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28 February 2013

MSP Welcomes Funding Award for Surfing Group

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast has today welcomed the news that a local community group are to receive Awards for All Scotland funding, totalling £1844.

The Scottish Surfing Federation will purchase equipment to be use at surfing competitions held throughout the year.

Awards for All Scotland is supported by the Creative Scotland, Sportscotland and the Big Lottery Fund and awards grants of between £500 and £10,000 to projects which promote education, the environment and health in the local community.

Mr. Stevenson has written to congratulate Fraserburgh resident William Watson, Scottish Surfing Federation president, who was successful in the application and is hopeful that this funding will support them, and allow them to develop their activities in the local community.

Commenting, Mr. Stevenson said:

“I am delighted to see local groups, who are centres of activity in our community receiving these funds, which will serve to support them now and provide for their development in the future. Surfing is increasing in popularity and attracts a growing number of people to our coastal communities.

“I would encourage any and all eligible groups in the area to apply to Awards for All and state their case for a grant to help them in continuing their activities, whatever they may be.”

27 February 2013

Stevenson Congratulates Anna Ritchie School on ECO Award

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson visited Anna Ritchie School in Peterhead on Friday to present the school with a Green Flag Award.

Mr Hepburn, Technical Teacher
members of the school ECO Committee
Stewart Stevenson MSP
Green Flag Awards are made by Eco-Schools Scotland and this is the second such award gained by Anna Ritchie School.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“It was a pleasure to visit Anna Ritchie School and meet the pupils from the Eco-Committee.

“I was very interested to hear from the pupils what they have been doing as part of their environmental activities and they are very much to be commended for the range of activities they have undertaken, from litter picking in their community to building bird tables and nesting boxes.

“I think it’s a great initiative for the school to be a part of and I’m delighted that they’ve won another Green Flag Award as a result.”

Head Teacher Mrs Ishbel Cruickshank said:

“I am very proud of the hard work of all those involved in achieving this award. Both the school and the community have benefitted from their efforts. Our pupils particularly enjoy practical activities outdoors.”

Buckie Representatives Welcome New Police Office Opening

Buckie’s elected representatives have welcomed the opening of the new police office in the town, which sees Grampian Police moving from South West Street to Moray House in East Cathcart Street.

Moray MP Angus Robertson said:

“The investment by Grampian Police in new police facilities for Buckie is very welcome and demonstrates a strong commitment to local policing. In Government in Scotland the SNP has worked hard to ensure that frontline police numbers have increased and that the levels remain high. As a result crime is at its lowest level in decades and I know from my own mailbag that there are fewer issues being raised about criminality in our local communities.

“As we move into a new era of policing in Scotland with a single force we are working from a very strong base of dedicated policemen and women and infrastructure investment such as Buckie’s new police office backs up their efforts.”

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Driving down crime and keeping our communities safe is always a top priority of constituents and that requires investment in both frontline policing and in the buildings and equipment required to support that frontline work.

“The new police office in Buckie is great news for both the public who rely on the service and for the police officers who work in the Buckie area. This investment will help to deliver a high standard of policing in Buckie and the surrounding area well into the future and I welcome the opening of this new facility.”

Moray councillor Gordon McDonald added:

“The new police station was sorely needed, as their old facility was no longer fit for purpose for modern-day policing.

“Hopefully the facility can be used not just by the police but for other community activities to encourage the sharing of tight public resources and closer working on cross-agency issues.”

26 February 2013

Labour's Plan to Charge College Students Thousands of Pounds Condemned

FIGURES FROM SOUTH OF THE BORDER LAY BARE SCALE OF COLLEGE TUITION CHARGES

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has highlighted statistics demonstrating the damaging impact that tuition fees have on college students south of the border.

Labours’ failure to back a motion supporting free tuition last week at Holyrood has cemented its position on their determination to re-introduce fees in Scotland. The huge charges faced by further education college students south of the border have been described as one of the most damaging measures imaginable.

According to figures from the Office for Fair Access, the average student fee at Further Education Colleges south of the border in 2013/14 will be an estimated £6,211.

