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30 July 2016

'DEFRA Secretary Needs Better Understanding of Scottish Farming' - MSP

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has said that the new Secretary of State at DEFRA, defeated Tory leadership challenger Andrea Leadsom, needs a better understanding of Scottish farming.

The MSP was speaking on the eve of Turriff Show, Scotland’s biggest two-day agricultural show following revelations in the farming press that Mrs Leadsom had previously been in charge of the Conservative ‘Fresh Start’ group, which called for a restriction in the size of the EU farm budget and had herself said publicly that such state support should be shaken up or abolished, something she again called for during her recent leadership bid.

Mrs Leadsom is also on record suggesting that those with “big fields do the sheep, and those with the hill farms do the butterflies”.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Based on this evidence, I have real concerns how Andrea Leadsom – not to mention her Junior Minister, George Eustice, also a backer of the Tory ‘Fresh Start’ group – will stand up for Scottish farming.

“We’re in the very fortunate position in Scotland of having Fergus Ewing as our Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary, who has hit the ground running since his appointment in May, and who undoubtedly has a better understanding of the needs of Scottish farming.

“However, we know that when it comes to European matters, the UK Government has a track record of leaving Scottish representatives outside the door, even if their knowledge and expertise on the subject exceeds that of the UK Minister. It is therefore imperative that Andrea Leadsom gains a better understanding of Scottish farming issues in general and, it would seem, hill sheep farming in particular.”

29 July 2016

MP & MSP Comment on Ambulance Service Article

Commenting on press reports regarding ambulance response times in the North-east, Banff & Buchan MP, Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“My colleague, Stewart Stevenson MSP, and I have been in ongoing communication with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS Grampian over the past two years following concerns which were expressed at that time. Meetings have taken place with the Chief Executives of both organisations, senior regional management and front-line emergency personnel, with a view to meeting those challenges.

“It became clear that the Ambulance Service had been experiencing difficulty retaining skilled personnel, and this was a particular concern in the North east, where there were more highly-paid opportunities arising within the Oil & Gas industry. As a result of those meetings, a recruitment initiative was launched to bring the ambulance stations in North Aberdeenshire up to a full staff complement, which has already seen a number of recruits undertake training at Glasgow Caledonian University and more applicants have come forward. The downturn in the Oil & Gas sector has also seen the welcome return of some skilled personnel to the public sector.

“An additional ambulance and supporting paramedic team has since been deployed at Peterhead Ambulance Station, and a pilot scheme for dealing with emergency out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases was launched in Turriff in partnership with Scottish Fire & Rescue Services. That exercise met with considerable success, and is to be rolled out to other areas.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP
added:

“Following discussions with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, a commitment has recently been made that 1,000 new paramedics will be trained to work in the Scottish Ambulance Service over the next five years. The Scottish Government is investing £5 million in 2016/17 to deliver 200 new paramedics who will begin training this year. These new paramedics will be recruited by up-skilling the existing ambulance technician workforce, and their places are being backfilled by the recruitment and training of 200 new technicians.

“Dr. Whiteford and I fully expect that such decisive action will continue to bring about substantial improvements to the performance of the Scottish Ambulance Service over the coming months, and commend the emergency crews for their hard work and unwavering commitment to public safety.”

Stevenson Welcomes Court Ruling as Legal Bid to Scrap Named Person Scheme Fails

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the ruling from the Supreme Court that the principle of providing a named person for every child does not breach human rights and is compatible with EU law.

The Children and Young People Act 2014 was passed with cross-party support and not a single vote against, by 103 votes to zero, in the Scottish Parliament. The policy was also supported by a majority of MSPs across parties during a parliamentary vote in June.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The publication of the Supreme Court’s judgement is welcome as is the fact that the attempt to scrap the named person service has failed.

“The Supreme Court has stated that the aim of the legislation, in promoting and safeguarding the wellbeing of children and young people, is ‘unquestionably legitimate and benign’. It makes clear that the principle of providing a named person to support children and families does not breach human rights.

