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22 December 2003

Minister Tells Stevenson Hatton Bends Scheme To Start In Spring

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has been assured by Transport Minister Nicol Stephen that improvement works to remove the notorious Hatton Bends on the A90 will commence in Spring next year.

The MSP received the assurance after firing-off an angry letter to the Scottish Executive after it emerged that the improvement works had been delayed for a fourth time. The Minister cited difficulties with new legislation and its implications on land acquisition as the reason for this recent delay.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“We have been promised by successive Transport Ministers for nearly four years now that work to improve this notorious accident blackspot, which has been the scene of fatalities in recent years, will be starting soon.

“I am pleased that the Minister has assured me that work will commence in the Springtime but I am not taking anything for granted and my constituents can be sure that I will remain on the Minister’s case until this becomes reality.

“Delivery of this promise has been delayed time and time again and this is simply not on. As well as being an accident blackspot, the Hatton Bends simply should not be there in this day and age. We need a modern infrastructure to move goods and produce from Buchan southwards, but instead we have an A90 with bottlenecks such as this.”

MP & MSP Launch Post Office Survey

Banff & Buchan representatives Stewart Stevenson MSP and Alex Salmond MP today launched their survey of all local Post Offices within Banff & Buchan. The survey was launched at Fetterangus Post Office with local subpostmaster Colin Wood in attendance. Mr Wood is the newest subpostmaster in the constituency.

Mr Salmond and Mr Stevenson have vigorously opposed Government plans which will lead to a decline in Post Office usage through paying pensions and benefits directly to bank accounts and other proposals which threaten the universal mail service.

Now, they have written directly to all postmasters in Banff & Buchan seeking their views on the current situation in an effort to provide as much support as possible for the rural Post Office network.

Speaking at Fetterangus, Mr Stevenson commented:

“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.

“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.”


Mr Salmond added:

“A large amount of Post Office income has, until now, come from processing benefit payments but more recently the Government has been encouraging claimants to have benefits paid directly to their bank accounts. The resulting decrease in income for Post Offices means that for many, their future viability could be in question.

“I want to see every effort made to support the continued existence of the Post Office network which is at the heart of our communities.

“I hope that the results of our survey will give us fresh ammunition in our campaign to secure the future of the Post Office.”

19 December 2003

Stevenson Welcomes Sheep ID Deal

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement that a sensible agreement has been reached on European proposals for sheep identification.

The MSP had taken up the matter previously with Ross Finnie after meeting with local National Farmers Union representatives and urged the Minister to resist ‘unworkable’ proposals from Europe.

Working with local SNP Euro-MP Ian Hudghton, who voted against double-tagging in the European Parliament, Mr Stevenson branded the proposals as “nonsense”.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“This is very good news indeed and means that there will be no requirement for ‘double-tagging’, no requirement for paper recording of individual numbers and no requirement for retention of replacement tags.

“Sheep farmers would have been in danger of drowning in paperwork had these proposals gone through and I am delighted that our own Government has listened to the representations that I and others made on behalf of our farming constituents, and also that the efforts of our MEPs have paid off.

“Working together with the industry, the NFU and MEPs, a successful outcome has been achieved and I congratulate my fellow campaigners on their efforts.”

16 December 2003

Salmond & Stevenson Welcome Local Broadband Connections

MINTLAW AND ST FERGUS SET TO CONNECT

Banff & Buchan representatives Alex Salmond MP and Stewart Stevenson MSP have greeted with delight today’s news that BT are set to upgrade the Mintlaw and St Fergus telephone exchanges for Broadband.

The local MP and MSP have been at the forefront of the campaign to have Banff & Buchan enabled for Broadband and have had numerous meetings with BT and lobbied Government Ministers on the matter.

Speaking from Westminster, Mr Salmond said:

“When the targets were announced last month by BT I said then that this would be an opportunity to demonstrate what I always believed, which was that rural areas will have a higher uptake for Broadband than the average.

“It therefore comes as no surprise to me that Mintlaw and St Fergus are two of the first areas to reach their targets.

“Broadband provides a very important economic boost for Banff & Buchan which means that we can see an end to the disadvantage we have been suffering from in new technology. This is excellent news today and I’m sure other communities will not be far behind.”


Mr Stevenson added:

“I met with those running the Broadband campaign for Mintlaw last month so I am absolutely delighted that they have achieved their target – which was one of the bigger targets set by BT in the North-east – so quickly. They deserve our congratulations for helping to mobilise interest and support for Broadband locally.”

20 November 2003

Local Surgeries For NE A Step Closer

Following his approach to the Community Fund to hold ‘lottery surgeries’ in the North-east, local MSP Stewart Stevenson has received a positive response to the idea.

Mr Stevenson had written to the Community Fund requesting that they arrange local events for voluntary and community groups as part of his ongoing efforts to secure a larger share of lottery funding for the North-east.

Now, the Community Fund have agreed to organise such events where there is sufficient local demand.

Welcoming the news, Mr Stevenson said:

“This is very good news from the Community Fund and I am pleased that they have responded positively to my request.

“What we need now are for local groups to come forward who feel they would benefit from a session with a lottery adviser.

“I would therefore urge local groups to contact my office on 01779 470444 or e-mail me at msp@stewartstevenson.net to register their interest and be kept informed of arrangements.”

7 November 2003

Stevenson Welcomes Fall In Energy Transfer Errors

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson welcomed new figures from the energy regulator, Ofgem, showing a sharp decrease in the number of consumers having their energy supply switched in error. The SNP MSP has been a vociferous campaigner against unauthorised transfers since being contacted by numerous constituents on the issue.

The Ofgem report showed that the number of customers having their supplier of gas or electricity switched by mistake had more than halved over the last year. It follows the introduction of a Customer Charter, which set tough targets for improved performance by energy companies.

Mr Stevenson, who met with Ofgem officials last week, said:

“I have had numerous approaches from constituents on this very distressing matter, many of which were elderly. With the unacceptable situation of unrequested transfers, this may well have an impact on any customer’s wish to change energy supplier in the future in order to get a better deal.

“Fortunately, the Ofgem report demonstrates that finally some progress in the matter is beginning to happen and that a lesser amount of mistaken transfers are occuring.

