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28 December 2011

Fish For Festive Season

Hogmanay and festive family feasts this winter provide a great opportunity for Scots to enjoy a wealth of sustainable Scottish fish and seafood.

Breakfast and brunch ideas include kippers made from Scottish North Sea herring or the classic Omelette Arnold Bennet, using Scottish smoked haddock - both of which are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified for sustainability.

For supper, a bowl of steaming-hot Moules Marinieres from Friend of the Sea certified Scottish mussel farms, perhaps preceded by a dozen oysters grilled with garlic butter and breadcrumbs, or a peppered smoked mackerel pate using MSC Scottish mackerel flaked through yogurt. A plate of grilled langoustine would also make a perfect light dish, as would grilled megrim, lemon sole or witch.

For a grand gesture on New Year's Day imagine a towering seafood platter featuring Scottish farmed smoked salmon and fresh rainbow trout, home-grown mussels and oysters, plus locally caught lobster, crab, langoustine, surf clams and razor clams. Served with fresh bread and a bowl of mayonnaise, this offers the perfect celebratory feast. All are available from many fishmongers or supermarkets and are simple to prepare.

Chef Roy Brett, from premium seafood restaurant Ondine in Edinburgh, recommends that we consider seafood this season. He said:

"There is an abundance of fresh fish and shellfish to buy at this time of year and cooked and served very simply, it can be great celebration food. For a real gourmet treat for guests, mix a dressed crab with breadcrumbs, cheddar and nutmeg, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. They will be clamouring for more!"

Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

Cooking cod roe for Boxing Day breakfast
"The seafood landed by Scottish fishermen and the fish and shellfish farmed in the pristine waters around our coasts, offers some of the most delicious and top quality seafood found anywhere in the world. This festive season I would encourage more Scots to tuck into sustainable Scottish seafood - not only is it a tasty and healthy option, but it supports our hardworking fishermen and fish farmers."

Libby Woodhatch, CEO of Seafood Scotland said:

"More than 60 species of fish and shellfish are landed in Scotland, and in 2010 this amounted to 385,000 tonnes worth £435.2 million. However, Scottish consumers are conservative in their seafood habits and a great deal of the catch is exported. My New Year's wish is for the nation to become more adventurous with seafood, and the festive season offers a perfect opportunity to make a start! We have lots of tasty recipes on the Seafood Scotland website and are always happy to make suggestions."

27 December 2011

Senior Sainsbury Official To Look At Peterhead Sites In New Year

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a commitment from Sainsbury’s that the company’s Development Surveyor will be visiting Peterhead in the New Year to look at potential sites and meet with Economic Development staff from Aberdeenshire Council.
The SNP MSP had written to Sainsbury’s asking them to consider locating in the town when the company next considers its expansion plans.  The response from Sainsbury’s indicated that the company has previously looked at Peterhead as an option but felt there were no suitable sites.  With the recent closure of Focus and the continued non-development of the Kirkburn Mill site, Mr Stevenson believes the time is right for Peterhead to be looked at again. 
Writing to Mr Stevenson, Sainsbury’s Chief Executive Justin King said:
“We consider every opportunity and should the right site come forward in Peterhead we would happily explore this but at present we believe there are no feasible sites for a supermarket.” 
Commenting on this latest development, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:
“While we must be cautious and not get our hopes up too much, this is nevertheless a very welcome further development.
“When I approached Sainsbury’s recently about the possibility of their coming to Peterhead, the response I received strongly indicated that the company had been looking at the town previously but had, at that time, failed to find a suitable site. 
“There are currently several options in Peterhead for sites which could be developed and I asked Aberdeenshire Council’s Economic Development team to take this forward with the company.
“I am therefore very pleased at this commitment to visit from Sainsbury’s Development Surveyor and I hope that further progress can be made.”

North-East Air Connections Concern At BMI Sale to BA

SNP DEMAND GUARANTEES OVER SCOTTISH AIR LINKS

Responding to news that International Airlines Group (IAG), which owns British Airways, has bought British Midland (BMI), the SNP demanded guarantees over the future of Scottish air links.

The SNP highlighted research which shows BA's record between Scotland and Heathrow lags behind a more punctual BMI – raising further concerns that the quality of service for Scottish passengers would deteriorate as well as the number of services following the takeover.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“I am deeply concerned that this deal has gone ahead before we have received guarantees over the future of air links to and from Scotland.  The Aberdeen-Heathrow service, in particular, is of significant importance to the North-east.