“The court has also ruled that greater clarity is required on the basis on which health visitors, teachers and other professionals supporting families will share and receive information in their named person role. The Scottish Government have indicated they will take immediate steps in this regard so from the point of view that this will add clarity to the scheme, this too is to be welcomed.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has pledged to work with key public services and children’s charities to ensure the successful roll-out of the ‘Named Person’ service for every child.

He said:

“Ministers remain absolutely committed to the named person policy, developed over several years in consultation with a wide range of individuals and organisations working across Scotland to support children and families. We will work closely with local authorities, health boards and other key public service partners to ensure that those performing the role have the support and guidance they need ahead of implementation.”

28 July 2016

Stevenson Welcomes Funding for Peterhead Sea Cadets

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the grant award from Awards for All Scotland towards new sailing equipment.

Peterhead Sea Cadets Unit 269 TS Caledonia have secured £10,000 and will use the funding towards purchasing five new sailing dinghies and trolleys to transport them. Peterhead Sea Cadets Unit 269 is a group that works with young people, engaging them in a range of boating and skill development activities.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said,

“I welcome the £10,000 award from Awards for All Scotland to Peterhead Sea Cadets for their new sailing equipment. This is an exciting boost for young people in Aberdeenshire and a great opportunity for them to go out and enjoy sailing.

“Awards for All Scotland is an excellent programme that gives groups across our country the opportunity to apply for grants of between £500 and £10,000 for various projects.

“These projects bring communities together, improve local space and help communities become more active. This funding will allow young people to be active while taking part in exciting new experiences. I congratulate Peterhead Cadets Unit 269 TS Caledonia and hope they enjoy their new sailing dinghies.”

25 July 2016

Stevenson Announces Annual Surgery Tour

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has announced details of his forthcoming surgery tour of local communities which commences on Wednesday 10 August.

During the course of the tour, Mr Stevenson will also carry out his 1,000th surgery, which will take place in the village of Fordyce, confirming his position as one of the most accessible MSPs in the country.

This year will be the sixteenth such tour that Mr Stevenson has undertaken, covering 37 communities from Rothiemay in the far west to Boddam at the south-eastern end of the constituency and inland to Aberchirder, New Byth and Memsie.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

"The annual surgery tour with my mobile office is always extremely enjoyable and I think also that people appreciate having their MSP come to their own community rather than having to go to one of my 'static' surgeries in a nearby town or village.

“I’m also very pleased to be reaching a major milestone during this tour in holding my 1,000th surgery since becoming an MSP.

"Even in this age of electronic communications, people still value being able to have face-to-face contact with their elected representatives, which is important. It also gets me into some of our smaller communities which I may otherwise not have reason to visit during the course of a year, although to be fair, there aren’t that many places that I don’t pop up in quite regularly.”



Details of the tour are as follows:

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson will be available for consultation in his Mobile Office at the following locations:

Wednesday 10 August

Arr. Dep.
09.45 – 10.00 GARDENSTOWN – adj. Spar shop
10.15 – 10.30 NEW ABERDOUR - car park
10.45 – 11.10 ROSEHEARTY – The Square
11.20 – 11.35 SANDHAVEN – St Magnus Rd beside park
11.50 – 12.00 TYRIE – Lay-by
13.30 – 13.40 MEMSIE – adj. BT exchange
13.50 – 14.00 RATHEN – adj. public hall
14.15 – 14.35 INVERALLOCHY – Frederick Street
14.45 – 15.05 ST COMBS – hall car park
15.15 – 15.25 LONMAY – adj. public hall
15.35 – 15.50 CRIMOND – Church car park
16.00 – 16.15 ST FERGUS – Kirktown
16.25 – 16.35 RORA – hall car park
16.55 – 17.15 BODDAM – Russell St.

