ShareThis

.

.

30 December 2015

Three-Quarters of New 'Lords a Leaping' from Party to Peerage

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has highlighted new analysis showing that almost three-quarters of peers created since the UK election in May are ‘party insiders’ – including former MPs, Special Advisers or party aides – and has called on Jeremy Corbyn to honour his commitment to not appointing any new peers until the House of Lords is reformed.

picture from wikipedia
Since the General Election 62 new peers have entered the House of Lords, including four new hereditary peers and two bishops. However, by far the biggest group of new peers are retiring, former or deselected MPs and MEPs – 28 of the total. Four former UK Government Special Advisors and a number of Conservative party officials have also been introduced to the House of Lords. In contrast, only four academics and two third sector figures have become peers over the same period.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Supporters of the unelected House of Lords often argue that it allows expert, outside experience to scrutinise legislation – these figures put lie to this myth and show that it is nothing more than a house of cronies.

“The facts speak for themselves – House of Lords appointments are overwhelmingly being used to reward loyal politicians and advisors or as a consolation prize for losing elections. It is beyond belief that this is tolerated in a democratic country.

“The SNP has never, and will never, accept seats in the unelected House of Lords. Prior to his election as Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn backed an SNP call for parties not to appoint new peers until the House of Lords is reformed – he must honour this commitment.

“Ending the absurdity of new Lords ‘a leaping’ from party positions to peerages would be a start – but it’s long past time that the House of Lords was reformed and this whole farce ends for good.”

29 December 2015

Local SNP Stalwart Presented with Life Membership

A long-standing supporter of the Scottish National Party in Buchan has been presented with Honorary Life Membership of the party.

Mr Bob Ritchie of Peterhead was presented with his membership card and a small token from the Party by local MSP Stewart Stevenson. Mr Ritchie, who celebrated his 90th birthday last year, was a founding member of Fraserburgh Branch SNP and is the Honorary President of Peterhead Branch SNP.
Mr Ritchie was also the Election Agent for the SNP at the 1964 General Election – the first time the Scottish National Party contested a Parliamentary election in Buchan.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Bob has been a stalwart of the SNP in Buchan for decades and an inspiration to many activists locally over the years.

“It is fitting that his long service is recognised and I’m delighted to be able to present him with Honorary Life Membership from SNP Headquarters.

“Bob holds a place in history as the first-ever SNP Election Agent in this area when the Party decided to contest the old East Aberdeenshire seat at the 1964 election. Bob tells a story that he narrowly avoided being the candidate at that election because he won the toss of a coin and chose to be the agent!

“At that 1964 election, the SNP got 6% of the vote and 1900 votes. In May this year in Banff & Buchan, Eilidh Whiteford achieved a record 60% of the vote and over 27,000 votes. It is thanks to the hard work and dedication of people like Bob in those early days that the party was able to put down such solid foundations to build on locally.

“But the SNP continues to fight each election as if we faced the same odds we did in 1964. We have to earn each and every vote through working for our communities and never take anyone’s vote for granted.”

28 December 2015

Age Peterhead Benefits from MSP's Christmas Card Fund

A Peterhead charity has benefitted to the tune of £400 from the decision by Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson not to send out Christmas cards.

Mr Stevenson has set aside the money he would have been spending on Christmas cards and postage to benefit local good causes in the constituency. The first of three local organisations to benefit is Age Peterhead.
 (l to r) Anne Stephen, Stewart Stevenson MSP, Joyce Clark (Chair),
Sandra Buchanan (Vice Chair) and George Strachan (Secretary)
Mr Stevenson explained:

“Royal Mail still delivered my close family cards, but with the increase in local SNP membership, my signing arm would be worn out pretty quickly. So I am taking the money it would have cost me to send out these cards and putting it to good causes in Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency.

“The first worthy recipient is Age Peterhead.

“Age Peterhead have a long history in the town, being founded in 1968 and have helped down the years with things like lunch clubs and – in the 1970s – coal distribution to OAPs. Now reformed as Age Peterhead and registered as a charity, the organisation provides information services, help with transport and operates two static caravans at Fochabers which are available to the elderly or infirm at attractive weekly rates for short breaks and respite.

“I am delighted to be able to support Age Peterhead in their good works and wish them well in their efforts in 2016.”

27 December 2015

MSP Welcomes Post Office Service for Rathen

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the launch of a new Post Office service to constituents in Rathen, near Fraserburgh.

The Post Office Home Service has been introduced in response to the closure of the sub-Post Office at Rathen and the unavailability of alternative premises or a new sub-postmaster.

Welcoming this new initiative, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Rathen Post Office closed some time ago and was a much-valued service within the community. Despite the best efforts of the Post Office to find someone to take on the service from a new base, it has not been possible to find someone willing to do so.

“This new service launched by the Post Office is the next best thing and will provide a lifeline service to Rathen, but particularly to those who may be elderly or inform, or who simply don’t have private transport to allow them to travel to their nearest Post Office.

“I am pleased that the Post Office has not taken what would have been a very easy option for them and simply withdraw from Rathen altogether and I commend them for supporting the community in this way.”

The Home Service is designed to provide customers living in small rural communities access to certain Post Office products and services. Customers who register for the Home Service can telephone the neighbouring Post Office Operator to order or request Post Office products and services, including stamps, mails acceptance, travel money and manual bill payments and have these delivered direct to their door during a designated delivery slot.

The Operator of the Turriff Mobile service will provide this Home Service to Rathen.

Customers wishing to use the new service should contact the Postmaster directly to register: The Operator of the Turriff Mobile service, c/o Turriff Post Office, 35 High Street, Turriff, AB53 4EA Telephone: 07767 832348.

26 December 2015

Buckie Pupils Get Parliamentary Recognition For Cinema Initiative

Pupils from Buckie Community High School (BCHS) and the local Regeneration Group have had their efforts to bring cinema back to Buckie recognised in the Scottish Parliament.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has now tabled a Motion in Parliament congratulating the pupils at BCHS on their initiative and the local Regeneration Group who took the matter forward. The Motion has already gained cross-party support from SNP, Labour, Independent, Lib Dem and Conservative MSPs.
Stewart Stevenson with his God-Daughter at the first show
The cinema showings – which started in November - were the culmination of a process started when three Modern Studies pupils at Buckie Community High School wrote to Mr Stevenson lobbying for Buckie to have a cinema once again. The SNP MSP took the matter up with Film Mobile Scotland, a company who bring cinema experiences to those communities without their own cinema, and director, Ian Brown stated he would be extremely interested in bringing this service to Buckie, but required the support of the local community to do so.

Mr Stevenson then involved the Buckie Regeneration Group and local councillors Gordon McDonald and Sonya Warren, along with Buckie Community High School Rector Neil Johnston. As a result, Buckie film-enthusiasts have now been able to see top movies such as The Martian with Matt Damon and the latest James Bond film without having to travel to Elgin or Aberdeen.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This has been a real community effort in action and all those involved in bringing this project to this stage deserve huge thanks, but none more so that the Buckie High pupils who started the whole thing off by writing to me.

“This Motion is a way of recognising the initiative of the pupils and the efforts of the local community to make this happen. It is an excellent example of a community-led initiative responding to the community’s own needs and is a great example to other towns. I’m pleased to have been able to play a small part in helping make this happen.”

22 December 2015

Budget for Scotland Sets Out Alternative to Tory Austerity

Boosts for Health, Policing and Housebuilding

The budget announced by Deputy First Minister John Swinney sets out a clear, Scottish alternative to austerity – protecting and reforming vital public services in challenging circumstances while supporting inclusive growth equip Scotland with the revenues needed to tackle inequality.