“BA has now taken over its only rival which is putting slots at risk on the back of the loss of valuable air links between Scotland and Heathrow.

“The SNP is asking BA for guarantees to ensure Scotland’s air links are not negatively impacted by this and asking what changes we will see.

“We need assurances that further domestic slots will not be withdrawn as air links between Heathrow and Scotland are vital for our economy.

“This comes as figures released showed BA’s record lags behind a much more punctual BMI.  I urge BA to ensure passengers are not left with a poorer quality of service.”

The SNP’s Westminster Member for Parliament for Moray, Angus Robertson, added::

“As an MP I regularly fly on these services from Aberdeen Airport and I regularly see people from Moray who are travelling for business and leisure. These links are critical if we are to support and grow our local economies in Moray and elsewhere in Scotland.

“Research shows that BA's record lags behind a more punctual BMI which will reinforce fears, with this takeover, that passengers could be left with a poorer quality service as well as a reduced number of flight options.

“There is a worry that BA will give its international slots at Heathrow priority over domestic services – and Scottish passengers must not be left with a second class service.

“We have already seen the loss of valuable air links between Scotland and Heathrow, and if BA takes over its only rival, then remaining slots will clearly be at risk. We must have real guarantees that further domestic slots will not be withdrawn.”

26 December 2011

Stevenson Urges Shoppers To Have A 'Green' New Year

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged constituents to throw out ideas for a white Christmas – and have a green New Year instead.

Mr Stevenson says we can all do our bit to help the environment this New Year – starting with shopping locally.

He said:

“I’m talking about taking simple, easy steps to help the environment and support our local economies this festive season.

“When people are nipping out to the shops for the last bits of food for the New Year’s dinner or stocking up for Hogmanay I’d urge everyone to do their best to shop local and to buy Scottish.

“We have some of the best food in the world produced locally and for New Year some Scottish salmon, beef, some of our great tasting local cheese or even a few locally brewed beers or a drop of whisky all make a great celebration meal and help our local economy.

“Shopping locally is a good way to beat the added costs of transportation that comes from the many products that are shipped from halfway around the world.

“This significantly impacts on greenhouse gases but by shopping locally you can combat that and help your local economy.

“Another way to help the environment is to recycle all the wrapping paper and Christmas cards that often end up in the bin.

“Local shops and supermarkets often have special bins dedicated to recycling cards.

“If every household in Scotland made an effort to ensure these are recycled, we can help cut the amount sent to landfill.”

24 December 2011

Stevenson Welcomes £50m Sleeper Commitment

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement of £50 million of funding to improve the cross-border sleeper train.

The service is of particular importance to the economy in the North & North-east of Scotland providing a vital business link to London and beyond.

Mr Stevenson says the ball is now in the UK Government’s court to see if the Treasury will keep its promise and deliver its share of the funding.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I have had occasion to use the Caledonian Sleeper service myself and I know from speaking to fellow passengers how much they value the ability to travel overnight and still be fresh and ready to go early in the morning at the other end.

“This is a high quality service that gives passengers the best possible travel experience and I am delighted that the Scottish Government has demonstrated a strong commitment to the future of this link. It now remains to be seen if the UK Treasury is true to its word and keeps its own share of funding for the service committed.

“Infrastructure investment is absolutely critical to getting the economy moving and the SNP is committed to making major capital investment in a range of projects such as the Caledonian Sleeper service. The UK Government needs to do the same if we are to get people back into work and see proper growth.”

21 December 2011

Crofting Elections Given Green Light

Proposals to provide an election process for Scotland's Crofting Commission have been passed today by the Scottish Parliament.

For the first time, six people will be democratically elected by Scotland's crofting community to represent their interests, with the remaining three spaces filled by Ministerial appointment.

With eligible voters as young as 16, the elections are a solid signal that the Scottish Government wants to see a thoroughly modern, thriving, sustainable crofting sector, according to Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson.

Welcoming the move, Mr Stevenson said:

"Crofting has long been the life blood of many communities in rural Scotland and has defined huge cultural shifts in our history. Today marks another historic moment - when Scotland's crofters get a seat at the table to make decisions that effect their future.

"The 2012 Crofting Commission election is an excellent opportunity to breath new life into crofting and I would encourage everyone eligible - from the age of 16 - to use their voice and to make sure the Commission hold the right details so that they get their ballot paper.