Thursday 11 August

Arr. Dep.
09.55 – 10.10 NEW BYTH – The Square
10.15 – 10.25 CRUDIE – lay by
10.35 – 10.45 FISHERIE – Craigwell Cotts
10.55 – 11.05 KING EDWARD – lay-by at Kirk
11.20 – 11.45 MACDUFF – Knowes Hotel car park
12.00 – 12.20 WHITEHILLS – Seafield Street
13.30 – 13.40 BOYNDIE – opp. Boyndie Centre
13.50 – 14.15 PORTSOY – Church Street
14.25 – 14.40 SANDEND – adj. phone box
14.50 – 15.10 CULLEN – The Square
15.15 – 15.30 PORTKNOCKIE – Hill Street
15.35 – 15.50 FINDOCHTY – Seaview Road near Chemist
16.00 – 16.15 RATHVEN – Main Road near Kirk

Friday 12 August

Arr. Dep.
10.15 - 10.25 ALVAH – adj. Linhead Hall
10.35 - 10.50 FORGLEN – Bogton Row
11.05 - 11.30 ABERCHIRDER – The Square
11.50 - 12.10 ROTHIEMAY – near shop
13.30 - 13.45 KNOCK – adj. post box
14.00 - 14.15 CORNHILL – car park adj. park
14.30 - 14.45 FORDYCE – adj. Castle
14.55 - 15.10 LINTMILL - Burnside
15.20 - 15.35 DESKFORD – Comm. Centre car park
15.40 - 15.55 GRANGE – adj. Crossroads School

No appointment is necessary, although constituents with ongoing cases should advise their attendance on 01779 470444.

19 July 2016

Scottish Dairy Farmers Remain Resilient in Difficult Financial Times

Local MSP Welcomes Continued Support for the Dairy Sector

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has been heartened by the new figures that have shown the resilience of the Scottish dairy farming sector in the face of challenging conditions facing the sector.

The latest semi-annual figures to July 1st, published by the Scottish Diary Cattle Association (SDCA), have shown the number of herds remaining at 974, despite a moderate decrease in cow numbers. The figures have been welcomed by the SDCA, who had expected both herd and cow numbers to fall.

Commenting on the statistics, Stewart Stevenson MSP said,

“These figures are of some encouragement, particularly because of the tough financial conditions that our dairy farmers are currently operating in.

“Despite these difficulties, our farmers have shown great resilience. The Scottish Government has been working hard to help farmers across Scotland, with the Dairy Action Plan continuing to benefit farm workers across the country by promoting best practice, developing markets, promoting an efficient supply chain, supporting First Milk and engaging with the international community.

“Locally, Aberdeenshire Council and Opportunity North-east are taking forward a study to see what opportunities can be created following Muller-Wiseman’s decision to quit Aberdeen.

“By supporting the sector we can continue to secure jobs and ensure the continued production of the very best local products. With Scottish Government support, the dairy industry has a long and bright future ahead of it.”

MSP Welcomes Flood Protection Funding

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has today welcome the announcement of a new ten year strategy to protect Scotland’s most flood prone communities – including funding of £7 million for projects in Aberdeenshire.

The plan – announced by the First Minister earlier this week – will support local flood risk management plans, fund more than 130 flood protection studies and deliver 40 new flood protection projects across Scotland – protecting more than 10,000 homes.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said,

“Earlier this year, we saw the devastating effects flooding can have on local communities – and this new strategy will help protect households across Aberdeenshire from the impact of future adverse weather.

“Investment in flood protection schemes and associated infrastructure is critical to protecting vulnerable householders, businesses and communities – and I am delighted to see the SNP government working in partnership with local government on this important issue.

“As former Minister for Environment and Climate change, I am keenly aware of unpredictable and destructive nature of climate change events like flooding. Pre-emptive action is our best opportunity to meet the significant challenges posed by climate change.

“The plan set out by the First Minister this week will give Aberdeenshire Council the certainty they need to deliver the actions set out in their Local Flood Risk Assessment Plans to help protect individuals, business and communities from the danger of flooding.”

SNP Success Highlighted on UN World Youth Skills Day

The SNP is marking UN World Youth Skills Day by highlighting figures showing that the number of people in Modern Apprenticeships has grown by over ten thousand since the party came to office in 2007.

