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22 June 2018

'Coo-Van' Comes to Portsoy

MSP Stevenson Meets Latest Visit Scotland Initiative

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson took the opportunity to meet with VisitScotland’s latest initiative to encourage tourists to explore the country.
‘Archie’ is one of four coo-vans touring Scotland this year and he, along with his team of ‘coo-visors’ will be taking the message to tourists about what attractions the country has to offer.

The Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy next weekend will be one of the first locations in the North-east to welcome the ‘coo van’.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is a very interesting initiative and I’ll be keen to find out how successful it is in promoting our area and our visitor attractions to tourists.

“Part of the thinking here is that instead of waiting for visitors to pick up a leaflet which they may or may not see is available, these mobile units in Highland Coo livery complete with horns will bring the message to where the tourists are.

“I’m pleased that Portsoy will be one of the first stops it makes in the North-east as the boat festival is always thronging with tourists from near and far. Having advisers on-hand to push what our region has to offer is a great idea.”

Local MSP Demands UK Government Hand Back £167 million Proceeds of 'Cash Grab'

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson is calling on the UK Crown Estate to pass to Crown Estate Scotland the £167m proceeds from the sale of its share in the Fort Kinnaird Retail Park in Edinburgh.

Despite repeated requests in the run up to the Scotland Bill in 2016, the UK Government refused to include Fort Kinnaird, the Crown Estate’s most valuable asset in Scotland, in the list of Scottish assets to be managed by Crown Estate Scotland following devolution.

Within two years of refusing to devolve the site to Crown Estate Scotland, they have cashed in by selling the site to London-based M&G Estates, a fund which has already started moving operations to Luxembourg because of Brexit.

The Crown Estate is currently undertaking a £1.5 billion redevelopment of its assets in Central London, including Regent Street and half of St James’s, while Crown Estate Scotland is having to sell off a tenanted farm in Fochabers in Moray to raise revenue, which may not have been necessary if the UK Government had originally agreed to designate Fort Kinnaird as a Scottish asset.

The SNP is demanding that Scotland receives the full £167 million owed. The value of the Fort Kinnaird site represents 60% of the total assets of Crown Estate Scotland.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson, who is a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, said:

“The UK Government no doubt wants this shady cash grab kept below the radar – but Scotland is simply being conned.

“Just two years ago UK Ministers refused Scottish Government requests to devolve this site to the new Crown Estate Scotland, and it’s now clear that there are 167 million reasons why.

“Not only that – it’s a bitter pill to swallow that whilst Crown Estate Scotland is looking to sell off assets to raise funds to invest in its portfolio, its UK counterpart is currently undertaking a multi-billion pound redevelopment of its Central London assets – the funds from Fort Kinnaird would have been a significant amount of money for Crown Estate Scotland.

“Had this site been devolved, the Scottish Government could have reinvested such a huge windfall in transforming Crown Estate sites across the country, including North-east assets such as the Glenlivet and Fochabers estates, and other sites across Scotland.

“Instead, the cash is disappearing from right under our noses. The North-east is a particularly busy area for the Crown Estate with various permissions and leases for pipelines and windfarms and the UK Government needs to play fair and give Scotland the money we are owed to help support our communities particularly in our more rural and coastal areas.”

21 June 2018

MSP Backs Scottish Water Campaign

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has backed a campaign to encourage more people to use refillable bottles and help the environment.

It comes after Scottish Water launched the ‘Your Water Your Life’ campaign in Glasgow was launched earlier this week with Scotland’s first ‘pop up water bar’ to show how topping up from the tap is the best way to consume water.

The campaign has been supported by organisations including Keep Scotland Beautiful and Zero Waste Scotland.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I commend the efforts of Scottish Water in launching this new campaign.

“One of the easiest and simplest ways to help the environment is to carry your own refillable water bottle you can take elsewhere when you are out and about.

“Scotland as a country is becoming increasingly more environmentally conscious and this is another simple step which will help contribute.”

18 June 2018

Stevenson Hails 'Vote of Confidence' in Fraserburgh Harbour

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has expressed his delight at the announcement today that Fraserburgh Harbour will be the port from which service and maintenance will be carried out on the Moray East Offshore Windfarm.

Michael Murray,
Convener of the Harbour Board
with Stewart Stevenson MSP
The MSP has called the agreement a significant vote of confidence in the facilities at Fraserburgh Harbour and paid tribute to the work done by the Harbour Commissioners and former Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford in bringing the business to the town.

The move will result in the creation of around 45 full-time jobs in addition to other income streams for the port. North-east Scotland College will also be involved in the provision of specialist training. The announcement is therefore extremely significant to the port and the local economy.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I’m delighted for the Fraserburgh Harbour Commissioners and for the town that this substantial amount of work has come to the Broch against stiff competition from other northern ports.

“Today’s announcement represents a significant vote of confidence in the facilities and management at Fraserburgh Harbour as well as a tremendous boost to the local economy.

“I know that the Commissioners have done a power of work to get to this position, supported by our former MP Eilidh Whiteford.

“This announcement is a further demonstration of the importance of the offshore wind energy sector to the North-east and our prime location from which to benefit from the opportunities it creates.”

14 June 2018

MSP to Meet with Offshore Windfarm Developer to put Views of Sandend Residents

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has secured a meeting with the firm behind proposals for a major offshore windfarm development.

The SNP MSP recently met with residents at a meeting organised by Fordyce, Sandend & District Community Council to hear the views and concerns of villagers and pledged to take these to a meeting with the developer.
© Google
Mr Stevenson has now secured a meeting and will be holding discussions with representatives from the company next week.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“I was pleased to be invited along by the Community Council to have the opportunity to hear the views of local residents on the proposals.

“This stretch of the Banffshire coast is very important to the local tourism and leisure industry so I entirely understand there are concerns.

“I’ve pledged to take the concerns expressed at the Community Council meeting directly to the developer. I am therefore pleased the company has agreed to meet with me next week and I hope our discussions will be constructive.”

MSP Pays Tribute to Campaigner Ahead of Seatbelt Bill Coming in to Force

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has paid tribute to a constituent who worked tirelessly to improve bus safety.

It comes after the date the Seatbelts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill will come into force was announced as August.

The Bill was brought forward by Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin.

The legislation will come into effect on August 1 which should mean every child will have access to a seatbelt when travelling to and from school for the start of the 2018/19 term.
Mr Stevenson had long been a supporter of constituent Ron Beaty who called for better school transport safety.

For years, the Gardenstown resident worked hard to campaign on school bus safety after his granddaughter was knocked over by a vehicle after getting off a school bus.

Mr Beaty, who sadly passed away before the Bill came into force, had been a staunch advocate of safety on school transport following the incident.

He worked closely alongside Mr Stevenson on the issue for many years.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am delighted the Bill to ensure seatbelts are on all dedicated home to school transport will come into force from August.

“I would like to pay tribute to Ron. While he wasn’t here to witness it, I have no doubt that his efforts for many years made an invaluable contribution.

“Ron is an example to us all and I am sure his family are very proud.

“I would also like to commend my colleague Gillian Martin MSP and the civil servants who worked very hard over the past 18 months and beyond on this Bill.”

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to achieving safer road travel which is why we’re urging pupils to wear a seatbelt where one is provided on school transport.

“When the Seat Belts Act for dedicated school transport in Scotland comes into force, it will make sure every child and young person who requires a seatbelt will have one as they travel to and from school.”