“However, although the number of mistakes are decreasing there is still some way to go in this matter which Ofgem identifies. Some companies have been more successful than others in dealing with these mistakes. The companies which have failed to meet Ofgem’s targets must be reined in, and in some cases, fines may need to be issued to ensure that next year, these figures are even lower."


Notes: The Report by Ofgem shows that in August 2003, the rate of mistakes 1.14% of gas transfers and 1.35% of electricity transfers. This compares to 2.5% in gas and 3.9% in electricity reported in August 2002.

23 October 2003

Prison Report - MSP Calls For Peterhead Rebuild

Banff & Bucha MSP Stewart Stevenson has used the opportunity of the publication today of the Chief Inspector of Prisons’ annual report to restate his demand for a new prison for Peterhead.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“It is disgraceful that the ability of prison staff to deliver a safer Scotland is being compromised through overcrowding in our prisons, and even in Peterhead where prisoners are being placed two to a cell.

“The inspector is right to highlight overcrowding in the system and focus on the need to deliver programmes which reduce offending.

“It is important that the ability to reduce reoffending is not compromised in any way. Now is the time for the Scottish Executive and SPS to schedule the rebuilding and expansion of the internationally-renowned and successful prison at Peterhead.”

22 October 2003

Stevenson Calls For Local Sourcing By Public Bodies

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banff & Buchan, has called for public bodies to locally source their products.

In a motion tabled in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Stevenson has called upon the Scottish Executive to take steps to ensure that public bodies such as the Scottish Prison Service, the NHS and local authorities obtain their foodstuffs from local sources and suppliers.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“Institutions such as the NHS, the Scottish Prison Service, local authorities and educational establishments need to be aware of their responsibilities towards their local community.

“It does not make sense for these bodies to be having to look far afield for produce made right on their doorstep. The Scottish Executive need to take steps to assist in this matter.

“The result will be to benefit North-east farmers, food processors and producers, as well as the local economy.”


Mr Stevenson has tabled a Motion on the subject in the Scottish Parliament which has already attracted cross-party support and is hopeful of getting the matter debated in the near future.

21 October 2003

NHS Offers Pensioner Eye treatment - At A Price

Stevenson demands answers from Ministers

SNP Depute Shadow Minister for Health, Stewart Stevenson MSP, has challenged the Executive to explain why a pensioner in his constituency was asked to pay thousands of pounds if he wanted a new treatment as part of efforts to save his sight.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“Mr Robert Ritchie lives in Peterhead, and suffers from an eye condition called age-related macular degeneration, which is steadily limiting his powers of sight.

“A new treatment of injections to the eye is offered for this condition, photodynamic therapy. However, Grampian University Hospitals NHS Trust is limiting free treatment to people with a particular form of this condition – “classical” CNV macular degeneration.

“Because Mr Ritchie’s particular form of the condition is “occult” CNV macular degeneration, he has been offered the treatment - but only if he is prepared to pay the cost.

“This is a distinction which not all Health authorities in Scotland preserve. In Dumfries and Galloway, for instance, Mr Ritchie’s condition would have been treated for free.

“The cost is considerable, and Mr Ritchie has been quoted £850 per injection, with no guarantees about how many injections might be needed. He has been warned that he would almost certainly have to pay several thousand pounds, money which, as a pensioner, he does not have.

“Mr Ritchie’s condition has continued to worsen, and he would like to preserve what sight he now has left.

“As far as I can establish, Mr Ritchie is being prevented from receiving treatment not on medical, but cost grounds. No patient should be put in a position where they are asked by the NHS to find thousands of pounds if they want to save their sight, particularly when this is clearly a policy which only applies in some parts of Scotland.

“This is a totally unacceptable situation, and one which I have now tabled parliamentary questions about. I urge the Scottish Executive to step in, as the NHS in Grampian have already cited lack of central funding as the main reason why they are charging patients for this treatment.”

16 October 2003

Swinney Puts Fishing Centre Stage For Euro Vote

“EVERY VOTE COUNTS IN FIGHT TO SAVE FISHING INDUSTRY”

Every SNP vote in the forthcoming election for the European Parliament will be a vote to save the fishing industry, SNP Leader Mr John Swinney MSP said today (Thursday).

Speaking as he visited Banff and Buchan accompanied by Shadow Fisheries Minister and North East MSP Mr Richard Lochhead and Banff and Buchan MSP Mr Stewart Stevenson, Mr Swinney pledged to put the plight of the industry centre stage in the party’s campaign.

Mr Swinney visited Peterhead Fish Market, met with fishing leaders and the ‘Cod Crusaders’ before going on to visit Macduff Shipyard. Commenting he said:

“Our fishing industry was betrayed by Scotland’s lack of a voice at the top table in Europe. An entire way of life was sold out by UK ministers who either don’t know or simply don’t care about the damage they are doing to our communities.

“What’s worse, Scottish ministers stood by and watched it happen without raising a single objection. They abandoned our fishing communities, but now the people of Scotland have their chance to make clear that they will never abandon our fishermen.

“Every vote for the SNP in the Euro elections will be a vote to scrap the damaging fishing deal struck last year and to save our fishing industry. I pledge today to put the plight of our fishing industry centre stage in this election and send a clear message to the Executive, Westminster and Brussels: we will fight to save our fishing communities.”


Richard Lochhead added:

“Our fishing communities have long memories, and well remember that it was a Conservative government that first sold them out, followed by Labour and now continued incompetence under a Liberal.

“Even now the London Minister has only found time five months after his appointment to come to Scotland and see for himself what is happening, and even then only after SNP pressure. It is just not good enough, and Scotland deserves better.”


Local MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

“I am delighted that John is here in the North-east once again listening to the concerns of local fishermen, local businesses and the wider community. It shows the priority that the SNP attaches to our North-east communities and their way of life.

“This has been a very valuable series of visits today and has served to underline just how vital it is that we have a Fisheries Minister and a Government who will stand up for our vital interests and achieve the best possible deal for Scotland.”

6 October 2003

Stevenson Calls For HEP C Inquiry

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has supported a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for the Lib/Lab Executive to increase the amount of money available to those inadvertently infected with Hepatitis C through the blood supply, and also demands that the Scottish Executive establish a public enquiry into the whole Hepatitis C situation.