"Crofting is steeped in tradition and I am committed to seeing this long-established way of life become a thriving and sustainable sector in the future."


The deadline for submitting changes to the Register of Crofts, which will be used to compile to crofting electoral roll, is 19 January 2012 and the deadline for candidate nomination will be 26 January 2012. Voting is restricted to one vote per croft and to one vote per crofter: a multiple occupancy croft must nominate one voter where the crofters live at separate addresses, and a crofter with multiple crofts is only eligible for one vote.

For further information on the election and to check your details on the Register of Crofts, please contact the Crofting Commission on 01463 663439 or elections@crofterscommission.org.uk

Stevenson Says Minimum Pricing Will Halt Pocket Money Booze

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has claimed that the Scottish Government’s minimum price-per-unit alcohol pricing policy will end pocket money priced booze and make serious inroads into Scotland’s battle with the bottle. Recent reports show that despite cuts in smoking and illegal drug use by teenagers, the use of alcohol is still far too high among Scotland’s school children.

Commenting on the policy Mr Stevenson said:

“With figures showing that more than one third of 15 year-olds and one in seven 13 years olds admitting that they had taken a drink in the previous week, it is clear that we must introduce minimum pricing of alcohol.

“While alcohol remains available at pocket money prices it is no surprise that teenagers are able to afford it. With the introduction of Challenge 25 we are taking steps to cut access to alcohol for young people but sadly, many children will still find someone to purchase alcohol for them.

“The introduction of a minimum price is in Scotland’s interest – we cannot sit idly by while too many of our secondary school children are poisoning themselves with alcohol.”

£4.5m Invested In Free Childcare

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the Scottish Government’s additional £4.5million funding for vulnerable two-year-olds.

The SNP MSP says this will enhance early years care provision for these looked after children.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The SNP has prioritised investment in the early years of a child – which is why this new round of funding is greatly welcomed.

“It is a fact that getting it right from the beginning prevents problems from becoming crises and gives our children the best start in life.

“It is also extremely welcoming to see this funding is focused on two year olds who are looked after to improve their life chances.

“This investment is only the latest step in our work to helping expand the quality of early learning and childcare provision.

“The SNP Government has initiated a significant shift to preventative spend through the establishment of a £270m Early Years Change Fund over this parliamentary term.

“This continued investment will make a real difference for all of Scotland’s children and families.”

Stevenson Comments On Moray Council Tax Freeze

Moray’s SNP representatives have welcomed the Council’s early backing of the SNP’s policy to freeze Council Tax.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Council Tax freeze was a big issue on the doorstep during the election - it is hugely popular when every other bill is going through the roof.

"The Council Tax freeze provides vital help for families in tough times and I’m very pleased that Moray Council has backed this important measure which will provide important support for families at this time.”


SNP Opposition Leader, Cllr Pearl Paul, welcomed the proposal, which received unanimous support at a meeting of Moray Council.

Cllr Paul said:

“I very much welcome The Council’s support of the SNP’s policy to freeze Council Tax. The SNP is continuing to provide a record percentage of the Scottish budget to Local Authorities, including funding to enable councils to hold Council Tax levels, essentially a real terms reduction in tax when inflation is taken into account.

“The SNP recognises the financial pressures facing families, who are being hit with pay freezes and soaring bills. Council Tax is one area that we can make a difference to people and today’s announcement will provide at least one degree of certainty for household budgets for the coming year.”


Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said:

“I am delighted that The Moray Council have given early backing to the SNP’s policy of freezing Council Tax once again.

“Council Tax bills soared in the eight years of the Scottish Parliament prior to the SNP taking office and we have sought to re-dress the balance and allow households to recover from the hit they have previously taken.

“To increase Council Tax pressures on households at a time of austerity is unnecessary with the Scottish Government providing funding to compensate councils for that position and I hope that other councils in Scotland will follow Moray’s lead on this.”

16 December 2011

Funding Boost For Banffshire Economy

The local economy has been given a boost with £837,000 of European funding.

Finance Secretary John Swinney confirmed the news on a visit to the area where he also welcomed the creation of 50 new jobs by the international IT services company Atos.

The money from the European Structural Funds will support 79 enterprises and create 108 jobs. It will allow for the development of new business space for start-up companies in renewables and the creative industries as well as provide training opportunities in the renewables sector.