29 May 2018

MSP Welcomes Cash Boost for NHS in North East

The NHS in Grampian is set to benefit from a share of a £50million Scotland-wide investment to help deliver swift treatments and diagnostics.

Extra funding will be made available as part of a package of measures to help reduce waiting times –and which will also see two independent diagnostic leads appointed to improve co-ordination across the country on specialist tests.

Scotland already invests more per head of population than anywhere else in the UK. Tory-led England and Labour-led Wales continue to lag behind Scotland, including on A&E waiting times where Scotland has had the lowest waiting times for over 3 years.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The staff of Scotland’s NHS do a fantastic job day in day out. This funding boost will support a package of measures to help further improve performance in Grampian, including new independent experts being appointed to speed up diagnostic tests.

“The Scottish Government has already committed to invest an extra £2 billion above inflation by the end of this parliament – the highest funding offers of any party at the last election – and we already invest more in our NHS per head of population than anywhere else in the UK, supporting frontline health services across Grampian.

“That’s one of the reasons why Scotland’s A&E’s continue to have the best performance of anywhere in the UK for the last 3 years.”

MSP Responds to Tory Desertion of Moray Council

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has responded to the news Tory councillors in Moray have quit the Council’s administration.

Seven of the eight members walked away from the administration on Monday.

The move was made following a row over the authority’s senior management structure and disagreement over how best to modernise the council.

Moray Council had been run by a coalition of Tories and Independents until yesterday.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“A majority of Tory councillors walked out of the Moray Council administration which is no surprise. Running a local council, and the challenges that exist in doing so, were obviously too much for Councillors who are more used to simply opposing a second independence referendum.

“Moray needs a stable and effective administration as it deals with a number of challenges and needs representative that puts the needs of the people and communities first, led by principle, leadership and vision.”

26 May 2018

Stevenson Welcomes Clean Bill of Health for Banffshire & Buchan Coast Bathing Waters

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) that all six “classified bathing waters” in his constituency have achieved ‘Good’ or ‘Sufficient’ ratings with Fraserburgh Philorth achieving an ‘Excellent’ rating.
Beaches at Fraserburgh (c) Google
Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“I very much welcome the figures released by SEPA on the coastal bathing waters around Banffshire & Buchan Coast Constituency.

“These are first-rate results with Fraserburgh Philorth in particular achieving an ‘Excellent’ rating, which is tremendous for the area.

“Our beaches and bathing waters at Peterhead’s Lido, Rosehearty, Inverboyndie, Fraserburgh and Cullen Bay are very popular with visitors so I’m very pleased with these results.”

18 May 2018

Stevenson Welcomes Lottery Funding Boost for Broch

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the latest round of lottery funding for projects which has seen a funding boost for the Fraserburgh South Links Sports Development Trust.

The Trust has been successful in its application and been awarded £8,000 from SportScotland. This group are in the process of developing a new community sporting facility in Fraserburgh, in partnership with multiple local sports clubs. This project will allow the group to buy a range of athletics equipment for use at the site.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I’m really pleased for the Trust that their application for funding has been successful.

“Community-led projects, like this one in Fraserburgh, tend to attract a great deal of goodwill and support from local residents so it’s great when they achieve successes such as this.”

A National Lottery Awards for All spokesperson said:

“This is National Lottery money making a real impact in communities across Scotland. The 74 groups receiving funding today showcases the range of projects that can be funded through this programme and the difference that even the smallest amounts of money can make.”

National Lottery Awards for All Scotland is now more straightforward to apply to and faster to get funding from. Applications are received on a rolling basis and can be received at any time. To find out what National Lottery Awards for All Scotland could do for your community visit www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/awardsforallscotland or phone 0300 123 7110.

MSP Warns UK Tory Government Not To Abandon Erasmus+

Banff School Benefited from over £10,000 Funding

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has warned that the highly popular Erasmus+ scheme is in danger as a result of the UK Tory Government’s position on a hard Brexit.

The Erasmus+ scheme aims to promote and modernise education, training, youth work and sport across Europe, and gives students from a variety of backgrounds the opportunity to live, work and study in other European countries.

In the Aberdeenshire Council area, over €150,000 has been received from the Erasmus+ scheme in the last 3 years, with over €10,000 going to Banff Primary School alone to assist with language development.

A report by Holyrood’s Culture Committee has recommended that the Scottish Government should explore whether it would be possible for Scotland to continue participating in Erasmus+ as a programme country if the UK Government will not commit to the scheme beyond 2020.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Aberdeenshire has received over €150,000 funding across many individual projects from the EU’s Erasmus+ scheme since 2014 – including significant funding locally, such as €10,825 to Banff Primary School.

“And it is not just monetary benefits we stand to lose if pull out of Erasmus+ – our universities, businesses and research bodies will miss out on opportunities for international collaboration and our young people will be denied the chance to engage in, as they themselves describe it, life-changing experiences if the Tories pull out of Erasmus+ after 2020.

“The future of EU research funding, the Erasmus+ programme and freedom of movement is crucial to the future success of our world-renowned academic institutions, and it is extremely worrying that the Department for Exiting the European Union’s sectoral report on higher education failed to even mention Erasmus+.

“Nearly two years since the EU referendum, the Westminster Government needs to appreciate the opportunities that will be lost and start limiting the damage Brexit will cause. They can start by ensuring we remain part of Erasmus+.”

Tories' New £2.5bn Trident Bill Shows Costs "Spiralling Out of Control"

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has condemned Tory Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson’s commitment to spend a further £2.5 billion on Trident, on top of the £205 billion already committed to nuclear submarines.

The Tory Defence Secretary has announced a £1.5bn contract with BAE systems for a new Astute hunter killer submarine as well as contracts worth £960 million for the Dreadnought submarine programme.

This comes following the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee’s criticism last week that the Ministry of Defence spending plans were simply “not realistic” and could be more than £20 billion over budget.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Tory Government's Trident bill is spiralling out of control.

"Rather than spending hundreds of billions on nuclear weapons, the Tories should be investing in our conventional defence forces and public services.

“The Tories simply cannot be trusted to deliver for our armed forces, as the totally unjustified, immoral and escalating cost of the Tories’ nuclear obsession comes at the expense of our defence bases, troop numbers, and equipment.

“This is an eye-watering amount of money that is difficult to comprehend. If just a fraction of that was spent on public services instead then it could be transformational. Instead, the UK Government seems obsessed with nuclear weapons.

“The SNP will stand against Trident - today, tomorrow and always.”

17 May 2018

Stevenson Warns of Brexit Risk to Scotch Whisky Exports

Scotch Whisky exports were valued at around £931 million in the first quarter of 2018, over a 6% rise on the same period last year, according to new HMRC figures.

These figures show that Europe continues to be the top export market for Scotch whisky - prompting Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson to warn that the Tory Government must not risk this growth by leaving the single market and customs union.

EU membership gives Scotland’s food and drinks industries access to the world’s biggest single market as well as the EU’s free trade agreements with 50 other countries across the globe. Just last month, the EU secured a bilateral trade agreement with Mexico that will allow many EU exports duty-free access to a market of over 127 million people in Mexico.

Commenting, local MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

"The sharp increase in Scotch whisky exports is good news for Scotland and indeed the whole UK economy.

“The SNP Scottish Government is ambitious to grow the authentic and globally recognised Scotch whisky brand even further, underpinned by the Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan.

