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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.”

28 February 2018

MSP Advises Safe Return of Depositors' Monies after Credit Union Closure

A credit union has gone into administration after it was declared to be in default.

The decision will affect more than 2600 members of North East Scotland Credit Union (Nescu) after it was declared to be in default.

The not-for-profit union has confirmed anyone who has savings with them is guaranteed to have their funds returned.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“While this news will come as a shock to the members of the union, it is important they are aware that their money will be returned to them.

“Anyone who has been affected or has any concerns should contact me. I would advise anyone withdrawing cash to have another place to deposit their money safely.

“I will be contacting Nescu to request further information on this matter.”

27 February 2018

School Leavers Across Aberdeenshire Heading for Work or Study

School leavers in Aberdeenshire continue to go on to positive destinations after finishing secondary school, new figures show.

The most recent data reveals 95.5% of youngsters are going into further or higher education, employment or training three months after leaving school.

The total across Scotland has risen from 93.3% last year to 93.7% this year – showing that even more young people are finding fulfilling opportunities after leaving school.

In Aberdeenshire, the percentage of people going on to positive destinations has gone from 94.7% last year to 95.5% this year – and increased from 94.1% since 2011/12.

Of those in positive destinations, 41% are in Higher Education at University and 29% in Further Education are at college, while 21% are in employment and 1% are in training.

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

“The Scottish Government continues to make education its priority this parliament – and these figures reflect just how important SNP action on education is for our young people.

“Being able to go on to a positive destination after leaving school – whether that is college, university, work or training – is a great boost for young people across Aberdeenshire, improving their self-confidence and setting them up to make positive contributions to our communities as adults.

“That more young people across Aberdeenshire are going on to positive destinations this year than previously – up from 94.1% to 95.5% over the last six years – is fantastic news for our local community.

“Our young people need fulfilling work, study or training after leaving school to help ensure they don’t get left behind – and these positive figures for Aberdeenshire and across Scotland show that they are benefitting from exactly that.”

23 February 2018

MSP Welcomes 'Radar' Installation to Monitor Gardenstown Landslip

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson visited Gardenstown today (Friday) at the invitation of Troup councillor Ross Cassie to see the area affected by the landslip in the village.
Whilst there, Mr Stevenson met with local residents and officials from the Roads Department at Aberdeenshire Council who briefed him on the engineering and geological surveys being carried out in the area. Mr Stevenson welcomed the deployment of a radar system to monitor any further slippage on the slope.

Commenting following his visit, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It was useful to see the situation at first hand and meet with affected constituents and officials from the Roads Department who were on-site.

“This is having a serious effect on the community. I was briefed on the engineering and geological surveys being undertaken. I am pleased that a radar system to monitor any further slippage from the slope is being installed and hopefully this will give some further reassurance to local residents.

“I also understand today that Aberdeenshire Council has made an approach to the Scottish Government for assistance in discharging their responsibilities to the community and I will be seeking to encourage a positive response to that request.”

MSP Thanked for Work on Sea of Opportunity by Fishing Sector

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has been thanked by the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation (SFF) for his work on the Sea of Opportunity.

The comments were made by Executive Officer Simon Collins during the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.

Mr Stevenson, a member of the committee, wanted to discuss with representatives from the SFF their views on the Common Fisheries Policy.

He wanted to discuss issues around quota and how it might work during the transition as the UK leaves the European Union.

He said he wanted to know what process would be in place for coming out of the CFP to manage the move afterwards for the catching sector to be at a starting position of 100% of the quota being owned and controlled by Scotland.

Responding to him, Mr Collins said:

“I am glad that Stewart Stevenson is here, because he was one of the first people who came forward with a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the sea of opportunity.

“He was the first to recognise the opportunities for that part of the catching sector.”

Representatives from both the catching and creel sector were in Parliament to put forward their views on the future of fishing post Brexit and during the transition period.

Mr Collins said control of UK waters once more would mean the industry was in a “strong position” to demand if any fleets required access that they should be “prepared to give up” some of their quota.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Since my first day as a Parliamentarian I have made it clear that we should have control of our waters and that the CFP was not fair for the fishing industry in Scotland.

“I am pleased to see that the SFF has a determined and attitude and clear outlook on what it wants to achieve from negotiations in the year ahead.

“It is crucial we retain control of our waters once more and I look forward to continued negotiation and discussion on this matter.”

20 February 2018

MSP Backs Reforms to Scotland's Income Tax System

Low and middle income earners will be protected in the Scottish Government’s budget which will also deliver for public services and public sector workers.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the progressive reforms to Scotland’s income tax system.

It comes as Stage 3 of the Budget (Scotland) (No.2) Bill is laid before the Scottish Parliament.

