26 May 2007

Minister for not-so-silly walks steers clear of cars - Evening News


SCOTLAND'S new Transport Minister has told civil servants to plan his timetable so he can walk around Edinburgh more, instead of using a government limo.

Stewart Stevenson - once Alex Salmond's chauffeur - said he had started as he meant to go on by walking from the Scottish Parliament up to St Andrew's House for his first meeting with officials, rather than making the journey by car. "I'm not saying I will never use an official car," he said. "But I like walking and, where possible, that's what I'll do."

Mr Stevenson was appointed Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change in the new SNP minority government last week.

He said: "I've asked the civil servants to timetable engagements if they're in Edinburgh, so I can walk between them.

"I will, of course, find myself using a government car some of the time.

"But I certainly want to use my feet when I can, take the bus or the train when appropriate, and fall back on the car only when necessary. My private secretary, who controls the diary, said she thought it was a good idea - and I'm sure they will find a way to make sure I'm still working even when I'm walking."

Trips to and from St Andrew's House in Regent Road should pose little problem for Mr Stevenson, but walking from the Parliament to meetings at Bute House in Charlotte Square and back would take more than an hour out of his day.

Mr Stevenson, whose constituency is Banff and Buchan in the north-east, lives in Linlithgow during the week and commutes by train to Edinburgh.

"I deliberately bought a house near the station, so it's three minutes' walk to catch the train and then a walk from Waverley to the Parliament," he said.

He estimated that he currently walks around five or six miles a day, including up to one and a half miles just going about the parliament building.

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