly anything but!

“Debra Storr recognises the damage that the Liberal administration in Aberdeenshire has done to her party locally and with it, her prospects. People are unlikely to forget the unkept cemeteries, the cuts to schoolchildren’s transport and the farce of closed public toilets. People are paying more council tax for less services under her administration and are not going to forget that.

“Debra Storr has her own problems to deal with and would be well advised to look after her own council ward, where I know there is much concern about a landfill site and her attitude towards local businesses and voluntary organisations, who have taken a dim view of her recent activities.”


Note: The full quote on the Liberal Democrat website – www.debrastorr.org.uk - is as follows: “Don't worry. You may have seen in the press recently that I have been asked – and agreed - to stand for the Scottish Parliament in Banff and Buchan next May. However I am intending to continue as your councillor here [Belhelvie and Balmedie]. Frankly, Banff and Buchan is an unlikely win for the Liberal Democrats but I feel it is important to help my friends in the north.”

MSP Welcomes International Boost For Cruden Bay Golf Course

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the publication of the ‘Golf in Britain’ map published by the British Tourist Authority which includes Cruden Bay Golf Course among the 146 courses around Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland featured on the map.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“The British Tourist Authority has in the past shown itself to be no friend of the North-east of Scotland, having missed us out completely from one of their recent publications. I am therefore pleased to see that they are making a greater effort this time to be more inclusive of the facilities we have to offer visitors.

“It should not come as any great surprise of course that Cruden Bay should be included in a golfing map of Britain. It is already recognised as one of the top courses in the world and this is a testimony to the club and the staff there who do so much to maintain and promote the course and I congratulate them on their efforts.”


Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond added:

“I was privileged to be asked to speak at the Cruden Bay club’s centenary dinner a few years ago so I know how committed and dedicated a team they have in place there.

“I hope that Cruden Bay’s inclusion on the golfing map will help provide a boost to the local tourism industry and have some knock-on effects for the many other tremendous courses which Banff & Buchan has to offer the golfing visitor.”

Stevenson Criticises Government Over Foot & Mouth Report

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has accused the Government of trying to rewrite history over its failed attempt to water down a report from the European Parliament which was highly critical of its handling of last year's foot and mouth outbreak.

The cross-party report from the European Parliament was adopted by an overwhelming majority of MEPs (481 for, 32 against) in Strasbourg.

It concluded that the UK Government's handling of the crisis had traumatised farmers, broken animal welfare laws, and generated miles of unnecessary red tape, and that burning pyres and mass burial sites damaged the environment and people's health.

Commenting on the report, Mr Stevenson said:

“I think there is general agreement among most neutral observers that the outbreak of Foot & Mouth disease last year could have been handled far better by the then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food.

“UK Labour MEPs were the only ones to vote against the report and that was because they were instructed to do so by London in an attempt to rewrite history.

“It is vital that we avoid at all costs the circumstances which could lead to another outbreak of Foot & Mouth disease which so devastated the farming industry last year and had huge knock-on effects in those areas, such as the North-east, which were free from the disease. Any contribution which analyses where procedures fell down and how the situation could have been handled better is therefore to be welcomed.

“I hope that DEFRA and the Scottish Executive draw some useful lessons from this report.”

Local MSP In Broadband Meeting With BT Chief

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has met with BT’s Head of Scottish Affairs to discuss the provision of Broadband in Buchan.

BT’s Ian Shanks came to Peterhead last week at Mr Stevenson’s request and met with the MSP and representatives from the Peterhead Business Forum, the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, Scottish Enterprise and Aberdeenshire Council, as well as local businessmen.

Commenting on the meeting, Mr Stevenson said:

“This was a useful meeting and exchange of views and gave those taking part the opportunity to put their concerns and questions to one of BT’s senior management team in Scotland.

“BT have set a trigger level of 650 expressions of interest before the Peterhead exchange will be upgraded to include Broadband facilities. Currently, the number of expressions of interest stands at 147.

“However, with over 1000 BT business subscribers and over 8000 BT personal subscribers in Peterhead, I am confident that number will increase once people know more about how Broadband can be applied to their home or business situation.

“To that end, a number of initiatives were discussed at the meeting about raising public awareness of the issue. One of these is a planned ‘Broadband Roadshow’ early next year which Scottish Enterprise will help in arranging. In the meantime, I can highly commend the website www.broadbandpeterhead.com as well worth a visit for those wishing to know more. It has been set up by local man Alan Dow in an effort to promote Broadband and raise awareness.

“It is essential that this area of Scotland is not left behind in the new technological age.”
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