The Scottish Parliamentary motion has been put down following allegations that infected blood products may have been given to Scottish patients after 1995. Mr Stevenson, who has dealt with the cases of Hepatitis C sufferers, has signed the following motion:

S2M-426: That the Parliament recognises the valuable work of the former Health and Community Care Committee in its report on Hepatitis C (17th Report 2001) and its seven recommendations; notes that the scheme proposed by the Health Minister with a package worth in the region of £15 million falls far short of the recommendations of the independent inquiry team chaired by Lord Ross where payments would have totalled some £89 million; further notes that the inquiry team's figure is still well below settlements elsewhere in the world ; considers that the Scottish Executive's offer will be perceived as being hurtful, mean, unjust and insulting; notes that there are substantial unresolved issues regarding the probable prescribing of known infected blood products until as late as the mid 1990s; further notes that there are issues surrounding the effectiveness of the subsequent prescribing of "synthetic" Factor 8 products, and considers that the Scottish Executive should review its offer to comply with the recommendations of Lord Ross's inquiry and instigate a public inquiry now.

Commenting after adding his support to the motion. Mr Stevenson said:

"I am aware of a number of local people who were inadvertently infected with Hepatitis C through contaminated blood products, and, for the most part, their health has been suffering for a number of years. Now it would appear that the ex-gratia payments that the Scottish Executive is proposing to make by way of restitution are vastly inferior compared to the package that was recommended by the Executive's own independent inquiry team.

"In addition, the latest allegations that contaminated blood products have been used in Scotland since 1995 are very, very worrying. It is clear that this whole state of affairs requires to be investigated, in order to restore the people's faith in the integrity of the blood supply. For this reason, I am supportive of calls for a public inquiry into this critical matter."

23 September 2003

Stevenson Raises Dentistry Provision In Parliamentary Debate

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament’s debate on ‘Improving Scotland’s Health’, local MSP Stewart Stevenson raised the issue of NHS dentistry provision with the Scottish Executive.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I will focus on dentistry, about which one or two members talked and in which I have a special interest. Manchester has one dentist for approximately every 1,000 people and Edinburgh has one for every 2,000, but rural north-east Scotland and the Highlands and Islands have one dentist for approximately every 4,000. That shortage means that lists for NHS patients are all but closed in the dental service. In some towns, even private dentists cannot take new patients.

“What does the Government know about the dental service? Does an NHS dental service exist at all?

“I have asked a series of parliamentary questions about the dental service. In question S2W-2355, I asked how much NHS dentists earn. The Government does not know. In question S2W-626, I asked how long people must wait to join a dentist's list. The Government does not know. In question S2W-625, I asked how many people are on a waiting list to join a dentist's list. The Government does not know. In question S2W-2356, I asked how many foreign dentists are working temporarily in the NHS. The Government does not know. In question S2W-2352, I asked how far patients must travel for NHS dental treatment. The Government does not know. The most astonishing answer is to question S2W-2353, which asked how many dentists are working in the NHS. The Government does not know.

“The golden hello scheme was designed to bring more dentists into the health service and pays up to £10,000 for three years in some circumstances. The scheme has been such a success that six golden hellos have been approved. One golden hello has been given in Forth Valley NHS Board's area, two have been given in Lothian NHS Board's area, and the initiative has also been used in the Greater Glasgow NHS Board and Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board areas. However, no golden hellos have been received in Grampian NHS Board's area or Highland NHS Board's area, where the greatest pressure is felt. Do national dental services exist?

“That situation affects not only dentistry. Scotland has 50 GP vacancies. Despite health board efforts and additional funding, will our remoter communities find themselves in a similar position in which we do not have the people to do the job and services cannot be delivered?

“Ministers should think about social conditions. People who are captured by tobacco or other drug addictions will continue to suffer at the hands of those who exploit their compelling needs. Alcohol abusers will continue to suffer and to inflict suffering on others.

“The Parliament has the power to empower patients and practitioners and to provide funds that can liberate our health service from the dead hand of overcontrol. Indeed, that is the consistent message that my colleagues and I constantly receive.

“Although we can get better on the money that has been provided, we can get more for that money if we moved a little bit away from PFI. However, we need a successful economy in a successful country before we can solve the deep-seated problems that underlie the health service and so much else in Scotland. That means being a normal, independent country.”

Local MSP Welcomes Latest Local Lottery Grants

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement of the latest round of lottery awards, which will see several local organisations benefiting involved in the area of community, arts, heritage, sport, health, education and environment.

Commenting on the awards, Mr Stevenson said:

“I welcome the news that many local organisations are to benefit from the recent dispersal of local lottery awards. Such awards can make all the difference between an organisation surviving and providing an invaluable public service and not being financially viable to continue at all.

“However, although this is good news for Banff and Buchan, I shall continue in my quest to ensure that the North-east receives its fair share of lottery cash. It is imperative that all is done to ensure that funding is secured for this local area.

“Once again, I give my congratulations to those organisations which have been successful this time round. Also, I would urge any local organisation that hasn’t, as yet, made an application for lottery money to do so. And to any organisation who have been unsuccessful in the past, my advice is not to give up trying as several of our largest awards were made on the third or fourth attempt and I am always willing to support local groups in their applications.”

Stevenson Slams Executive Over NHS Waiting Time Figures

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has slammed the Scottish Executive on the latest NHS figures concerning waiting times for outpatients. Mr Stevenson carried out research in the areas of outpatient waiting times and also the increase in outpatient waiting times.

Commenting on these figures, Mr Stevenson said:

“As a result of researching the area of waiting times for outpatients I was dismayed to discover that Grampian is in the top three NHS Boards for areas that have the highest waiting times. I find it staggering that the waiting time equates to approximately 55 days, just short of two months. This is just seven days shorter than the Lanarkshire NHS Board which tops the table at 62 days.

“NHS staff do a tremendous job and are working under enormous pressures, providing care to a very high standard. I meet regularly with GPs, consultants and nursing staff and I know that they are doing the best they possibly can.

“This is just another example of the total failure of the Scottish Executive in their aim to improve Scotland’s record on health. These latest figures are by no means acceptable and more must be done to make sure that the trend of increasing waiting times does not continue. The Government must now take action and ensure that the area of health is viewed as a priority and must not be allowed to drag their feet on this vital issue.”