As set out by John Swinney today, Scotland’s budget will provide additional funding for key public services like health and education – and will deliver an additional £90 million to build more affordable housing.

Health board spending in Scotland is set for a £500 million increase – meaning total investment in the frontline NHS budget next year of almost £13 billion – which will support significant reform of Scotland’s health service to meet the challenges faced by an older population.

Mr Swinney also made clear that Scotland’s frontline policing resource budget will be protected in real terms for every year of the next Parliament by a re-elected SNP government – providing a boost of £100 million over the period.

In addition, household budgets across Scotland will be shielded from the effects of Tory austerity through the continued Council Tax freeze – the ninth year in a row it has been frozen, saving the average band D household around £1,500.

Commenting, local MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The budget set out by John Swinney is focussed on boosting economic growth and protecting our public services – setting out a clear, Scottish alternative to continued Tory austerity from Westminster.

“Despite unprecedented cuts to Scotland’s budget, the SNP in government is delivering a £500 million boost to our health service to equip it to reform and deal with challenges posed by an aging population – and our frontline policing budget is set to rise by £100 million, helping our hard-working police officers keep our communities safe.

“And the £90 million boost to investment in affordable housing is very welcome as we look to build on the progress made in recent years and deliver 50,000 new affordable homes over the course of the next Parliament.

“That the Deputy First Minister has been able to deliver these boosts to investment in key public services and our housing stock is testament to the Scottish Government’s determination not to simply accept Tory austerity – and to take real action to take a new and better approach.

“Our record in government over the last eight years is one we can be proud to stand on and be confident in taking to the people in May – and today’s Budget sets out a progressive and ambitious plan to boost our economy, protect and reform our public services and choose a Scottish alternative to continued Tory austerity.”

17 December 2015

Stevenson Welcomes High Youth Employment Rates

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, welcomes data showing that Scotland has the third highest youth employment rate in Europe at 54.6%.

On Wednesday Mr Stevenson asked the Minister for Youth and Women's Employment, Annabelle Ewing, what data there is on how Scotland’s youth employment compares to the rest of the European Union.

The Minister responded:

“The latest data from Eurostat show that Scotland, with a rate of 54.6 per cent, had the third-highest youth employment rate across the European Union countries for quarter 2 of 2015. Only the Netherlands, with a rate of 61.3 per cent, and Denmark, with a rate of 55.9 per cent, were ahead of Scotland.”

Mr Stevenson went on to ask the Minister what investment is being made to try and get Scotland’s youth employment figures to number 1 in Europe.

The minister agreed with Mr Stevenson’s desire to get Scotland to number one and went on to explain the various initiatives that Scottish Government is involved in at the moment to try to achieve this:

“We invested £12 million last year and we have invested £16.6 million this year in embedding our developing the young workforce principles and policies. We have also provided more than 25,000 modern apprenticeship starts year on year, and some 101,000 modern apprenticeship opportunities have been delivered in the current parliamentary session. We have ambitions to go further and secure 30,000 modern apprenticeships starts by 2020.

“We are going in the right direction, but we recognise that we have more to do.”

16 December 2015

Redesigning Primary Care for Scotland’s Communities

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, highlighted this week the importance of health care accessibility for people in rural communities.

During Tuesday's Scottish Government debate entitled ‘Redesigning Primary Care for Scotland’s Communities’, Mr Stevenson highlighted the need for more simplicity in the health service, commenting that it can be difficult for people to know who to turn to when they are feeling unwell.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Out-of-hours provision, which has been referred to repeatedly throughout today’s debate, is more complex for the patient. I have only discovered while reading the material for this debate that the phone number for NHS 24 is 111. I did not know that”

Mr Stevenson went on to commend the use of technology by doctors and patients which can help as a first protocol for people who are concerned about their health:

“Technology is helping doctors and patients. Nowadays the health service is asking us all to do some health checks.”

However, Mr Stevenson then highlighted issues with information sharing, which can prevent patients from getting the best care for them:

“Information about people’s health history is not broadly available. Perhaps we should do something very simple: just take all the handwritten notes and scan them in. We are focusing on doing difficult things such as translating them into words and interpreting them, but there are other things that we perhaps ought to do.”

15 December 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Passenger Group's Support for Rail Link

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a report from transport watchdog the Scottish Association for Public Transport (SAPT) on the benefits of a new rail link to Buchan.

SAPT has been involved in public transport issues for over 50 years. Their report concludes:

“The study area from Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Ellon to Aberdeen has poor public transport connectivity, and is particularly isolated from the national rail network compared with other comparable areas in Scotland.

“The high growth in usage of stations at Inverurie (+450% since 2002), Dyce (+239% since 2002), and Laurencekirk (+40% since reopening in 2009) confirms that where train travel is appreciably faster than car travel, the rail service successfully generates a high level of usage and attracts modal shift from car. The Borders Rail Link has decisively confirmed the effectiveness of reintroducing train services where these can offer journey times competitive with or faster than car travel.

“An initial Ellon-Dyce-Aberdeen train service with Park+Ride provision could be co-ordinated with improved bus connections from Peterhead and Fraserburgh to Ellon. As well as giving a fast 28 minute link from Ellon to Aberdeen, this would bring the benefit of seamless travel from the study area to the rest of Scotland and the world. Connections at Dyce would be available to Aberdeen Airport, and the Inverness line via Inverurie. At Aberdeen station seamless cross-platform connections would be available to the south. And in future, the local train service from Ellon could be extended to start at Fraserburgh and/or Peterhead . . .”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“With the opening of the Borders Railway, Peterhead and Fraserburgh are now the towns of over 10,000 residents which are furthest from a rail station.

“A line to a station at Ellon would be a very useful first step to getting Buchan back on track. Park and rail facilities there would benefit both commuters and vacationers.

“As Honorary President of SAPT I have been co-operating with people of all political persuasions and of none to help this important initiative forward.”

Lobbying Bill could leave important information unregistered, says parliamentary committee

The Lobbying (Scotland) Bill in its current form could leave a “great deal” of important information unregistered, says a Holyrood parliamentary committee.

A majority of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointment Committee takes the view that plans to include only face to face communication with Ministers or MSPs in a lobbying register is an artificial distinction, and recommends the Scottish Government reviews the potential impact of including all forms of communication in the Bill.

While the general principles of the Bill are endorsed in the Stage 1 report, the Committee also recommends that the Scottish Government considers bringing forward amendments to broaden the definition of regulated lobbying to include communications with other public officials, as well as Ministers and MSPs.

SPPA Committee Convener, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Committee listened carefully to those giving evidence to the inquiry, and as a result, the majority view is that the Government should consider broadening the coverage of the Bill in key areas.

“The Committee understands that the definition of lobbying was restricted to oral communication in order to focus the scope of information to be captured and to produce a low burden, light touch regime.

“Nevertheless, the majority view is that restricting registration to oral communications is an artificial distinction which could leave a great deal of information unregistered.

“We recommend that the Government reviews the potential impact of altering its definition to include communications of any kind, with a view to establishing what amendments to the Bill might be necessary.”

The Committee’s report also notes concern about the workability of exclusions in the Bill for meetings initiated by MSPs or Ministers. The Committee asks the Government to re-examine the practicality of this and consider removing or replacing at Stage 2 of the Bill.

14 December 2015

Tories in Disarray Over Future of CCS

LORDS ENERGY MINISTER SEEKS TO REVIVE SCHEME TWO WEEKS AFTER IT WAS DITCHED

The SNP is today calling for the UK government to clarify its position on carbon capture and storage (CCS) after Tory Energy Minister Lord Bourne hinted that investment might be back on the table.

click for info: How CCS Works
© Global CCS Institute
Only two weeks after Chancellor George Osborne pulled the plug on developing the significant £1 billion clean energy project at Peterhead, the Conservative peer – a UK Government Minister in the Department of Energy and Climate Change – has revealed he is working on a new plan to develop CCS.

