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21 February 2014

Procurement Reform Bill Opportunity for Jobs & Increased Sustainability

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the Procurement Reform Bill which was debated in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Thursday). The SNP MSP says it could bring more opportunities for small businesses in the North-east and improve the sustainability of products on sale.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I am very encouraged that the Bill’s provisions are likely to lead to improved opportunities for employment, particularly for young people, through the embedding of apprenticeship requirements. I also welcome the need to promote innovation – we want people to be imaginative and to discover innovative new ways of doing things, for the benefit of all those around them.

“As I represent the biggest fishing-dependent constituency, the concept of sustainability is very important to me. I look forward to seeing the bill go through Parliament and hope that it gives more opportunities to small local businesses, and improves the sustainability of the products that we buy.”

18 February 2014

Stevenson Encourages Constituents to get the Best Energy Deal

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast has welcomed efforts by Ofgem to give energy consumers in the North-east more information on how to change their gas and electricity suppliers.

The independent regulatory authority has launched a short animated video to demonstrate how the energy market is changing, and how people can get the most for their money. On their website, they also offer advice on choosing a supplier, and comparing tariffs.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“Ofgem are leading the way in making information more readily accessible for those in the North-east.

Getting a better deal on your energy doesn’t need to be a daunting task, and anyone can access information that will help them make an informed choice.”

For more information and to watch the Ofgem video

North-East Farmers Will Benefit with Independence

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed comments from the Scottish Government’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP, highlighting how farmers across the country will benefit with independence.

As part of his annual speech to the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) Richard Lochhead highlighted the benefit the farming community will receive from being represented at the top table of EU discussions. Currently, the farming industry in Scotland is represented by ministers of the Tory/LibDem Government in London with ministers from Scotland shut out of meetings.

The Rural Affairs Secretary also highlighted how the UK Government has negotiated Scotland to the very bottom of the Common Agricultural Policy funding tables – with Scotland languishing in league tables for both direct farm payments and rural development funding, which also provides essential support for farmers.

Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“Only with independence will we move from the bottom of the funding tables to a seat at the top negotiating table – enabling us to get the best possible deal for Scottish farming and Scotland’s rural communities alike.

“Instead of having UK Ministers negotiate on Scotland’s behalf – UK Ministers who want to eventually see an end to direct farm payments - Scotland can negotiate on her own behalf at the crucial EU negotiations that affect our vital farming industry and the wider Scottish economy.”

Welcoming the comments Stewart Stevenson said:

“Scotland’s farming industry has long suffered due to the actions of all Westminster governments who systematically fail to represent Scottish agricultural interests.

“Had Scotland been independent during last year’s CAP negotiations, our farmers would be benefitting from an extra €1 billion in support between now and 2020.

“Farmers in Banffshire & Buchan Coast and all across Scotland need not put up with this second class status any longer. Following a Yes vote in September we can look forward to no less than full parity with our neighbours across Europe at the next EU CAP negotiations, which start in 2017.”

Buckie First in Scotland to Benefit from Superfast Broadband Rollout

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today announced that the first cabinet bringing next generation broadband services to rural Scotland is now live in the Banffshire town of Buckie.

The announcement signals the start of the most challenging next generation broadband project to be undertaken anywhere in the UK. The new fibre backbone will extend to remote communities across Scotland and will provide a platform for future economic development and regeneration across the region.

Around 400 premises in Buckie can now order fibre services and this figure will increase to more than 5,300 as BT engineers complete the local upgrade in the weeks ahead. Additional locations across Scotland will follow, with broadband infrastructure installed and upgraded across the country. In the Highlands and Islands this will include Moray and around Inverness which are due to go live by April.

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

“I’m delighted that Buckie is the first area in the whole of Scotland to benefit from this investment in broadband.

“Having access to fast broadband connections is something that is ever more vital for both businesses and families, so I am pleased that people in the Buckie area are now able to benefit from improved connection speeds.

“Investing in broadband is critical to encouraging economic growth which is why Scottish Government has set out a strategy to deliver world-class digital infrastructure for Scotland by 2020. It is fantastic that people in Buckie will now benefit from the latest step towards that target and I look forward to other parts of Banffshire & Buchan Coast enjoying similar upgrades in the future.”

For the Scottish Government, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“Today marks an important milestone for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband partnership and for the people of Buckie who are the first in Scotland to benefit from this service.

“It’s fantastic news that local households and businesses will now see the benefits of high quality digital connectivity.

“The scale of the challenge of delivering fibre broadband into rural Scotland outstrips any other part of the UK.