“But while the growing success of our food and drinks exports are something to celebrate – they further demonstrate the massive benefits we stand to lose when we leave the European Union.

“Scotch whisky’s top export market is the EU - and the Westminster Government has a duty to safeguard and protect this success and the thousands of jobs it supports by remaining in the single market and customs union, which is around eight times bigger than the UK market alone.”

Stevenson Comments on North-East Tory MSP's Resignation

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson to “clean up” her party after her Rural Economy Spokesperson was forced to resign in disgrace for lobbying local councillors over a planning application by a business that he holds shares in.

North-East Tory list MSP Peter Chapman resigned his front bench position this afternoon after a newspaper report emerged that he had been lobbying councillors to pass a planning application for a company in which he held a £50,000 stake.

The revelations follow previous cases of prominent Tories using their position as MSP to lobby for and ask questions that would potentially support their own financial interests.

Peter Chapman also found himself in hot water after auctioning-off a lunch in the Scottish Parliament at a Tory party fundraising event in St Combs in 2017, raising serious questions over cash for access.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The time has now come for Ruth Davidson to clean up her party. She really needs to get a grip of her self-interested colleagues on the Tory benches.

“The Tories think that they can do what they want and get away with it – but time and time again they get caught out. Peter Chapman is not the first, and I doubt he’ll be the last.

“This latest example is an incredibly serious issue – and shows just how far Ruth Davidson’s party are prepared to go in order to feather their own nests.

“Peter Chapman spent five years as a councillor in Aberdeenshire and therefore should be well-aware of how the system works if you have a financial interest in a planning application. Mr Chapman was on the Buchan Area Committee when his own planning applications for wind turbines were up for discussion and managed to remove himself from those discussions. He should have known that the same thing applied here and it’s therefore right that he has resigned his position.”

9 May 2018

Funding Boost for Rothiemay Project

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement of a grant of £10,000 for an important Rothiemay project.

The Edintore Windfarm Community Benefit Fund has made the award – one of 12 projects receiving almost £60,000 this year – to the George V Memorial Field Rothiemay Trust towards the cost of the Lossat project

The Lossat building was formerly a sports pavilion but has not been in regular use for several years. The Trustees wish to sensitively repair and adapt the building, retain its character and restore its original domestic use. They want to provide self-catering accommodation in the main building and provide an adjoining room that can be used in conjunction as a studio or gallery, or separately as a public room for groups to use.

It is hoped this will raise the profile of Rothiemay as a holiday destination and promote local heritage and potentially stimulate local businesses. Plans are that the project will be managed by the local community and provide a part-time job for a caretaker.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I congratulate the Trustees on their success in attracting this funding for what sounds like a very worthwhile project indeed.

“This is an excellent example of community regeneration by the local community. The project has great potential for attracting people into the area and supporting local businesses and I wish it all the best going forward.”

Stevenson Welcomes Lottery Funding Boost for Portsoy Project

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed an award of £32,500 for the Portsoy Church Hall renovation and redevelopment project.

This project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the ‘Our Heritage’ programme which helps groups discover and share their local heritage. It also helps them to protect the heritage they care about and can focus on anything from personal memories and cultural traditions to archaeological sites, museum collections and rare wildlife.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“I am delighted for the volunteers involved in this very worthwhile project that they have been successful in their bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“The Heritage Lottery Fund is an important source of funding for local groups and can help protect some of our older iconic buildings which still serve their community and are very much part of the fabric of village life, such as Portsoy Church Hall.”

More information on the heritage Lottery Fund is available by visiting www.hlf.org.uk.

7 May 2018

eBay Backs Fair Delivery Charges Campaign

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a commitment from eBay to tackle unfair delivery charges.

eBay’s Director of Shipping Mike Pitt and Head of Public Affairs Alasdair McGowan met with Moray SNP MSP Richard Lcohhead, pledging to roll-out a dedicated reporting mechanism for customers facing unfair delivery surcharges.

eBay committed to tough action on sellers demanding surcharges on delivery after transactions – who may face removal from the sales platform altogether.

Following correspondence from Mr Lochhead, the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) recently issued an Enforcement Notice on Advertised Delivery Restrictions and Surcharges – demanding “prompt action” from companies appearing to be misleading customers – with the threat of enforcement action, including legal measures, if firms fail to comply by 31 May.

The Scottish Parliament Library has estimated that higher delivery surcharges cost consumers in Scotland £36 million a year.

Mr Stevenson, who has been backing Richard Lochhead’s campaign on unfair delivery charges, commented:

“I very much welcome the progress achieved by my colleague Richard Lochhead’s campaign and have been pleased to lend my support to it.

“This latest commitment from eBay is the latest in a long line of successes for the campaign and their commitment to do more to ensure fairness for customers in Scotland is good news.

“eBay has 200,000 companies on their platform in the UK and there are over five million transactions every year in the North of Scotland alone and it is good to know that eBay are open to doing more to tackle the delivery charges rip-off.

“eBay have offered to set up a dedicated reporting mechanism for the Scottish authorities such as our trading standards officers and promise to act against sellers not acting fairly or who are breaking the law with the ultimate sanction being removal from the eBay platform. They also urge customers to report cases directly to them as well as the authorities.”

Further detail on campaign available at Fair Delivery Charges website - https://fairdeliverycharges.scot/

4 May 2018

Leaked White Paper Confirms Tory Betrayal of Scotland's Fishing Industry

A leaked UK Government paper exposes the Tories' planned power grab on powers over fishing in Scotland.

The paper reveals the Tory Government's plans to bypass the Scottish Parliament and to continue with the current quotas to reduce over-fishing in the North Sea.

The latest Tory amendments to the Withdrawal Bill would prevent the Scottish Parliament legislating to protect fishing communities for up to seven years – with Westminster being able to dictate how we manage our fisheries and having the power to further barter away any of Scotland’s fishing interests during that time.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast said:

“The Tories think they can do what they want to Scotland’s fishing sector and get away with it – bartering away an industry with a proud past and a bright future, and the many jobs this vital industry supports in our coastal communities.

“The Tories’ White Paper utterly fails to deliver the control over our waters and who catches fish in them that was promised in the Brexit referendum.

"It confirms that the Tories want to keep control in London so they can again trade away our fishermen’s rights as part of their Brexit negotiations – as they have already begun to do.

“It’s even worse than taking fishing powers away from Scotland for seven years as threatened in the UK Withdrawal Bill. This is a bid to permanently remove control over fishing from Scotland’s fishermen.

“The Tories infamously described Scotland’s fishing industry as ‘expendable’ on our way into the EU – this proves beyond all doubt they plan to do the same on the way out."

28 April 2018

Withdrawal Bill Amendments Leave Scottish Fishing Exposed

Tories Can't Be Trusted -
Scotland Needs A Seat At The Table

The amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill tabled at Westminster this week expose the Scottish fishing industry to further betrayal by the Tories.

Last month the Tory UK government confirmed that the rights of Scottish fishermen would be used as bargaining chips in negotiations with the EU, despite Brexiteers promising that a Leave vote in 2016 would mean taking back control of our fishing waters.

The latest Tory amendments to the Withdrawal Bill would prevent the Scottish Parliament legislating to protect fishing communities for up to seven years – with Westminster being able to dictate how we manage our fisheries and having the power to further barter away any of Scotland’s fishing interests during that time.
Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Tories have one view of Scottish fishing, and one view alone – they see it as ‘expendable’.