Commenting on the revelations, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Just two weeks ago the Treasury leaked to the stock markets their decision to scrap £1 billion investment for CCS in Peterhead. George Osborne didn’t even have the backbone to announce this latest betrayal of Scotland’s energy in the House of Commons.

“And despite being told that the vital project had been killed off, along with the 600 jobs it would have created in the North East, a Tory minister has this week briefed that he’s dreaming up a new plans to pursue carbon capture technology.

“Why on earth the UK Government is going back to the drawing board when plans for Peterhead had reached such an advanced stage beggars belief.

“We’ve had rank hypocrisy from David Cameron posturing in Paris – extolling Britain’s climate change credentials, while his government is scrapping pioneering green energy technology back here in Scotland.

“Now we learn that an unelected Tory lord is working to revive a scheme that they ditched only two weeks ago. It is total disarray and utter nonsense from David Cameron’s government.”

11 December 2015

CAP Payments

Following a ministerial update on the Common Agricultural Payments (CAPS) Stewart Stevenson SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, asked Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, Richard Lochhead about potential delays to payments.

“The basic and greening payments process has been at the heart of what the cabinet secretary has said today, but farmers also wish to be assured that coupled support for beef and sheep and, indeed, the £60 million for less favoured areas are also on schedule to be paid in a reasonable time.”

The Minister responded explaining that some payments could be delayed in the coming months but that resources were focussed on minimising the effect on any other payments.

Mr Lochhead said:

“Stewart Stevenson is right that we have to recognise the importance of the payments other than the basic payments that will happen in the coming months. Normally, we pay the beef calf scheme in April and the less favoured area support scheme payments go out around March. I have said publicly already that some of those payments could be delayed by a few weeks, because the message that we have had from the industry is that all our efforts and resources should be focused on the basic and greening payments. However, clearly I am keen to minimise any impact on the other payments, given the fragility of some of the sectors involved and the cash-flow issues that they face.”

10 December 2015

Cross-Party Unity Against Damaging UK Government CCS Decision

ONLY TORY MSPs FAIL TO SIGN MOTION SUPPORTING ENERGY INDUSTRY

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has today welcomed cross-party support for his parliamentary motion condemning the UK Government’s decision to cut £1 billion in funding for the carbon capture and storage project in Peterhead – but has expressed disappointment that the Scottish Tories have thus far refused to stand up for the North East and back the motion.

The motion lodged by the Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP last week has now been signed by MSPs from the SNP, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the independent grouping in the Scottish Parliament – leaving the Tories as the only parliamentary group yet to lend their support.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The carbon capture project would have been a major boost for the North East, creating 600 jobs and helping Scotland to become a world leader in clean energy – and I am delighted to see cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament on this important issue.

“It is disappointing that the Tories have thus far not saw fit to sign the motion and stand up for Scotland’s energy industry – that the two Tory MSPs for the North East in particular have failed to do so shows that they are more interested in standing up for the UK Government than in standing up for their constituents.

“The UK Government has swindled Scotland out of £1 billion while posturing as environmentally friendly on the world stage – and people in Scotland won’t be quick to forgive or forget this latest betrayal.

“That’s why it’s so vital that all North East Scotland MSPs stand as one against this decision- and make clear to the UK Government that their lack of support for our energy industry is completely unacceptable. That the Tories are so far refusing to do so only goes to show why they are increasingly a spent force in the North East.”

9 December 2015

Stevenson encourages coastal communities to apply for €107 million funding

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, is encouraging Scottish fishing communities to apply for their share of €107million (£77million) funding.

This scheme comes from the European Structural and Investment Fund, administered by the European Commission and aims to promote “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth across the continent.”

Mr Stevenson commented:

“Fishing is an important part of our Scottish coastal communities and I encourage people in my constituency to apply for their share of this funding

At the moment Scotland isn’t getting its fair share of the European Fisheries Fund (EMFF) so I encourage all Scottish fishing communities to apply and make use of the benefits of this funding, it is important for us to get the best deal we can for Scottish fishermen.”

The programme will open to applications on 18 January and will run until 2020.

Stevenson Raises Forth Replacement Bridge in Parliament

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed the replacement of the Forth Road Bridge which is on schedule and under budget.

Following a ministerial statement on the closing of the Forth Road Bridge, Mr Stevenson asked the transport Minister, Derek McKay:

“Does the minister recall my announcing in June 2007 that there would be a new bridge delivered in 2016? Is it a result of a proper and permanent response then, and effective management now that we are on schedule and £1 billion below the budget that I announced at the time?”

The Transport Minister responded, agreeing that building a replacement bridge has proved to be the most substantial contingency plan:

“I think that it is fair to say that, as well as all the other contingency plans that have been put in place as a result of the bridge closure, the decision that was made to build the replacement crossing is a rather substantial contingency plan. The events have vindicated the Government’s decision to build a replacement Forth crossing, which is being delivered on time and under budget.”

6 December 2015

MSP Urges Cross-Party Support for 'Vital' Energy Project

TORIES SHOULD REVERSE ‘DAMAGING’ DECISION TO CUT FUNDING

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has today called for cross-party support for his motion calling for the UK Government to re-think their decision to cut £1 billion in funding for the carbon capture and storage project in Peterhead.

click here to learn about Carbon Capture
© CCSA 2011—2015
The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP has lodged a motion in Parliament expressing concern at the decision, which could cost up to 600 jobs in the North East – and has called for North East MSPs of all parties to join him in condemning the UK Government’s decision and to stand up for the energy industry in the region.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The carbon capture project would have been a major boost for the North East – creating 600 jobs and helping Scotland to become a world leader in clean energy.

“The UK Government’s decision to abandon the scheme is just the latest example of their complete disregard for our energy industry – and it’s right that North East MSPs from across the parties join in condemning this cut.

“During the referendum, Labour, Tory and Lib Dem politicians lined up to tell us that the only way to guarantee this funding was to vote No – given their broken promises, it’s now vital that they do the right thing and take a stand in condemning this damaging decision by the UK Government.

“The Tory government has swindled Scotland out of £1 billion while posturing as environmentally friendly on the world stage – and people in Scotland won’t be quick to forgive or forget this latest betrayal.

“That’s why it’s so vital that all North East Scotland MSPs stand as one against this decision- and make clear to the UK Government that their lack of support for our energy industry is completely unacceptable.”

MSP Commends Fishermen on Stock Management

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has commended the fishing industry for its approach to stock management during a debate on fisheries in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

Speaking during the debate, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Our fishermen are absolutely to be commended for the way in which they have risen to the challenge of stock management, often in the face of total misunderstandings of science and totally ineffective and uninterpretable regulation.

“Nonetheless, our fishermen have found a way to rebuild an industry. Stocks of cod are at three times their level in the relatively recent past.”

Turning to the issue of consumption, Mr Stevenson continued:

“We have an issue not just in catching fish and the regimes that surround that but in fish consumption levels, which are pretty static. We have not seen much increase in fish consumption, despite the fact that our processing and catching industries continue to grow and become a more valuable component of our economy.

“We have to address that issue. In other debates and other places, we have referred to the UK body Seafish, which we have to keep an eye on.”

MP & MSP Attend Peterhead Lifeboat 150th Anniversary Ceremony

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Banff & Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford attended a ceremony held at Peterhead Harbour to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the lifeboat station.
At the ceremony, Trustee of the RNLI Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence presented Peterhead Lifeboat Station with a vellum to mark the anniversary.

