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28 December 2004

STEVENSON REITERATES CALL FOR LOCAL DENTAL CRISIS TO BE ADDRESSED

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged the recently-appointed Scottish Executive Health Ministerial team to redouble their efforts to address the NHS dental crisis in the North-east.

Mr Stevenson has been campaigning for additional resources to improve dental service provision in the North-east and has raised the matter in Parliament, questioned Ministers and met with health officials.

Responding to Mr Stevenson’s calls, Deputy Health Minister Rhona Brankin said that she shared the SNP MSP’s concerns about access to dental services and outlined measures taken by the Executive to date to address this. The Minister also gave a commitment that the Scottish Executive’s response to their consultation on dentistry provision will include further measures to support NHS dentistry.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“The measures outlined to me by the Minister, which include a new “Golden Hello” package, provision for NHS salaried dentists, and increased allowances and incentives for dental graduates and dentists expanding their provision are to be welcomed.

“However, I remain concerned that while we wait for new dentists to graduate and wait for the new Banff dental centre to be built that people continue to be unable to access dental treatment here and now.

“I made a number of suggestions how this could be addressed in my response to the consultation exercise and I will be pressing the Minister further to ensure that some provision is made for this.”

24 December 2004

STEVENSON CONGRATULATES PRISON ON IMPORTANT AWARD

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated the officers and staff at Peterhead Prison on their achievement of Full Accreditation of the prison as a site for the delivery of STOP 2000 (Core) Programmes. The award reaffirms the prison’s position as a world-leader in the treatment and rehabilitation of serious sex offenders.

However, Mr Stevenson’s congratulations to prison staff have been accompanied by condemnation of senior SPS officials, who he believes once again tried to ignore the prison’s achievement.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“This is a terrific achievement for the prison, and further testament to the dedication and drive of prison staff who have, time and time again, reaffirmed Peterhead as the jewel in the crown of the Scottish Prison Service. It is a pity that this important achievement has not been trumpeted by the SPS, and while my congratulations go to all the officers and staff at Peterhead my condemnation goes to the SPS chiefs who ignored this success and have done nothing to secure the future of the prison.

“Clearly, the prisons regular achievements are not convenient for SPS Chief Tony Cameron, and his top brass, however, I have no doubt that awards will still coming to Peterhead Prison long after those officials have been replaced.”

Emergency workers law fails to protect vital staff - TUC

Leaders of Scotland’s doctors, nurses and midwives have criticised the Scottish Executive for failing to protect vital healthcare workers under legislation debated in the Scottish parliament this week. The BMA, RCN and Royal College of Midwives claim that the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Bill, which makes it a specific offence to assault an emergency worker, has created significant anomalies which are not supportable. The three organisations called on members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs) to support an amendment lodged by SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson in the debate on stage 3 of the consultation. The amendment calls for all doctors, registered nurses and midwives to be extended the same level of protection afforded to ambulance, fire and police personnel, who will covered at all times when on duty. James Kennedy, Director, RCN in Scotland, said: 'We are told that this legislation will send a clear message that violence against emergency workers is not acceptable. However, the message that we are hearing is that the safety of nurses, midwives and doctors working in the community is not as important as that of emergency service personnel and hospital based staff.'

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to see original story on the Trades Union Congress web site click on:
http://www.tuc.org.uk

23 December 2004

Local MSP Backs Call for Recycling Old Mobiles to Help Charities

CHARITIES WANT YOUR OLD PHONES FOR CHRISTMAS

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson is backing an appeal to constituents to recycle old mobiles for charity – particularly if Santa Claus brings them a new one for Christmas.

Some of the UK's leading charities have teamed up with specialist recycling company, called the Recycling Appeal, to run an eco-friendly fundraising appeal which means every mobile donated can generate vital funds for their chosen cause.

The phones are then refurbished and resold, with a substantial portion of the proceeds going to charitable organisations. All constituents have to do is choose which charity they want to donate to such as Marie Curie Cancer Care, the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, the Royal National Institute of the Blind or the Children's Hospice Association Scotland.