The project is a partnership between The Moray Council, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the Moray College UHI.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is good news for Buckie, and the wider Banffshire economy.

“These are important local projects which are being supported and I look forward to local people getting the training benefits and employment opportunities which this funding award will create.”


Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney said:

"This funding is welcome news for the Moray area and will help grow the local economy, through new jobs and training opportunities.

"The Scottish Government is committed to building sustainable economic growth and we have worked closely with the Moray Economic Partnership since it was established to mitigate the impacts of the UK Government's Strategic Defence and Security Review.

"We will continue to support their work to maximise the opportunities that have arisen since the changes at RAF Kinloss and Lossiemouth."


Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment Alex Neil said:

"These projects will create jobs in Moray, helping local people gain new skills and will grow the economy locally and in Scotland as a whole.

"By supporting local initiatives, these funding awards will benefit the communities where they are based and strengthen business development over the coming years, as well as bringing much needed employment to the area."


Background

The schemes that received European funding are:
  1. Buckie Renewables Scheme: To refurbish a harbour building in Buckie to provide business space for SMEs in the offshore renewables industry.
  2. Training for Buckie Renewables: To refurbish a 2nd building in Buckie for the renewables sector with half of the building to be used by Moray College to provide training to SMEs in renewables, and the remaining half to provide further business space for renewables SMEs.
  3. Moray Business Sites: To develop business sites through Moray – to provide site servicing at sites in Elgin, Keith, Buckie and Lhanbryde and to refurbish existing business units in Lossiemouth.
  4. Moray Learning Centres (Buckie): This is a partnership scheme between The Moray Council and Moray College. It will refurbish a property in Buckie and will assist people in accessing further education, training and into employment.
  5. Grant Lodge Creative Industries: The Moray Council will refurbish a historic building in central Elgin, part of which will provide business units to attract creative industry SMEs. The remainder of the building will accommodate a visitor information centre, the registrars and a heritage centre.
  6. Green Transport: This council-led scheme will implement the findings of the Active Travel Audits in the towns of Keith and Buckie. This will improve green transport links in and between Moray's biggest towns.

12 December 2011

Future Of Aquaculture And Fisheries

A consultation is underway to support a sustainable future for aquaculture and freshwater fisheries, and the effective management of interactions between these two sectors.

The consultation also includes proposals to update enforcement provisions for aquaculture and fisheries, and a review of the approach to cost sharing and charges. The consultation will inform the development of a new Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill, which will build on existing legislation, strategic frameworks and good practice.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Stewart Stevenson said:

"Scotland is home to valuable aquaculture and freshwater fisheries sectors that make important economic contributions, particularly in remote, rural communities. We need to ensure that both these sectors - and in particular farmed salmon and wild salmon interests - can continue to develop and coexist harmoniously.

"Good progress has been made in recent years on a number of fronts. The Ministerial Group on Aquaculture has put focus on key issues and developments, including overseeing the renewal of a Strategic Framework for Aquaculture. Meanwhile the delivery of a Strategic Framework for Freshwater Fisheries and creation of local fishery plans has demonstrated the shared commitment to improved management of our recreational wild fisheries.

"Last year increased farmed salmon production was worth around £540 million, while 2010 figure for rod catches of wild salmon were the highest on record. This demonstrates that both sectors can be supported to grow and thrive together.

"But we must not be complacent. That's why we're consulting on possible changes and legislation to ensure continued and improved high standards of management in both sectors. We want to strike the right balance and not impose unnecessary or disproportionate burdens, therefore I welcome all views through the consultation phase."


The Aquaculture and Fisheries Consultation will run until March 2, 2012.

Aquaculture is mainly focused in the West and North of Scotland and employs over 1,500 people directly. Salmon farming, Scotland's largest food export, is the dominant area, while shellfish production is growing. In 2010 over 150,000 tonnes of farmed salmon was produced, up 6.9 per cent on the previous year and worth £539.6 million.

Scotland's freshwater fisheries are world famous and their management supports one of the largest Atlantic Salmon populations in Europe. Our native brown trout fisheries draw anglers from near and far to enjoy their sport. In 2010 the total rod catch for wild salmon was the highest on record, with 110,496 salmon and grilse caught.

9 December 2011

£1.3m green energy boost for Africa

The Scottish Government is today seeking funding proposals to deliver high quality projects in Malawi and sub-Saharan Africa worth £1.3 million.