Commenting afterwards, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It was a pleasure and a privilege to be present at the ceremony to give thanks for the many lives saved by the Peterhead Lifeboats over the years, and to pay tribute to the crews both past and present.

“It is important that we as a community remember anniversaries such as these as it underscores the huge debt which we owe to the volunteer crews of the RNLI who put to sea in sometimes horrendous conditions to come to the aid of others, risking their own safety and, quite often, their lives in the process.”

Eilidh Whiteford MP added:

“During the fisheries debate in the House of Commons this week, I began my remarks by expressing my thanks to the men and women who crew our lifeboats in Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Macduff in my constituency. They are volunteers who risk their lives in all weathers to keep others safe.

“What we must all remember is that the RNLI is a charity and therefore is heavily reliant on donations of both time and money in order to carry out its invaluable service. RNLI staff and crew who protect seafarers and those using Scotland’s seas are to be commended for their courage, commitment and dedication and we owe them all a debt of gratitude.”

3 December 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Progress on School Bus safety Petition

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed developments made by the Public Petitions Committee in progressing school bus safety.

The School Bus Safety petition was originally brought to the attention of the Scottish Parliament by Gardenstown resident Ron Beaty following an accident in 2004 when his granddaughter was knocked over by a vehicle getting off a school bus.

Mr Stevenson has previously congratulated Ron Beaty calling him a “ferocious champion of improving safety in our school transport system.” and on Tuesday the Public Petitions Committee members discussed the School Bus Safety petition and agreed to write to the Department for Transport regarding the petition.

Speaking after the committee meeting, Mr Stevenson commented:

“I am delighted that we are making some progress on the School Bus Safety Petition, Mr Beaty has been the driving force behind the petition which continues to put the safety of young people on the radar and I commend Ron on his tireless work.”

The “Evaluation of Glasgow’s School Bus Signage Pilot” final report found that enhanced signage was more visible and noticeable to drivers than the statuary minimum signage and that the addition of flashing lights appeared to have a significant impact on drawing attention to the bus.

Commenting Mr Stevenson said:

“This recent report is very helpful in terms of what Ron has been petitioning for over the last few years, having better signage on School buses is of the utmost importance for the safety of children across Scotland”

Osborne Must Abolish Lords 'Plush Fund'

“NO JUSTIFICATION” FOR PROTECTING FUNDING FOR PEERS

Following the Chancellor’s decision to cut public funding for political parties in the House of Commons, the SNP has called for him to abolish so-called Cranborne money for opposition parties in the House of Lords.

The Chancellor announced in his Autumn Statement that ‘Short Money’ for political parties in the House of Commons would be reduced by 19 per cent. However, he has not announced a similar cut for opposition parties represented in the Lords. Cranborne money is provided to the Labour, LibDem and Crossbench groups in the House of Lords, and is intended to pay for staff and office expenses.

Total funding for opposition parties in the Lords is set to increase to £924,989 this year – an increase of 46 per cent since 2010-11.

Commenting, local MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“People will find extraordinary enough that members of the House of Lords are spending almost £1 million for assistants but for this ‘Plush Fund’ to be protected by George Osborne while imposing austerity cuts on public services.

“Surely if funding to support democratically elected representatives in Parliament will be cut, there can be no justification for protecting spending on unelected and unaccountable peers. The Tories are fond of saying that ‘we are all in this together’ – clearly this does not include their colleagues in ermine robes.

“The SNP has never, and will never, accept seats in the House of Lords or the public money this would come with. We believe that the case for reform of the upper house is unanswerable - the Chancellor should start now and abolish the ‘Plush Fund’.”

2 December 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Restrictions on Promoting Nicotine Vapour Products

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, highlighted this week the serious health implications of using nicotine.

In Tuesday's Scottish Government debate on the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Bill Mr Stevenson spoke about the serious health problems which arise from the misuse of Tobacco and Nicotine.

The Bill was brought forward by Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport on the 4th July 2015 and will introduce measures to limit exposure to smoking and to limit the prevalence of smoking behaviours. It will also require health and social organisation to inform people when they have been harmed as a result of the care or treatment they have received and will introduce criminal offences for ill treatment or wilful neglect.

Speaking in Tuesdays debate Mr Stevenson said:

“The Bill that is before us addresses the advertising and promotion of nicotine vapour products. I welcome restrictions on those products because, although they are certainly known not to carry many of the chemicals that are present in cigarettes and that cause ill health and death, they have nonetheless not yet been shown to be entirely safe to be sold.

“However, if NVPs reduce harm and enable people to move away from the well-known and well-understood problems that are associated with nicotine addiction, that is fair enough and, for the time being, I am prepared to accept them.”

Mr Stevenson finished by highlighting that the dangers of tobacco and nicotine on our health is not new information, he said:

“We have known that tobacco is an evil, poisonous material for 400 years. Why are we still debating the subject now?”

1 December 2015

David Cameron's 'Rank Hypocrisy' on Clean Energy Exposed

PM’S RHETORIC CONTRASTS WITH DECISION TO CUT CCS PROJECT

The UK Government’s ‘rank hypocrisy’ on clean energy has been exposed again today – after David Cameron’s speech on climate change in Paris yesterday contrasted with his decision to cut £1 billion in funding from a vital carbon capture project in Peterhead.

During the Paris climate talks, David Cameron said that instead of making excuses to future generations, “we should be taking action today”. This is despite his government cutting a £1 billion grant which could have created 600 jobs in Peterhead while helping Scotland become a global leader in clean energy technology – which was promised in the 2015 Tory manifesto.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“For David Cameron to try and lecture others on the environment just days after his government’s decision to cut the CCS funding in Peterhead is nothing less than rank hypocrisy – something which we’re getting all too used to from this Tory government.

“The Prime Minister may enjoy posing with world leaders and posturing as environmentally friendly on the international stage – but people in Scotland can see through his empty, vacuous words and will instead judge him on his actions.

“David Cameron says that we should be taking action on climate change today – and he’s right. Unfortunately, the only real action he’s taken in recent times has been to cut a vital clean energy project in the North East of Scotland.

“The Tory decision to cut the vital £1bn carbon capture and storage project won’t just cost 600 jobs in the North East of Scotland – but is a huge missed opportunity to help Scotland become a global leader on green energy technology and is just the latest example of the failure of the UK Government to support Scotland’s energy industry.”

30 November 2015

Tory Posturing on Clean Energy Contrasts with CCS 'Betrayal'

WESTMINSTER PARTIES SHOULD APOLOGISE FOR REFERENDUM CCS THREATS

The UK Government has been accused of rank hypocrisy on green energy, after signing up to a $20 billion fund for clean energy research at the Paris climate talks – just days after cutting a vital £1 billion carbon capture and storage scheme in Scotland.

Just last week, George Osborne announced that he would cut the £1 billion grant which could have created 600 jobs in Peterhead while helping Scotland become a global leader in clean energy technology – despite the funding being promised in the 2015 Tory manifesto.

The Tory decision to pull the funding also stands as another broken promise to people in Scotland during the independence referendum – when Labour, Tory and Lib Dem politicians in the No campaign threatened that the only way to guarantee the funding for the Peterhead project was to vote No.

On February 24th 2014, David Cameron joined his then Energy Secretary Ed Davey, then Scotland Secretary Alistair Carmichael and then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in signing up to an agreement on carbon capture storage at Shell HQ in Aberdeen.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“While it is of course welcome to see the progress made on clean energy at the Paris climate talks – for the UK Government to posture on clean energy on the world stage just days after cutting a £1 billion project here at home is completely outrageous and hypocrisy of the lowest order.

“The decision to cut this vital project won’t just cost 600 jobs in the North East of Scotland – but is a huge missed opportunity to help Scotland become a global leader on green energy technology and is just the latest example of the failure of the UK Government to support Scotland’s energy industry.

