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30 December 2010

Local Health Services Take Tory Tax Hit

PUBLIC SERVICES BEARING BRUNT

Health services used by people in Banff & Buchan will be hit by a multi-million pound tax bill as the Tory Government’s VAT rise kicks in at the beginning of January. The VAT increase is opposed by Banff & Buchan SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford, and MSP Stewart Stevenson.

Added to the increase in National Insurance payments that the NHS is picking up the total cost to NHS Grampian is around £4 million.

Because the NHS employs a high number of people it is particularly exposed to the National Insurance changes.

In total the Scottish NHS will have to pay around 17 million pounds in extra National Insurance payments to the London Treasury this coming year and a further 26.5 million pounds increase in VAT payments. A total of over 43 million pounds being lost from frontline services directly to the London Treasury.

In the election the Tories claimed they would scrap Labour’s tax on jobs and immediately after the Tory government’s budget David Cameron told Moray SNP MP Angus Robertson that “our action on national insurance contributions has saved the NHS money”. However backtracking by the Tories have left the rise in place.

Commenting on the multi-million pound tax bill directly hitting local health service users SNP MSP for Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Tory government is hitting NHS Grampian with a multi-million pound tax bill and the people who will suffer are the patients.

“This is a double tax bombshell for the NHS – a grotesque Christmas present where the NHS has to pay the UK Government back for the misleading pledges of the Westminster parties.

“Labour introduced the damaging changes to National Insurance, the Tories have left it in place and it is Scotland’s public services and our economy that will pay the price.

“The cost to NHS Grampian is equivalent to over 150 nurses salaries per year.”

Local MP Eilidh Whiteford added:

“The Prime Minister claimed he was saving the NHS money when in fact he is costing it millions.

“Whilst all the London parties have shown they can’t be trusted on tax it is the SNP which is the party that stands for Scotland's people and Scotland's interests. While Tory, Labour and Lib Dem planned to take taxes from Scotland’s NHS the SNP has worked hard to put more money into our health service to ensure it remains the first quality service we all want to see.

“Our public services across Banff & Buchan are being hit by massive tax bills in the coming year over and above the huge budget cuts coming from Tory-led government and people in the North-east are facing a double whammy on public services.”

23 December 2010

Stevenson Hails Efforts Of Royal Mail In Wintry Conditions

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament congratulating the Royal Mail on the efforts they are making to deliver the post this Christmas, despite the arctic conditions having caused many private couriers to stop serving Scotland.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“If there was ever any need for a demonstration of why it is essential that the Royal Mail is not sold off, it is the sterling efforts that are being made to cope with the Christmas post despite the heavy snow and ice we have experienced.

“Private couriers have effectively cut Scotland off and this is what we risk happening to our post service if Tory plans to sell the Royal Mail go ahead.

“The universal service obligation is a cornerstone of the Royal Mail and recent weeks have shown how important it is that it be maintained. Postal workers have worked incredibly hard and I applaud them for their efforts at ensuring people in Scotland can enjoy a merry Christmas.”

22 December 2010

Stevenson Welcomes EU Action Over Mackerel Dispute

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the news that European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki will seek to ban Icelandic fishing vessels from landing their catch in EU ports at a meeting of the European Economic Area (EEA) to be held before January 14. The move follows unsuccessful attempts to resolve the current dispute over the massive mackerel quota that Iceland has unilaterally awarded itself. Norway has already taken action to close its ports to Icelandic and Faroese fishing vessels.

Mackerel is the Scottish fishing industry’s most profitable fish, and the Scottish fleet has won prestigious Marine Stewardship Certification for the sustainable way the fishery has been managed. However, that careful stock management and the profitability of the Scottish Pelagic fleet is at severe risk following the actions of Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The actions of Iceland and the Faroe Islands in this matter have been utterly unacceptable. Choosing to ignore international agreements and the interests of countries that have been fishing mackerel sustainably for years is little more than piracy.

“Closing the EU’s ports to mackerel caught by Icelandic vessels will not in itself solve the problem, but it does send the clearest possible message that the European Union will not stand for this behaviour.

“Clearly negotiations must continue, but it would be a disaster for Banff & Buchan if the Scottish pelagic fleet loses out as a result of the actions of Iceland and the Faroe Islands. I welcome the fact that the EU seems to recognise this and is moving towards meaningful sanctions.