“They think they can do what they want to Scotland’s fishing sector and get away with it – bartering away an industry with a proud past and a bright future, and the many jobs which it supports.

“Just a few weeks ago the Tories let the cat out of the bag, that we would remain in the CFP after Brexit with no seat at the table in negotiations. Despite the wild promises of the Brexiteers, under Tory plans there will be no taking back control of Scottish waters, no influence in fishery reforms, no say in quotas – it’s an absolute disgrace.

“The amendments to the Withdrawal Bill this week will only compound the fears of Scottish fishermen.

“Even if the Scottish Parliament expressly refused consent to Westminster calling the shots on fishing – a devolved power under the Scotland Act – the Tories could dictate rules and impose restrictions on Scottish fishing anyway, without our say.

“We cannot – and will not – agree to legislation that puts Scottish fishing in such peril.

“With hundreds of millions of pounds of value to Scotland’s economy at stake, this situation makes clear that powers over Scottish fishing should be exercised in Scotland – with our government taking the lead to negotiate the best deal, unlike the Tories who will always see the industry as expendable.”

20 April 2018

Praise for Cullen Sports Club in Parliament

Cullen Bowling and Tennis Club has been praised in the Scottish Parliament by the Minister for Public Health and Sport.
Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson highlighted the work being done by the club with its coaching sessions for young people, to encourage more from that age group to take up sport.

The SNP MSP recently visited the club to hand over cheques to assist with the coaching which were the result of fees he received for taking part in research projects. The club has now received £160.00 as a result of being nominated by Mr Stevenson to receive the proceeds.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I was pleased to take the opportunity to highlight the efforts of a grassroots sports club in my constituency to make a real difference in their community by encouraging the next generation of bowlers and tennis players. I’m delighted the Minister recognised the contribution that clubs such the one at Cullen can make.”

Minister for Public Health and Sport, Aileen Campbell MSP said Cullen Bowling and Tennis Club is “a great example of encouraging young people to join a club”.

She continued:

“I wish Cullen Bowling and Tennis Club every success. Our commitment to the active schools programme will not only allow children to try new sports but will provide them with a pathway to local sports clubs. I actively encourage that partnership.”

“I commend the club in Cullen, particularly during this year of young people, for its endeavours to get our young people and children active.”

Stevenson Comments on Dr Gray's Public Event in Buckie

“I am confident that the public sessions will contribute
to a mixture of innovative solutions”

– Stewart Stevenson MSP

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the public drop in session in Buckie which was held by NHS Grampian in response to concerns over the overnight closure of the children’s ward at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin.

Women’s and children’s services have been affected by a shortage of staff resulting in the closure of wards overnight.

The MSP for Buckie has highlighted that whilst the funding is in place for the posts there have not been sufficient applicants coming forward to fill jobs and ensure a safe level of service can be provided through the night.

Commenting on the sessions which were being held this week in Buckie Stewart Stevenson said:

“There are many people in the Buckie area who are, quite rightly, concerned about the overnight closure of the children’s ward at Dr Gray’s in Elgin. However, it should be stressed that this is not due to a lack of funding but rather a difficulty in recruiting the adequate number of staff to keep the service running safely through the night.

“The drop in sessions are a critical way of NHS Grampian engaging with the local community to see what more can be done to get people to apply for these posts as well as answering questions. I am sure that NHS Grampian managers have been given many ideas to reflect on and I look forward to seeing the results.

“A number of actions are already underway including a fantastic promotional video aimed at recruiting medical staff to Moray and the establishment of the Keep MUM group which is doing a great job. I also welcome the ‘Move to Moray’ initiative being driven by my SNP colleague Richard Lochhead MSP which is looking at developing a package of incentives as another tool to attract people to the area.

“I am glad to see that actions are being taken to try and resolve this worrying situation and I am confident that the public sessions will contribute to a mixture of innovative solutions.”

19 April 2018

Stevenson Welcomes Fraserburgh Port Masterplan Project

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement from Fraserburgh Harbour Commissioners of an ambitious project to diversify and modernise Fraserburgh Harbour.
Constituency MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“With the right consultation, a masterplan for Fraserburgh will help support economic development in the region. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be in the same league as Peterhead and Wick and it’s promising to see innovating ideas put forward.

“This is the first masterplan of this scale considered for Fraserburgh Harbour which is no small undertaking. But if we can envision progress and development over the next two decades there could be real benefits to the town and its community.

“I am particularly interested in how the board and its strategic partners look to develop the fishing industry.”

18 April 2018

MSP Welcomes 95% Broadband Target Being Met

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed figures which show more than 95% of Scotland’s homes and businesses are now able to connect to fibre-enabled broadband.

It comes as the Scottish Government continues to deliver the rollout through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project.

Around 890,000 premises are now connected and there has been a total contribution of £280million from across the public sector in Scotland.

Without the DSSB programme, it is estimated that only 66% of Scotland would be able to receive fibre broadband.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“For rural areas fast and reliable internet is necessary for the future economic and social success of communities.

“There is still work to do, but these most recent figures are a landmark for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.

“Around 890,000 premises have been connected to fibre broadband so far. We want to ensure Scotland can offer world-class digital infrastructure including in the North-East of Scotland.

“We know that by 2021, the Scottish Government has pledged to make sure every single premise in Scotland can access speeds of at least 30Mbps.”

10 April 2018

MSP Welcomes Road Safety Figures

Figures have revealed the number of people fatally injured on North-East roads is at its lowest level since current records began in 1974.
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the data which shows last year 14 people were killed compared with figures from more than 40 years ago, which show there were 102 people died within the same time frame.

The figures are provisional statistics for the combined local authority areas of Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray.

The previous lowest figure occurred in 2011, when 22 people died during the year.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The decrease in the number of fatalities is welcome but we must not become complacent about the safety on our roads.

“The impact on family and friends from the death of a loved one is tragic and has consequences that are long-lasting.

“I would like to commend the emergency services and local authorities for all their hard work on this issue.

“Progress has obviously been made and I fully support the work of all those involved to see what can be learnt from the most recent figures in order to decrease the number of fatal incidents on North-East roads.”

6 April 2018

MSP Welcomes Changes to Tax Bands

More than two-thirds of taxpayers will pay less on their current income this year under Scotland’s new tax bands.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the move as changes to the Higher and Top rate tax bands take effect from today (April 6th).

It also means there will be an additional £428million available in 2018/19 to invest in vital public services and the economy.

And under the new system, low earning taxpayers are protected through the introduction of a new Starter Rate of tax.

The income tax system will also be more progressive, raising additional revenue through the introduction of a new Intermediate Rate of 21% and increases to the Higher and Top Rates, to 41% and 46%.

As a result of these changes, and the increase in the personal allowance, all taxpayers earning up to £33,000 - 70% of all taxpayers - will be protected from any increase.

Those earning more than £33,000 will pay only a proportionate amount more.

A majority of taxpayers (55%) in Scotland will pay less income tax in 2018-19 than they would in the rest of the UK, while those who can afford to pay more will make a marginally higher contribution to support public services and investment in the economy.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The new income rates and bands will make the system more progressive.

“As well as this, they will help to deliver additional revenues to invest in public services and the economy.

“These measures will help to ensure the North-East and Scotland as a whole will be the fairest taxed part of the UK.”

4 April 2018

Mundell Power Grab Tour Failing to Answer Key Questions

David Mundell faces tough questions over the threat to Scottish farming as he starts a tour promoting the Tory power grab.