MSP Tours Local Nature Reserve

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson toured the RSPB Loch of Strathbeg Nature Reserve yesterday with wardens Peter Webster and Scott Paterson.

The MSP was invited by the RSPB to visit the reserve and see at first hand the conservation work carried out there.

Speaking after his visit, Mr Stevenson said:

“Loch of Strathbeg is an important site for birds and other wildlife and is increasingly popular with visitors with a staggering 12,000 people visiting it each year.

“A new hide has recently been opened and affords fantastic views of the thousands of pink-footed geese which are arriving daily from Iceland.

“The visitor centre completes the set up with a range of informative displays and I was particularly pleased to hear that the reserve proves especially popular with parties of schoolchildren.

“Loch of Strathbeg Reserve is an excellent visitor atraction and the staff there are clearly very committed to conservation and enjoy very good relations with their neighbours and the local community.”

19 September 2003

MSP Welcomes Peterhead Prison Investment

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has today welcomed confirmation from the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) that contracts have now been signed for the installation of electric power in cells at HMP Peterhead. Work on the contract, valued at approximately £900,000, will begin immediately, and is anticipated to be complete by the end of summer 2004.

Commenting on the news, Mr Stevenson said:

“After all the delay, I am pleased that the SPS management seem to have finally got their act together and that works can now get underway. The installation of power in cells is clearly long-overdue, and this investment represents the first important step in bringing the fabric of Peterhead Prison up to a standard which befits one of the world’s leading centres for the treatment of sex offenders.

“The SPS must now turn its attention to addressing the issue of providing night access to toilets for prisoners, and I will be looking to see progress on this matter as quickly as possible.”

2 September 2003

Stevenson Urges Local Contractors To Meet heating Programme Demands

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged local electrical contractors to make certain that the benefit of the Scottish Executive’s grant programmes managed by Eaga Partnership Ltd is kept locally. Mr Stevenson has discovered that there is an urgent need for local businesses to state their interest for the contracts.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Stevenson said:

“The number of heating systems installed this year under the government funded scheme throughout Scotland has increased dramatically and I am determined that local businesses should take advantage of this and get the benefit.

“I was saddened to hear that if no local contractors can be found, then fitters from Central Scotland and further afield will be brought in. I therefore urge local contractors to state their interest for the contracts and put an end to the Central Belt bias that we see all too often.

“Any local business who may wish to tender for this government programme should contact my constituency office at 17 Maiden Street, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, AB42 1EE or by phone (01779) 470444 and I will be happy to forward them contact details for them to express their interest in tendering. However, interested contractors must act quickly as the deadline is Monday 8th September 2003”.

28 August 2003

Stevenson Urges BEAR Scotland And Scottish Executive To Stamp Out Ragwort

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson is urging all Banff and Buchan constituents to be on the look out for a beautiful but deadly killer – ragwort. The toxic weed grows on the roadside verges and in open spaces, and is recognisable by its yellow daisy-like flowers. It can prove fatal to horses or cattle if they eat it. Mr Stevenson has received several complaints from constituents on the matter in recent weeks.

Commenting on the deadly plant and the serious problems it can cause, Mr Stevenson said:

“Ragwort really is a killer weed and it is this particular time of year that it flowers. Should an animal, especially horses and cattle, eat ragwort they will get liver poisoning, resulting in a slow and painful death. Furthermore, the seeds from ragwort plants can be spread onto neighbouring fields; therefore all must be done to keep this poisonous weed under control.

“The Weeds Act 1959 covers this deadly weed and states that failure to control ragwort is a notifiable offence. Given the high toxicity of ragwort, both the Scottish Executive and BEAR need to be doing more to eliminate this deadly weed to ensure the safety of all livestock. It is time that they really got their act together. If necessary, we need to see the Weeds Act being enforced and penalties issued to anyone who refuses to deal with the destruction of ragwort.

“All must be done to keep Banff & Buchan free from ragwort so should anyone spot the deadly weed, they should contact either the local council or BEAR as soon as possible so that the appropriate action can be taken.”

27 June 2003

Health Service Reform

MEASURES 'LONG OVERDUE' SAYS STEVENSON

SNP Shadow Deputy Health Minister and local MSP Stewart Stevenson has today welcomed the Scottish Government announcement of reform in the NHS but has said that it is long overdue and has expressed concern that the public involvement measures will not be carried out by an independent body.

Mr Stevenson said:

"I welcome the reform and modernisation of the NHS which has been announced by Malcolm Chisholm today, however, these initiatives are long overdue.

"This Labour government has been promising that these measures would be taken for the last six years and I am pleased that they have finally taken action.

"I am however, concerned about the fact that the body set up to deal with public involvement is not independent from the NHS Boards as it may not be possible for them to be fully objective.

"The Executive must monitor these measures to ensure that they benefit both patients and staff and will work towards improving the NHS by reducing the amount of red tape."

24 April 2003

Stevenson Welcomes Stuartfield Post Office Progress

In an e-mail to SNP Scottish Parliament candidate Stewart Stevenson, Royal Mail have advised that they are to advertise for a sub-postmaster to provide post office services in Stuartfield. Welcoming the news as progress towards restoration of the village Post Office, Mr Stevenson - who as MSP met with Post Office management in the Scottish Parliament on the issue - commented:

“People in Stuartfield have been left without a post office service for far too long and I welcome the fact that some progress is now being made towards re-establishing that service.

“However, Royal Mail have taken far too long to resolve this matter which has been deeply frustrating for the local community and those involved. Everyone’s preference would have been to see the service re-opened in the existing premises long before now.

“We must move on now and I would urge anyone in the village who may be interested in applying for this position to contact either myself or Royal Mail directly for further information.”


Local councillor Denis McHugh (SNP; Mintlaw-Old Deer) - who has also been pressing for the re-establishment of a post office counter service - added:

“My main concern has been the inconvenience suffered by those in the village who have to travel to Mintlaw to collect their pensions or benefits as a result of the closure.

“I hope that we are now nearing the end and I will be doing what I can to find someone willing to take on this very important position for the village. Indeed, I will be meeting next week with the Royal Mail relocation manager to discuss this and I have already been approached by interested individuals. More expressions of interest will be most welcome and people should feel free to contact me in this regard.”