Speaking from the United Nations climate change conference in Durban, Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson officially opened the funding round and welcomed applications from Scottish organisations with relevant skills and expertise.

The Scottish Government is seeking proposals for renewable projects in Malawi and sub-Saharan Africa.Renewable energy is a priority area for the Scottish Government. Proposals are specifically welcomed which address this important issue by delivering sustainable energy for all and helping mitigate against the effects of climate change in developing countries.

The announcement of the latest round of the Scottish Government's International Development Fund comes as Scotland enters talks to pioneer the first pilot carbon capture programme (CCS) on African soil, Mr Stevenson announced today.

After delegates from the South African Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage (SACCCS) visited Scotland earlier this year, representatives from the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage Centre (SCCS) will travel to South Africa in February to assess the feasibility of establishing a pilot Carbon Capture plant, as part of a South African programme developing capacity in this area.

Scotland is an international model of a low carbon economy and the Scottish Government wants to share expertise and technology with developing countries, who will be hit the hardest by a changing climate.

Mr Stevenson said:

"Scotland has a long legacy for pioneering successful projects - be it exploration or invention. Today's announcement ticks both these boxes.

"I am delighted to officially open the International Development funding rounds which will encourage high quality bids for renewable energy projects in Malawi, with projects of up to £400,000 in value. While in Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia we will fund one project in each country - a total of £1.3 million over three years. Renewable energy and food security are the main areas this funding will address. Scotland can play a vital role in helping these developing countries create a sustainable energy and hopefully an economic commodity.

"We also see huge potential in developing CCS technology in countries which use fossil fuels. We are happy to share our understanding of this emerging technique, which not only benefits the environment by reducing the amount of carbon ejected into the atmosphere, but also creates a new economic opportunity."


For example, by using mostly existing North Sea subsea infrastructure, Scotland would have the capacity to store 50% of Europe's fossil fuel derived CO2 emissions. South Africa is heavily dependent on coal consumption and demonstrating the capacity to capture the carbon emitted would be a significant development in terms of South Africa's commitment to meet their carbon dioxide target.

Professor Jon Gibbins, a member of SCCS, welcomed the growing South African participation in CCS research:

"Every country will have specific requirements for the CCS plants they deploy, but we all have a tremendous amount to gain by sharing insights and experience in this very important CO2 emission mitigation technology"

Gail Wilson, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland Co-ordinator said:

"The Scottish Government has regularly supported important and innovative projects overseas and this latest focus on renewable energy is very welcome. Scotland is a world leader with its domestic emission reduction targets, and today's announcement demonstrates how knowledge, research and funding from Scotland can make a difference in other countries also seeking to develop green and low carbon futures."

The Scottish Government has strengthened its support for developing countries on climate change over the last two years, focusing on renewable energy development and mitigation. This includes:
  • The Maldives Partnership and the publication of the Scottish Government funded Marine Energy Study
  • International Development funding of 137,638 pounds (over three years) has supported a solar energy project in rural communities in Malawi, run by Strathclyde University.
Commonwealth Games Fellowships funded from Scottish Government carbon levy on travel. The first six fellowships recently visited Scotland and met Mr Stevenson.

International partnerships with the Inter-American Development Bank, the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute and exploring further work on renewable energy with Malawi.

SCCS is the largest carbon storage grouping in the UK comprising in excess of 65 researchers and is unique in its connected strength across the full CCS chain, as well as in its biochar capability. Funding for this visit will come from the Scottish Government's Low Carbon Economy budget. Such a carbon capture programme would complement the South African CCS Centre's existing work on CO2 storage, supported in part by the UK.

4 December 2011

Council Listens To Calls From Local Councillor And MSP As Under-Threat Youth Service Given Reprieve

An under-threat youth service which helps support troubled youngsters has been given a reprieve thanks to lobbying from young people and parents with the support of their MSP and councillors.

Youth workers based at Peterhead’s Barclay Park Pavilion and Peterhead Academy had been threatened with redundancy at the start of the Christmas holidays. Now, thanks to a local campaign, Aberdeenshire Council has responded to local MSP Stewart Stevenson and Peterhead South councillor Stephen Smith saying that the matter will be reviewed and the posts will remain in place until the end of the school year in summer 2012.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I was approached by several parents of young people who had benefitted immensely from the service provided by the youth workers in Peterhead. They were full of praise for the efforts made by the youth workers and it is no exaggeration to say that the lives of the young people involved have been completely turned around by the support they have received from the service.