Earlier this week it was reported that the Tories may allow low-quality hormone-treated beef to be sold in the UK to secure a trade deal with Australia – a proposal the National Farmers’ Union said would put farmers in the UK at a competitive disadvantage.

The Scottish Secretary is visiting food and drink producers in Scotland to justify a power grab over devolved areas as part of Brexit.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Tories think they can do anything they want to Scotland and get away with it.

“Once upon a time the Scottish Tories agreed that a power grab over devolved issues would be unacceptable. Now David Mundell is touring the country as a Brexit salesman – but Scottish food producers won’t be sold a pup.

“Despite all of the Tory promises that countries would be lining up to sign gold-plated trade agreements, it’s becoming ever clearer that the UK government would sell their granny to get a deal.

“There’s a very real risk that Brexit will mean the UK market is flooded with hormone-treated beef, chlorinated chicken and GM crops – putting our farmers at risk to save Theresa May’s blushes.

“That’s why the power grab matters, and that’s why David Mundell’s PR operation is falling completely flat.

“The Tories have already sold out our fishermen – they must not be allowed to sell out our food producers.”

3 April 2018

MSP Encourages Youth Groups to Apply for Erasmus Funding

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is encouraging youth organisations to apply for Erasmus + funding.
It has been revealed that there is more than €12million of funding available with the deadline for applications closing later this month.

The Erasmus+ funding enables participants from the UK to go abroad to study, work, volunteer, teach or train.

It funds around 16,000 higher education students to benefit from a study or work placement abroad.

The funding is open to schools, further and higher education, adult education and youth organisations.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Erasmus+ programme has benefited many young people for years.

“I am pleased even more funding have been made available to help even more young people and groups in my constituency benefit from these opportunities.

“I would encourage everyone to take a look at the possibilities available for them to teach, learn and live abroad.”

Stevenson Responds to Review of NE Minor Injuries Units

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has submitted his response to the review of Minor Injuries Units which closes tomorrow (Wednesday 4 April).
Fraserburgh is one of a number of units under review
Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership initiated the review in December 2017 which aims to take into account “location, demand and activity, practitioner competency and ongoing sustainability”.

In his submission, Stewart Stevenson says:

“The geographic nature of my constituency and indeed Aberdeenshire as a whole is very much rural, and localised medical treatment is an issue of importance for many of my constituents.

“I am aware that some of the services provided in Chalmers Hospital in Banff for example, such as the availability of expert radiographers and the provision of specific blood tests to identify blood clots or heart attacks, help to reduce acute admissions to care providers in Aberdeen and Elgin many of which would require ambulance transport.

“As you will appreciate there are numerous challenges faced by local GP practices in terms of recruitment and the rural nature of the community results in additional pressure on the ambulance service. I am concerned that any diminution in the service provided by local Minor Injury Units could lead to unnecessary demands on the ambulance service or local GPs.”

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“While it is right that provision of any public service is reviewed from time to time to see how it may be improved, it seems clear from the feedback I have received from constituents that these services are greatly valued in their communities and any reduction in service would have knock-on effects, not only potentially to local GPs and the ambulance service, but to patients themselves who may be faced with longer journeys for minor injuries.

“For some people, that will not be sustainable and may simply increase pressure on the health service elsewhere.”

2 April 2018

Tory Trade Secretary Set to Betray Scottish Farmers

Following reports that the International Trade Secretary may consent to watering down food standards to secure a trade deal with Australia, the SNP’s Stewart Stevenson has warned that the Tories “cannot be trusted to protect Scottish farmers’ interests in Brexit negotiations.”
Today’s Scottish Times reports that Liam Fox may bow to the Australian Government’s demands that cheap, low-quality hormone-treated beef can be sold in UK markets in any post-Brexit trade deal. The sale of hormone-treated beef has been banned in the European Union since 1981, amid concern about a potential cancer link.

Responding to the news, the National Farmers’ Union chief livestock adviser has said:

“We do not believe the British public would want our own farmers to be put at a competitive disadvantage by allowing the import of food produced to different standards and using methods which are not allowed in Britain.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, who sits on Holyrood’s Rural Committee, said:

“The hard line Brexiteers are now a clear threat to the producers of high quality Scotch beef, and their desperate scramble for trade deals is putting the future of Scotland’s rural economy on the line.

“The Tories have already sold out Scotland’s fishermen in Brexit negotiations - they must not be allowed to treat Scottish farmers with the same contempt by lowering food standards and allowing cheap, hormone-treated beef to flood the UK market after Brexit.

“While the SNP continues to stand up for Scottish farmers and the jobs they support - Liam Fox must immediately confirm whether Scotland’s prized farming industry will pay the price for a post-Brexit trade deal with Australia, as his Tory Government continues to pursue a disastrous Brexit ‘at all costs’ policy.”

27 March 2018

Tory MP's Lack of Contact Over Brexit Letting Down Constituents

The MP representing Banff and Buchan has failed to meet with key UK Government ministers about Brexit for almost a year, new data has revealed.

The revelation comes after the information came to light in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

It showed that despite the Scottish Tory group heading to Westminster proclaiming to be a strong voice for Scotland, they have failed to represent North-East interests on the biggest subject matters of the day.

Tory David Duguid MP, despite representing a huge fishing community, has failed to meet ministers about Brexit since June last year.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The MP for Banff and Buchan David Duguid, hasn’t even bothered to lift a finger and engage with the UK government on the biggest issue of the day, save for a quick photo-op last June, says it all about how useless they are - these arrogant Tories think they can do anything to Scotland and get away with it.

“They’re completely ignored, to the point that Ruth Davidson is left so out of the loop that she proclaims that fishing interests will be protected, just days before the UK government’s sell out – you couldn’t make it up.

“This lack of contact with the UK government’s Brexit department is letting down constituents across the Banffshire and Buchan Coast.

“David Duguid went to Westminster promising to be a strong voice representing Banff and Buchan and Scotland’s interests, yet all they are is lobby fodder for Theresa May’s failing Government.

“You’d have hoped that there might have been something to motivate David Duguid and his colleagues to speak to their bosses about Brexit since last June – from protecting Scotland’s fisheries, supporting single market membership in the wake of the UK government’s own Brexit impact assessment, or raising concerns about the Irish border – but seemingly not.”

25 March 2018

Stevenson Presents Clerkhill School with J Rock 1st Prize

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson presented Clerkhill School with first prize on Friday night at the 2018 J Rock event, part of the Global Rock Challenge.
Mr Stevenson is a strong supporter of the Global Rock Challenge and even picked up his own – unexpected – award at the 2003 event for his help in securing funding to allow the event to continue.

The local MSP attended the event, held on Friday night at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, to support local schools taking part, which also saw third and fourth prizes being won by Fraserburgh’s St Andrews School and South Park School respectively, while fifth prize went to a joint entry from Longhaven School with Peterhead’s Burnhaven School.

Commenting on the event, Stewart said:

“I was delighted to be able to attend the J Rock event this year and I was even more pleased that Clerkhill School emerged triumphant at the end of the night and brought first place home to Banffshire & Buchan Coast.

“The performance by the Clerkhill pupils was magnificent and it was clear a lot of hard work had gone into the performance, not to mention the highly colourful costumes.

“Congratulations should go to all the other schools involved in making this event such a spectacular success.”