Commenting on the initiative Mr Stevenson said:

"When people receive a new mobile phone for Christmas, they often forgotten about the old one. These old phones then join an estimated 75 million redundant mobiles in the UK.

“I hope that this appeal will mean that those who get a new mobile this year, choose a charity and give it a Christmas present in the shape of their old mobile."

“However it’s not only mobiles that can be recycled but also empty printer cartridges. These too can raise much-needed cash. So if anyone works in an office or have a printer at home they also have the potential to boost charity funds.

“This is an excellent initiative and I believe the people of Banff & Buchan will show much generosity by making the effort to help out important charities.”

For further information from Recycling Appeal please contact Lesley McIvor, PR Executive, on 01324 678 907 or e-mail lesleym@reycyclingpappeal.com

Notes:
  1. To donate a mobile phone or printer cartridge, simply call 08712 50 50 50 or visit www.recyclingappeal.com, stating which of the five charities you would like to support, and ask for a FREEPOST envelope. Then all you have to do is pop it in the post.
  2. If your workplace uses company mobiles or printer cartridges, you can arrange to make regular donations - Recycling Appeal will either send out freepost bags, or send a courier to the business premises every few months to collect donations.
  3. The Recycling Appeal, is five years old, has an annual turnover of £3 million and employs 100 staff in the UK, Ireland, France and Spain
  4. The company has won 'Best Inspirational Business for CSR 2004' through SBC, and 'Best Performing Business in Scotland 2003' through Scottish Enterprise. The company was also a finalist for 'Business of the Year' at the National Business Awards for Scotland as well as finalist for the coveted National Business Awards (London) CSR Award.
  5. The company has recycled almost 2million kg of mobile phone and printer cartridges since 1999.
  6. The company is ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), ISO 9001 (Quality Management), EMAS (Eco Management Audit Scheme) and Investors In People accredited.)
  7. In the next four years, Europe could recycle 50,000 tons of mobile phones - the same weight as the Forth Rail Bridge.
  8. Nicad batteries contain Cadmium, a dangerous toxic and carcinogenic substance. The quantity in landfill sites is significant, and considerable toxic contamination is caused by the effects of Cadmium leaking into surrounding soils. Cadmium poisoning can cause kidney failure in humans.
  9. Printer Ink costs more than vintage champagne; manufacturers charge consumers around £1.70 per millilitre of printer ink compared to 23p per millilitre for 1985 Dom Perignon. However, if you purchase remanufactured printer cartridges you can pay as little as 10% of the printer ink price.
  10. An inkjet cartridge takes hundreds of years to biodegrade and it takes 1.5 pints of oil to make one printer cartridge. The 17 million laser cartridges recycled in Europe in 2002 resulted in the saving of 6 million litres of virgin oil which would fill three Olympic sized swimming pools.

22 December 2004

STEVENSON BACKS PARLIAMENTARY MOTION PRAISING FISHING DOCUMENTARY

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has signed his colleague, Mr Richard Lochhead’s Parliamentary Motion praising the recent success of the documentary ‘Gutted’.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Stevenson said:

“I was thrilled to learn that ‘Gutted’ was triumphant at the recent BAFTA Scotland awards and congratulations must go to all those concerned in producing the documentary and its stars.

“Due to the sheer volume of praise the documentary received, I would urge the BBC to repeat the programme in Scotland and screen it throughout the United Kingdom following its success.”

20 December 2004

Calls for MSPs to Give Greater Protection to NHS Staff

EMERGENCY WORKERS BILL MUST GIVE UNIVERSAL PROTECTION

Shadow Health Minister Ms Shona Robison MSP and SNP MSP for Banff and Buchan Mr Stewart Stevenson have today (Monday) welcomed the statement from the BMA, RCN and Royal College of Midwives that supports the SNP amendment to the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Bill, which calls for legislation to be extended to protect all NHS staff.

Commenting, Ms Robison said:

"The SNP has long campaigned for the Emergency Workers Bill to be extended to protect all NHS staff.

"Every employee has the right to go to work without threat of abuse or attack and this is why the Executive must award all front line staff the same rights.

"We continue to hear of nurses that are attacked in the workplace just for trying to do their job and this is why better safeguards must be put in place as soon as possible."