16 April 2003

Stevenson Warns Run Down Of Postal Service May Hit Prospects Of e-Business

SNP Scottish Parliament candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson has warned that a further run down of postal services could seriously jeopardise the chances of establishing internet based businesses in rural Scotland, and could damage those established businesses attempting to expand onto the internet.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Scottish Enterprise Grampian have advised me that they have assisted 130 businesses set up internet marketing. That is very welcome, but I am concerned that many of these developments could be at risk if there is a run down of postal services in rural areas.

“Whilst knowledge and information based businesses can thrive purely over the internet, those selling goods rely on the post or couriers to physically move their goods to their customers. For many businesses in rural Scotland the only courier is effectively the Post Office since the cost of courier services is too high, even if they will go to more remote areas. It is ironic, perhaps, that many twenty-first century electronic businesses can only survive with the good ‘old fashioned’ postal services.

“It is essential, therefore, that there is a reliable and consistent postal service in all parts of Scotland. That service is being seriously jeopardised by Postcomm’s privatisation proposals, which will inevitably lead to the end of the universal service obligation and universal tariff.”

Stevenson Solves Bus Turning Circle Problems At St Combs

SNP Scottish Parliament candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a response from Aberdeenshire Council stating that the council is to agree to his suggestion to re-align the grassed area at the St Combs bus turning circle.

Mr Stevenson raised the matter with the council on behalf of Elaine Ward, SNP canidate for Lonmay-St Fergus after she received representations on the issue from residents. Difficulties were arising when buses were unable to manoevre out of the turning circle due to parked cars and had to mount the pavement.

Welcoming the news, Mr Stevenson said:

“I am pleased to learn that the council have responded positively to the concerns passed to Elaine Ward by local residents.

“My solution will ensure that the buses using the turning circle will not be forced into driving over the kerb, as sometimes happens at present. More importantly, this solution will enable local residents to retain their on-street parking.”


SNP council candidate Elaine Ward added:

“I am very pleased that action will be taken in this regard. Since the recent by-election last year, I have been out talking with people and the problem of the bus turning circle has came up on quite a few occasions. It’s great news to hear that the council will be taking on board Stewart Stevenson’s proposal as a solution to the problem.”

15 April 2003

Stevenson Highlights Help Available To Parents Of Disabled Or Seriously Ill Children

SNP Scottish Parliament Candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson has announced details of the Family Fund, a scheme that offers advice and help to families with disabled or seriously ill children under the age of 16. The Family Fund provides parents with information on a wide range of topics and can also give monetary grants to assist families in looking after their children and improving their quality of life.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Family Fund is a registered charity that helps low income families with disabled or seriously ill children by offering them advice and providing them with some financial assistance. I understand that grants can be given to parents who perhaps want to take their family on holiday and enjoy some leisure activities together or even buy new laundry equipment for the home.

“I believe that the overall aim of this charity is to help improve the family situation of disabled and ill children. For example, if a mother of a disabled child cannot drive, it obviously makes life very difficult for that family. The Family Fund will therefore pay for the mother’s driving lessons, so that the child’s circumstances will be made easier.

“I think that the help that is on offer from the Family Fund is of a very practical nature and I would encourage anyone who feels that they could benefit from this charity’s services to contact them on 0845 130 45 42, or visit their website at www.familyfund.org.uk Families who have a combined income of less than £21,500 may also apply for a monetary grant provided they meet the Family Fund’s stipulated requirements.”

SNP Publishes Most Accessible Manifesto Ever

“SCOTLAND HAS POTENTIAL TO THRIVE” - STEVENSON

SNP Candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson said the SNP’s manifesto not only detailed the policies that could make Scotland the best country possible but was also presented in the most accessible formats ever used by a political party in Scotland. Mr Stevenson said:

“The SNP’s manifesto details policies that can make Scotland not just a place to live but a place to thrive. It shows that we are the only party that can deliver the policies to turn Scotland around under devolution but with Independence we could release Scotland’s potential.

“We have also produced our manifesto in many formats so that it is accessible to the widest audience possible. A CD-Rom comes with every print version which takes the viewer through various policies using text and video. In addition the manifesto is available in Braille, Gaelic, Cantonese, Urdu, and Punjabi, as well as in audio format, and large print. These different versions are all available via the CD-Rom and a dedicated website releaseourpotential.com or our own website www.snp.org

“In addition, Sir Sean Connery has recorded an audio message specifically for our manifesto CD-Rom and website. He talks about areas close to his heart – about how Scotland could be so much more than it is now with independence and the SNP and how Labour have let us down on health, education and crime.”

“Time’s up for Labour. It’s time for the SNP and our manifesto shows why.”

Stevenson To Speak At National Farmers Union Hustings

SNP candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson is to speak the NFU hustings tomorrow evening (Wednesday) at 7.30pm at the Thainstone Agricultural Centre.

Mr Stevenson – who was invited to speak by the National Farmers Union – commented:

“I am looking forward to this opportunity to put the SNP’s case in front of the farming community once again.

“In recent weeks, I have been pressing Ministers on the retention of the Scottish Agricultural College at Craibstone, raised local complaints regarding the British Cattle Movement Service, and lobbied the Scottish Executive on grant aid for farmers in NVZ areas.

“There is much going on in the agricultural sector that MSPs can play their part to influence for the better and I look forward to continuing to stand up for my farming constituents.”

14 April 2003

Icing On Cake For Local SNP Candidates

SNP Scottish Parliament candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson and Raymond Matthew, council candidate for Boddam-Inverugie, toured Murdoch Allan & Sons’ bakery at Hatton earlier today. The two candidates were presented with an SNP cake made specially for the occasion.

Mr Stevenson was part of the Simmers Working Group which successfully saved the Hatton factory from closure last year preserving local jobs and over a century of baking tradition in the Buchan village.

Speaking after the visit, Mr Stevenson said:

“I was delighted to pay a visit to Hatton and tour the bakery under much happier circumstances than when I last toured with United Biscuits management.

“The workers at Hatton are all very committed to doing a quality job and I was greatly impressed by the wide range of goods I saw being produced and the obvious dedication of the staff.”


Raymond Matthew added:

“Allan’s are clearly a very go-ahead company and I wish them every success in their future plans.

“It was an important boost to the local economy last year to retain a bakery of this scale in Buchan and if we can replicate elsewhere the commitment of those involved in the working group, we can truly release Buchan’s potential.”

