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27 February 2006

MSP Welcomes Aberdeenshire School Report

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to the Headteacher of Ardallie School, congratulating her and her staff following the publication of an excellent HM Inspector of Education (HMIe) report on Ardallie School.

Commenting on the report Mr Stevenson said:

“This is a tremendous report, which has been achieved due to the dedication and devotion of the headteacher and staff at Ardallie School. The school is certainly leading the way in providing a very high standard of education.

“Numerous key strengths were recognised during the inspection and I am certain that the dedication of all involved at the school has not gone undetected by parents, nor the wider community.

“The school is a prime case in point of what can be attained by a relatively small rural school, and I am certain that Ardallie School will go from strength to strength.”

23 February 2006

MSP Welcomes Aberdeenshire School Report

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to the Headteacher of Crudie School, congratulating him and his staff following the publication of the latest HM Inspector of Education (HMIe) report on Crudie School. Commenting on the report Mr Stevenson said:

“This is an A1 report, which has been achieved due to the huge keenness and devotion of the headteacher and staff at Crudie School. The school is certainly at the forefront in providing a high degree of educational standards.

“Various key strengths were recognised during the inspection and I am sure that the hard work of all involved at the school has not gone unseen by parents, nor indeed by those within the community.

“The school is a prime example of what can be achieved, and I am sure that Crudie School will go onwards and upwards from here, delivering a high standard of education.”

Note:

HM Inspector identified the following key strengths at the school.
  • Very well behaved, courteous and friendly pupils
  • The overall ethos within the school and the commitment of staff
  • Very effective use of accommodation
  • The high quality of some of the teaching, particularly at P5-P7

22 February 2006

Water Chief's Resignation Raises Questions For NE Investment - MSP

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has warned that the resignation of Scottish Water Chairman Professor Alan Alexander raises serious questions over plans for future investment in water services in the North-east.

Mr Stevenson said:

“The resignation of Professor Alexander is a clear indication of the growing gulf between Scottish Water and the Executive over the forthcoming £2.15 billion investment programme in services and infrastructure.

“There were already differences between Scottish Water and the Executive regarding the content of the forthcoming investment programme. If these differences of opinion have got to the stage where resignations are now happening, it is obviously a matter of real concern.

“The urgent necessity of water infrastructure upgrades across the North-east does not need to be re-stated and many people know only too well the problems that lack of infrastructure are causing in terms of halting development and contributing to the shortage of affordable housing.

“It is as yet unclear what implications this development will have for the future of the investment programme for the North-east, but it certainly does little to increase confidence for the future.”

Locals Schools Earn Parliamentary Praise For Rock Challenge

North-east secondary schools have been praised in a Scottish Parliamentary Motion for their efforts in the 2006 Global Rock Challenge.

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has tabled the Motion highlighting the Global Rock Challenge, which is a drug and crime prevention vehicle in the form of a performing arts competition for secondary schools. The event is run by the Be Your Best Foundation, a registered charity.

Peterhead Academy continued their strong track record in the event and now go forward to the UK finals in Grimsby later this year. Mr Stevenson is a strong supporter of the Global Challenge and even picked up his own – unexpected – award at the 2003 event for his help in securing funding to allow the event to continue.

Speaking from the Scottish Parliament, Mr Stevenson said:

“I was delighted to be able to attend one of the Aberdeen heats once again this year given my long association with the Global Rock Challenge and I was even more pleased with the performance of those secondary schools from my constituency who took part.

“Peterhead Academy has perhaps the longest track record in the event and I was pleased for the youngsters and staff involved that they will once again be heading for the UK finals.

“I was present for the heat involving Banff Academy who gave a highly creditable performance which I am sure will stand them in good stead for next year’s event.”

Stevenson Welcomes More Lottery Good News For Banffshire

‘Big Lottery Fund’ awards totalling over £390,000 to two Banffshire organisations have been hailed by local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson as further evidence of the turnaround in the fortunes of North east lottery applicants.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“I am delighted for the Banffshire Partnership and the Princes Royal Sports & Community Trust. These are substantial sums they have been awarded and clearly a lot of hard work has gone into making the application to the Big Lottery Fund and producing bids which have secured this level of funding, so I congratulate all those involved in this success.

“These latest awards bring the total lottery funding awarded to groups in Banff & Buchan in the last few months close to the half a million pounds mark. This is quite an achevement for the groups involved and this funding will benefit the communities greatly.