Speaking later Mr Stevenson said:

"My amendment to the Bill would ensure greater rights for all. There should be universal protection for staff, whether they work in the emergency services or indeed other areas of the NHS.

"This statement from the BMA, RCN and Royal College of Midwives simply proves that greater security is needed and I hope that it will spur MSPs from across the political spectrum to vote to support our NHS staff."

17 December 2004

STEVENSON BACKS PARLIAMENTARY MOTION FOCUSING ON IMPORTANCE OF SCOTTISH HISTORY

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has signed his parliamentary colleagues’ Mr Stewart Maxwell and Mr Richard Lochhead’s motions, highlighting the importance of teaching Scottish history in our primary and secondary schools.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Stevenson said:

“The subject of Scottish history should be way up in schools’ curriculum such as the basics of maths and English. It is of huge importance that our children are taught the history of their country and the contribution of its citizens to European and World culture and civilisation.

“We must recognise the educational and cultural benefits of promoting Scottish history from ancient to modern times in our schools and note that this will allow pupils a greater understanding of Scotland in European and global contexts. Furthermore, encouraging a balanced perspective.

“Every child in Scotland should be taught Scottish History until at least the age of fourteen. They should all be made aware of our greatest achievements. It is time that the subject of Scottish history was given more recognition and viewed as an essential element of the education system.

“The Scottish Executive should investigate the level of Scottish history taught in our schools with a view to attaching greater importance to the subject.”

14 December 2004

INVERNESS JAIL REMAINS ONE OF SCOTLAND’S MOST OVERCROWDED

DAMNING INDICTMENT OF EXEC FAILURE TO TACKLE OVERCROWDING

Shadow Deputy Justice Minister Mr Stewart Stevenson MSP has today (Tuesday) accused the Justice Minister of burying her head in the sand about overcrowding in Scotland’s jails after a report into Inverness Prison from HM Inspectorate of Prisons stated that “Inverness is always one of Scotland’s most overcrowded prisons”

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“This is the next in a long line of reports from the HMIP that condemns the state of Scottish prisons.

“Time and time again we hear about overcrowding in jails and time and time again, the Executive refuse to act.

“While progress has been made at the prison in some areas, it is clear that this is more a result of the work of staff, not the Scottish Executive.

“Overcrowding makes it even more difficult to try and rehabilitate prisoners and in a jail where the number of inmates is contracted out to the SPS to deal with almost 50 percent more people than it should have this will be made increasingly difficult.

"Andrew McLellan's report is a damning indictment of the Scottish Executive's continuing failure to reduce prison overcrowding, and it’s time for the Minister to stop burying her head in the sand and take action.

“Therefore, the Justice Minister must bring forward her capital spending plans for the next round of prison upgrades as soon as possible.”

11 December 2004

Stewart Stevenson MSP Visits Royal Mail Peterhead at Christmas

Stewart Stevenson MSP will visited Royal Mail’s Peterhead Delivery Office on Saturday to see the festive operation in full swing on what is anticipated will be Royal Mail’s busiest weekend.

Stewart Stevenson will be welcomed at Peterhead delivery office by managers Garry Saunders and Alan Young and all the postmen and women who are working hard doing their bit to sort and deliver Peterhead’s share of the estimated Scottish Christmas postbag of 250 million items.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"I’m looking forward to visiting the Peterhead Delivery Office once again to meet the staff there and see the scale of the operation. I have visited all the Royal Mail Delivery Offices in Banff & Buchan since I was elected in 2001 and this has turned into something of an annual engagement for me.

“I never fail to be impressed by the commitment of the staff to moving the absolute mountain of mail they deal with at this time of year.”

Garry Saunders, Delivery Manager said:

“Christmas is the busiest time of year, and our people really do pull out all the stops throughout the year to ensure mail is delivered quickly but even more so over the busy festive period. So we are pleased that Mr Stevenson will be coming along to Royal Mail to see first hand the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.”

Alan Young, Delivery Manager added:

“The postal staff do a fantastic job at this time of year to ensure that friends and families stay in touch through their Christmas greetings and gifts. And as usual, we urge our customers to post early so that friends and family have longer to enjoy their Christmas greetings!”


