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17 July 2014

£500K Investment in Prostate Cancer Research Welcomed by MSP

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed £500,000 for researchers at Dundee University to fund an innovative five year clinical research project into prostate cancer.

The six-figure sum provided by the Scottish Government, Prostate Cancer UK and The Movember Foundation will enable researchers to look at ways to identify how advanced a tumour is, thus reducing the number of unnecessary biopsies and improve diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in Scotland and Mr Stevenson supports Prostate Cancer UK’s national campaign, ‘Men United v Prostate Cancer’, which uses the language of sport to engage men in the battle against the disease.

He said:

“Each year almost as many men are diagnosed with prostate cancer as women are diagnosed with breast cancer. But research into prostate cancer has suffered from a historic legacy of neglect, leaving tests and treatments trailing decades behind other common cancers - men are dying needlessly due to inadequate methods of testing for the disease.

“I am therefore delighted that the Scottish Government and Prostate Cancer UK, through their partnership with The Movember Foundation, have been able to jointly fund the research, with the work being undertaken at one of Scotland’s top universities. We can, and will, beat prostate cancer – and this announcement is another step towards this ultimate destination.”

Work on the research project will be led by Ghulam Nabi, from the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine. Mr Nabi’s project is to investigate whether MRI and ultrasound scans could be used to reduce the number of biopsies required to confirm a prostate cancer diagnosis, and more easily identify the difference between aggressive and non-aggressive prostate cancers.

Mr Nabi said:

“It is my hope that the work I am able to do with this funding will lead to more streamlined diagnoses, with fewer biopsies and the potential to tell the difference between aggressive and non-aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

“Small studies suggest that using a special type of MRI before a biopsy can help to achieve these aims. This funding allows me and my team to expand these studies into a large trial, with better comparison methods and more rigorous protocols.”

Stevenson Welcomes Lottery Award for Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast is delighted that Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust has received a £2,000 award from the Big Lottery Fund’s 2014 Communities programme.

The charitable Trust plan to buy a double-handed dinghy with the new funds, so that they can grow their membership numbers.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I am very pleased that Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust has been awarded this funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s 2014 Communities programme.

“For many years the experts at the Trust have made dingy sailing accessible to all ages and abilities, and brought out a new passion for some who may never have even sailed before. The North-east has a rich heritage steeped in the sea, and this is one way that locals and visitors alike can experience that.”

The 149 grants totalling £257,977 from the Big Lottery fund’s 2014 Communities programme across Scotland will see all ages of people try out new activities, boost their skills and train to become sporting stars of the future.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn added:

“Whatever age we are, it’s never too late to take up a new physical activity. With the Commonwealth Games just one week away, I am delighted that more people will now have the opportunity to play their own part in the legacy of the Glasgow Games.”

16 July 2014

BA Reveal That Air Passenger Duty to Blame for Axing of Aberdeen Route

The revelation that APD charges are behind the decision by BA to cut the Aberdeen to London City route has been described as “the final wakeup call” for North East politicians.

In today’s Press & Journal (Wednesday), BA Executive Chairman Keith Williams blamed the Westminster Government’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) as a key factor in the decision to axe the route. Keith Williams stated that “air passenger duty has played a significant part in this route failing to reach commercial viability. It would be encouraging if Sir Malcolm Bruce continued the campaign against APD, which has been repeatedly increased by the government he supports.”

Malcolm Bruce has previously campaigned for a cut to Air Passenger Duty, but despite his elevation to Deputy Leader of the LibDems in the House of Commons, the tax remains in place.

Research revealed by the SNP last week showed that before 2007, a family of four going on holiday to Spain would have paid just £20 in APD for the return trip. The same family making the trip today face a surcharge of £52.

For long-distance flights the cost is even more marked. In 2007 a family of four travelling to Florida would have paid £80 in APD for their trip. Today the ‘tourism tax’ would cost them £276.

Scotland’s Future sets out plans to cut APD in Scotland by 50% before moving towards the complete abolition of the charge that discourages airlines from flying to and from Scotland.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“These remarks from Keith Williams are deeply telling as once again Westminster’s Air Passenger Duty has damaged Scotland’s economic interests.

“The Aberdeen to London City route is an important service, but is trying to compete with one hand tied behind its back thanks to the punitive tax applied to such services.

“The fact is that despite repeated opportunities and calls to act, all we have seen from Westminster is Air Passenger Duty rise and rise.

“It is abundantly clear that the only way we will get action on APD is with a Yes vote in September.

“Keith Williams is also right that all North East politicians – including Sir Malcolm Bruce – should recognise how damaging APD is to the economy of this part of Scotland and be actively campaigning for its abolition. This must be the final wakeup call for all North East politicians.

“But the fact that despite his promotion to Deputy Leader, Malcolm Bruce has been unable to make any inroads into cutting APD shows that it is only with a Yes vote that we will see real progress.

“With a Yes vote in September, we can cut APD with a view to abolishing it completely – making major savings for air passengers and supporting jobs across Scotland’s economy.”

14 July 2014

Stevenson Welcomes Rural Connectivity Commission

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast has welcomed the announcement today (Monday) that a Rural Connectivity Commission will be set up after independence to look at improving mobile and broadband coverage, postal services and transport links for rural communities.

Details regarding the Commission have been published in the constitutional paper, ‘Connecting Rural Scotland.’ The proposals are that it will be an expert body, considering how to deliver a better deal for rural communities and businesses, while ensuring clarity for industry and stability for investors.

The paper will also confirm that on independence, the Government will take steps to ensure that all coastal areas of Scotland will receive 100 per cent of the net income from the Crown Estate seabed leasing revenues.

