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31 October 2014

Fresh Leadership at NHS Grampian is a Welcome Step for Patients Says Stevenson

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed the change in leadership at NHS Grampian as a way to ensure that the primary focus on patient care is maintained.

Current NHS Education for Scotland Chief Executive Malcolm Wright will take up the post of interim Chief Executive of NHS Grampian following the resignation of outgoing Chief Executive Richard Carey.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Richard Carey has served the NHS for many years and I wish him well with his early retirement.

“The announcement of a change in leadership at NHS Grampian is a welcome step towards resolving some of the tensions that have been allowed to develop within the health board.

“The priority of the NHS must always be the care of patients and I hope that this change in leadership will help to ensure that nothing interferes with that focus."

The NHS Grampian resource budget has increased by over £229 million since the SNP took office, with NHS Grampian’s share of the total territorial health board resource budget rising from 9.1 per cent in 2006/07 to 9.6 per cent in 2015/16.

He added:

“NHS Grampian’s budget has been protected and increased since the SNP took office, with the budget rising by over £229 million in that time - despite a 6.7 per cent real terms cut to Scotland’s resource budget since 2010/11.

“Those resources have helped to deliver progress, but fresh leadership at the health board will help NHS Grampian meet the challenges it faces in the years ahead.

“People in the North East have a right to expect that they are getting the best possible service from NHS Grampian and I am confident that this change in leadership will help to ensure that they get it.”

In 2015/16 NHS Grampian’s resource budget is set to rise by 4.4 per cent to £812.6 million – the largest increase of any health board.

29 October 2014

Stevenson Fights for Moray Schools

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, criticised Conservative proposals to address the attainment gap in Scottish schools today (Wednesday), highlighting the number of schools in Moray that are currently under review.

In a Conservative-led Scottish Parliament debate on Education, Mr Stevenson attacked the Conservative motion being discussed, which promoted “maximum parental choice” and “greater diversity in schools.”

He said:

“In Moray in my constituency, the future of schools in Findochty, Portknockie, Portessie, and Cullen, Rothiemay, Crossroads and Cluny school, and nearby at Portgordon and Newmill are all under review. Milne’s High School in Fochabers is under threat of closure.

“The Tory motion believes in maximum choice – are schools in Moray with good educational attainment being supported by what’s being proposed? No. They are threatened by proposals to close, to merge, to reduce their schools – reducing diversity and reducing choice."

He added:

“No educational case has been made for the changes proposed in Moray – they are not failing schools but those with a good educational record. Nor does the economic case stand any scrutiny.

“As many of these schools are below the 70 pupil level where additional funding trips in, if the schools proposed for closure were to close, Moray would sacrifice a seven figure sum in funding.

“These moves are not justified in diversity, not justified in choice and hardly likely to be justified on economic grounds. Fundamentally there is no indication from the community that they want this change to be made and there was a local march last weekend against some of these proposals.

“Disadvantage comes from economic circumstances – not genetic. Having a situation where children are denied the range of opportunities that they would get in a wealthier environment is not the way forward, and I would ask the Tories to reflect on that.”

The report by Caledonian Economics recommending the proposals for Moray schools will be discussed by local councillors on Monday. SNP councillors plans to oppose the plans for school closures in Moray.

26 October 2014

Plans to Reduce Drink-Driving Limit Welcomed


SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT PLANS WILL MAKE SCOTLAND’S ROADS SAFER

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed new plans to reduce the drink-drive limit on Scotland’s roads in time for Christmas – in a move to make Scotland’s roads safer and bring Scotland into line with much of Europe.

Under plans announced by the Scottish Government, the blood alcohol limit in Scotland would be cut from 80mg per 100ml to 50mg per 100ml which brings Scotland into line other European countries including France, Spain and Germany.

Estimates suggest that around one in ten deaths on roads in Scotland involve drivers who are over the legal alcohol limit.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Drink-driving has been a scourge on Scotland’s roads for too long – leading to completely unnecessary injuries and deaths - devastating families and communities across the country. It is absolutely right that the Scottish Government is to take this decisive action.

“Around one in ten deaths on Scotland’s roads involve drivers who are over the limit – and having even one drink is enough to make you three times as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash.

“That’s why lowering the blood alcohol limit is the right thing to do – making our roads safer, saving lives and preventing more families from having to deal with losing a loved one through drink driving.