Royal Mail is expecting to deliver over 18.5 million letters and cards in the AB postcode area throughout this Christmas. The operation will involve more than 1,350 postal staff, backed by 140 seasonal workers, plus an extra 73 vehicles on top of the 332 strong transport fleet. On top of vehicles the area also uses 207 bicycles. There are 1010 postboxes to post Christmas cards.

The busiest day for Royal Mail this year is likely to be Monday, December 13.

10 December 2004

MSP Joins Forces with Scottish Gas to Help Local Carers' Charity

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has joined forces with Scottish Gas to bring assistance to local charity Crossroads Caring for Carers.

On Friday at Crossroads Caring for Carers, 12 Frithside Street, Fraserburgh, Stewart Stevenson and Colin Bruce from Scottish Gas handed over a gift of five computers to the charity courtesy of Scottish Gas.

Speaking in Fraserburgh, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Crossroads contacted me during the summer asking if I could assist with the expansion of the service they provide to carers in the local area. An upgrade to their computers and systems had been estimated at £3500, which is a huge sum for a voluntary organistion.

“I contacted Scottish Gas to see if they could assist and I was delighted by their positive response.”

Crossroads Manager Elizabeth Eyre commented:

“Crossroads provides respite breaks for people caring at home. This gives the carer a much needed break and the donation of the computers will allow us to improve our administration and the service we provide to carers.

“We do not normally have money available for the purchase of equipment and do rely heavily on donations for this purpose. All income is spent on providing care and therefore very little if any is left over for this purpose.

“We are extremely grateful to Scottish Gas for giving us this kind donation and allowing the organisation to expand its service. Without donations like this we would not be able to keep up with technology. We would also like to thank our MSP Stewart Stevenson for his help and support for our organisation.”

Colin Bruce, Scottish Gas Service Manager for Grampian and the Highlands, added:

“Scottish Gas has been working in partnership with Carers Scotland for the past six years, so we are delighted to provide these computers to Crossroads as part of our continuing programme of practical community investment.

“They have become available as part of the constant upgrading of equipment used by the company, and we have ensured that they are fully operational with many years’ life left.

“Scottish Gas’ work with Carers Scotland has enabled us to understand the many challenges that carers face in their day to day lives, and to recognise that it can be very difficult to combine work and care. Our policies enable carers to take advantage of flexible working hours, planned leave, emergency leave and career breaks. We’ve found that even the smallest adjustments, such as providing access to a telephone, can make a real difference.”

8 December 2004

Local MSP Attends Longside Park Opening

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson attended the Opening Ceremony of the Longside Community Park Project, Inn Brae, Longside on Saturday.

Members of the Longside Community Park Project attended the successful ‘Lottery Funding Roadshow’ which was arranged by Mr Stevenson earlier this year in an effort to attract more lottery applications from te area and to allow local groups and organisations direct access to advice from the funding providers.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“I am delighted that Longside Community Park Project were successful in their second attempt at securing lottery funding.

“It just goes to show that determination does pay off in the end and I would encourage other local groups to persevere and ensure that more and more lottery money finds its way to Buchan.

“I think the organisers are to be congratulated on this excellent initiative and should provide much enjoyment for the people of Longside and district.”

Stevenson Backs Parliamentary Action Highlighting Excess Winter Deaths

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has signed his colleague, Margaret Ewing’s Parliamentary Motion on the issue of excess winter deaths.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Stevenson said:

“I have a growing concern of this issue as it is becoming all too familiar. It is not pleasant to learn that, despite an assortment of hard work to lessen fuel poverty, excess winter deaths still persist in rising.

"Some of the most vulnerable people in our society are being forced to suffer and have been offered little support from this government. We should be doing everything we can to ease the financial strain on our elderly population, so that they can live comfortably, in warm housing without the fear of being unable to heat their homes during the colder months.

“I believe that this is a shocking trend which must be reversed at the earliest opportunity via the implementation of additional measures. The Scottish Executive should not delay in reviewing the effectiveness of existing schemes as it is nothing short of irresponsible to have thousands of elderly people dying each year simply because of the colder weather.”