“This is one of the most ambitious broadband infrastructure projects ever to have been undertaken and will see 95% of premises in Scotland covered by 2017/18.

“This is an important step towards ensuring that Scotland has world-class digital connectivity by 2020. Our investment, and that of our partners in the project, will extend access to superfast broadband across Scotland. This will be a key factor in ensuring Scotland’s long-term economic prosperity.”

14 February 2014

Stevenson Calls for Nominations for Local Football Heroes

Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has called on constituents to nominate their local footballing heroes, as part of the Scottish FA Community Awards 2014.

The awards recognise volunteers and clubs who have made a difference to grassroots football in their local community. Nominations for the regional awards close on 26 May 2014 and those for the national awards close on 22 June 2014.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“Those involved in grassroots football commit a great deal of their time not for the awards or financial rewards but in order to ensure that children and adults alike have fun and are able to develop their football skills.

“Standing at the side of a football pitch on a dark, wet evening will not appeal to many people but that is what many people are doing right across Banffshire & Buchan Coast.

“Those that go the extra mile to help ensure our youngsters enjoy their free time whilst pursuing a healthy activity should be applauded, and I would urge anyone who has someone in mind for an award to nominate them.”

Awards are available in the following categories:

  • Volunteer of the Year in Youth Football
  • Volunteer of the Year in School Football
  • Volunteer of the Year in Adult Football
  • Volunteer of the Year in Disability Football
  • Volunteer of the Year in Girls’/Womens’ Football
  • Best Professional Club in the Community
  • Community Football Club of the Year
  • McDonald’s Community Champion of the Year
  • Coach of the Year
  • Merit Award for Services to Football (People’s Award)

Nominations can be made at: www.mcdonalds.co.uk/awards

Stevenson Welcomes £60,000 Cash Injection for Moray Enterprises

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast has welcomed grants totalling £60,000 for Moray, from the Enterprise Ready Fund.

A total of £2.3 million in grants has been awarded to 67 enterprising third sector organisations across Scotland, including £48,000 to ‘Wild Things!’ in Moray, and £12,000 to Bodysurf Scotland, also in Moray.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I would like to congratulate ‘Wild Things!’ and Bodysurf Scotland on their successful applications to the Enterprise Ready Fund.

“This fund was put in place to support a sustainable and enterprising voluntary sector, and these groups have demonstrated a flair for inspiring the community around them, and making local life that little bit more interesting.”

‘Wild things!’ is a Scottish Environmental Education Charity based on the Moray Firth, offering a variety of wilderness and nature experiences for all ages and abilities. Bodysurf Scotland organises local writing, dance and art workshops and festivals.

The Enterprise Ready Fund will distribute £6 million from 2013 to 2015 to help maintain, develop and grow enterprising third sector organisations.

For more information go to http://www.foundationscotland.org.uk/grants-and-funding-for-organisations/what-grants-are-available/enterprise-ready-fund.aspx

11 February 2014

NHS Grampian Funding Boost Welcomed by Stevenson

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed the recent announcement that NHS Grampian will receive £773.3 million from the Scottish Government in 2014/15, which represents a four per cent increase in funding for the next financial year.

In total, Scotland’s 14 regional health boards will benefit from a £248 million increase in funds for 2014/15, which equates to a 3.1 per cent boost.

Mr Stevenson said:

“This funding boost to one of our most valued institutions demonstrates how highly the NHS is valued by the Scottish Government.

“The work that the NHS does to look after the health of people in Scotland is critically important, and it is vital that it is resourced as well as it can be.

“This is a significant cash boost in real terms – it is above inflation and demonstrates a commitment to the incredible work of the NHS in coming months.”

The figures show that between 2007 when the SNP took office and 2015/16, an extra £2.1 billion will have been invested in NHS Scotland’s resource budget.

Residents Raise Speeding Concerns with MSP

Peterhead residents have raised concerns about speeding traffic in a residential street with Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson.

Residents in the town’s Matthew Drive have complained of vehicles travelling at excessive speeds along the residential road which leads to nearby Clerkhill School. Following an approach by the MSP to Aberdeenshire Council, a speed survey is to be carried out on the road to determine the extent of the problem.

Commenting, local MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Following concerns raised with me regarding the speed of traffic travelling on Matthew Drive, I raised the matter with Aberdeenshire Council and requested that a speed survey be carried out in light of this.

“The council have responded positively to my request and advise that following analysis of the results, they will give consideration as to what further measures may be required.”
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