The Global Rock Challenge and J Rock are exciting opportunities for schools to participate in a dance, drama and design spectacular where the young people are the stars. Teams are asked to create an eight minute performance exploring a theme of their choice.

The Rock Challenge® communicates health and social education messages in a positive and supportive environment.

23 March 2018

MP Fails to Dismiss Fears Over Even Longer Transition Period from CFP

Calls have been made for Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid to clarify remarks where he admitted a delay in the transition period for Brexit could extend past the predicted timescale set out by the UK Government.

In an interview with Sky’s Political Editor Faisal Islam, the Scottish Tory was asked whether the predicted departure time from the Common Fisheries Policy could potentially be delayed further.

Now Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has called on Mr Duguid to ensure no further delays will be made as the UK exits the European Union.

During the interview, Sky’s Political Editor said:

“The fear would be if the logic and calculus that has led to this delay, why would it just not occur again in a couple of years’ time?”

Responding, Mr Duguid said:

“That’s a valid concern, I think. Which is why I’m not going to take anything for granted. As MP for Banff and Buchan I have to, we have to, hold everyone to account.”

Scottish Tories, many of whom hold constituencies with a fishing community, had promised they would ensure a nine-month transition period between leaving the EU and the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy).

But earlier this week, the UK Government agreed to adhere to the organisation's CFP, which sets catch quotas and vessel access rules, during the 21-month transition period after the UK formally leaves the bloc next year.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Scottish Conservatives could not stick to their promise of a nine-month transition period and have failed to do as they said for the fishing industry.

“Now it seems Mr Duguid isn’t even sure he can commit to helping deliver the 21-month transition period.

“It is no wonder the fishing industry is up in arms about the betrayal of the Tories. They let the sector down in the 1970s and as predicted they are doing it once again.

“The SNP has never supported the CFP and we stand fully behind the fishermen - who have called for an end to it - only to be used as a bargaining chip.”

22 March 2018

MSPs Comment on AWPR Revised Completion Date

North-East MSPs have commented on the announcement by Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown regarding a revised timescale for the AWPR (Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route).

Both Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson were in the Chamber for the announcement to ask questions on its impact.

Ms Martin asked for clarification from the Scottish Government that some sections of the AWPR would open ahead of the revised final completion date.

Meanwhile, Mr Stevenson questioned previous government decisions in the last four decades on approving the long-awaited infrastructure project.

The Cabinet Secretary has now confirmed the project will be completed in the Autumn period.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“I share the disappointment constituents will feel with regard to the revised completion date of the AWPR. Earlier this month I contacted Aberdeen Roads Limited calling for a meeting to discuss the timetable of the stretches of the AWPR in my constituency. It is clear both Storm Frank and the collapse of Carillion have had a real impact on both staff and contractors working on this project. But it is important to bear in mind, of course, that when Labour and the Lib Dems were in power they dithered for decades and failed to build this road.

“It has only come about because of action from the SNP in government. At this crucial stage, we need all parties involved to drive the project to the finish line – and ensure we get this ambitious project finished as soon as possible.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The people of the North-East have been waiting many decades for the AWPR to be constructed, yet it was only because of an SNP-led government that it will now be made possible. While I understand the disappointment many people will feel from the lapsed timescale, it is important to note the efforts which have been made by both staff and the Scottish Government to deliver this project on time.”

Cabinet Secretary Calls for Rethink on Period Poverty Approach in 'Shire

Aberdeenshire Council has been called on to rethink its current policy on how period products are accessed by students in North-East schools.

The Tory-led local authority had been considering making sanitary products free for all girls in both primary and secondary schools.

But despite calls they decided against installing dispensing machines which would allow school pupils to access provisions by themselves.

Instead, students have to ask for sanitary products from school nurses themselves.

But in research carried out by the Scottish Government and Young Scot it was found being forced to ask for period provisions was the least favoured option amongst female pupils.

The call for Aberdeenshire Council to reconsider its decision came after Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson asked the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Equalities and Social Security Angela Constance, if she was aware of the “stigmatising policy” set out by the local authority.

Ms Constance said:

“Recent research we carried out in partnership with Young Scot found that having to ask a member of staff for sanitary products was the least popular option amongst those in education and officials have worked closely with stakeholders, informed by this very important research, to develop a set of guiding principles for provision and those principles include ensuring dignity is front and centre and student’s views are taken into account in developing the delivery approach.

“It appears the delivery approach of Aberdeenshire Council is not consistent with student views or our guiding principles and we would encourage them to again look at their delivery approach in consultation with students and I stand ready and my officials stand ready to assist either the MSP for the area or indeed officials.”

In July last year Aberdeen became the first place to host a pilot project looking at free sanitary product provision.

And in the Programme for Government a couple of months First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced sanitary products would be made available in schools, colleges and universities from Autumn 2018.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Aberdeenshire Council have a duty of care to the pupils who are educated in schools across the local authority.

“The one clear factor for females was that they did not want to have to go and ask for sanitary products for fear of being stigmatised.

“Those who live in a challenging financial situation and cannot afford to purchase sanitary provisions may feel a stigma attached to that.

“The last thing they will want to do is ask for help and It may leave them feeling more isolated.

“The evidence is clear and as Ms Constance says, Aberdeenshire Council should rethink their current decision which is very unhelpful.”

20 March 2018

MSP & Fraserburgh Councillors Urge Residents to Make Their Views Known on Minor Injuries Units Consultation

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is urging constituents to make their views known as part of a consultation on Minor Injuries Units at local hospitals across Aberdeenshire.
The review has been instigated by the Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership, a joint NHS Grampian/Aberdeenshire Council body and will take into consideration “location, demand, activity, practitioner competency and ongoing sustainability”.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I know from feedback that our local NHS facilities are greatly valued by constituents. I understand the need for the authorities to review the services they provide from time to time and I appreciate the opportunity to put forward my views and those of my constituents.

“My concern would be that any diminution in the service provided at local Minor Injuries Units would lead to further demands on the ambulance service or, indeed, local GPs. Clearly, we have a number of villages at the moment where provision of a GP service is a major issue. In addition, I am keen that nothing is done which would increase the pressure on the local ambulance service, who may be called upon to step in if access to the Minor Injuries Units was curtailed.

“I will be making my views known to the Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership and I urge constituents to do likewise.”

Fraserburgh & District SNP councillor Charles Buchan added:

"I have already received from my constituents many concerns about a possible closure of our Minor Injury Unit at Fraserburgh Hospital, often referred to as the Casualty Unit. The Fraserburgh unit is very well used and is essential to our district. As well as coping with injuries, it also serves for more serious trauma.

“Closure of the unit would be a big blow to the town and will mean that people in distress will lose the local skills available, and the convenience of emergency medical services at the Casualty Unit, forcing them to make considerably longer journeys to get help.

“I urge people to attend the public consultation meeting on Wednesday 21 March, at the Fraserburgh Community and Sports Centre from 3.00pm to 7.00pm, so that closure does not happen by default.”

Fraserburgh & District SNP councillor Brian Topping said:

“I would likewise encourage everyone to come along and make their views known. We’re fortunate in the Broch to have our own dedicated team of ambulance personnel and my concern would be that additional pressure will be placed on them by any reduction in service from the Minor Injuries Unit.”

An information event is being held at Fraserburgh Sports & Community Centre on 21 March between 3.00pm and 7.00pm.

Further information can be obtained from Aberdeenshire Council on 03456 081203 or by e-mailing integration@aberdeenshire.gov.uk.