“The Tory betrayal on this vital energy project is also deeply embarrassing for Labour – who sought to claim that the only way to protect the funding was for Scotland to vote No last year. Yet again, Labour and the Lib Dems are paying the price for lining up to do the Tories’ dirty work for them during the referendum.

“One after another, the promises made to Scotland by the Westminster parties during the referendum are falling apart – and it’s time for politicians from Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems to apologise for their bogus promise to people in Scotland.
“The Tory government has swindled Scotland out of £1 billion while posturing as environmentally friendly on the world stage – and people in Scotland won’t be quick to forgive or forget this latest betrayal.”

29 November 2015

Energy Expert: CCS Cancellation a "Kick in the Teeth"

PROMINENT INDUSTRY FIGURE JOINS SNP CRITICISM AS PETERHEAD SCHEME SCRAPPED

Leading energy industry expert Dick Winchester has criticised the Tory government after the Chancellor withdrew a £1 billion grant for long-planned Carbon Capture and Storage scheme in Peterhead. The comments from Mr Winchester, a renowned industry voice who served on Scotland’s Energy Advisory Board, reinforces criticism by senior SNP figures in recent days, including Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP and constituency members for Peterhead – Stewart Stevenson MSP and Eilidh Whiteford MP.

The Conservative Party made a manifesto commitment to deliver the £1 billion project ahead of May’s General Election.

The shock announcement in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, was not communicated in advance to the Scottish Government – as confirmed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in response to a parliamentary question from Stewart Stevenson on Thursday. This is in spite of the project being set to create some 600 jobs in the North East of Scotland and having already reached an advanced planning stage by developer Shell.

Commenting on the decision, Dick Winchester said:

“The successful demonstration of large scale carbon capture technology in Scotland could have been the catalyst to the development of a whole new Scottish industrial sector able to export services and hardware into what is a huge global market. In addition, the medium term potential for the Scottish chemical industry to build a product portfolio from recycled CO2 would have been immense.

“The cancellation of the Peterhead project is therefore not just an immediate kick in the teeth but it removes an opportunity to both grow and broaden out the Scottish economy. That’s really unforgiveable.”

Welcoming the intervention, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Dick Winchester has significant experience in the global energy sector and his words chime with those of people in the North East and across Scotland who are rightly angry at the Tory chancellor pulling the plug on this crucial investment.

“George Osborne has swindled Scotland out of £1 billion – a fact that will certainly not be forgotten in a hurry by my constituents.

“At the end of the day, this is a huge opportunity missed to create some 600 jobs in the community and to help Scotland make significant strides towards becoming the global leader in innovative technology to cut carbon emissions.

“The UK government is making a name for itself – for all the wrong reasons – in its treatment of Scotland’s energy sector. This week we saw a sneering Chancellor make light of job losses in the North Sea while he continues to do nothing to incentivise exploration and new development in the industry.

“The bonus billion we were promised for Peterhead was, it seems, just a bogus billion from the Tories. And with mounting criticism from senior industry figures, the Chancellor’s position on Scottish energy is an utter disgrace.”

27 November 2015

MSP Commends YouthLink Initiative

Young people from across Scotland have been delivering a National Call to Action to their local MSPs. In a Holyrood manifesto launch with young people at the heart of it, Scotland’s National Youth Work Agency, YouthLink Scotland has called for further investment in the youth work sector as part of the drive to close the educational attainment gap.

Hundreds of young people from youth work projects and organisations across the country have been meeting their local MSPs and MPs and telling their own stories about the benefit of youth work.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson met with local Sea Scout Kyle Buchan as part of YouthLink’s initiative.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“I commend the work YouthLink are doing in building the process of engagement between young people and their elected representatives across all parties.

“It was a pleasure to meet with Sea Scout Kyle Buchan, who kindly took time out to be part of the YouthLink scheme and meet with myself. The Sea Scouts are a tremendous organisation who do a lot of excellent work with young people, giving them lots of opportunities to do activities and develop skills so I was delighted YouthLink has chosen the Sea Scouts to engage with me.”

Chief Executive of YouthLink Scotland, Jim Sweeney said:

“Our biggest asset is the young people we work with and I am delighted that so many young people have had the opportunity to deliver their own personal youth work story to their local politicians. We need to, each one of us, do all in our power to make sure youth work is valued and properly funded in every local area as youth work really does change lives.”

Closing the Educational Attainment gap is a key political priority, the youth work sector works with around 380,000 young people each week and has a key and valuable contribution to make, by supporting young people to learn and achieve in non-formal spaces and times.

Youth work needs financial investment. The youth work sector is experiencing a decline in core and project funding, and cycles of short term funding make it difficult to plan and sustain local youth work services. YouthLink Scotland members tell us regularly that politicians and other professionals must place more value on youth work.

The National Call to Action containing 14 ‘Asks’ of Scottish Politicians, also calls for a Nationwide Employer Supported Volunteering Scheme, to help boost volunteer numbers.

Over recent years there has been significant investment in the school estate so our young people can learn in 21st century spaces, the youth work sector are asking for a 3 year capital fund, in order to ensure premises and equipment across Scotland are fit for purpose and enhance informal learning.

Stevenson Shows Support for Crohn's & Colitis Awareness Week

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson is supporting international Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week 1-7 December; highlighting the impact of living with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis¹, the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). These are unpredictable diseases that affect more than 300,000² people in the UK and as many as 26,000 people in Scotland - a higher incidence rate than anywhere else in the UK.

National patient charity, Crohn’s and Colitis UK, have joined other international groups to raise the awareness and understanding of these complex, life-long and potentially life-threatening conditions. Living with IBD can have a huge impact on every aspect of a person’s life, with serious physical and mental health implications.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said;

“Helping increase understanding as part of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness week is important to me as there will be hundreds of local people in our community who suffer from these hidden, often misunderstood and dreadful conditions. In this special week it’s particularly vital that we try and reach out to more people who may be feeling isolated or coping badly with their health.”

Living with IBD can be daily struggle, some symptoms of the diseases can be embarrassing and that can lead to people suffering without adequate support or feeling isolated. As part of the Awareness Week, Crohn’s and Colitis UK are asking people to share their 7 days of IBD and other activity through digital and social media to highlight what it is like to live with IBD every day. To find out more about the awareness week and all the activities please visit www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/awarenessweek.

26 November 2015

MSP Raises 'Disgraceful' CCS Decision at FMQs

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT NOT CONSULTED ON TORY DECISION

SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast Stewart Stevenson has raised the ‘disgraceful’ decision by the UK Government to pull a £1 billion grant from a vital new carbon capture and storage development project at First Minister’s Questions today.

In response, the First Minister made clear her opposition to the decision – and noted that the UK Government had not consulted with the Scottish Government on the issue, despite the decision directly affecting Scotland.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“It is deeply concerning that the UK Government has backtracked on this crucial investment at the eleventh hour, especially given the upcoming Paris climate talks. Not only will this decision prevent vital investment in the North East and kill off the prospect of 600 jobs, but it will directly hinder our efforts to cut emissions.

“The fact that the Scottish Government was not consulted on this issue despite the clear and direct impact on Scotland is simply unacceptable – and flies in the face of the ‘respect agenda’ which David Cameron promised when he came to office.

“This UK Government’s track record on Scotland’s energy industry is nothing short of appalling – on Longannet, North Sea exploration, support for onshore wind, delays to offshore wind, George Osborne has taken decisions which are directly contradictory to the Scottish national interest. And this is just the latest decision which demonstrates how little the Tories care about Scotland’s energy sector.