Mr Stevenson said:

“There is huge potential to develop our rural communities and bring them into the 21st century with modern technology. Often those outside urban areas are poorly served by the market and the UK government when it comes to providing these services that are taken for granted by so city dwellers.

“With independence, Scotland will have the powers to regulate these services and remove barriers which are holding rural areas back from reaching their full potential. There are opportunities to change and a Rural Connectivity Commission could take these improvements forward.”

The paper outlines five areas where independence could improve rural connectivity, including improved digital connectivity; fairer parcel and delivery charges and ownership of the Royal Mail; fairer fuel prices and energy bills; better transport links and achieving the potential of rural renewables.

11 July 2014

Stevenson Welcomes Lottery Funding Boost for Local Projects

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a total of £19,000 from the National Lottery’s small grants scheme Awards for All for two groups in his constituency.

Buchanhaven Primary School has received a £10,000 Awards for All grant which they will use to buy stage curtains, audience seating, stage equipment and a loop sound system, so that lunchtime and after school clubs can get involved in performing arts, and so that the school can put on shows for the community.

An Awards for All grant of £9,000 has also been given to Royal Tarlair Golf Club. They plan on using the money to refurbish the club’s existing rundown toilet provision, and install a dedicated disabled access facility in the organisation’s club house.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I am delighted to welcome this funding for these two very worthwhile projects in my constituency. The award for Buchanhaven Primary School will benefit the whole community as it will be able to put on shows and encourage youngsters to get involved in performing.


“This will also be a great summer boost for Royal Tarlair Golf Club as they will be able to improve their facilities and create a more modernised club house for the players.”

Across Scotland, 169 groups are sharing Lottery funding totalling £1,294,236 in this latest tranche of grants. An Awards for All spokesperson added:

“These grants totalling over £1.2 million will benefit over 160 groups across the country. Awards for All proves that the smallest amounts of funding can often make the biggest difference to people’s lives.

“Once again, it’s great to see so many small groups coming forward with the aim of making a difference to their local communities.”

4 July 2014

Battle Against Hospital Infections Being Won as C.Diff Cases Fall to Record Low

Figures showing that the number of C.diff infections acquired by hospital patients has reached the lowest level on record show that the battle against healthcare acquired infections (HAIs) is being won.

In the first quarter of 2014, Clostridium difficile incident fell to 91 cases in patients aged 15-64 and 270 cases in patients over 65 – the lowest numbers for each age group since monitoring began.

Meanwhile cases of MRSA and MSSA in Scotland’s hospitals also fell during the same period to reach the second lowest level since records began.

Since 2007, cases of C.diff in patients over 65 have fallen by 84.8 per cent while the number of MRSA cases has dropped by 87.1 per cent.

Commenting, local MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Preventing healthcare acquired infections has been a priority for the SNP since taking office and these positive figures show the real successes that the NHS is achieving in this area.

“The number of C.diff infections in hospitals has fallen to the lowest level on record while MRSA and MSSA cases are also down.

“That success does not happen by accident and I would pay tribute to the hard working NHS staff across Scotland who have worked so hard to stamp out healthcare acquired infections.

“Of course there can be no room for complacency. No matter how positive these figures are, we want to ensure that further progress is achieved and that there is never a return to the situation we inherited when the SNP first took office in 2007.

“Today’s figures are a demonstration of how far we have come, but it is important that we keep up that momentum and achieve even more in the months and years to come.”

Banffshire Parliamentarians on Queen's Baton Relay

Local Parliamentarians have welcomed the visit of the Queen’s Baton Relay to Banffshire.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Queen’s Baton Relay has been quite a spectacle and reminds us that the Commonwealth Games is all about community and shared spirit.

“The baton has been through dozens of countries before reaching Banffshire and will be through dozens more communities here in Scotland before reaching its destination in Glasgow. It is great to be a part of that epic journey!”

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said:

"The atmosphere generated by the crowds was truly exciting as the baton was carried through with lots of cheers and smiles. It was great to see so many children joining in the celebrations as well as the wider community.

“The Commonwealth Games is a national event and its arrival in Banffshire reminds us that this sporting showcase is for everyone in all parts of the country and people of all ages are being inspired by Scotland hosting such an international event."

Angus Robertson MP said:

“The baton has been transported through Banffshire and Moray by air, sea and land bringing together people from many ages and backgrounds, from local volunteers to sports personalities to schoolchildren and service personnel.

“Glasgow 2014 is set to be a fantastic event and the Baton Relay has brought that excitement to the heart of many communities in Banffshire and Moray.”

MSP on the Case of Missing Forglen Postbox

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson’s recent surgery tour of villages across his constituency took him into almost every nook and cranny of his sprawling constituency.

Stewart Stevenson MSP posts a letter
at Forglen on a previous surgery tour
Some villages remain resolutely the same in the face of the march of time, others expand with new developments or, sadly, lose the local shop or other service. So it was with some concern that the MSP noticed the post box at Forglen had been removed and no trace of it remained.

Stewart explained:

“Forglen has been on my surgery tour schedule since I was elected in 2001 and it’s a beautiful little community.

“My mobile office is always parked up beside the village phone box and the adjacent post box. The phone box has now gone which is perhaps not surprising in this age of mobile telephones, but I was surprised to see the post box had vanished as well. It’s not unusual for post boxes to be relocated, but this one seemed to have gone completely, so I contacted Royal Mail.

“It seems the post box was removed after it was struck by a vehicle – in this case, a Royal Mail collection vehicle. However, the good news for Forglen residents is that new parts for the post box have been ordered and, once repaired, it will be repositioned back in its old location as quickly as possible.”
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