There will be modest increases on high earners, while 70% of taxpayers will pay less than they did last year and 55% will pay less than the rest of the UK.

Opinion polling has found that Scots back the SNP’s tax plans by two to one.

The Budget will also deliver an additional £400million for the NHS, an expansion in childcare, more spending on broadband, extra funding for police and fire services and a pay rise for hard-working public sector employees.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is a budget for a stronger economy and a fairer society – with increased funding for the NHS and protection for low and middle income earners.

“The Scottish Government is delivering lower income tax for 70% of Scots, with every worker earning less than £33,000 paying less in tax next year – while protecting public services across the Banffshire and Buchan Coast that we all hold dear.

“This budget brings an additional £400 million to NHS Scotland, delivers a pay rise for public sector workers, £756 million for affordable homes, additional funding for the arts and culture sector, a £4 billion investment in infrastructure, including in superfast broadband, as well as significant investments in research, education and childcare.

“In the face of massive Westminster cuts, ongoing Tory austerity and a damaging hard Brexit – this budget provides investment to seize the opportunities of tomorrow.”

15 February 2018

MSP Welcomes Success of North-East Shop's Accolade

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated a North-East tourist shop after it achieved one of the highest Quality Assurance accolades from Visit Scotland.

The Platform, in Macduff, has achieved the prestigious five-star Tourist Shop award following its first ever grading visit.

It comes after the once former railway station was renovated into a shopping destination.

The shop offers a wide selection of gifts, home furnishings and clothing.

The Platform has also joined the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) programme.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“My constituency is full of many hidden treasures I am delighted The Platform has been recognised by Visit Scotland.

“It is clear hard work has paid off and it is a testament to staff who are clearly very valued by their customers.

“I would like to congratulate them on achieving this award on their first grading visit and I look forward to their continued success in the future.”

Jo Robinson, Regional Director at VisitScotland said:

“The Platform is an exceptional example of a business that is working in partnership with VisitScotland – making the most of our opportunities and drawing on the impartial advice and experience to invest in and develop their business.”

9 February 2018

MSP Slams Tory Broadband Claims

MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson, has slammed Tory claims that not enough is being done to improve broadband.

Mr Stevenson has pointed to figures published by Ofcom that show progress in properties accessing superfast broadband is faster in Scotland than elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

Between 2014 and 2016 Scotland saw a 22% increase in the proportion of properties that can access superfast broadband compared to 14% in the UK.

Rural areas in Scotland have also seen action being taken quicker than other countries with the increase in availability of superfast broadband in rural areas being at 46% in Scotland whilst England saw an increase of 38%; Northern Ireland 29% and Wales 5%.

Further figures show that had the Scottish Government not stepped in Aberdeenshire would have seen 25% of its properties access superfast broadband whilst the current figure is actually 82%.

Mr Stevenson has also pointed to The Scottish Government’s commitment to provide 100% of residential and business premises with superfast broadband which is three times faster than the UK. A commitment which has not been matched by any other country in the UK.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“It really beggers belief that a local Tory MP is having a go at the Scottish Government despite Scotland seeing faster progress in getting superfast broadband in recent years than it is being done elsewhere in the UK.

“It is the UK which is the responsibility for digital services. However, the SNP Scottish Government have made a very bold and ambitious commitment to give 100% of premises access to superfast broadband, three times that of which the UK Government will deliver, because the UK Government are not being ambitious enough. Something I know that my constituents in Banffshire & Buchan Coast are delighted about.”

Highlighting the funding being made available for the R100 programme, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“£600 million is be provided to deliver this by the SNP and rural areas are being prioritised. What are we getting from the Tories? £20 million. This is less that Devon and Somerset are getting for a less ambitious programme.

“Instead of his usual deflection of SNP bad stories perhaps Mr Duguid and his Tory colleagues should stand up for Scotland at Westminster and address the measly funding we are getting from the UK Government as well as getting improvements made to mobile coverage for the communities of the North East of Scotland.”

MSP Welcomes Business Boost for Macduff Shipyard

A business boosted by more than £500,000 thanks to a new product it developed has been congratulated by an MSP.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has commended the work of staff at the Macduff Shipyard.

It comes after they were approached by client Scottish Sea Farms and asked to create a new way to remove algae from its fish pen nets.

The product designed by the shipyard was found to be more effective at removing build-up of algae.

Now six more units have been ordered worth more than £500,000.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is brilliant news for Macduff Shipyards. They have worked hard alongside their long-standing client to develop this technology which will help enhance both the health and welfare of salmon within pens.

“Working with communities is hugely important and this will create a real boost for the local area.