“This new limit will send out a clear message that driving after you’ve had a drink is unacceptable – and I hope the rest of the UK follows Scotland’s example on this important issue and comes into line with the rest of Europe.”

Announcing the plans, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

“I have said before that I am determined we do everything we can to make our roads safer and save lives. Drink driving shatters families and communities and we must take action to reduce the risk on our roads.

“The latest estimates show that approximately one in ten deaths on Scottish roads involve drivers who are over the legal limit and research shows that even just one alcoholic drink before driving can make you three times as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash. As a result, 20 families every year have to cope with the loss of a loved one and around 760 people are treated for injuries caused by someone who thought it was acceptable to drink alcohol and get behind the wheel and drive. We cannot let this continue.

“That’s why I have introduced legislation to lower the drink drive limit in Scotland so that, subject to parliamentary approval, new laws will be in place in time for the beginning of the festive period.

“This new limit will bring Scotland into line with most of Europe and send a clear message to drivers who continue to ignore the warnings that there is never an excuse to drink and drive.

“Getting behind the wheel after drinking can have fatal consequences, the advice is simple; if you have had any alcoholic drink whatsoever, don’t drive. No one should be drinking and driving and the new lower limit only reinforces what should already be the case with drivers taking full responsibility and not putting lives at risk.”

The move has been welcomed by road safety campaigners.

Sandy Allan, RoSPA’s Road Safety Manager, Scotland said:

“RoSPA welcomes and strongly supports the Scottish Government’s decision to lower the drink-drive limit in Scotland, which we believe will save lives and prevent injuries on Scotland’s roads. There is a considerable body of research which shows that reducing drink-drive limits is effective in reducing drink-drive deaths and injuries. We would like to see the rest of the UK follow Scotland’s example.”

15 October 2014

MSP Welcomes Crimond School Grant Success

Awards for All Scotland have awarded £10,000 to Crimond Primary School. The grant will fund the installation of new play equipment and safer surfacing for pupils.

The award is one of over 280 grants recently given to community groups across Scotland. Grants ranging from £500 to £10,000 were awarded to projects that help bring communities together.

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast commented:

“It is a pleasure for me to congratulate Crimond School in their award. Local primary schools play a vital role in our children’s development and upbringing. This funding will help provide a safer and more enjoyable environment for them to grow up in.”

An Awards for All spokesman said:

“These grants, totalling more than £2m will benefit over 280 groups across the country and shows the variety of projects that can be funded through Awards for All. We are always surprised at the difference a relatively small amount of money can make in communities across Scotland and wish all of these groups the best of luck for the future.”

14 October 2014

Stevenson Welcomes Further Superfast Broadband Rollout for Buckie & Rothiemay

Almost 7,000 homes and businesses in Moray and Banffshire are set to receive a high-speed broadband connection as part of the Digital Highlands and Islands project which is supported by the Scottish Government.

Led by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, engineers will soon begin installations across Scotland. Locally, Rothiemay, Longmorn, Clochan, and Rothes will receive the technology for the first time. Additional improvements will be made to the existing networks in Buckie, Elgin, Forres, and Keith.

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast said:

“I am pleased to see the continued expansion of high-speed broadband to Banffshire & Buchan Coast and I’m grateful to the Scottish Government for their commitment to this project and the rural areas of my constituency.

“The increased connectivity will help local businesses to thrive and enable further growth as locations receive the technology for the first time. I look forward to seeing the changes as we continue on target for world class connectivity by 2020.”

BT Scotland Director Brendan Dick said:

“The civil engineering project underpinning this new network is not just one of the biggest in Scotland but is among the most complex anywhere in Europe.

“Openreach has been recruiting dozens of extra engineers to help shape Scotland’s future and many of our young apprentices are gaining valuable experience helping to connect up people to fibre in local communities across Scotland.”

12 October 2014

MSP & Councillor Welcome New Road Safety Measures

Local representatives Stewart Stevenson MSP and Fraserburgh & District SNP councillor Charles Buchan have welcomed the installation of vehicle activated chevrons at the bend at Cortes.

Cllr Charles Buchan, local resident Andrew Kellock, Stewart Stevenson MSP
Following an accident in June 2013 which saw a lorry overturn causing serious damage to a local resident’s home, Mr Stevenson was contacted by concerned constituents and subsequently arranged a meeting with Transport Scotland and BEAR Scotland officials to explore how best to improve safety at the bend.