9 April 2003

Stevenson In Call For Fish Jobs For The North-East

SNP Scottish Parliament candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the review of civil service jobs dispersal programme announced today by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr Stevenson has written to Sir Michael Lyons, who is heading the review, demanding that UK civil service fisheries jobs should be transferred to Buchan.

Speaking in Peterhead today, Mr Stevenson said:

“Sixty per cent of Europe’s white fish is in Scottish waters. The civil service staff working with our industry should be located close to them. Only then will informed and realistic recommendations on the future of our fishing industry be made.

“The disastrous EU Common Fisheries Policy comes from Austrian Franz Fischler who represents a country with no fishing interests. We can do better in Scotland by linking fishing activity to fishing decisions.

“I have therefore asked Sir Michael Lyons to visit the North-east in early course and ensure that the benefits of such a relocation are reflected in his report.”

Stevenson Receives Assurance From Finnie On SAC Proposals

COLLEGE ASKED FOR REVISED PROPOSALS

SNP Scottish Parliament candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson has received an assurance from Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie in response to his concerns stating that he has asked the Scottish Agricultural College to come back to the Scottish Executive with revised proposals.

In his letter, the Minister also advises Mr Stevenson that he has asked for a review of the services which could continue to be provided at Craibstone and Auchencruive.

Commenting on the Minister’s reply, Mr Stevenson said:

“This is a welcome response from the Minister and I am pleased that he has acted on pressure from MSPs, students and staff.

“There is no doubt that the proposals to centre the SAC in Edinburgh and move away from the agricultural heartlands of the North-east and Ayrshire is a completely ridiculous proposition and the Minister goes some way to recognising this when he states that the proposals also run counter to the Executive’s relocation policy.

“I raised concerns in the Rural Development Committee of the Parliament and the Committee agreed unamimously that centralising the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh was not the way forward. In addition, a number of flaws were identified in the assumptions made in the report which recommends centralisation which I think the Minister also accepts if I read him correctly.

“Staff and students willI welcome this letter which shows that Ross Finnie is clearly moving onside as the campaign to save Craibstone and Auchencruive gathers pace.”

8 April 2003

SNP Candidate Signs Up To Citizens Advice Charter

SNP Scottish Parliament candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson will be attending the launch of the Citizens Advice Charter on Wednesday 9 April at 11.00am ay the CAB, 47 Market Street, Aberdeen.

Mr Stevenson will be adding his name to the Citizens Advice Charter that seeks to underline the commonality between the work of both MSPs and Citizens Advice Bureaux, as experience shows that many of the problems of CAB clients are the same problems faced by MSPs constituents.

Chief Executive of Citizen’s Advice Scotland Kaliani Lyle will be in attendance and will outline why it is important for MSPs to work closely with the CAB.

Stevenson Discusses Local Concerns With Water Authority

PHINGASK WASTE WATER PLANT VISITED

SNP Scottish Parliament candidate Stewart Stevenson and Buchan North councillor Mitchell Burnett have visited the Scottish Water waste water treatment plant at Phingask, Fraserburgh, following a meeting with Sandhaven & Pitullie Community Council last night.

The Community Council had expressed concern over recent emissions of foul odours from the treatment plant.

Speaking after the visit, Mr Stevenson said:

“Clearly there has been a lot of money invested in leading-edge technology for the treatment of waste water. I was very impressed by the steps taken by the water authority to ensure safety and a clean environment.

“It is disappointing that there has been an incident resulting in an emissions release recently and I hope that there will be no recurrence.

“I encouraged management to engage with the local community to ensure that they had the opportunity as I had to understand the efforts being made at the plant. I will be monitoring the situation to ensure that there is no repeat of the recent incident but I am confident that Scottish Water staff are doing all they can to keep this risk to an absolute minimum.”

5 April 2003

Stevenson Receives Assurance On Stuartfield Post Office Future

SNP Scottish Parliament candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson has received an assurance from Royal Mail Group on the future of Stuartfield Post Office.

The village’s Post Office has been closed for around six weeks now while an internal investigation is conducted. Meanwhile, villages are having to use Mintlaw Post Office some miles away to receive pensions and benefits.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“I have been pressing postal management on this issue for some weeks and met with senior officials of Royal Mail in the Scottish Parliament recently.

“It is completely unacceptable that the Post Office has remained closed for such a long period without alternative arrangements being out in place.

“I am disappointed that no timescale for re-opening has been given but Royal Mail manager Bob King has assured me that it is their aim to resume services in Stuartfield just as soon as possible and I will continue to urge that this be done sooner rather than later.”

2 April 2003

Stevenson Slams Continuing Cattle Movement Errors

SNP candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson has slammed continuing delays faced by local farmers in receiving support payments. The delays are being caused by the Scottish Executive having to cross check information supplied by the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS).

Mr Stevenson raised this matter in a Parliamentary debate at the end of January following meetings with affected farmers.

Speaking in Cruden Bay today, Mr Stevenson said:

“I find it quite incredible that two months on from when the Minister assured me in Parliament that everything possible was being done to deal with the situation and minimise the delay that this is still causing problems for farmers.

“Of course we need accurate records of cattle movements, but the system must not add to the heavy burdens that farmers have had in recent years. Farmers say that the book should be thrown at anyone who is cheating, but the farmers who are affected by this problem are not cheating; they are being cheated. The current system is not sustainable, fair or equitable.

“It is quite simply not acceptable to me that my constituents should be disadvantaged by errors which are mainly the fault of the BCMS and I call on the Scottish Executive to take urgent action to ensure that payments can be made as quickly as possible.”

Stevenson Welcomes Dec ision On Pharmacy Report

SNP Scottish Parliamentary candidate for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement by the Deputy Health Minister that the Scottish Executive is to reject the recommendations of the Office of Fair Trading report on pharmacies.

Mr Stevenson – who has met with many community pharmacists in Banff & Buchan in recent weeks as part of the campaign of opposition - commented:

“I am aware that there has been a high level of worry amongst many rural pharmacies with regards to their future in light of the recommendations within the recent OFT report on the pharmacy industry. The report had suggested that the prescription drug selling market should be opened up completely to incorporate supermarkets, and it was widely thought that this would result in a negative affect on community pharmacies.