“It is clear the work has been somewhat of a game-changer and we hope this is only the beginning.”

8 February 2018

UK Tory Government 'Found Out' on Delivery Charges

Documents have revealed a senior politician was previously warned about the huge costs facing people across Scotland from delivery charges.

It comes after Margot James last month denied in the commons that she had any correspondence on the issue from the Scottish Government prior to a debate put forward by Tory MP Douglas Ross.

In December, a debate was secured in the Commons following a year-long campaign by Moray MSP Richard Lochhead.

During the debate, Douglas Ross asked for confirmation on what contact her department had with the SNP Scottish Government on the issue of delivery charges.

Ms James responded:

“I am not aware of any contact. My office has not had any, but I will find out whether any other offices in my Department have had any contact and write to my hon. Friend with the answer.”

But the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was contacted in December 2016 by the Scottish Government Minister Paul Wheelhouse.

In the letter he said:

“I welcome the engagement of the UK Government on this issue and its recent work on producing a leaflet outlining retailers’ responsibilities.

However, as the regulation for prices of parcels is reserved to Westminster, and many retailers are based outside Scotland, I believe that the UK Government needs to take further measures to improve the situation.”

And in a response in January last year by Ms James, she thanked the Minister for bringing the issue to her “attention”.

She added:

“Regulating prices or intervening in how businesses establish their pricing structures would not be in consumers’ best interests.

“These are commercial interests and should be left to the market. For these reasons, I do not believe more legislation is necessary.

“We will work with the consumer advice agencies on promoting the messages in the leaflet, to make sure retailers are aware of and fulfil their responsibilities.”

The debate at Westminster last month took place after work by Drew Hendry MP and Richard Lochhead MSP to drive the issue forward.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am pleased to see the issue of delivery charges being brought to the attention of Westminster.

“But I am disappointed by the woeful attempt of Mr Ross and his Conservative colleagues to try and bring into dispute the hard work which has been going on for too long by my SNP colleagues both at Holyrood and Westminster.

“It is the UK Government who have the power to make the changes to delivery charges and they must do so now, rather than using the issue as a political football.

“Margot James has been left red-faced by her denial of any communication from the Scottish Government.

“Many people in my constituency of Banffshire and Buchan Coast and all over Scotland, are currently facing extortionate delivery charges based on where they live.

“Consumers are being classed as living in the Highlands and are often forced to pay more than the cost of the item itself simply to have it delivered.

“It must end now.”

17 January 2018

MSP Calls for Constituents to Give Views on Loneliness Strategy

A consultation has been launched looking at the causes of social isolation and loneliness and how they can be addressed.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is calling on his constituents to contribute to the work which will feed into a new national strategy.

It is one of the first in the world to combat loneliness and isolation.

A national strategy to combat loneliness was a key ask of the Jo Cox Commission, which welcomed this announcement.

And views are also being sought on how communities can build on the work of the Scottish Government, and lead on ensuring those at risk of becoming lonely or isolate have access to the right support networks.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“It’s important that voices from across the North-East get involved in the Scottish Government’s consultation to help shape the new loneliness and isolation strategy, especially since each and every one of us has a role to play in reducing loneliness in Scotland.

“Dealing with loneliness and isolation can be incredibly difficult, and by reaching out to our neighbours or anyone we think may be at risk of becoming isolated or lonely – by taking them out, doing a good deed or simply having a chat – we can all have a hugely positive impact.

“Young or old - loneliness doesn’t discriminate and it is linked to both poor physical and mental health, and can have wide-ranging consequences on so many aspects of our lives.

“The SNP Government will be the first country in the UK and one of the first in the world to develop a national strategy to address loneliness and isolation, but this strategy needs our communities and society to lead the way in ensuring those at risk of loneliness get the support they need. I would encourage as many people as possible in the North-East to have a say on this very important issue by contributing to the consultation.”

16 January 2018

NHS Grampian waiting times improve even as flu rate rises

NHS Grampian waiting times have improved on the previous week despite growing pressures from the effect of the rising flu rate and added demand.

In the week ending January 7th, the flu rate doubled and 77.9% of people were treated in Scottish A&Es within four hours.

In the North-East, the percentage of people seen within the same time frame was 89.1%, a rise from 87.9% the week previously.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Despite increased pressures from the number of flu cases and additional Winter pressures, NHS Grampian has managed to increase the number of patients seen within four hours of visiting A&E.

“The work of all health and social care staff who are delivering such fantastic patient care in this tough period is commendable.

“Emergency departments are continuing to feel the effects of the steep rise in flu cases and we must continue to remain vigilant to ensure people are getting seen to in a time appropriate manner.”
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