“It was therefore critical that the service did not fold in the week before Christmas due to financial issues. It would be unfair to the council to say this was a result of cuts because, as far as I am led to believe, the funding was not being cut from the education budget but merely moved to another heading.

“I’m pleased that Aberdeenshire Council has responded positively to calls from the community for a rethink. At the end of the day, a service like this actually save the public purse more money than it costs as a result of lives turned around and people diverted from other activities which may lead them to place a burden on the police and criminal justice service, which was a very strong point made by the young people themselves.”


Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith added:

“I met with young people who use the service and their parents recently and it quickly became clear to me that there is a huge amount of work carried out by the Youth Workers whose positions are under threat which is greatly valued.

“I made the case very strongly to senior education officials at the council that there needed to be a rethink because the potential consequences of not having this kind of youth work going on in the community are likely to be more expensive.

“I’m therefore delighted by the assurance given to me by the Director of Education to extend the funding for this service at least until the 2012 summer holidays and to look at how we might have a more sustainable arrangement in future.”


Peterhead North & Rattray SNP councillor Fiona McRae commented:

“I know there was a lot of concern among parents who had seen the value of this service in helping their children and they feared what the loss of this service might do to future generations, so this is very welcome news.”

1 December 2011

Grampian NHS Dental Registrations Continue To Rise

MSP SAYS ‘SNP IS MAKING GOOD ON IT’S PLEDGE’

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson says ‘The SNP is making good on it’s pledge to tackle the NHS dentistry crisis left by Labour and the Lib-Dems in 2007’.

NHS dentistry was a key plank of the SNP election campaign in 2007 and 4 and a half years on the latest statistics for NHS dental registrations in Grampian show that the number of patients with an NHS dentist has increased from 35.2% in 2007 to 53.5% last year, with over 25,000 additional registrations in Grampian since last year.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The NHS Dentistry service in Grampian was teetering on the brink in 2007 and the SNP pledged that we would tackle the dentistry crisis facing Scotland. That is exactly what we have done.

“Many thousands more people in Grampian are now registered with an NHS dentists, we have supported investment in more dental surgeries and a new dental school in Aberdeen which is making a real difference to the availability of NHS dentists in our region.

“Labour and the Lib-Dems left the dental service in an absolutely shocking state which has taken 4 years of solid support and investment to get it back on track. This was never going to be an easy task and there is still more work to be done but with NHS dental registrations now at a record high in Scotland, greatly improved on the position of 4 years ago I am very pleased with this progress.”

Stevenson Supports International Day Of Disabled People

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has shown his support for International Day of Disabled People, which takes places on 3rd December.

Commenting on the initiative, Mr Stevenson said:

“I hope that the day help increase the understanding of the issues around disabilities and draw attention to the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities as well as increasing the awareness of the gains for everybody if disabled persons are integrated into all aspects of political, social, economic and cultural life and raising money for resources for persons with disabilities.

“We must remember that persons with disabilities around the world make up approximately 10% of the population but sadly, even where disability laws are in place, its effectiveness can be held back by negative attitudes towards disabled persons.

“Persons with disabilities deserve equal rights: social, cultural, and political amongst many other important rights they need to live fairly in society.”

Stevenson Welcomes Extra Funding And Dedicated Minister To Tackle Youth Unemployment

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement that the Scottish Government will create a dedicated Minister with responsibility for tackling the problem of youth unemployment. Announced during a debate in the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday), the Scottish Government will also add an additional £30 million to its ongoing efforts to help young people into work, education, or apprenticeships.

Details of the Ministerial post and how the additional £30 million of funding will be allocated will be outlined by Ministers before Parliament breaks for the Christmas recess.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“I welcome the decision that there will now be a dedicated Minister working on behalf of the unacceptably high proportion of young people who are currently unemployed as a result of the economic problems we face. Nobody should go through school only to find themselves unable to work at the end of it, and face potential problems for the rest of their working life as a result.

“When appointed, the Minister will help to ensure that there is a joined up approach to tackling youth unemployment across the Scottish Government and that is the right way forward if we are to tackle this serious problem.

“The creation of this post will build upon the Scottish Government’s commitment to provide every 16-19 year old who needs it a learning or training position through our Opportunities for All scheme.

“The announcement of extra funding is also good news and will only add to the extensive efforts that are already underway to support young people at this extremely difficult time.”
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