The vehicle activated chevrons were installed by BEAR Scotland on 3 October 2014.

Mr Stevenson remarked:

“Following the terrible accident that took place at Cortes in June 2013, I am pleased that Transport Scotland and BEAR Scotland have listened to the concerns of my constituents.

“This additional warning for drivers will I’m sure help remind them that they should take care and travel at a sensible speed at this bend.”

Cllr Charles Buchan commented:

“I'm pleased that BEAR Scotland has installed these state of the art chevrons, warning traffic of the really dangerous bend at Cortes on the A90 Fraserburgh to Peterhead road.

“They have been some time in coming and some solution to the problem was really needed.

“Let us hope that they make all drivers aware of the peril of taking the corner at more than 30 mph.

“I would like to thank all the residents who attended the meeting at the BanCar Hotel, Stewart Stevenson MSP, and Transport Scotland for instigating this safety measure.”

Stevenson Officially Opens Moray Hearing Centre

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has officially opened Moray Hearing Care in Buckie.


Jo Farquhar, who has worked in the audiology industry for over 35 years, is the director of the practice, and also works as the audiologist.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“I’m delighted to open this excellent facility and wish Jo every success in her venture.

“This hearing centre is very important, not only to Buckie, but also the surrounding area. I’m in the fortunate position of having regular hearing tests through this I’ve witnessed the degrading of my hearing over the years. The facility we have here in Buckie will help people extend their hearing as long as possible and I would urge people to make use of it.”

Mrs Farquhar said:

“If you get a bad leg, say, you can easily see what’s wrong, but that’s not the case with deafness - you can’t just look at someone and see that they’re deaf.

“I firmly believe we should be taking the same care of our hearing as we do of our eyes. People are prepared to have their eyes tested every two years and the same should be true of their hearing.”

MSP Welcomes Launch of SEPA Flood Warning Scheme

Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed SEPA’s launch of its new Floodline flood warning service.

The scheme, which went live earlier this month, will provide free flood warnings to those who register with the programme. The following coastal areas in Banffshire & Buchan Coast will be part of the new Floodline scheme:
  • Rosehearty to Fraserburgh
  • Gardenstown to Pennan
  • Portsoy to Macduff
  • Portgordon to Cullen
Mr Stevenson commented:

“I am aware of the devastating impact that flooding can have on people’s lives. Homes and places of work can be severely affected by flooding. I therefore welcome this initiative by SEPA giving people the opportunity to sign up for warnings of potential flooding.

“People receiving early warning of potential flooding will be better able to prepare themselves for any risks and I would encourage those in the areas covered by the new Floodline warning service to sign up to it.”


People can sign up for the Floodline Scheme by visiting http://floodline.sepa.org.uk/floodingsignup/ or by calling 0845 988 1188.

1 October 2014

Banffshire and Buchan Coast to Lose Out by up to £2,000 from Child Benefit Cap

Labour plans to continue with the Tories’ child benefit cap could cost families in the Banffshire and Buchan Coast as much as £2000 in figures revealed this week.

The move has frustrated local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson who believes that this is an example of why decisions on welfare should be made in Scotland.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Extending the child benefit cap will impact the wellbeing of children and hit ordinary families in the pocket – families with three children will suffer a cumulative loss of over £2,000 by 2016/17. At a time when many families are already struggling to make ends meet, we need to enable our families instead of hinder them.

“The Westminster parties’ race to the right illustrates why Scotland needs full powers over welfare – so we can use our welfare state to support people and as a springboard to a better life.”

New analysis from Scottish Parliament researchers shows that under Labour’s plans to extend the Tory child benefit cap for an additional year, a family with one child will cumulatively lose out on more than £875, a family with two children will lose almost £1,500, and a family with three children will lose over £2,000.

These changes would have a significant effect on families across the Banffshire and Buchan Coast, which is made up of 8075 families with over 13,000 children altogether. With the majority of these children under the age of 10, the outcome of the benefit cap will hinder the wellbeing of the next generation.

Labour’s support for the child benefit cap comes despite the fact that when the Scottish Parliament debated the Tory cuts to child benefit in January 2013, the Labour amendment to the Scottish Government motion would not have removed the line that “cuts to child benefit will directly impact on the wellbeing of children across Scotland”.
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