19 March 2018

Tories Sell Out Scottish Fishing in Brexit Deal

The Tories have sold out Scottish fishing and abandoned their promises to the industry, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has said.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson last week said that “Britain will leave the CFP as of March 2019”, while Michael Gove had previously said that there would be “a specific transition period for fishing of nine or 10 months”.

But the draft terms of the Brexit transition deal show the UK government has agreed to abide by CFP rules for the whole of the transition period, which ends in December 2020.

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation responded that “This falls far short of an acceptable deal”. They continued: “Put simply, we do not trust them to look after us.”

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Tories have sold out the fishing communities in the North East and across Scotland once again – and Ruth Davidson should be shame-faced for her fastest broken Brexit promise yet.

“Just last week she said ‘Britain will leave the CFP as of March 2019’.

“Now we know not only will the UK have to abide by CFP rules during the transition period, it will lose the voting rights it has now. The Tories have delivered the worst possible outcome for Scotland’s fishing industry.

“The Tories have demonstrated once again that for them that communities like the Banffshire and Buchan Coast are expendable.

“They are so arrogant they now think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it.”

16 March 2018

Banffshire Public Hall Gets Boost from MSP

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has presented a £250 boost to the fundraising efforts of a local community hall courtesy of research interviews he took part in recently.

Research firm Ipsos MORI and gas company Centrica asked the MSP to take part in an interview and offered a donation to charity if he agreed to take part. Mr Stevenson did so and nominated the King Memorial Hall at Grange as the worthy recipient.
Linda de Zilva; Sally Ingram; Stewart Stevenson MSP; and Anne Riddoch
Mr Stevenson presented the cheques to Committee Members Linda de Zilva, Sally Ingram and Anne Riddoch at a visit to the hall today (Friday) where he heard about their fundraising efforts and had a look round the hall.

Commenting, Stewart said:

“I get approached to take part in these surveys and research interviews from time to time in my role as an MSP. Most of them usually offer a fee for taking part and I donate these to good causes around the constituency.

“I was aware that the King Memorial Hall was fundraising for upgrades to their well-used public hall. Rural communities such as Grange rely on volunteers for the upkeep of their facilities, so I was pleased to be able to provide a modest boost to their efforts.”

11 March 2018

Tories Preparing "Cruel Betrayal" Over Fishing Powers

The UK government is preparing for a “cruel betrayal” over fishing powers, the SNP has said – warning the Tories that they’ll never be forgiven if Scotland’s fishing interests are bartered away.

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has also warned that the Tories risk “the worst of both worlds” by giving away fishing rights but hitting fish processing and sales, sectors dependent upon EU markets and freedom of movement.

The Leave campaign promised that Scotland would take back control over fishing if the UK left the European Union.

But this week Philip Hammond hinted that fishing rights would be used as bargaining chips in negotiations, with the UK’s cack-handed approach having left them with a weakened negotiating position.

The Chancellor said that he would “of course” discuss “reciprocal access” to fishing waters in the UK.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Brexiteers promised Scotland’s fishing communities that a Leave vote would mean taking back control of our fishing waters.

“But now we know that Philip Hammond, knowing how few cards the UK government hold, wants to put the future of our fishing communities on the negotiating table.

“This isn’t the first time the Tories have seen Scotland’s fishing industry as ‘expendable’.

“Whether we’re leaving the EU or not, we need fundamental reform of international agreements with better access for Scottish fleets.

“But the Tory approach risks the worst of both worlds for our industry – bartering away our fishing waters, hammering the processors who depend on EU workers and erecting barriers to Scottish seafood reaching its biggest export market.

“If Philip Hammond follows through on his threat to Scotland’s fishing industry, that will be a cruel betrayal – and the Tories won’t be forgiven.”

10 March 2018

Modern Apprenticeship Starts On The Up

MSP Marks Apprenticeship Week with Visit to Successful Broch Company

The number of people starting a modern apprenticeship has increased by over 500 since the same period last year, latest stats show - as Scotland marks Apprenticeship Week.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson marked Apprenticeship Week locally with a visit to Fraserburgh-based Gray & Adams, along with officials from Skills Development Scotland and NE Scotland College, where he met with management and apprentices.

When compared with the end of Quarter 3 last year, there are now 529 more people enrolled in Modern Apprenticeships - a total of 18,774. And the latest statistics also show that there are over 500 more disabled people, 500 more people from BAME backgrounds, and more women undertaking Modern Apprenticeships compared to last year.
Stewart Stevenson MSP with Apprentice Nicola Burnett
The Scottish Government has increased the number of new apprenticeships from 10,500 in 2008 to 28,000 in 2018-19 - and is on track to achieve 30,000 new apprenticeship starts by 2020.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I was delighted to visit one of the constituency’s most successful companies today, Gray and Adams, and to meet some of the apprentices involved.

“The young people I met, who are involved in a range of activities from the factory floor to the drawing office, are building-up important skills which will stand them in good stead as their careers progress. It was a pleasure to meet with them and Gray and Adams are to be commended for their commitment to apprenticeships.

"The Scottish Government's action to increase the number of Modern Apprentices since 2007 has been transformational - and these figures prove the action is having a positive impact on women and minority groups. Progressive companies such as Gray and Adams are a vital part of this and it’s right we recognise their contribution during Apprenticeship Week.

"The fact we have over 500 more Modern Apprenticeship starts nationally than the same time last year is great news to kick off this year's Apprenticeship Week."

Duncan Abernethy, Director of Business Development at North East Scotland College, who accompanied Mr Stevenson on the visit said:

“NESCol is very happy to support Gray & Adams’ Modern Apprentices with 39 currently attending College or being assessed on their programmes in the workplace. We have worked closely with Andrew Cooper and his team for many years, to ensure the best possible learning experience for the apprentices in the Design Office, workshops or body repair facility. The programme provides an impressive ‘conveyor belt’ of talent which helps to secure the future success of the business.

“In the past year, 143 Modern Apprentices from across the North East of Scotland, have successfully completed their training programmes at NESCol with another 364 currently taking part in a variety of programmes across Engineering, Business & Administration, Hairdressing, Automotive and Care. We celebrated the successes of many of those apprentices at our Awards Ceremonies in Fraserburgh and Aberdeen this week along their employers, friends and families.

“NESCol is offering new Modern Apprenticeship qualifications in Management, Freight Logistics and SCQF L8 in Business & Administration in 2018/19 and we are delighted to see a significant increase in employer demand for MA places at North East Scotland College for the year ahead. We look forward to building on the strong relationships we have with business and industry across the Region and are excited about the prospects for the future.”
Stewart Stevenson MSP with Apprentice Kieran Scott

Stevenson Helps Kick-Off 'Bucks for Buckie' Event

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson today (Saturday) helped to get the ‘Bucks for Buckie’ event at the town’s High School underway.

The event, organised by the Buckie Area Forum Regeneration Group, is an exercise in “participatory budgeting” where local groups make their pitch for a share of £20,000-worth of funding. An audience of members of the public from the local community then vote after hearing each groups’ presentation on which projects they feel should get a share of the funding.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I was delighted to be asked along to contribute to what was an absolutely fascinating day. In a lot of ways, there’s no better way of deciding which projects should get public funding than by asking an informed public.

“The groups involved all had very worthwhile projects they were promoting and had clearly put a lot of thought into their presentations to the “electorate” gathered at Buckie High School.