2 December 2004

EXEC CRITICISED OVER PRISON OVERCROWDING

TIME MINISTERS STOPPED BURYING THEIR HEADS IN THE SAND

Shadow Deputy Justice Minister Mr Stewart Stevenson MSP has today (Wednesday) accused the Scottish Executive of failing local communities after a report from the HM Inspectorate of Prisons found that overcrowding in Scottish jails means that inmates are not being fully rehabilitated for release.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The Executive has been warned time and time again that the conditions in Scotland’s jails are abysmal.

“This is the second report in a matter of weeks that is highly critical of prison conditions and the government needs to start acknowledging that there is a problem.

“Convicted criminals need to be fully rehabilitated before they are released from prison so that the public will not be put at risk from inmates re-offending, but this cannot happen if jails are massively overcrowded.

“The Executive has refused to address the situation and as a result we are finding more and more cases being brought against them by inmates complaining about conditions, all of which is at the taxpayer’s expense.

“It’s time for Ministers to get a grip of the situation instead of burying their heads in the sand otherwise I fail to see how prison conditions will improve.”

1 December 2004

LOCAL PARLIAMENTARIANS BACKING CARERS RIGHTS DAY

Banff & Buchan representatives Alex Salmond MP and Stewart Stevenson MSP are backing this year’s Carers Rights Day on Friday 3rd December which will see the Peterhead-based Carers’ Centre organise a special ‘carers’ rights day’.

The event will take place at the Waterside Inn, Fraserburgh Road, Peterhead and officials from The Pension Service, Citizens Advice and Crossroads amongst others will be on hand to offer advice on a range of issues.

The campaign has been organised by Carers Scotland and Carers UK and the day is essentially a focus for national and local activity aiming to make Carers aware of their entitlements.

Commenting on the initiative, Mr Salmond said:

“Currently there are more than 660,000 carers in Scotland and the important role they play in the country is not given the sufficient recognition. Many carers are family members and do not regard themselves as carers. They are often not aware of their entitled to benefits nor of the wide range of support that might be available.

“Carers Scotland and Carers UK must, therefore, be congratulated on organising Carers Rights Day which has proved so successfully over the last four years.

“I very much welcome the activities being organised locally by the Carers’ Centre.”

Mr Stevenson, who recently visited local groups to highlight volunteering as part of ‘Make A Difference’ Day added:

“I am delighted that this event has been arranged and I am pleased to be taking part. Carers deserve our recognition for the work which they do and there will be a range of agencies present on the day to provide advice and assistance to ensure that carers are getting all the help which is rightfully theirs.”

SALMOND & STEVENSON WELCOME BOOST FOR BEEF SECTOR

Banff & Buchan representatives Stewart Stevenson MSP and Alex Salmond MP have welcomed the announcement from the Government that it is to end the Over Thirty Month Scheme (OTMS) for cattle.

Both SNP members have been pressing for the lifting of the scheme. Mr Stevenson raised the matter with Ross Finnie at a meeting early last month and Mr Salmond has been lobbying Ministers in London and has tabled Parliamentary Questions on the subject.

Welcoming the news, Mr Stevenson said:

“Farmers in my constituency will very much welcome this news and I am delighted for the industry that the Over Thirty Month Scheme is to end, for which my constituents have been pushing for some time.

“The scheme cost a ridiculous amount of money per animal as well as a substantial loss to the farmer over the beef price. In reality, the ending of the scheme should have been announced long before now if the Government had heeded the advice of the Food Standards Agency.

“As a next step, we need the Scottish Executive to support moves to reclaim our former overseas markets once full export status is achieved and to get Scotch Beef back on the dinner plates of Europe.”

Mr Salmond added:

“I am pleased that the Government have finally agreed to act after all the lobbying and pressure from farmers, politicians and the NFU.

“We have an excellent high-quality product in Scotch Beef and the best beef is of course produced right here in the North-east. I am therefore keen to see the moves announced by the Government implemented as quickly as possible so that maximum benefit can begin to accrue to North-east farmers.”
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