“There is now no doubt that Banff & Buchan is definitely on the up as far as lottery funding goes and I hope that this momentum keeps up.”

Note: The Big Lottery Fund have notified awards of £251,500.00 to Princess Royal Sports & Community Trust for a new sports, fitbess and community centre and £138,946.00 to Banffshire Partnership Limited to expand existing community transport services.

14 February 2006

SNP Commenting On Edinburgh Airgun Attacks

Commenting on the two airgun attacks in Edinburgh, SNP Depute Justice Minister Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"These incidents highlight the need to take real action on the ownership, sale and use of airguns. The half-measures proposed by the Home Office are simply not tough enough to deal with the menace of airguns.

"Only by giving the Scottish Parliament full powers to deal with airguns can we deal comprehensively with the issue."

7 February 2006

Stevenson Warns Of Increase In Fuel Poverty If Gas Price Rise Goes Ahead

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banff & Buchan, today (Tuesday) warned energy company Scottish Gas that it risks plunging thousands of vulnerable Scots into fuel poverty if it proceeds with a reported 25% price rise this month.

Mr Stevenson’s comments follow the admission by Trade & Industry Secretary Alan Johnson that rising prices could force another million people across Britain into fuel poverty.

Mr Stevenson said:

“The reported increase of 25% which Scottish Gas seems set to announce to customers later this month is alarming in the extreme. If it does indeed go ahead it would mean that the company has raised its prices by a total of 45% over the past 18 months.

“Not only that, it is not even as if Scotland is as yet reliant on gas from overseas any way. In fact we sit on very large natural reserves of gas and it is ironic that in spite of this enviable situation, it is Scottish consumers who seem likely to have to pay through the nose for the product.

“Even more ironic is the fact that around 50 per cent of the UK’s gas comes ashore in Banff & Buchan at St Fergus, yet energy-rich Scotland will still have to suffer these price hikes.

“In the meantime however, rises of this nature will not just inconvenience all Scottish Gas customers. At worst they could will plunge thousands of Scots deeper into fuel poverty in a country where more than 28,000 people over 65 died of cold-related illnesses last year.

“This situation makes it imperative that research and development into all viable renewable technologies is progressed in a co-ordinated and intelligent manner.”

1 February 2006

Stevenson Calls For More Help For First Time Buyers

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has called for first-time buyers to be given more support as new figures show the number of first-time buyers in Scotland reached an all-time low in 2005.

Mr Stevenson was commenting on figures from the Bank of Scotland’s First Time Buyers Annual Review, which showed only 29,000 first time buyers in Scotland over the last year, a drop of 58 per cent from 2002.

Mr Stevenson said:

“These figures once again underline the need to create the economic conditions necessary to make Scotland a higher-wage economy and enable many more Scots to afford their first home.

“The fall in the number of first-time buyers by more than half in the space of three years is yet more evidence of the Labour-Liberal partnership's grotesque mismanagement the Scottish economy.

“The cost of buying a house is spiralling out of control, rising far faster than earnings, with the end result being that many thousands of people are simply priced out of the market.

“This is having a particularly severe effect on the economy of rural areas such as North-east Scotland, where people of working age who want to live and work in the area, thereby contributing to the sustainability of rural communities, are unable to do so.

“That is why the SNP has proposed introducing a first-time buyers' grant of £2000 for every first-time buyer to help with buying their first home.

“However, there is also a severe lack of homes to rent at affordable prices, throughout the North-east. As well as putting the Scottish economy on a much more competitive basis and taking action to assist first-time buyers, the Executive must also take steps to boost the number of homes available at affordable rents.”

MSP Backs Scottish Environment Week

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has given his backing to Scottish Environment Week, which runs from 6th – 12th February. Mr Stevenson is supporting North-east colleague Margaret Ewing’s Motion supporting the event.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“I very much welcome the forthcoming Scottish Environment Week and I am certain it shall be successful in its aim of highlighting the importance of our environment and its value to Scotland’s society and economy.

“As a nation, Scotland has awoken to the importance of protecting our rich and diverse environment, and recognises the dedication of individual people, workplaces and communities in striving to safeguard our environment so that future generations can benefit from and enjoy it.

“Scottish Environment Week will hopefully help us all to focus on what are becoming increasingly urgent issues.  These include the degradation of our environment, pollution and the chaos climate change is bringing to Scotland in the form of more frequent extreme weather events.

"There are a great many organisations and individuals in the voluntary sector that are battling to protect our environment and Scottish Environment Week is one way of highlighting this important work.”
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