“Great credit is due to the members of the Buckie Area Forum Regeneration Group for hosting the event and also to all the community groups and members of the public who took part.”

7 March 2018

Tories Cannot Be Trusted Over Fishing

Following the publication of the EU’s draft guidelines for the forthcoming Brexit talks, and the Prime Minister’s readiness to discuss reciprocal access for European fishermen to UK waters, the SNP has warned that the Tories cannot be trusted to deliver for Scotland’s fishing communities.

Stewart Stevenson MSP, who represents both Europe’s biggest fishing port (Peterhead) and shellfish port (Fraserburgh) highlighted that the UK government is treating fishermen as “expendable” in negotiations with Brussels once again, with grand campaign promises made by senior Brexiteers failing to materialise.

Acknowledging concerns raised by the industry today, Mr Stevenson said that this latest stand-off in negotiations with Brussels adds to existing worries in the sector over free movement and access to European markets.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The SNP has consistently stood up for Scotland’s fishing industry – calling for current Europe-wide agreements to be fundamentally reformed, or scrapped altogether. Better access for our fleets to the waters around Scotland is of vital importance, whether we’re leaving the EU or not.

“The Tories have let down the fishing communities I represent for decades, infamously describing fishermen as “expendable” in previous negotiations. They couldn’t be trusted then and cannot be trusted now.

“Shamefully Scotland’s fishing communities were promised the earth – and the sea – by the Brexiteers. Leaving the EU, we were told, meant two fingers up to Brussels and no limit to the opportunities for our fishermen.

“The reality, and we’ve seen more evidence of this today, is that the UK government is making such a mess of negotiations that any deal they negotiate is likely to come at a considerable cost to our fishing fleet.

“This comes on top of the risk to both the processing and catching sector posed by ending free movement of people, on which they rely heavily, and free access to the European market place for our world-class seafood.

“That’s why it’s absolutely vital that Scotland stays within the Single Market and that no powers over fisheries are subject to the planned power grab by Westminster – the Tories simply cannot be trusted.”

6 March 2018

MSP Calls for Rethink on Voting Methods to Get More Young People to Polls

A change in how votes are cast in Scotland could boost the number of young people participating in elections, according to an MSP.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson will hold a members’ debate at Holyrood calling for a rethink on the use of the traditional paper voting method.
It comes as a Scottish Government consultation comes to a close on the discussion about the development for electronic and internet voting.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology, of which Mr Stevenson is a member, has previously called for government to embrace a potential change.

It believes the move could encourage more young people to vote as well as helping to reduce the costs of the traditional paper voting system.

The motion put forward by Mr Stevenson has already received cross-party support.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The method of paper voting has not been updated for more than 150 years.

“The digital revolution has changed the way we spend time with each other, shop, book holidays and go about our day-to-day lives.

“It is time we bring our voting system up to speed and adapt it to encourage a wider demographic of people to vote in our elections at both a local and national level.

“I am pleased to have received cross-party support for my motion. There are still a number of aspects of electronic voting to fine tune but I look forward to bringing the discussion and debate to Parliament.”

5 March 2018

MSP Supports Awareness of Eating Disorders

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has taken part in a debate at Holyrood to raise awareness of eating disorders.

Clare Haughey MSP
It was led by SNP MSP Clare Haughey to mark Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Parliament.

In his speech, Mr Stevenson paid tribute to Aberdeenshire Councillor Dennis Robertson – a former MSP – who spoke passionately in previous years about his daughter’s battle with an eating disorder.

Mr Stevenson said it was time to change the way in which society viewed and responded to people suffering from eating disorders.

It comes after it was revealed it takes an average of 149 weeks before a person experiencing symptoms seeks help.

Figures have shown an estimated 34% of adults in the UK cannot identify signs of an eating disorder, while 79% do not know that there are psychological symptoms associated with such disorders.

Mr Stevenson added:

“I want to talk a little about social factors. I am disturbed—I do not know whether others will be—by the fact that Weight Watchers has started offering free six-week memberships to children as young as 13.

“I am sure that it has reasons for doing so and that part of what it will say is that it is fighting childhood obesity and other health complications.

“However, offering that kind of illusory opportunity to people who are potentially vulnerable emotionally and whose body shape is likely to be rapidly changing is not something that I feel comfortable to support.”

Commenting after the debate, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Eating disorders come in many forms and it is important we raise awareness of the many challenges faced not only by patients but their family and friends who may not be aware of the extent of the issue.

“I was in Parliament when my colleague Dennis Robertson previously spoke about his daughter’s own tragic fight with anorexia and it hit home then what a struggle it is.

“With the rise in social media and the pressures young people face for the perfect image we must highlight the risk to vulnerable teens who feel they have to look a certain way.”

2 March 2018

SNP Call For More Support For Hall Transfers

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Councillors Sonya Warren (Buckie) and Theresa Coull (Keith & Cullen) have called for the Independent/Tory Administration on Moray Council to provide more support to groups wishing to take over community facilities.

Moray Council’s ruling group voted to close seven halls and two community centres in their budget on 14 February. The Fisherman’s Hall, Buckie Town House, Findochty Town Hall and Cullen Community & Residential Centre are all on the Council Administration’s hit list.

The Independent/Tory Administration have made it clear that if there is no interest in a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) shown by 30 June then these vital community facilities will close.

With community groups only having four months to save their halls and community centres, groups are now being told by the Council that no support to navigate through the CAT process will be made available to them by the Community Support Unit (CSU).

This has caused great disappointment in the communities involved. Therefore, Stewart Stevenson MSP has written to Moray Council Leader, Cllr George Alexander, calling on his Administration to provide more support to community groups who are willing to save their halls.

Commenting Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It’s bad enough that the Independent/Tory Administration voted to close these halls and community centres but not to be willing to provide support to the very community groups they expect to take on the running of these facilities beggars belief.

“These facilities are vitally important to the communities they are in and people have not been given much time to save their halls. It’s hugely important that as much support as possible is given to community groups that do come forward. Therefore, it’s extremely disappointing that the Administration are refusing support when it’s being asked for.

“The communities are stepping up to the plate to save their halls. It’s time that Independent and Tory councillors, who have forced the communities in to this situation, fulfilled their responsibilities by providing the support needed.”

Cllr Sonya Warren (Buckie) said:

“It is hugely concerning that the Tory/independent Administration voted to close a raft of public facilities if the community don't take them on within the short timescale by 30th June.

“Community Asset Transfers are huge projects that demand lots of time, knowledge and commitment. What the Administration have failed to do is to put support in place for communities to ensure sustainable projects are developed.

“Both the Fishermen's Hall in Buckie and Findochty Hall are integral to the relevant community's lives. It is unthinkable that these facilities could face closure by June and I will be doing everything I can to support groups willing to keep them open.”

Cllr Theresa Coull (Keith & Cullen) commented:

“I am really worried about the timescale provided by the Tory/independent Administration.

“If communities take on the running of their own halls and community centre they have to make this decision before the end of June or the facility will be closed. A Community Asset Transfer is not a quick process and I believe communities need to be given more time to go through this process.

“Cullen Community Centre is not only a community centre but a residential centre and needs to have bookings coming in to make the CAT sustainable. Therefore, the Council should not stop taking bookings while there is a possibility of a CAT.

“The community are disadvantaged if they are not given time and support to go through this process and I urge the Council’s Independent/Tory councillors to give the communities the support they deserve.”
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