“This is a huge missed opportunity to champion new technologies that will cut carbon emissions at the same time as creating jobs in the North East – and the fact that the Tories have put their obsession with austerity ahead of this vital programme shows that they are simply incapable of representing Scotland’s interests.”

25 November 2015

SNP: Tory Backtrack on CCS Stifling Job Creation and Investment

Following the announcement that the UK Government will scrap its £1 billion commercialisation programme for developing carbon capture, the SNP have described the decision as an “enormous disappointment”.

Commenting, SNP spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change Callum McCaig MP said:

“It is extremely disappointing that the UK Government has scrapped vital support for this innovative project which has the potential to be world-leading when it comes to removing carbon emissions from our energy supplies.

“UK energy strategy is now so reliant on gas-fired generation it is inexplicable that the Tories have now backtracked and decided to withdraw their support for the construction of the world’s first full-scale gas carbon capture and storage project proposed for Peterhead Power station.

“The Tories have dealt another blow to Scottish electricity generation and reneged on a manifesto commitment. George Osborne’s obsession with austerity will only succeed in stifling job creation and investment in this burgeoning sector.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP, whose Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency includes Peterhead, said:

“It is deeply concerning that the UK Government has backtracked on this crucial investment at the eleventh hour, especially given the upcoming Paris climate talks.

“The UK Government’s yo-yoing over whether or not to support this world-leading carbon capture project shows complete disregard for Scotland’s energy sector and will be an enormous disappointment for Peterhead’s local economy.

“The Tories have missed a huge opportunity to champion new technologies that will cut emissions in Scotland and across the UK – and all because they are blinkered by their obsession with austerity.”

Violence Against Women Demeans Men says Stevenson

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, tackled violence against women in a Scottish Parliament debate this week, stating that he wanted a society based on mutual respect and safety for all citizens.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Violence against women does not simply endanger women - it demeans men, who are the primary source of that violence.”

He welcomed Scottish Government action in bringing forward new laws to deal with the issue but acknowledged that gathering evidence of psychological and physical violence was a difficult task for the justice system.

He added:

“The change that will make the greatest difference will come when we find ways to change men’s minds.

“We want to challenge attitudes and beliefs, which is extremely difficult. The psychological phenomenon that is called confirmation bias—the unconscious filtering out of information that is at odds with our established beliefs and learned behaviours—is a substantial barrier to change. If we are to persuade people to change their attitudes and thinking, we need to engage intensively.

“I am an optimist by nature. I think that we might reach the tipping point on the matter in the relatively near future, similar to the one that we reached with drink driving. When I first started drinking, drinking and driving was basically just one of the things that happened—nobody bothered about it that much—but now it is viewed very differently in society. We must get to that position on violence against women.”

20 November 2015

MSP Hails Buckie Cinema Success

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has hailed last weekend’s cinema showing in Buckie as a great success.

The SNP MSP attended the first showing, which was Hotel Transylvania 2 for younger viewers, with his young god-daughter, who judged it a success.
Darcey Roscoe & Stewart Stevenson MSP at the cinema
The cinema showings are the culmination of a process started when three Modern Studies pupils at Buckie Community High School wrote to Mr Stevenson lobbying for Buckie to have a cinema once again. Stewart took the matter up with Film Mobile Scotland, a company who bring cinema experiences to those communities without their own cinema, and Director Ian Brown stated he would be extremely interested in bringing this service to Buckie, but required the support of the local community to do so.

Mr Stevenson then involved the Buckie Regeneration Group and local councillors Gordon McDonald and Sonya Warren, along with Buckie Community High School Rector Neil Johnston, and the result was last weekend’s offering. The cinema will return on 6 December with the new Bond film ‘Spectre’.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I think this can be described as a great success, particularly if the reaction of my young viewing companion is anything to go by. Furry monsters seemed to be a great hit with the youngsters who turned out to see the first film in Buckie for decades.

“Next month, the latest James Bond film comes to Buckie and I’m sure that will prove a hit with all ages.

“This has been a real lesson in what community action can achieve and I’m pleased to have played a small part in making it happen. It’s now up to the people of Buckie to support their local cinema.”

Local MSP Supports Pancreatic Cancer Charities at Parliamentary Event

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson attended a parliamentary reception at Holyrood, hosted by Pancreatic Cancer Scotland and Pancreatic Cancer UK, to help spread the word about the disease during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.
Over 700 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year in Scotland, and only about five per cent of patients in Scotland live for five years or more after diagnosis. Mr Stevenson learned about these dreadful survival rates, and the urgent need for people to be diagnosed earlier, as well as more funding for research and better treatments, at the event. He also had the chance to meet local patients and their families and representatives from Pancreatic Cancer Scotland and Pancreatic Cancer UK, as well as researchers, surgeons, oncologists, and nurses who support people with the disease.

The event also saw Pancreatic Cancer Scotland and Pancreatic Cancer UK celebrate that for the first time, together with the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office, they will co-fund almost £500,000 of pancreatic cancer research in Scotland. The research will aim to improve existing treatments and investigate new ones, with the hope of ultimately allowing thousands of patients to live for longer.

Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate of all the 21 common cancers. One person dies every hour of the disease, and it is predicted that by 2030 pancreatic cancer will overtake breast cancer as the fourth most common cancer killer.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It was a pleasure to attend this event organised by Pancreatic Cancer Scotland and Pancreatic Cancer UK, to learn more about the work of the charities and the support and research they fund. Sadly, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer speaks for itself and it is clear that there is a huge amount of work to be done to change that. There are many people within my constituency who have been touched by pancreatic cancer. We need to do more to improve awareness of the disease to help more people be diagnosed earlier. That’s why I’m supporting Pancreatic Cancer Scotland and Pancreatic Cancer UK during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month this November.”

Dr Ross Carter, founder and trustee of Pancreatic Cancer Scotland said:

“It is fantastic that Stewart Stevenson MSP attended this event. Over 700 people a year in Scotland are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and this number is growing. Raising awareness that can help with earlier diagnosis is extremely important and I am very grateful to Stewart for helping with this.”

Alex Ford, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK said:

“We were delighted to welcome Stewart to this important event at Holyrood and we thank him for his support. We hope he will help us spread the word about the disease in the North-east this Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

“It’s shocking that the number of people in Scotland living for five years after diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is only around five per cent, and that figure has barely improved in the last 40 years. Yet across the nation, we know so little about the disease – that’s why it’s so important that we all find out more about it. I would urge local people to find out more about the disease and its symptoms today.”

The symptoms of pancreatic cancer include tummy pain, weight loss, yellow skin or eyes or itchy skin and oily floating poo.

For more information about Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, visit www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/pcam.

19 November 2015

Stevenson Congratulates Pharmaceutical Award Winners in Macduff

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has congratulated medical workers in Macduff for taking home the silverware at the Scottish Pharmacy Awards 2015.

Ms Sandra Robertson of Lloyds Pharmacy in Macduff and Macduff Medical Practice took the award for Partnership Working at the ceremony earlier this month.

Pharmacy manager Sandra has been running an asthma clinic at the centre for almost eight years. After doing a prescribing course at the medical centre, she researched collaborative working among a range of healthcare professionals before putting it into practice.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I would like to congratulate Pharmacy manager Sandra Robertson and Macduff Medical Practice for their excellent work that has led them to this recognition for working in partnership.

“Medical professionals working together in this way is good for the community and makes for an excellent use of the resources we have available.”

16 November 2015

Stevenson Welcomes First Meeting of National Maths Group

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed the first meeting of a national group designed to raise the profile of maths and numeracy as an essential life skill today (Monday).

The National Profile Raising Group, chaired by Maureen McKenna, Executive Director of Education in Glasgow, brings together a number of people with a wealth of expertise in the fields of industry, academia and science.