“I can only hope that Iceland and the Faroe Islands will now recognise that their actions will not be tolerated and will finally see reason over the need to find an agreement which will not cause irreparable harm to the Scottish pelagic fleet and the sustainability of mackerel stocks.”

20 December 2010

MSP Welcomes Announcement Water Charges To Remain Steady

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed today’s announcement that Scottish Water’s combined water and waste water service charges will remain steady for households across Scotland during 2011/2012.

Commenting Mr Stevenson said:

“In these financially difficult times this is good news for hard pressed families and shows that the Scottish Government has been overseeing our public finances effectively.

“With plans to deliver a council tax freeze these charges will be a welcome relief to many families and households in Banff & Buchan.

“Every little helps and all households will feel the benefit of improved services at reduced prices.

“The Scottish Government is doing its best to assist householders in these difficult times and today’s announcement by Scottish Water underlines that hard work.”

15 December 2010

Stevenson Calls For Urgent Reform Following Annual EU Fisheries Negotiations

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has again called for the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy to be replaced with a system of regional management where those with the greatest stake in successfully managing fisheries are given that responsibility. This year’s negotiations saw Scotland successfully negotiate for most of its key priorities, but a number of challenging quota reductions remain for the Scottish fishing industry to face.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“It has almost become a ritual that the annual EU fisheries negotiations see the Scottish fishing industry presented with restrictions that will make the next year even more difficult than the one that preceded it.

“Most Scottish priorities were successfully won in extremely difficult circumstances, including the extension of the catch-quota scheme which allows skippers to land more fish and removes the heartbreaking practice of discards.

“The size of the quota reductions for a number of stocks were also successfully improved upon so that the new limits are not as harsh as they could have been. However, despite that there is no getting away from the fact that the coming year will continue to be extremely difficult for the fishing industry in Banff & Buchan.

“These negotiations again show the urgent need for the discredited CFP to be replaced with a system of regional management that fits the actual conditions in the waters around Scotland. The era of top down management from Brussels has been an unmitigated disaster for Scotland’s fishing industry and it is long past time for it to end.”

11 December 2010

Stewart Stevenson

Please find enclosed an exchange of letters between Stewart Stevenson MSP and First Minister Alex Salmond this afternoon, in which Mr Stevenson tenders his resignation as Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change.

The First Minister will announce tomorrow who will assume Mr Stevenson's responsibilities, and meantime the Finance Secretary John Swinney is in charge of these matters.

Letter from Stewart Stevenson MSP to First Minister:

Dear Alex,

When we met on Thursday night I said to you that I felt I should resign as Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change. You kindly asked me to take Friday to consider whether that was the appropriate action to take. I took that time to think this through and I have decided to resign.

Within my range of responsibilities I have concentrated on developing the Government's winter preparedness and in recent weeks that plan has helped us manage a prolonged and acute spell of weather. On Monday we faced an even greater challenge. Although we put in place significant efforts to tackle the event, I feel that I could have done much more to ensure that members of the public who were caught up in a difficult and frightening set of circumstances were better informed of the situation. I deeply regret that and for that reason I feel I should step down.

I am also conscious there has been a lot of party politics in the last few days and that my continued presence in Government would be used politically by our opponents. I have not devoted my adult life to winning Scottish independence and to working for and serving in this first SNP Government to allow that to happen.

Over the last three and a half years I have sought to give all that I can to serving as a Minister and believe that many of the initiatives put in place have helped to develop our transport infrastructure and support our economy. It was, however, a particular pleasure to be the Minister who steered the climate change legislation through the Scottish Parliament.

I thank you for your constant support and encouragement over that period and can assure you that I will enthusiastically support the work of this SNP Government from the backbenches.

Letter to Stewart Stevenson MSP from the First Minister:

Dear Stewart,

Thank you for your letter. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you face to face, first on Thursday evening and again this morning.

I accept your resignation with great regret. Even your harshest critic would admit that you have always pursued any task you have addressed with diligence and devotion. Both these qualities have been evident in your service as a Minister in this first SNP Government.

I understand your reasons for resigning but frankly I think it is wrong that you should have faced this situation. You have worked to ensure the preparedness of our transport network for winter weather. These plans have generally proved effective but on Monday we were faced by an unprecedented challenge.

There were indeed problems with communication with those suffering extreme difficulty, but just as no man can tether time nor tide, sometimes the elements are beyond anyone's control. It is reprehensible that while you have been concentrating on addressing the practical issues facing our people, some of our opponents have been engaged in no more than parliamentary game playing. I do not consider that to be fair and neither will most decent people in Scotland.

You have a Ministerial career of substance. You brought forward the Strategic Transport Projects Review. You developed our approach on planning reform. You have taken the Forth Replacement Crossing Project to the point of Parliamentary endorsement. Above all else, your successful championing of our world leading Climate Change legislation is an achievement of which any politician in any parliament should be immensely proud.

I know also that John Swinney deeply appreciates the strength of your contribution to the Finance and Sustainable Growth portfolio.

I warmly thank you for all that you have done in serving this first SNP Government and extend my good wishes to Sandra and to you.

7 December 2010

Travelling public have helped clear-up by avoiding non-urgent travel

The Scottish Government and police forces have renewed their advice this afternoon (7 December) for drivers to make only essential journeys, despite progress made today in opening some parts of the roads network.

The M8 Westbound J1-5 is expected to remain closed overnight, while drivers have also been urged particularly to avoid the A80 Stepps to Haggs and M74 Hamilton Services.

The guidance came as 327 staff using 63 vehicles and spreading over 2,400 tonnes of salt had worked round the clock to clear the motorway and trunk road network across Scotland. There have been more than a dozen instances of jack-knifed lorries on the central motorway network overnight. Pupils who had been forced to spend the night in their schools in Lanarkshire and Glasgow have all returned home earlier today. The Education Secretary has passed on his thanks to the local authority and school staff who helped care for the pupils overnight.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

“This has been a very difficult period for the motorists caught in congestion overnight after yesterday’s ‘perfect storm’ of heavy snowfall at the peak of rush-hour in our most populated region brought key routes to a halt.

“With many people heeding the advice only to travel certain routes this morning where absolutely necessary, that has provided a window of opportunity for agencies to accelerate their work to clear roadways of snow, ice and stricken vehicles, and this has enabled the situation to be improved throughout the day. However, many routes remain treacherous and traffic movement slow.

“As the snow has been cleared, extremely low temperatures continue to pose further challenges, for example on the M8 Westbound which remains closed tonight with thick sheet ice. Heavy plant has been brought in where transport operators reported that two snow plough blades have broken.

“The Scottish Government’s Resilience Room was again active throughout the night, co-ordinating work with Transport Scotland, police and other agencies to tackle the consequences of the extraordinary weather conditions. Police have been working extremely hard night and day, assisting those stranded or who had abandoned their cars - with more than 2,400 officers deployed in the Strathclyde force alone.

“The First Minister chaired a ministerial meeting of SGoRR at St Andrew's House, Edinburgh, this morning and again this afternoon, enabling the various agencies to ensure that resources are most effectively and promptly directed to get people moving.

"Motorists have been incredibly patient during what are the most extreme conditions Scotland has seen in decades and I would urge people to continue to follow local police advice in terms of making only essential journeys while the recovery operation moves towards completion.”

Meanwhile, rail services and bus services continue to be affected by weather conditions and ScotRail and Network Rail are working towards restoring the reduced timetables that the industry has adopted since the onset of the severe winter weather. Travellers are strongly advised to check the ScotRail website and Traveline before they travel.

HGVs’ keeping us on the move

4 DAY EXTENSION TO DRIVER'S HOURS RELAXATION SECURED BY TRANSPORT MINISTER

Scotland’s haulage drivers have been praised as they battle through some of the worst winter conditions since 1965, to keep goods moving across the country.

And with extreme weather conditions causing delays across the network, the Transport Minister has secured a four day extension, for Scotland only, to the relaxation of enforcement of EU Drivers’ Hours rules from the Department of Transport. This extension will ensure vital deliveries get to stores, supermarkets and petrol stations across Scotland.

Stewart Stevenson said

“HGV drivers are a key part of the lifeblood of our transport network, working hard to get goods to supermarkets and vital fuel supplies across the country and I am pleased we have managed to secure a further extension to the relaxation of enforcement of Drivers’ Hours in order to help keep Scotland moving."
For those drivers and work in question, the EU drivers’ hours rules will be temporarily relaxed as follows:
  • Replace the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 10 hours
  • Reduce the daily rest requirements from 11 to 9 hours.
  • Lift the weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limit (90 hours).
  • Postponing the weekly rest requirement until 23:59 on 11 December 2010, at which stage a driver has to take a normal weekly rest of 45 hours.
  • Notwithstanding the postponement of the weekly rest requirement (see preceding bullet point), a driver must take a minimum rest of 24 hours beginning no later than the end of the eleventh day since the end of his last weekly rest period.
The requirement to take a 45 minute break after 4½ hours driving remains and will continue to be rigorously enforced.

Stevenson Hails Continued Commitment To Policing With Publication Of Latest Police Numbers

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the publication of the latest quarterly police numbers which show that the Scottish Government is continuing to deliver on its commitment of putting more than 1,000 extra police offers on patrol in Scotland’s streets.

In the last quarter there were 1,546 police officers serving in Grampian police, compared to 1,545 at the end of 2009, an increase of 172 since the SNP was elected in 2007. The Scottish Government’s draft budget which was recently budget clearly outlined the determination to maintain additional police numbers as part of the finance settlement with local authorities. Across Scotland the latest figures showed there were 17,371 serving police officers, an increase of 1,137 since March 2007.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“These latest numbers clearly show that having fulfilled our promise of delivering more than 1,000 extra police officers across Scotland ahead of schedule, the Scottish Government has been working to maintain that improved level of provision.

“Although the quarterly figures have fluctuated up and down by small numbers as officers retire and new members of the police are recruited, the fact that police numbers in Grampian are almost identical to what they were at the end of 2009 shows that those extra officer numbers are being maintained.

“What is more, the SNP Government has made clear that we are determined to maintain these additional officers despite the cuts that Westminster’s spending decisions have forced upon us. Crime in Scotland is at its lowest level for 32 years and that is in large part thanks to these extra officers.

“The publication of these statistics continues to demonstrate that the SNP Government is determined to give police the resources they need to maintain their remarkable efforts at keeping Scotland’s streets safe for everyone.”

6 December 2010

Winter staff facing more challenges with latest heavy snowfall

Scotland’s army of winter maintenance staff and all its equipment is working harder than ever to battle the elements following yet another onslaught of adverse weather conditions.
Despite the significant challenge today’s recent spate of wintery blizzards has delivered, more than 160 vehicles and almost 400 staff continue to work round the clock to keep the national road network moving.

Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Scotland has been in the grip of the worst snow and ice conditions in the early winter since the 1960s, every effort has been made to keep disruption to a minimum. Snow was predicted for today but was significantly heavier than expected and timing during rush hour made conditions worse.

“Staff are working hard to clear the delays caused today and this evening train services are beginning to improve however we can not stress enough that travellers should exercise real caution by only making essential trips and planning their journeys in advance using the all available information.

“We can assure the public we are well prepared for winter. In the past ten days alone, an army of winter staff at Transport Scotland’s operating companies have clocked up around 30,000 man hours, travelled in excess of 750,000 kilometres and spread approximately 50,000 tonnes of salt.

“Parents, local authorities, government and people all across Scotland worked extremely hard over the weekend to deal with the severe weather problems, with great success. But both in terms of the volume and timing during the rush hour we were hit with a snowfall worse than forecast. Therefore, efforts have been redoubled to get back to the position we had established at the weekend, so that working together we overcome the difficulties now and move forward.

“That work includes seeking the extension from midnight tomorrow of the general relaxation we secured in terms of hauliers’ hours, so that we can continue to ensure that pressure points in the delivery of vital goods and supplies are resolved.”

Efforts have continued today with frontline staff using adapted vehicles and other resources to clear the large volumes of snow that has fallen in the past 24 hours, particularly in and around central Scotland.

Travellers are urged to exercise caution in their travel plans while this weather continues. Traffic Scotland and Traveline Scotland are also doing their utmost to keep travellers informed with numerous daily updates.

Journey planning information is available at Traffic Scotland and Traveline Scotland websites; iPhone users can download a free travel app that gives them access to all this information on the move.

Drivers should follow four key steps for safe winter driving
  • Check the weather forecast and road conditions,
  • Consider if you need to travel at all or can wait until weather improves
  • Consider alternative routes
  • Consider alternative modes of Transport
The Scottish Government has activated its Ready Winter section of the website which contains practical advice and simple steps for people including weather and travel advice.

Bids invited for concessionary travel technology

TRANSPORT MINISTER ANNOUNCES TENDERING TO START FOR FUTURE READY SYSTEM

Three organisations have been invited to tender for provision of a new concessionary travel asset management system announced Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Transport, today.

The new system, which is to replace the current back office technology, can be used across different modes of transport and will be supported across the whole of the UK.

Fully integrated with smart ticketing, the software will also supply more detailed concessionary journey information, providing a more efficient system for bus operators with a better billing and reimbursement process.

Mr Stevenson said

“The Scottish Government is fully committed to the success of the concessionary travel scheme and I am pleased to see the start of tendering for this important, newer generation technology.

“Being operable across all modes of transport, across the UK, this system is future ready. It will also improve on the current software with a more accurate, more efficient recording system and it is anticipated, through improved processes for electronic ticketing, will also deliver further operational savings.

"Our concessionary travel scheme has already provided over 1.1 million users with greater access to services and facilities. This important service not only allows for greater social inclusion, but also tackles carbon emissions by promoting modal shift from private car to public transport.”

Ecebs Ltd, Applied Card Technologies Ltd and ERG Transit Systems (UK) Ltd have been selected to tender for the c£10m Asset Management System - Host Operator Processing System (AMS-HOPS) contract following successful prequalification. Tenders are expected to be submitted early in 2011.

5 December 2010

Water Consultation

A consultation will be launched this week on ways of giving Scottish Water increased flexibility to help build a low carbon economy.

The Scottish Government will launch 'Building a Hydro Nation - A Consultation', examining how Scotland, and in particular, Scottish Water, as a publicly-owned utility, can better exploit its expertise, assets and Scotland's water resources for the continuing benefit of water customers, the environment and the wider Scottish economy.

The consultation will seek views on the range of opportunities for Scottish Water to take on new activities while remaining under public ownership - from converting redundant treatment works into recycling facilities to putting hydro electric schemes in redundant reservoirs; from upgrading sewage treatment plants to harvest biogas to new wind power projects on its land; and playing a role in international development, either on a commercial or humanitarian basis.

Mr Stevenson said:

"Scotland is rightly seen internationally as a leader in the transition to a low carbon future. We have the most ambitious climate change legislation anywhere in the world, and we are now more than half way to reaching that world-leading 2020 emissions reduction target.

"Scottish Water, already a huge success story, has the potential to play a greater role in the development of a low carbon economy and grow from a successful utility to become a widely based, dynamic, world-leading water organisation, while remaining within public ownership.

"For example, we could use Scottish Water's assets to generate enough renewable energy to meet its own needs and export to the grid, making a significant contribution to our targets.

"Our consultation will seek views on the best ways of ensuring Scottish Water is able to take on additional functions and develop new commercial opportunities."

North East trains on track for return to service

Train services to Aberdeen from Glasgow and Edinburgh are slowly re-opening with the return of near normal rail services despite freezing conditions forecast to continue.

The news comes as national transport agency Transport Scotland also confirmed that the majority of the strategic road network was opened today on Sunday (5 December 2010).

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

“Despite freezing temperatures forecast, it is encouraging to see we are slowly returning to a more normal transport service in and around the North East with more rail services expected to run than in previous days.

“Transport staff across the country are working round the clock to keep our networks open and I am pleased our national roads network is almost entirely re-open again.”

“We have adequate salt supplies to see us through further bad weather, currently four times more than at the worst time in the winter last year and more deliveries due in the next few weeks. We also have a contingency supply ready for use in an emergency.”

With more adverse weather forecast for this week, careful journey planning is still essential. Travellers are urged to make informed and up-to-the-minute decisions with all the available travel news.

Journey planning information is available at Traffic Scotland and Traveline Scotland; iPhone users can download a free travel app that gives them access to all this information on the move.

Drivers should follow four key steps for safe winter driving
  • Check the weather forecast and road conditions,
  • Consider if you need to travel at all or can wait until weather improves
  • Consider alternative routes
  • Consider alternative modes of Transport

4 December 2010

Improvements to north east transport networks as frozen weather continues

After some of the most severe weather to hit the north east at this time of year, transport links are slowly returning to normal Transport Scotland confirmed today.

The national transport agency stated that a limited number of rail services and replacement buses were in operation today while key road links remained open most of the day, news that will be welcomed by communities in the north east.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson
said:

“It is encouraging to see some improvements to the transport service. The Scottish Government remains well placed to tackle winter head-on. We also continue to review salt stocks, ordering more when and if required, as the winter progresses.

“We are reassured that each local authority currently has adequate supplies and are managing their stocks well however following the lessons learned after the harsh weather last winter, we set up the Scottish Salt Group. Amongst other actions, this Group has procured an additional central salt supply for those in need. Part of a recent 25,000 tonne delivery is currently being delivered to the North.

