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20 November 2014

Stevenson Highlights Need for Devolved Welfare and Social Policy

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast focused attention on the effects that Welfare Reform has had over the past six years at General Questions today (Thursday) in the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Stevenson asked Minister for Housing and Welfare Margaret Burgess in the event that welfare and social policy is devolved to the Scottish Parliament as it should be under the Vow, how the government would use that to tackle poverty and create a fairer society.

Ms Burgess said:

“Our proposals will focus on equipping the Scottish Parliament with the powers to create more jobs, tackle inequality and protect public services in order to create a wealthier and fairer society."

She added:

“There is a range of analysis on how welfare reform is impacting on people across Scotland, all available on the Scottish Government website. This includes how women and disabled people are being disproportionately affected by the reforms, how the numbers sanctioned has been increasing over time, and food aid provision has grown over time in part because of the impact of sanctions. In the six years up to 2015/16, the reductions in welfare in Scotland amount to around £6 billion.”

Stevenson Welcomes £20k Lottery Funding for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, is delighted at the news that £20,000 has been awarded to King Edward Hall Committee and Fordyce Community Association in his constituency.

An Awards for All grant of £10,000 from Big Lottery Fund will go to the King Edward Hall Committee in Banff. The hall is used by many groups in the local community, and the funding will be used by the committee to refurbish the kitchen.

Fordyce Community Association will also benefit from a £10,000 Awards for All grant and this money will be used to finish refurbishing the village hall by improving the toilet facilities.

Mr Stevenson said:

“My congratulations go to the King Edward Hall Committee and Fordyce Community Association in my constituency, who work tirelessly to serve their community, on being rewarded with such substantial grants from the Big Lottery Fund.

“I am absolutely delighted that their efforts have produced this result and I am sure that the funding granted to them will be put to excellent use, and will enhance what they are able to achieve in the future.”

Awards For All Scotland gives groups a chance to apply for a grant of between £500 and £10,000 for projects that aim to help improve local communities and the lives of people most in need. We will fund a range of projects which involve bringing local people together, helping people learn, improving local spaces and getting people more active.

Across Scotland, 103 community groups are sharing National Lottery funding worth £739,234.

18 November 2014

Stevenson Pays Tribute to First Minister Alex Salmond

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast has paid tribute to First Minister Alex Salmond in a speech today (Tuesday) to mark the end of his time in office.

Mr Stevenson compared the outgoing First Minister to US President John F. Kennedy as a man who was committed to a better future for his country and a “formidable challenger of the status quo”.

He added:

“He's the toughest boss I've ever worked with or for, and the fairest - a team builder. From day one he was a disruptive influence and a potent agent for change.”

Mr Stevenson, who has been a friend of the First Minister for the past 40 years, drew on personal anecdotes gleaned from Mr Salmond growing up in his home town of Linlithgow, his fervour in the lead up to the referendum, and his focus on the importance of people.

Mr Stevenson added:

“If we learn anything from Alex it is that we must listen, perhaps especially to those with views differing from our own, however much we don't want to hear them.”

But he stressed that the move for Mr Salmond was a transition rather than a farewell, wishing him good wishes, thanks and love from his political colleagues.

4 November 2014

Stevenson Supports School Bus Safety Across Scotland

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, led a debate today (Wednesday) on the importance of school bus safety across the country and welcomed plans for a Glasgow pilot on improved school bus signage.

Mr Stevenson paid tribute to the efforts made by Gardenstown resident Ron Beaty who has petitioned the Scottish Government since 2005 regarding this issue, calling him a “ferocious champion of improving safety in our school transport system.”

He added:

“Mr Beaty has done a sterling job in bringing attention to the need for further safety measures to be taken on school buses across the country. Following the tragic accident which left his granddaughter permanently disabled, Mr Beaty has made it his mission to ensure that this kind of incident, and worse, are consigned to history.

“This is not just an issue for the Beaty family and the pain they have suffered. It is not just an issue for the north east of Scotland where we have seen too many accidents involving school students mounting or leaving school buses. It is an issue for all of Scotland, rural and urban.”

“I am further encouraged by the plans for a Glasgow pilot that will see high visibility signs with improved features displayed on school buses. I hope that the pilot provides results that are acted on, and that all that can be done is implemented so that school children across Scotland are made safer.”

Transport Minister Keith Brown announced today that Glasgow City Council will take forward a pilot on improved school bus signage over the next few months. The Scottish Government will provide evaluation support to the council, to build an evidence base assessing the benefits of enhanced school bus signage. The findings will be used to explore how best support implementation by local authorities more widely across Scotland.

The Glasgow pilot will build on the work done by the Aberdeenshire pilot in 2010.

Campaigner Ron Beaty said:

“I have been very unimpressed with Transport Scotland – they have had 10 years to put something in place regarding this, and all they have done is put in recommendations.