Colleges wishing to charge more than basic level tuition fees must have an Access Agreement approved by the Office for Fair Access. For Further Education Colleges with Access Agreements, the average student fee for a full-time student in 2013/14 is estimated to be £6,489 – up from £6,352 in the current year.

The figures make a mockery of Labour attacking the SNP Government’s commitment to free education, with hundreds of thousands of college students in Scotland currently being supported in their studies by the absence of tuition fees.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson, said:

“Imposing thousands of pounds of debt on college students is one of the most damaging measures imaginable, and can only have the effect of removing opportunity from thousands of young people in Scotland.

“Labour politicians have been very keen to parade themselves as champions of colleges, but if that’s the case why do they want to hit college students with a bill for thousands of pounds in tuition fees?

“Students in Scotland are appalled at Labour’s betrayal of them and no wonder – but although they no longer back free tuition they have not told us what they would introduce.

“It is hard to think of any measure that could do more to undermine the college sector at a single stroke, and a look south of the border makes all too clear what the scale of the damage would be.

“As has been made all too clear again this week, it is only the SNP that is truly committed to the principle of education based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.

“Unlike Labour we recognise the enormous damage that tuition fees do to the prospects of college and university students - and clearly unlike Labour when we promise people not to introduce tuition fees in Scotland we deliver on it.”

15 February 2013

Fishing Industry Innovative Trawls Highlighted by Local MSP

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has tabled a Motion in the Scottish Parliament commending the Scottish fishing industry for their development of novel trawls that reduce discards of white fish, including cod, allowing for more fishing days for those vessels equipped with the new nets.

Working in partnership with the Scottish Government, the new designs of prawn trawl have achieved reductions of over 60% of cod caught when compared to a standard trawl, with one of the designs having the ability to reduce the cod by-catch by 87%. Trials conducted by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation have also shown that the new trawls can achieve a 67% reduction in haddock and 64% fall in whiting, as well as achieving the required reductions in the cod catch.

The initial spur for the development of these trawls was a means of allowing increased fishing days for the fleet. In a deal brokered by the Scottish and UK Governments, boats that use these new nets are able to ‘win’ back extra fishing days.

Commenting afterwards, Mr. Stevenson said

“I am glad to hear that the Scottish fishing industry has taken steps to improve their prawn trawls to catch fewer whitefish. I welcome the advance in the efforts to conserve cod and the associated increase in the number of days the vessels using the new trawls can go to sea.

“This development will have a positive effect on both the green efforts of the Scottish people and the Scottish economy. Industry-driven innovation of this sort is crucial to the future of our nation. I hope the fishing industry continues to innovate and develop better ways of doing business, and that other industries follow their lead in combining conservation and business.”

Text of Motion

Scottish Fishermen Deliver Effective Conservation

That the Parliament commends the Scottish fishing industry on the development of innovative prawn trawls which significantly reduce discards of white fish, especially cod; understands that several new designs of nets have been created; welcomes that the 60% reduction in the number of cod caught will allow vessels using the nets more fishing days under European Union rules; recognizes that one design reduced cod by-catch by 87% and that additional designs continue to be developed.

13 February 2013

Stevenson Welcomes Increased Funding for NHS Grampian

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the 3.3 per cent funding rise for frontline healthcare announced by the Scottish Government, and has applauded their commitment to protecting health spending.

All health boards are to share £9.1 billion in revenue funding in 2013-14, with Grampian receiving £743.8 million in Initial Funding Allocation.

Funding for territorial health boards will increase by a further 3.1 per cent in 2014-15, again a real terms increase. Over £525 million will also be invested in improving NHS buildings and equipment.

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Health Alex Neil MSP said:

“We are committed to protecting spending on health, and this budget reflects a real funding increase for territorial health boards across Scotland.

“Despite a difficult economic climate, we know how important it is that we continue to invest in our NHS – that is why we have protected health spending so we can continue to deliver a first class service to patients across the country.

“It is right that, despite protected budgets, the NHS is as efficient as possible with taxpayer’s money.

“That is why all health boards are making efficiency savings in excess of three per cent, which will be reinvested in frontline services.”

Commenting on the announcement, local MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“This increased investment in the NHS will greatly benefit those served by NHS Grampian, who work tirelessly to improve the health of people in the North-east and beyond, providing high quality services and helping people make healthy choices.