An analysis of figures from Skills Development Scotland shows the number of Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland has risen from 15,803 in 2007/08 to 25,818 in 2015/16 – an increase of 63.4 per cent. The SNP in government exceeded its target of 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships a year every year between 2011/12 and 2014/15 – as well as exceeding the new target of 25,500 in 2015/16, ahead of increasing the target to 30,000 a year by 2020.

The Scottish Government this week launched a consultation on how Scotland should respond to the Apprenticeship Levy – a UK Government policy introduced without consulting Scotland despite apprenticeship policy being a devolved matter. There is concern that the Levy could reduce the number of employers able to offer apprenticeships, putting at risk the work the Scottish Government has done to improve access to apprenticeships.

Commenting, local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson, said:

“These very welcome figures highlight a key success of the SNP in government – with the number of Modern Apprenticeships rising by over 60 per cent since 2007/08 and more young people being given an opportunity to get into work, learn a skill and secure a better future.

“Apprenticeships are a key part of the SNP’s successful youth employment strategy – and the Scottish Government exceeded its target of 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships a year every year between 2011/12 and 2014/15. In 2015/16, the Scottish Government also exceeded its new target of 25,500, which is set to increase to 30,000 by 2020.

“It is absolutely vital that full powers over modern apprenticeships, including those on minimum pay, are in Scotland’s hands – rather than held by a right-wing Tory government led by Theresa May. The Scottish Government’s consultation on the Apprenticeship Levy is welcome, and will help give businesses across Scotland a chance to work with the Scottish Government on mitigating any negative impact of the UK Government’s policy.

“The SNP’s record in supporting and empowering our young people is second to none – and with full powers over all aspects related to Modern Apprenticeships devolved to Scotland rather than left with the Tory Government at Westminster, we could take further action to deliver a fairer wage for apprentices and ensure that they have all the support they need to succeed.”

5 July 2016

Stevenson Calls for Support for New Organ Donor Register Campaign

TV Advert Launched to Encourage People to Sign Up to the Life-Saving Register

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has called on constituents living in Banffshire & Buchan Coast to join the NHS Organ Donor Register following the launch of a new TV publicity campaign by NHS Scotland.

The ‘We Need Everybody’ campaign is seeking to highlight that anyone can be an organ donor, and that by having more people on the Register, more lives can be saved across the country.



Currently less than one percent of deaths in Scotland occur when the person is able to donate their organs, which is why it is vital that more people sign up to the NHS register.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said,

“This is an important campaign – one which will help save lives in the North-east and across Scotland.

“Signing up to the Organ Donor Register could not be easier – and I would encourage my constituents to spare the two minutes that it takes to sign up and join the 43% of Scots currently registered.

“The We Need Everybody campaign is about driving home the fact that everybody has it in them to save a life. The Organ Donor Register is a vital resource for our NHS – and with 540 people currently waiting for a life-saving transplant, it is as vital a time as ever to sign up and help save a life.”

MSP Calls for Remembrance of Srebrenica Genocide

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson called for an honest look at the tragic violence caused by racial hatred during a debate in Parliament on the 21st anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide.

Mr Stevenson described the experiences and consequences of the genocide. Ethnic cleansing, deportation, rape and murder were all part of the horrendous event which killed an estimated 8000 people.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said,

“The events at Srebrenica were only twenty one years ago. Thousands of human lives were lost and many more ruined. The fact that such an event took place so recently is a disgrace. It was emblematic of a decade of violence and oppression in the Balkans, costing more than 140,000 lives.

“We must face this terrible deed so that such an atrocity never can happen again. The genocide was caused racial propaganda that ignited racial hatred. Civilisation can’t exist if it is driven by the madness of hatred, the two are diametrically opposed.

“We have an obligation for those that suffered. We have a duty to learn from Srebrenica. It is up to us to protect the future generations by realising that there is no place for such violent hatred in our civilisation.”
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