“Recent days have also seen the delivery of strategic salt stocks to Aberdeen. This strategic salt supply is in addition almost 300,000 tonnes already available in Scottish Road Authority depots, and a further 145,000 tonnes on order.

“Careful journey planning is still essential however so we would urge everyone to make informed and up-to-the-minute decisions with all the available travel news.”

Journey planning information is available at Traffic Scotland and Traveline Scotland; I-phone users can download a free travel app that gives them access to all this information on the move. Rail passengers can also get up to the minute information on ScotRail’s journey check web pages: http://www.journeycheck.com/firstscotrail/

Drivers should follow four key steps for safe winter driving
  • Check the weather forecast and road conditions,
  • Consider if you need to travel at all or can wait until weather improves
  • Consider alternative routes
  • Consider alternative modes of Transport
The Scottish Government has activated its Ready Winter section of the website which contains practical advice and simple steps for people including weather and travel advice: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice/public-safety/ready-scotland/Winter

3 December 2010

Travel with care

With the ongoing adverse winter weather still hitting large parts of the country, Transport Scotland is urging travellers that if they must travel, to make robust journey plans in advance.

Fleets of vehicles and armies of staff in local authorities and Transport Scotland's operating companies are working around the clock to keep roads as free from snow and ice as possible.

Those efforts are backed up by staff at Traffic Scotland and Traveline Scotland who are making every effort to keep travellers informed of any delays on public transport networks.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"Thousands of people are working across the country and around the clock to keep our transport networks open in often very difficult circumstances. We thank the public for their co-operation and ask that they continue to play their part too.

"Careful journey planning helps keep drivers and public transport users make informed and up-to-the-minute with all the available information. Follow police advice and if you must travel, then leave extra time to reach your destination."

Chief Constable Kevin Smith, Chair of the ACPOS Road Policing Business Area, added:

"During the winter months and in particular this cold spell, road conditions can be extremely difficult and dangerous. Motorists need to pay extra attention and be prepared to adapt to changing conditions. Even the most experienced motorists can find themselves getting into difficulties when the roads are icy or covered in snow. Our advice is to consider if your journey is absolutely necessary and if you must drive then ensure that you and your car are adequately prepared for the journey ahead.

"Police Forces throughout the country will be working closely with local authorities and Transport Scotland to provide members of the public with the most up to date information available. National and local radio, television and press should be checked for information and updates are also available on the Transport Scotland website."

Journey planning information is available at Traffic Scotland and Traveline Scotland; I-phone users can download a free travel app that gives them access to all this information.

Drivers should follow four key steps for safe winter driving:
  • Check the weather forecast and road conditions
  • Consider if you need to travel at all or can wait until weather improves
  • Consider alternative routes
  • Consider alternative modes of transport


Motorists can also check ACPOS site which has a dedicated page with winter driving advice: http://www.acpos.police.uk/roadsafety/

2 December 2010

Stevenson Welcomes measures To Support Doric

"Doric is an important part of Banff & Buchan's heritage and culture" - MSP

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has today welcomed new proposals to promote the needs of, and enhance the status of, Doric and the Scots language across Scotland.

The proposals come from a group set up to advise Scottish Government Ministers on the future of the North-east language. It focused on sectors that have the potential to increase the use and status of Scots and Doric, including education, broadcasting, publishing, literature and the arts.

The report sets out practical and achievable recommendations in these key areas. Ministers will now consider the report and its recommendations before responding formally to the Group.

The Scots Language Working Group's recommendations include the development of a national Scots language policy, increased support for Doric in education, a greater profile for Doric in the media, and the establishment of a network of Scots and Doric coordinators.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“There is a strong Doric language heritage and culture in Banff & Buchan and across the North-east and it is important that we support that heritage and culture. There are opportunities in the classroom, in the arts community and through local products to promote Doric and find new ways of improving its status and use.

“Indeed, I have been very impressed by the work being done in Scots when I visited Buckie High School recently and I know that other schools, such as Inverallochy, are equally as enthusiastic about the language.

“Those campaigning for a greater status for the Gaelic language have been very successful over the years but it is also important that we don’t neglect Doric and Scots. There are practical recommendations from the report, particularly the proposal for local Doric co-ordinators.

“I am very keen to see the status of Scots language enhanced, keeping our local dialects alive and I am sure that these recommendations will lead to good progress in the protection of our language and culture.”
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