“This also underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to protecting vital services in the face of unprecedented cuts and privatisation from Westminster.”

12 February 2013

Stevenson Welcomes Scottish Government Support for Peterhead Harbour

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement from Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead that Peterhead Port will benefit from Scottish Government support of £¼million towards the cost of recovery works from December’s storms.

The storms, which were caused by an unusual combination of south easterly gales, low pressures and high tides, were described as the worst in decades and caused damage across Scotland.

The funding will be used towards the costs to repair harbours, sea walls, and quaysides to ensure fisheries harbours remained operational.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead, who visited Peterhead Harbour with local MP Eilidh Whiteford in December, said:

“When I, and other Scottish Ministers, visited harbours around Scotland in the aftermath of the recent storms, the extent of the damage which had been caused was clearly evident. However what was also evident was the reaction of those affected and the sense of community spirit on show in the clean up work.

“To do our part, the Scottish Government has been working closely with the local authorities and agencies too assess the full impact and I would like to thanks all those involved for their hard work. This funding will go towards vital walls and piers and ensure the harbours will be repaired as quickly as possible.”

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

“The harbour is the heart of the Peterhead economy and many of the area’s businesses rely on the activity there either directly or indirectly for providing jobs.

“I’m very pleased that the SNP Government is supporting Peterhead Harbour following my colleague Richard Lochhead’s visit here in December to see the damage at first hand.”

The emergency harbour scheme fund is £400,000 per annum. An additional £1 million has been added to ensure enough funding is available following the unprecedented storm damage that occurred in December 2012.

Additional work is continuing in respect of Fraserburgh (Trust) harbour to identify damage and costs.

The emergency harbour scheme takes its powers from the 1955 Fisheries Act and as such is limited to supporting the environs of harbours where fishing activity takes place. In a number of cases insurers are funding the costs of repairs and replacement and the funds is contributing where funding gaps have been identified.

MSP Welcomes Grant to Benevolent Fund

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement of a £50,000 funding award for the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RSABI) by the First Minister.

The First Minister announced the grant of £50,000 to be given to RSABI whilst speaking at a National Farmers Union Scotland event, which celebrates its centenary this year. The grant funding will be administered through the RSABI, a registered Scottish charity which helps to relieve hardship and poverty amongst people who have depended on the land for their livelihoods.

It is expected the funding will help farmers and those working on the land by providing assistance to those individuals who find themselves facing personal difficulties.

Welcoming the award, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution is a well-respected organisation which has a long and proud record of offering assistance to those who make their living from the land when times are hard.

“This funding will allow the charity to go forward and offer help and support to those who find themselves in adverse circumstances and I commend the RSABI for the work it does in assisting those in need.”

Commenting, First Minister Alex Salmond said:

"I am delighted to support Scottish farmers and those who work on the land in Scotland. Recent figures show that Scottish food and drink exports have increased by more than 50 per cent since 2007, to more than £5 billion. I recognise that the most important element in this success is the quality of the product that Scotland is able to market and this quality comes as a direct result of the skill, expertise and commitment of farmers and individuals across Scotland.

"Relying upon the land for your living is no easy task and I know that for some individuals the past year hasn't been easy due to circumstances outwith their control. Therefore I am pleased to announce a grant of £50,000 to be given to RSABI to help those who work on the land who have had to suffer misfortune and hardships over these past few years.

"Agriculture continues to be vital to the health, well-being and prosperity of Scotland and NFUS continues to be crucial to the success of agriculture. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the NFUS on its centenary and for doing a fantastic job in supporting Scottish Farmers."

Dr Maurice Hankey, Chief Executive of the RSABI, said:

"We are absolutely delighted that the Scottish Government recognises the plight faced by many of Scotland's farmers after the atrocious weather they have experienced over the past 12 months. Every day we are speaking to farmers who are facing difficulties, both on the farm and in their households. They are asking if we can help. This funding will enable RSABI to put more financial support into the homes of these farmers to help themselves and their families keep going until better conditions prevail. I would encourage any farmers who feel they are in crisis to get in touch with the charity to find out how we can help."

10 February 2013

MSP Meets with Deveron Care Concern

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson met with members of Deveron Care Concern in Banff on Friday to discuss current issues affecting carers.