“I am hoping this debate will ensure that all pupils across Scotland have the same level of safety. Local council authorities and bus operators need to be held responsible for this.”

MSP Praises Gardenstown Playschool

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has praised the work of Gardenstown Playschool following the publication of a joint Education Scotland and Care Inspectorate inspection report.

Mr Stevenson commented:

The Playschool received seven excellent and two very good ratings.

“The work of the staff at Gardenstown Playschool across the board has been recognised. It is particularly pleasing to note that the children are motivated and that they are making excellent progress with their early language and mathematics.

“The staff working together as a team has also been remarked upon in the report, as well as their positive interactions with the children.

“It must be pleasing for those involved with Gardenstown Playschool that Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate have not made any recommendations or issued any requirements for the Playschool. This is amongst the best education inspection reports that I have seen during my time as an MSP and everyone at Gardenstown Playschool should be proud of the work that they undertake in providing a good quality start in life for its attendees.”

3 November 2014

Welcome for School Bus Safety Debate

A motion tabled by Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is to be debated in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, 4 November. The motion refers to the work undertaken by Gardenstown resident Ron Beaty in relation to school bus safety.

Speaking before the debate, Mr Stevenson commented:

“Ron Beaty has been petitioning the Parliament on this issue since 2005- with this current petition having been lodged in 2009.

“The key driving force behind this work is protecting our young people and I commend Ron Beaty for his work on this issue. I welcome the progress that has been made in terms of making seatbelts compulsory on school buses across Scotland but there is still much to be done.”

“This is about changing the culture surrounding school bus safety. We simply have to stay on the case and find a method by which we can place a duty, if not necessarily a legal requirement, on all our local authorities to do more.

“I look forward to the debate in Parliament on Tuesday.”

The SNP candidate in the Aberdeenshire Council Troup by-election Ross Cassie remarked:

“I am aware of the tremendous work that Ron Beaty has undertaken on this very important issue. He is to be commended for the time and effort that he has put into fighting to improve safety standards on school buses.”

Stevenson Welcomes £2k for Brighter Horizons Limited

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed a £1981 award from Big Lottery Fund’s 2014 Communities programme to Brighter Horizons (Bachlaw) Limited in Banff.

The group will use the funding to offer weekly free football training sessions, as well as mentoring, guidance and information.

Brighter Horizons is a non-profit organisation that supports young people and their families in the Banff Academy catchment area.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I am delighted that this award from the Big Lottery Fund’s 2014 Communities programme has gone to Brighter Horizons. This group works very hard in my constituency with young people and families, and I am very glad that their invaluable efforts are being recognised with much needed funding.”

Bright Horizons provides social, spiritual and recreational opportunities, learning and support through community projects, a global citizenship education programme and fostering service.

Maureen McGinn, Chair of Big Lottery Scotland said:

“As we draw to the end of a truly memorable year, the 2014 Communities awards show how people across Scotland are continuing to reap the benefits of sport and physical exercise. I’m delighted that many of these community groups are helping older people try out new sports and physical activities.”

Moray MSPs and MP Welcome Education Decision


SNP REPRESENTATIVES UNITED AGAINST RURAL SCHOOL CLOSURES

Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, and MP, Angus Robertson, have welcomed the dropping of proposals in Moray Council’s Sustainable Education Review to close rural schools across Moray, including Milne’s High School.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said:

“I pay tribute to the campaigners for in communities across Moray who have put forward very strong arguments for the retention of their schools. I have met with many parents and community representatives in recent weeks and months and I know that my SNP Councillor colleagues in Moray have looked at a significant amount of information from many sources including the community submissions. This decision should now bring stability to those communities whose schools were threatened.

“SNP Councillors have made clear their view that the legislative context would prevent the closure of schools, many of which are performing very well. In Government the SNP has been very clear that we would not support the closure of rural schools unless it was on clear educational grounds and we introduced legislation to that effect.

“Moray’s communities can rest a bit easier knowing that key services in their local area have been protected by the SNP and others standing up for them.”

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson, whose constituency takes in the Buckie and Cullen areas, said:

“I have met with campaigners in the coastal schools around Buckie and they made very good arguments refuting the conclusions of the Council’s consultants. I am delighted that those arguments have been heard and, with the unanimous support of SNP councillors, there will now be no rural school closures anywhere in Moray for the foreseeable future.

“I commend the work of all school campaigners across Moray and of my SNP Councillor colleagues who sought out information to back up the case to support our rural schools and who made a strong and passionate case for their retention in the Council Chamber.”

Angus Robertson MP said:

“This decision is the right result for Moray communities. Schools are a hugely emotive issue because they are at the heart of our communities and that was clearly evident from the huge reaction in Moray against school closures.

“The SNP took a stand against school closures and, as a result, several administration councillors backed them up with the convener, in effect, proposing the motion originally put forward by SNP Councillors.

“The result is protection of our rural schools in Moray and the certainty that the issue of rural school closures will not be opened up again in the near future.”
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