“However, the Deputy Health Minister, Frank McAveety, has declared that he will be rejecting the OFT’s recommendation to scrap present rules which limit both the number and location of prescribing chemists. Except the subject has not been completely determined, and the government has not likewise overruled the proposed deregulation of the pharmacy industry.

“I understand that this has been a very distressing period for rural pharmacies, but I am certain that Frank McAveety’s declaration has, no doubt, brought a great deal of relief. I view the U-turn made by the Scottish Executive over the OFT report as a triumph for the numerous local pharmacies who have campaigned against these changes. However, my existing fear is that the U-turn announced may result in being a meaningless promise. On this basis, I shall therefore be seeking a guarantee from the Executive that they have no ambition in the slightest of implementing the OFT recommendations.

“I am certain that the many pharmacies within Banff and Buchan provide an essential service to their local communities, and it is this service which must be continued to benefit us all.”

25 March 2003

Stevenson Meets SAC Students And Raises College Closure In Parliamentary Committee

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has met students from the threatened campuses of the Scottish Agricultural College at the Scottish Parliament to hear their concerns at first hand.

The MSP then raised the closure issue at today’s meeting of the Parliament’s Rural Development Committee.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The Rural Development Committee agreed unamimously today that centralising the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh was not the way forward. In addition, a number of flaws were identified in the assumptions made in the report which recommends centralisation.

“I think this decision to move the agricultural college from the North-east to Edinburgh is just bizarre. However, I would be optimistic at this stage that common sense will prevail but I’m certainly not taking anything for granted and will continue to reflect the views of those students and members of the farming community who have contacted me on this matter.”

10 March 2003

Stevenson Raises Post Office Concerns At Meeting

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has met with Post Office officials in Edinburgh where he put forward a range of issues raised with him by local sub-postmasters.

Mr Stevenson met with Julie Morrison, Royal Mail Group’s Head of Scottish Affairs at their Edinburgh Headquarters.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Stevenson said:

“This was a useful opportunity following my recent visits to local Post Offices in Maud and St Modan’s Place in Fraserburgh to put forward the issues and concerns which were brought to my attention.

“Primary of these was the apparent lack of marketing effort being made by the Post Office authorities with regard to retaining existing customers who want to continue to have access to their pension or benefit at their local Post Office.

“I was briefed on a number of initiatives which are planned to inform customers which will be accompanied by advertising and media stories. The main message is that everyone can continue to collect their money at their local Post Office just as they are doing at present.

“By doing so, not only will they have the convenience of access to their money and a whole range of other services in their own locality without having to go to their bank or find a cash machine, but they will also be helping to support their local Post Office.”

MSP Comments On Stuartfield Post Office Closure

Commenting on the news that Stuartfield Post Office has been closed temporarily, Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“I raised this matter with Post Office senior management when I met with them on Wednesday. They gave me every assurance that the closure is temporary and that they are working to get it re-opened as soon as possible. I have urged that if this cannot be done reasonably quickly that a temporary service, perhaps in the village hall, be set up.

“Stuartfield is a sizeable rural Buchan village and to have their Post Office closed, albeit temporarily, without any consultation or alternative service put in place is unacceptable.

“The Post Office is a focal point for the community and is essential for the elderly. It is completely unsatisfactory that they should be left in the position of being unable to use services or draw pensions without any warning whatsoever.”

3 March 2003

MSP Pays Tribute To Local Mercy Crews In Parliament Debate

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has paid tribute to local ambulance staff in a debate in the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Stevenson was speaking as MSPs discussed the Scottish Ambulance Service and paid tribute to staff at Peterhead and Fraserburgh ambulance stations – the two busiest part-time stations in the country. Following a successful campaign by the SNP MSP, Fraserburgh was upgraded to 24-hour status in December and Peterhead is to follow suit this year.

Speaking in the debate, Mr Stevenson said:

“Until recently, Fraserburgh and Peterhead were the two busiest part-time ambulance stations in Scotland. I am delighted that after a long campaign—started by Alex Salmond and supported by local councillors—Fraserburgh became 24-hour station in December. Peterhead will be upgraded in the coming year and I look forward to visiting Fraserburgh station shortly.

“There is absolutely no doubt about the commitment of staff in the Scottish Ambulance Service to doing a quality job. The throughput of work that the Fraserburgh service handles has doubled in 10 years and its staff must be given huge credit for handling that workload professionally and in an exemplary manner, even though Fraserburgh was a part-time station. While I have the Minister's attention, I hope that she will tell me when Peterhead will become a 24-hour station. The commitment has been made, but the timetable has not yet been set.

“Although Peterhead and Fraserburgh were undoubtedly the busiest part-time stations in Scotland, it is probably important that the metrics dealt with the number of calls.

“We must consider public service and the health and safety of ambulance staff. It is vital that we do not place staff in the position of working an arduous shift, then being on standby to work, in effect, another shift, only for them to have to go to work again the following day.

“We cannot allow such situations to continue, either for the staff or for the people who live in the areas that part-time ambulance stations serve. Accidents can happen at any time of the day or night.”


In response, the Deputy Minister for Health & Community Care, Mary Mulligan, acknowledged the situation at Peterhead Ambulance Station and undertook to advise Mr Stevenson of the timescale for upgrade.

Tory Party in Meltdown

“Skippers Will Find Tory President No Champion” says MSP Stevenson

The news that former Tory MP, Sir Albert McQuarrie is to support the new Fishing Party has been revealed today. Until now Sir Albert has been President of Banff and Buchan Conservatives.

Speaking after the revelation, Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said;

“As if losing nine candidates across Scotland was not bad enough news for the Tories, this latest news blows cracks their party in the North-East wide open.

“When a senior figure in the Tory party defects it shows that Tory Party is in very deep trouble indeed. As a former MP and an office bearer of Banff and Buchan Tories, Sir Albert McQuarrie should have been playing a leading role for the Tories in the Scottish Parliament elections. Their campaign is now in total disarray.”

And on the Fishing Party, Stevenson commented;

“Support for the Fishing Party set up by some disaffected skippers who were previously affiliated to the Tories, will be hit. This has blown the gaff on the Fishing Party as a stalking horse for the Tories.”