Deveron Care Concern is a group of local people campaigning and advocating the improvement of the standard of care for all those in the care system, particularly the elderly.

Speaking after the meeting, Stewart Stevenson commented:

“This was a very useful meeting to hear at first hand from the members of Deveron Care Concern of their views and thoughts on the care sector.

“Carers and the care sector perform a very important role and it is important that voluntary carers and the relatives of those receiving care know where they can turn to for advice and support should they require it. Deveron Care Concern has an excellent facility in Banff Low Street which is well-stocked with information, and I commend it to anyone seeking information or support.”

MSP Marks Broch Disaster Anniversary in Parliament

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has marked the 60th anniversary of the Fraserburgh Lifeboat Disaster by tabling a Motion in Parliament.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Last year saw the RNLI reach a milestone with the 140,000th life saved by lifeboat crews and it so happened that it was the Fraserburgh crew who carried it out.

“2013 sees another, more sombre but no less important, milestone with the 60th anniversary of the 1953 Fraserburgh Lifeboat Disaster where six crew members lost their lives in the service of assisting others.

“It is important that we as a community remember anniversaries such as these as it underscores the huge debt which we owe to the volunteer crews of the RNLI who put to sea in sometimes horrendous conditions to come to the aid of others, risking their own safety and, tragically in this case, their lives in the process.”

6 February 2013

Stevenson Backs Scottish Tourism Week

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has given his backing to Scottish Tourism Week.

Scottish Tourism Week, which runs from 4 March to 13 March, is a focused week of activity aimed to increase awareness of the vital contribution Scottish tourism makes to the Scottish economy. Scottish Tourism Week brings together the private, public and elected sector with a shared positive agenda, to remove barriers and create opportunities together to meet the economic battles that lie ahead.

In 2010, 14.7 million tourists visited Scotland, injecting £4.1 billion into the economy.

Tourism is a pillar of the economy in the North-east, aiding employment in the area. Local attractions such as the Whisky Trail and the Castle Trail play a crucial role in bringing tourism and their attendant economic benefits to Banffshire and Aberdeenshire.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said

“I believe in the cause of Scottish Tourism Week, which is devoted to raising awareness of the critical role tourism plays in the Scottish economy. The tourism industry and events such as the Cornhill Highland Games, Peterhead Scottish Week and the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival provide a substantial boost to the North-east’s economy and it is growing all the time.

“As Scotland’s international profile develops, so does the interest from abroad in visiting our shores, and it is important that we do all we can to encourage this trend.”

For more information please visit http://scottishtourismalliance.co.uk/.

3 February 2013

Local SNP Burns Night Success

Cruden Bay, Hatton & Longhaven and Peterhead SNP branches held their 2013 Burns Supper in the Public Hall, Longhaven.

Dave Thompson MSP, Cllr Richard Thomson
Stewart Stevenson MSP
Eilidh Whiteford MP, and Kevin Lamb

The Burns Supper, which attracted over 60 guests, heard speeches from locals and visitors, including an Immortal Memory by Skye, Badenoch & Lochaber MSP Dave Thompson, a Toast to Scotland by local MP Eilidh Whiteford, with some recitations from Peterhead Burns enthusiast Kevin Lamb.

The haggis was carried in by George Anderson accompanied by piper Daniel Hutchison, with the Address to the Haggis being made by Ellon councillor Richard Thomson.

Musical entertainment was provided by John and Liz Slaven of ‘Ficherin Aboot’.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson, who compered the evening, said:

“This year’s Burns Supper featured fantastic contributions from some very high calibre speakers and some amazing local musical talent, who I would commend to anyone for a good night’s entertainment.

“The turnout was excellent and was a great celebration of the life and work of our national bard, Rabbie Burns. A huge thank you to everyone involved in the organisation of the night and especially to our guest speakers from far and near and those fantastic musicians.”

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

"I was delighted that we had such a great turnout at this year’s event. It was a great night with everyone in a very bouyant mood ahead of the referendum in 2014. The speakers and entertainers were top notch. All round it was a great way to celebrate our national bard.

“Thanks must go to everyone that took part in and helped organise a very enjoyable event."
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