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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.”
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