18 February 2003

Westminster Fishing Minister “Invisible”

“The inactivity of Elliot Morley shown up by BBC web site” says MSP Stevenson

The SNP have published an analysis of the activity by politicians at the heart of the fishing crisis. Using the BBC web site search engine to identify total numbers of stories about the Westminster Fisheries Minister, Elliot Morley it has been shown that he has generated fewer press stories than any of the SNP members of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Development Committee.

Speaking on the survey results, Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said;

“While simply looking at the BBC web site for press stories is not the only measure of how politicians perform, it certainly shows whether they are interacting with the public in putting their case.

“On any measure, Elliot Morley fails as a Minister. With only 9 ‘hits’, this Westminster Minister has fewer than I do and I have only been elected for 20 months.

“It is time that Scottish fishing interests are represented by someone with some ‘get up and go’. The election in May is a key opportunity to make that change.”

30 January 2003

Parliamentary Report Questions BAA plc Ownership of Aberdeen Airport

“Vital the handcuffs are taken off our local airport’s ability to compete” says MSP Stevenson

The Scottish Parliament’s Enterprise Committee has published a hard-hitting report on Scotland’s tourism industry this week. In particular it has highlighted the potential constraints placed on BAA plc’s Scottish Airports.

Speaking on the future of Aberdeen Airport, Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said;

“The Parliament’s Enterprise Committee is spot on. BAA plc own Aberdeen Airport because they want as many people as possible to fly to their big international airports near London.

“If a passenger has to change planes at Heathrow that’s two landing fees and two passenger charges for BAA’s shareholders instead of the one that a direct international flight would earn them.

“Is it any wonder then that Aberdeen Airport languishes as a BAA backwater? I have written to the Department of Trade and Industry demanding that they conduct an investigation into this restrictive practice that is so damaging to our area.

“With the economy of the North-East under threat from Brussels bureaucrats determined to close much of our fishing industry, we cannot afford any other externally imposed constraints.

“We need Aberdeen Airport released from the deadly embrace of London-based BAA and able to develop its true potential as a vital part of our economic infrastructure.”

28 January 2003

Fishing Redundancy Package Misses Target

“Fishing Communities in the North-East will be bitterly disappointed at Labour-Liberal plans to reduce the size of the industry dramatically” says MSP Stewart Stevenson.

Banff and Buchan MSP, Stewart Stevenson, who represents the largest white fish dependent areas of Scotland, has hit out at Government plans to reduce the fleet. Speaking today Stevenson said,

“The £50 million package announced today is neither an investment in our industry nor a lifeline for it. With the bulk going to scrap boats, owners and banks may benefit. Fishermen and onshore industries vital to our future prospects will gain little or nothing.

“After Ross Finnie signing up to the biased European deal that is causing so much anger, he now wants to cut back our future prospects. This at a time when more UK money will be sent to the EU for Spain, Portugal and Ireland to build new boats.

“It is inevitable that our licences and quota will end up in foreign hands if this madness is pursued. The sight of others harvesting our fish in years to come will be a continuing source of despair for all in the North-East.”

Turning to the SNP’s plans for the future, Stevenson commented,

“During our consultation with all sections of the fishing communities over the last few weeks, it has been clear that no-one saw further draconian cuts as a way forward.

“We demand an early return of power over our fishing grounds to the affected communities. The Regional Advisory Committees planned by Europe must become Management bodies with full powers.

“Funding for compulsory days in harbour must be found. And the European Union which has mis-managed fishing for years must provide financial support.”

Finally Stevenson looked to the political changes needed,

“The Common Fisheries policy from Europe has failed us. Now our own government rub salt in our wounds.

“We need a change of policy. And the only way to achieve that is with a change of government. An SNP government after 1st May would put fishing at the heart of its concerns.”

PFI Accounting Mysteries Deepen

“Transparency is totally missing from Kilmarnock private prison contract” says MSP Stewart Stevenson

A Parliamentary answer has revealed that neither the Scottish Executive nor Kilmarnock Prison Services Limited [KPSL] are holding the Kilmarnock prison building asset on their books. Speaking after the Scottish Executive revealed what they describe as an “apparent anomoly”, Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said,

“During my investigations into the Scottish Prison Service Estates Review last year, I raised a number of questions about the PFI used for Kilmarnock Prison. In particular I highlighted that KPSL had claimed in their 1999 accounts to have sold the prison to the Home Office.

“Each time I queried this I was assured that this was an error. The company [KPSL] indicated that the error was that the sale had actually been to the Scottish Office and not to the Home Office. Ministers indicated to the contrary that no such sale had taken place.

“Finally, this Labour-Liberal Executive has had to come clean and admit that there is an accounting muddle of significant proportions at the heart of this PFI contract.

“With the private company denying that they hold the asset that is the prison buildings at Kilmarnock, there is a serious risk that liabilities lie not with KPSL but with the Executive.”


Turning to Parliamentary exchanges between Ministers and the MSP, Stevenson continued,

“It is vital that the review by the Financial Reporting Advisory Board is completed as a matter of urgency. Clarity is vital if the public purse is not pick up unexpected costs at some point in the future.

“Financial fiddle or malicious muddle; either way PFI as an appropriate way for public projects is increasingly discredited. This is another nail in its coffin.”

17 January 2003

MSP Warns of “Open Door” for GM Contamination

“Rural Affairs Minister Finnie must guarantee that new regulations will protect Scotland’s crops” says Stewart Stevenson.

The Scottish Executive’s plans to reduce the controls over the distribution of seed came under attack today. New regulations before the Rural Development Committee propose adoption of EU rules that remove need for official seals on containers of seed.

Speaking today, Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson said,

“Scotland has a reputation for quality food based on clean air, pure water and high standards. This has been under threat by cross-contamination from the various GM crop trials across the country.

“The new regulations proposed could introduce a new route for GM material to enter mainstream crops. The Executive’s plans for bulk delivery of seed to end users would remove the present safeguards by allowing unsealed containers to be used for distribution.”

Referring to the Organic Targets Bill and the Executive’s own plans for increasing Scotland’s share of the organic food market, Stevenson commented,

“A successful strategy for increased organics production depends on purity of our environment. The GM trials put this at risk. The proposed new distribution system has not been piloted in Scotland and the special risks from GM do not appear to have been considered in drawing up the new regulations.”
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