Its remit is to identify key factors that create negative attitudes toward maths and numeracy, assess how attitudes can be changed, and work to make this happen.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Maths can be a subject that creates more fear than inspiration in both young and old - but this does not need to be the case. If we can make mathematics relevant to real life, we can make it a matter of enthusiasm for our kids.

“Maths was a subject that I felt drawn to as a youngster, and when I went to Aberdeen University I graduated with an MA in Mathematics, and a more advanced love of numbers. I am delighted that the Education Secretary Angela Constance has stated that there needs to be a greater public enthusiasm for maths – I couldn’t agree more.”

The National Profile Raising group forms part of Making Maths Count, a Government-led programme with the aim of improving maths and numeracy attainment. The group will publish its recommendations before the end of June 2016.

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Angela Constance, announced the establishment of the group earlier this year.

She said:

“I wish the group well as they begin their important work. We need to promote greater enthusiasm for and confidence in maths and numeracy across all society, but particularly amongst young people and their parents. This work can help us rise to the challenge of making maths matter more to Scotland.”

Group chairwoman Maureen McKenna added:

“I had no hesitation in agreeing to chair this group. All my working life I have strived to promote mathematics teaching. As I said when the group was launched, we should be proud to love mathematics, so I am looking forward to chairing the group’s work.”

Another group member Heather Reid, meteorologist and education consultant, said:

“Our society is becoming increasingly underpinned by science, technology and engineering, and it is mathematics that provides the essential framework for life-changing advances in all of these fields. All of us should treasure our mathematical literacy and understand the essential role it plays within our lives.”

13 November 2015

Stevenson Opposes Tories' Anti-Worker Legislation

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has voted to oppose the UK Government’s ‘anti-worker’ Trade Union Bill – and raised questions over Labour’s failure to back the devolution of power over industrial relations to Scotland.

A motion condemning the Trade Union Bill was passed in the Scottish Parliament this week with support from Labour MSPs. This happened despite the fact that Labour MPs at Westminster voted against an SNP amendment to the Scotland Bill, devolving responsibility for industrial relations and workers’ rights to Scotland, and chose to leave them under the control of the Tory government.

The Scottish Government has already asked the UK Government to exclude Scotland from the Trade Union Bill in its entirety – and if they are unwilling to do so if the consent of the Scottish Parliament should be sought before the legislation is imposed on Scotland.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I was proud to cast my vote in the Scottish Parliament to stand against the UK Government’s Trade Union Bill – and I was delighted to see Labour MSPs joining with the SNP in opposing this outrageous attack on workers’ rights.

“The Trade Union Bill is nothing less than an attack on the rights of workers across the UK and hampers the rights of devolved administrations, local authorities and other public bodies to determine their own industrial relations. That’s why it’s so vital that Scotland’s voice is not ignored – and why these plans should require consent from the Scottish Parliament before they can be imposed on workers and unions here.

“The SNP proposed plans to devolve powers over industrial relations which would have allowed the Scottish Parliament to take a new and better approach – supporting the work of our unions rather than attacking them. That Labour would rather leave these powers in David Cameron’s hands giving him carte blanche to undermine unions in Scotland is as bewildering as it is wrong – and local Labour politicians will have to answer to workers across Banffshire and Buchan Coast for their decision.

“Trade Unions play a positive and constructive role in our local economy and our society and Trade Unionists and workers across my constituency can be assured that I will continue to do everything I can to fight this anti-worker legislation every step of the way.”

12 November 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Cinema Back to Buckie

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson will this weekend welcome cinema back to the largest town in Banffshire after an absence of many years.
Buckie Cinema pre-war
© Cinema Treasures LLC 2000-2015.
Film Mobile Scotland will be bringing two screenings to Buckie on Sunday, to be followed early next month with the latest Bond movie Spectre.

The cinema showings are the culmination of a process started when three Modern Studies pupils at Buckie Community High School wrote to Mr Stevenson lobbying for Buckie to have a cinema once again. The SNP MSP took the matter up with Film Mobile Scotland, a company who bring cinema experiences to those communities without their own cinema, and director, Ian Brown stated he would be extremely interested in bringing this service to Buckie, but required the support of the local community to do so.

Mr Stevenson then involved the Buckie Regeneration Group and local councillors Gordon McDonald and Sonya Warren, along with Buckie Community High School Rector Neil Johnston, and the result is Sunday’s two-film offering; Hotel Transylvania 2 for younger viewers at 3.00pm, and The Martian with Matt Damon at 6.00pm.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This has been a real community effort in action and all those involved in bringing this project to this stage deserve huge thanks, but none more so that the Buckie High pupils who started the whole thing off by writing to me.

“I’m looking forward immensely to cinema returning to Buckie and I hope that the town will turn out and support this latest enterprise.”

9 November 2015

Stevenson Highlights Rise of Domestic Abuse in the North East

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has highlighted the significant increase in domestic abuse incidents reported in Aberdeenshire this year.

At the Scottish Parliament last Thursday, Mr Stevenson asked Justice Secretary Michael Matheson what was being done to address the number of domestic abuse incidents in Aberdeenshire - which have gone up by more than 25 per cent - in comparison with a rise of 2.5 per cent across the rest of the country.

Mr Matheson said that the government was working with the third sector to tackle the issue and was investing over £700,000 in north-east services to support the women and children affected.

He added that the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Bill and a planned consultation on the specific offence of domestic abuse would seek to strengthen the law in this area.

But Mr Stevenson added that despite the investment, there was a significant problem regarding the number of domestic abuse convictions – as almost half of incidents reported do not result in anyone being brought to justice.

Mr Matheson said that the Scottish Government were clear that there was no excuse for domestic abuse and that Police Scotland and the Crown Office were also focused on improving the current situation.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I believe there is a lot more work to be done in this area. While I am delighted that more people feel that they can report incidents of domestic abuse - whether they are happening in the present day or are historic - I would like to see the conviction rate rise, so that there is justice for those that suffer in this way.”

3 November 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Increase in Living Wage

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast has welcomed the announcement of an increase in the Living Wage this week, and urged more local businesses to mark Living Wage Week 2015 by signing up as accredited Living Wage employers.

The Living Wage rate, calculated independently by the Living Wage Foundation in partnership with the Poverty Alliance, will increase by 40p to £8.25 per hour.

Already there are 370 firms in Scotland that have become accredited Living Wage employers, and Mr Stevenson has highlighted the benefits to businesses as well as staff in urging more local employers to sign up.

Mr Stevenson said

“Everyone has the right to expect a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work – and so I am delighted to see the increase in the Living Wage which will provide a much-needed boost to the pay-packets of many hard-working people across Banffshire and Buchan Coast.

“Paying the Living Wage isn’t just good for staff - it’s also good for business, with improved productivity, better staff morale and lower absence rates, and the Scottish Government has made excellent progress in promoting fair pay, with 81 per cent of workers in Scotland now receiving at least the Living Wage.

“But there is more work to be done to ensure fair pay for those not yet receiving it – and I’m encouraging all employers in Banffshire and Buchan Coast to consider the benefits of signing up to the Living Wage for their business."

He added:

“The Living Wage is good for workers, good for business and good for Scotland as a whole – and I hope that more employers in my constituency will mark Living Wage week by becoming accredited Living Wage employers and joining the growing numbers of businesses paying their staff a fair wage.”

30 October 2015

"Is a register of lobbying activity in Scotland necessary?" asks Holyrood’s Standards Committee

Members of the public and interested organisations are being asked whether they think a Bill to create a register of lobbying activity in Scotland is necessary and desirable.

The call for views from the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments (SPPA) Committee follows today’s publication of the Lobbying (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill, introduced by the Scottish Government, seeks to increase public transparency of the interactions between lobbyists and elected representatives and Government Ministers. Its overarching objective is “to introduce a measured and proportionate register of lobbying activity”.

