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17 December 2014

Christmas Website Looks to Net over £1K for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

An innovative Christmas website set up by SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson is on track to raise at least £1200 for his Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency.

Mr Stevenson designed and launched the website ourchristmas.fund at the beginning of December as an alternative to sending out Christmas cards to constituents, and using the money saved to donate to local causes.

He said:

“I have been delighted at the response from the local community to ourchristmas.fund and I hope that people continue to donate and come up with ideas for local causes to contribute to, in the lead up to Christmas.

“At ourchristmas.fund visitors can donate to any business, school or group of their choice in the local area. It is up to each individual how much they donate, and they suggest which group should receive money and why. I will match each donation made through the website until I reach £1000.”

All money collected through the website will be distributed in the New Year and accounts will be published at the end of February showing where the donations have gone.

Mr Stevenson added:

“This is a chance for the community to give to a local cause that they think deserves a boost this Christmas, and have it matched by their MSP!”

16 December 2014

Stevenson Welcomes Progress Towards Votes for 16 & 17 Year-Olds

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed further progress towards extending the right to vote for 16 and 17 year-olds following a meeting yesterday between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron.


Mr Stevenson said:

“During the recent Referendum Campaign, we saw a tremendous engagement in the democratic process by young people which contributed towards the very high turnout figures.

“This was very good for democracy and showed that if young people – who are old enough to marry, pay taxes and are subject to the same laws of the land as everyone else – when given the opportunity to vote, grasped that opportunity and used it to express their view as to the kind of future they wanted to see. This progress towards extending the right to vote in time for the next Scottish Parliament elections is therefore very welcome.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has expressed confidence that the powers necessary to allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote will be devolved to Holyrood in time for the next Scottish Parliament elections.

Speaking outside Number 10 Downing Street after her first meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron since she took office, Ms Sturgeon said she believed both Scottish and UK governments would give the matter the required focus to allow the franchise to be extended before the 2016 vote.

The First Minister said the talks had been “constructive and cordial” and that there was a will on behalf of both governments to work together in the interests of the people in Scotland.

But she warned that the early devolution of the necessary powers via a Section 30 order, would offer a significant early test of Westminster’s desire to implement the wider Smith Commission proposals.

The First Minister said:

“The talks with the Prime Minister in Downing Street were constructive and cordial. Clearly David Cameron and I have big political differences and different views on the constitutional future of Scotland, but there was a real appetite on the part of both to find ways of working together in the interests of the people of Scotland.

“Following the meeting, I am confident that we now have the basis of a deal on the necessary devolution of powers to extend the franchise to 16 and 17 year-olds in time for the 2016 election, giving us the opportunity to build on the huge success of the engagement we saw in the referendum.

“But we need to move quickly if this is going to happen. We need to see a Section 30 order that will transfer the legal power to the Scottish Parliament before Westminster breaks up for the General Election to give us the requisite time to enact primary legislation. Following my discussions today, I think that timetable has been accepted and we now need to see a focus by both governments to make it happen.”

The First Minister added:

“The process necessary to transfer the franchise powers is not just important because it will extend the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland. It offers a significant early test of the desire on the part of Westminster to implement the wider proposals contained within the Smith Commission.

“Given the goodwill outlined by both parties during today’s discussions, there is no reason that the focus and desire to take forward this particular change so swiftly should not be extended to the rest of the Commission’s recommendations.”

New Community Justice Arrangements Sees Responsibility Handed to Local Bodies

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has said the new model to improve the way that community justice services are delivered in Scotland will see a further devolution of powers to local level.

The Scottish Government is transferring the planning and delivery of community justice services to locally to the Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership. The changes are intended to make the best use of the £100 million allocated each year to deliver community sentences, support the rehabilitation of offenders, and reduce reoffending.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“While recorded crime is at its lowest level for 40 years, there is still more to be done to reduce reoffending. In HMP Grampian, we have a modern facility where the staff within work day and daily to try to ensure that prisoners do not go on to reoffend once they reach the end of their sentences.

“That is vitally important work because the investment in time and facilities to do that represents just a fraction of the cost to the taxpayer if former prisoners go on to commit crimes once they are released.

“Having a joined-up approach to community justice and preventing reoffending is a logical next step and by having the courts, the police, employment and training services and other agencies all working together with this aim can only serve to make society a safer place.”

Details of the model are outlined in the Government’s response to a consultation published today. The response marks the final milestone before the changes are introduced as part of the Community Justice Bill, with implementation expected in 2016/17.

The key changes under the new model are:
  • Transferring responsibility for the planning and delivery of community justice services from Scotland’s eight Community Justice Authorities (CJAs) to the 32 Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs). This will ensure criminal justice social workers maintain their links with colleagues in local authorities, while developing stronger links with partners in areas like health, housing and welfare to improve how they work together to tackle re-offending.
  • The Scottish Government will develop a national strategy for community justice and reducing reoffending. This will set the national strategic direction for CPPs to plan and deliver services as well as providing the framework against which progress can be assessed and improvement driven.
  • A new national body will be created to provide leadership and strategic direction for community justice in Scotland as well as providing independent assurance to Ministers on the successes of community justice partners in tackling re-offending. This will give community justice the leadership it needs to continue the progress towards tackling crime and making communities safer.
  • The national body will also have the ability to commission services nationally if required. This will enable partners to maximise their resources and make the best possible use of public money.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP said:

“Recorded crime is at its lowest level for 40 years and reconviction rates are also decreasing, which is testament to the work of Scotland’s Community Justice Authorities in reducing re-offending in our communities.

“Nonetheless, if we are to make further progress in this area it is clear that we need to introduce changes, and that is why we have been working closely with key partners and stakeholders to develop this new model for community justice.

“The new model will create a stronger community justice system that will improve collaboration between professionals at a local level to better support offenders and address the root causes of their offending, with leadership from a new national body driving progress.

“This will result in better outcomes for people and communities, and we will continue to draw on the expertise of key stakeholders as we move towards the new arrangements.”

Kenyan Dignatories Take Time Out to Broch Lighthouse Museum

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson MSP and Cllr Charles Buchan welcomed Patrick Wanjiru, an MP from the Kiambu County Assembly in Kenya, along with two officials from the Assembly - David Ngure and Angela Kagunyi - to Fraserburgh at the weekend.

Mr Wanjiru is the leader of the largest party in the Assembly, which is one of 47 devolved legislatures in Kenya.

The visitors were in Scotland owing to a connection that they have with the Starfish Project, which is run by Edwin and Jayne Wiseman. Mr Wanjiru oversees the work of the project in Kenya.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“I was delighted to welcome Patrick, David and Angela to Fraserburgh. They were keen to learn about how Scotland is governed and I was pleased to tell them about this, especially at such an important time in Scotland’s history.”

Cllr Buchan added:

“I was honoured to take part in the meeting at the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, with Partick Wanjiru and Stewart Stevenson MSP. The discussion ranged widely and included Scotland’s political history, constitutional issues, and local Fraserburgh issues. There followed a tour of the Lighthouse, Wine Tower and Museum, conducted by volunteer guide Mike Chandler, which was greatly appreciated.

“Partrick and his team are hosted by Edwin and Jayne Wiseman, of Starfish, who do so much good work for their charity in Africa.”

11 December 2014

Stevenson Delighted at £2k for Fraserburgh Scouts

The 1st Fraserburgh Scout Group has received a £2000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s 2014 Communities Programme just in time for Christmas.

The local Scouts will use the programme’s last tranche of funding to buy camping equipment, so that they can take more people on expeditions.

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

“I am delighted that the 1st Fraserburgh Scouts have received this grant. With only weeks to go until Christmas this is the perfect present, and it will allow even more young people to enjoy Scout expeditions throughout the year. I congratulate the Scouts on their success and commend the Big Lottery Fund’s 2014 Communities Programme on recognising the good work that will now be done with this money.”

Over 150 sports clubs, schools, scout groups and voluntary organisations across Scotland are sharing in the final £260,635 from the Big Lottery Fund’s 2014 Communities programme. Since 2008, £6.4 million has been awarded to 4180 projects that support involvement in sport and physical activity.

Maureen McGinn, chair of Big Lottery Fund Scotland, added:

“2014 Communities was the first dedicated fund to be launched in Scotland aimed at creating a legacy from the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Since November 2008, we have awarded £6.5 million to 4180 groups across Scotland. From developing grassroots sport and physical activity through to encouraging volunteering, this investment has benefited people of all ages and sporting abilities. It’s a legacy we are proud to leave behind and one which will create stronger, healthier and more sustainable communities in every one of Scotland’s local authority areas.”

10 December 2014

Stevenson Welcomes Start of Construction Work on A96

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed the start of work on the A96 bottleneck on the Inveramsay Bridge.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay was in the north-east today (Wednesday) to mark the start of the new £10 million scheme that will bring significant benefits for local road users.

Mr Stevenson said:

“This is an important part of £1 billion of infrastructure investment in the north-east by the Scottish Government. This scheme will hugely benefit road users in the area by reducing congestion and improving journey times.

“Improvements at the Inveramsay Bridge will reduce the likelihood of bridge strikes by realigning the A96 to avoid the low headroom bridge, and improve traffic flow through the area by allowing two-way traffic flow through without the need for the traffic signals currently in place.”

The A96 project at the Inveramsay Bridge is only part of a package of transport improvement work across the north-east.

Mr Mackay added that the Aberdeen bypass scheme will also be delivered earlier than planned, with the completion date now set for winter 2017.
He said:

“This work start at Inveramsay Bridge reflects where we want to take transport infrastructure for the north-east – preparing, procuring and providing improvements to bring the benefits as early as possible.”

The improvement work is expected to be completed in 2016.

Report Says that Living Wage and Council Tax Freeze are 'Saving Lives'

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed a new report highlighting that the introduction of the Living Wage and the council tax freeze may be improving health across Scotland.

The study by researchers at the Scottish Public Health Observatory (PHO) at NHS Health Scotland found that certain regulatory and tax policies could help tackle health inequalities. Dr Gerry McCartney, head of the PHO, said that in some cases “they will save lives”.

Mr Stevenson said:

“This report provides further evidence of the strong influence government policy can have on tackling inequality. Importantly, it finds that many of the measures being taken forward by the SNP in government are likely to have positive results.

“In particular, the report mentions the Living Wage as a policy that is having a positive impact on health. The SNP government introduced the Living Wage in 2011, benefitting thousands of workers covered by Scottish Government pay policy. Since then, the SNP has continued to encourage more businesses to sign up to the Living Wage.

“The report also highlights the negative impact that rising council tax can have on health. Under the SNP, council tax has been frozen since 2007, which will not only save families an average of £1200 by the end of the current Parliamentary term, but according to this report will also have a positive impact on health."

Mr Stevenson added:

“While the Smith Commission proposals will not deliver the powers we need over welfare and job creation, the Scottish Government will continue to do everything we can with the powers we have to tackle inequality and build a fairer Scotland.”

5 December 2014

Stevenson Launches Christmas Website to Benefit Local Groups

As the Christmas season gets into full swing Banffshire and Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has launched his own festive website to spread the gift of giving in his constituency.

The ourchristmas.fund website, is the innovative creation of Mr Stevenson who launched it today (Friday) at 9am. Rather than sending out individual Christmas cards, Mr Stevenson designed his own website to spread Christmas cheer.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Local SNP membership in my constituency now stands at 1300. I decided that I would take the money that it would have cost me to send out cards, and invest it in good causes in the Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency.

“At ourchristmas.fund users can donate to any business, school or group of their choice in the local area. It is up to each individual how much they donate, and they suggest which group should receive money and why. I will match each donation made through the website until I reach £1000.

“This way smaller businesses, schools, or groups will be able to receive an extra gift this Christmas courtesy of their friends, neighbour as well as their local MSP.”

For those who would like a Christmas card from their MSP, a card can be downloaded from Mr Stevenson’s website.

All money collected will be redistributed in the New Year and accounts will be published at the end of February showing where the donations have gone.

4 December 2014

Stevenson Backs Small Business Saturday

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, is supporting the non-commercial campaign Small Business Saturday UK which takes place this Saturday, 6th December.

For the second year in a row, the campaign hopes to have a lasting effect on the local economy by asking people to shop within their own communities. Over £460 million was spent in small enterprises across the UK on Small Business Saturday in 2013, and the campaign is hoping to build on their success this year.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I am very happy to be supporting Small Business Saturday. Small businesses are at the heart of Scotland’s economy and it is vitally important that we back them by shopping local whenever we can.

“The Banffshire and Buchan Coast has a wide variety of smaller enterprises, shops, and entrepreneurs in the retail and food and drink industries. It is an exciting area to shop local, with the added benefit that you are also boosting the local economy.

“The SNP has a strong track record on support for business which is one that the Government is determined to continue to deliver. Despite tough economic times, businesses in Scotland continue to benefit from the most competitive business tax regime in the UK.”

The initiative is supported by The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). Andy Willox, the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, added:

“It doesn’t matter if you’re putting in an order for Christmas dinner, buying a gift for a loved one or meeting a friend for a coffee or beer, we’d love it if Scots supported Small Business Saturday for a second year.

“Independent retailers and other small enterprises often offer goods and services which you can’t find elsewhere. Small Business Saturday offers a real opportunity to connect phenomenal small businesses with locals who perhaps aren’t aware of the great small businesses on their doorstep.”
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