The SPPA Committee wants to hear people’s views on whether the Bill is necessary and whether the establishment of a register is desirable.

SPPA Committee Convener, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Scottish Government has already had the benefit of recommendations from our Committee’s inquiry into Lobbying published earlier this year.

“Now that we have the Government’s Bill before us for scrutiny, we are asking members of the public and interested organisations to have their say on whether they think the Bill is actually necessary and a register of lobbying is desirable.”

Mr Stevenson added:

“According to the Bill, registration is only triggered when lobbying is being done in exchange for payment and does not capture lobbying carried out in the course of voluntary work - we want to hear if people agree with this approach.

“The Bill also seeks to strike a balance between capturing information of value and ensuring that access to and participation with the work of Parliament and Government is not discouraged - we want to hear if that balance is likely to be achieved in practice.”

The call for views can be found at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/93126.aspx

29 October 2015

Stevenson Comments on New Police Division

Commenting on the announcement of a new police division to serve North-east Scotland, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast Stewart Stevenson said:

“For me, and for most constituents I speak to, the bottom line is we want our police service to be efficient, effective, and visible.

“Feedback I get from the police suggests they now have access to more and better resources under Police Scotland. We know crime has fallen to its lowest level for 41 years. And in the North-east, we now have a greater level of scrutiny and engagement with community representatives from the police than we did under the previous arrangements.

“It is right that the police service constantly reviews what it can do better, and I’m clear that the priority should be officers on the front line, rather than lines on maps.”

27 October 2015

Local MSP Welcomes Important Air Links Discussions

SNP SEEK TO END 'HERE TODAY - GONE TOMORROW' AIR LINKS

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed important discussions involving the SNP’s Westminster Transport Spokesperson, SNP Ministers and senior managers of Heathrow and Gatwick Airports.

SNP Westminster Transport spokesperson Drew Hendry MP along with Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Keith Brown, and Scottish Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay, held the meetings to stress the importance to Scotland’s economy of continued access to London’s airports.

The issue of London airport slots serving Inverness and Aberdeen flights has been contentious in recent years for airports, local businesses and the wider public.

Commenting, former Transport Minister Mr Stevenson said:

“With MPs soon to consider the publication of the Airport Commission’s long-awaited report on expansion earlier this year the SNP are making it very clear that we want guarantees for the Scottish travelling public and business community that the - 'here today, gone tomorrow' situation over routes between our airports and London are guaranteed and improved .

“We have seen several issues over the years over landing slots at Heathrow and Gatwick being traded at the expense of businesses and the travelling public here in the North-east.

“Whichever hub is supported in the future we need assurances over key routes and slots for airports like Inverness and Aberdeen to help us grow our economy and to attract tourism to our region, as well as opening up better connections for those heading abroad from this corner.”

Stevenson Condemns "Astronomical" New Trident Total While Tax Credit Cuts are Planned

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has described as ‘utterly scandalous’ the latest estimates being reported for Trident replacement, which have dramatically risen to more than £167 billion.

The SNP MSP says that this ‘astronomical’ amount of money cannot be allowed to be spent on nuclear weapons that can never be used, especially when a fraction of the amount would cover the cost of welfare and tax credit changes which are hitting the poor and working families.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is truly an unthinkable and indefensible sum of money to spend on the renewal of an unwanted and unusable nuclear weapons system while thousands of people in the North-east alone are set to lose thousands of pounds every year as a result of tax credit and welfare changes.

“The UK Government is facing a United Nations probe over its cuts to support for disabled people and yet the Government’s own figures reveal that they are prepared to spend an astronomical £167 billion dumping four new Trident submarines on the Clyde.

“Nuclear weapons are obscene and we should be leading the way in disarmament not re-igniting a nuclear arms race.

“To allow the poor and working families in the North-east and across the UK to be pushed to the edges while throwing £167,000,000,000 at weapons of mass destruction is utterly scandalous.

“Not only that, but at a time when Scotland’s conventional defence capabilities have shrunk dramatically with base closures and less than 10,000 personnel it is all the more alarming that there seems to be an endless amounts of money available for abhorrent nuclear weapons.

“This almost incomprehensible amount of money could be used to invest more in conventional forces such as along the coast at Lossiemouth and Kinloss bases and cover the cost of tax credits and welfare and still have change.

“This is about choice and to choose nuclear weapons over people is not a choice that the SNP will ever support.”

21 October 2015

Stevenson Hooks-A-Truck to Clean Up Problem Pavement Parking

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, took on the Hook-A-Truck challenge at the SNP Conference when charity Guide Dogs Scotland demonstrated the daily difficulties faced by people with sight loss.

The charity used a twist on the funfair game ‘Hook-a-Duck’ to highlight the campaign, and Mr Stevenson became the guide when he navigated a rubber duck round a stream of obstacles.

Mr Stevenson supports Guide Dogs Scotland’s campaign on pavement parking, including a proposed law to stop people from parking on pavements anywhere except where the council deems it unavoidable.

Mr Stevenson said:

“There are nearly two million people in the UK who are living with sight loss, and by 2050 there could be nearly four million - so it’s more important than ever that our streets are safe for people who are blind or partially sighted.

“Badly parked cars are putting the lives of pedestrians – in Banffshire and Buchan Coast – and elsewhere at risk every day. These vehicles are forcing people to step out into the road, without being able to clearly see on-coming traffic.”

Guide Dogs Scotland is currently running an online petition for the public to sign in support of the Footway Parking and Double Parking (Scotland) Bill, so local people can play their part in ending problem parking at www.guidedogsscotland.org.uk.

Jane Horsburgh, Policy Manager for Guide Dogs Scotland, added:

“Parking on pavements is blighting our streets. It puts all pedestrians in danger, particularly those living with sight loss.

“It is terrifying for someone who cannot see oncoming traffic to take the risk of stepping out into a road because someone has decided to park on the pavement. We hope this bill will see this dangerous practice outlawed once and for all, and call on all MSPs to back a change in the law."

19 October 2015

Stevenson Welcomes Survey to Improve Cancer Care

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed the first ever national cancer patient experience survey that has been launched by the Scottish Government and Macmillan Cancer Support.

The survey has been sent out to all patients who had a confirmed cancer diagnosis between July 2013 and March 2014 and asks patients how they felt regarding the way they were told about their diagnosis, whether they understood the information provided about their treatment, and whether they had confidence and trust in the staff treating them.

The results of the survey will be publically reported at national and health board level in summer 2016, and they will help to shape the future direction of cancer care in Scotland.
Mr Stevenson said:

“I believe that this is an excellent idea funded by both the Scottish Government and Macmillan Cancer Support - looking at the future of cancer care in Scotland by asking the people that have already experienced what is on offer. The results of this survey will be very interesting and can only go towards creating a more informed service than what we currently have.”

Janice Preston, General Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Scotland, said:

“Macmillan is delighted that the Scottish Government has launched a cancer patient experience survey in Scotland.

“It is the first time such a comprehensive survey of cancer patients’ experiences of care has been conducted in Scotland and Macmillan is delighted to be a partner in this hugely significant initiative. It is vitally important to measure survival rates and cancer waiting times targets, but it is equally important to find out what patients really think about the quality of the care they receive.

“We hope local health boards take the survey’s results into consideration to inform planning for future cancer services to make sure these services meet people’s clinical and non-clinical needs and that they are truly person-centred. Cancer treatment goes beyond surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. We need people-centred care, not just symptom-focussed treatment.”
Name:
  required
Address:
  required
Email:
  required
Tel No.
  optional
Message:
  required

Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP