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18 August 2018

SNP MSP Calls On Polluters To Pack It In

The SNP’s Stewart Stevenson is calling on the UK government to better incentivise business to reduce their waste and take more responsibility for the environmental impact of their practices.

Regulations over the amount of packaging and materials used in the delivery of goods as well as recycling those materials are set at a UK level, in the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015 and the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007.

However, waste is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and waste packaging and product regulation are set to be included in the Tory power grab on the Scottish Parliament’s powers after Brexit.
The European Union Circular Economy Package, adopted in January 2018, proposes economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes, for example for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment and vehicles.

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The waste hierarchy is thus - reduce, reuse, recycle. In that order. But the Tories aren’t prioritising the first bit.

“Big companies often try to put the focus on consumer behaviour – don’t litter, recycle your waste.

“But the cost of recycling shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of councils, the devolved administrations and the consumer.

“We need producers across the UK to innovate and stop creating so much needless packaging – but they’ll only do that if it reduces their own costs.

“That’s why I’m calling on the Tory government to adopt more environmentally friendly regulations around packaging and production methods.

“The onus is on Michael Gove to promote more of a ‘polluter pays’ principle that incentivises producers right across the UK to change their ways. Our environment is at stake here.”

16 August 2018

Regeneration on Agenda as Stevenson Visits Businesses in Banff & Macduff

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson spent time this week visiting a range of businesses and projects in Banff and Macduff as part of the Scotland’s Towns Partnership scheme, which supports the Scottish Government's ongoing commitment to secure a positive future for towns such as Banff, Macduff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead.

The visits, facilitated by Aberdeenshire Council’s Economic Development team, included local businesses which had recently invested in upgrades, as well as businesses and projects supported by regeneration funding and helping take forward the Scottish Government’s vision for town centre improvements.

Among those businesses and projects visited by Mr Stevenson were:
The Knowes Hotel in Macduff, run by local couple Wayne and Linda who briefed the MSP about their work as a new business which is independently run and which they have recently extensively refurbished and extended.

Deveron District Age Concern, which was awarded a grant from the Macduff Property Grant Scheme for exterior renovation work to their premises. The group provide support and help to the local community by providing a wide range of initial senior citizen information and support services.

Macduff Harbour, which was awarded funding from the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund and Aberdeenshire Council for a new ice machine.
The Home Bakery Macduff, which has received support from Macduff Small Grant Scheme and is due to open in the coming months.

Banff Silversmiths, which is due to open in the next few weeks which will house an operational silversmiths in a new partnership with Aberdeenshire Council.
Ivy’s Emporium on Bridge Street, an independently owned vintage shop part of CAVA – Craft, Art, Vintage and Antique collective - working with others as part of the Enterprise Challenge Fund with support given by Aberdeenshire Council.

Commenting after his visit, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This was a very useful and informative visit and I’m grateful to the businesses and projects involved for hosting it and to the council for arranging it.

“There was a good mix of commercial enterprises, charities and social enterprises stepping up with assistance to rebuild living breathing town centres which are attracting a new generation of visitors.

“The Scottish Government’s ‘town centre first’ principle is a key tool in helping local enterprises in our towns, backed by the local regeneration partnerships in Banff and Macduff and external funders such as the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

“It was also good to meet businesses which had decided to invest in the area, giving a real boost to the local economy and I was delighted to see and hear how well they are doing.

“All in all, whilst town centres across the UK are facing challenges as a result of changing shopping habits, it was good to see just how many new ventures have established themselves in Banff and Macduff, all of which are helping to regenerate our towns, providing employment and bolster the local economy.”

14 August 2018

Local MSP Welcomes Public Defibrillator Map

British Heart Foundation, Microsoft and NHS Joining Forces to Save Lives

Efforts from the British Heart Foundation, Microsoft and NHS Scotland to create a new public map of defibrillators across the country will be vital in saving lives, local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has said, after plans for the public map were announced.

With many communities across the North-east taking the initiative to raise funds to install a public-access defibrillator, Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the news that proposals for public mapping of the defibrillator network are being taken forward.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I welcome this development and initiative and I am pleased that Scotland will be included in the initial trial phase.

“This proposal has the possibility to help save more lives which we can all welcome. I look forward to the delivery of a concerted public information campaign to raise more awareness of the importance of Public Access Defibrillators and their accessibility.”

13 August 2018

Stevenson Slams Royal Bank For Dividend Payout After Closing Branches

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has condemned Royal Bank of Scotland bosses for announcing they will be paying out a dividend to shareholders – its first for ten years – after axing a string of local branches.

The Royal Bank, which is still substantially-owned by the taxpayer, axed branches in Buckie, Banff and Turriff, as well as removing the Mobile Bank service from Cullen and Aberchirder last year.

The Conservative UK Government still owns around 62 per cent of the shares in RBS but repeatedly refused to intervene to save any of the branches earmarked for closure.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The announcement that RBS is to pay out a dividend after another brutal round of branch closures will come as a slap in the face to customers.

“As I have highlighted recently, one solution to the problems created by bank closures is a community banking hub as proposed in a recent study for Highlands and Islands Enterprise. If just half of the planned dividend payout of 2p per share had instead been put towards that and matched by the other banks, that relatively small sum would have seen a transformation across our now ‘unbanked’ communities.

“It seems clear to me from my inbox and postbag that many people still need or prefer to do their banking in a branch setting. Community banking hubs are an idea worthy of serious consideration.”

7 August 2018

MSP Encourages Farmers to Share Their Views on Rural Funding

Farmers are being encouraged to share their views on the future of rural funding in the event of the UK leaving the European Union.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said with the UK government continuing to progress plans to leave the EU the Scottish Government is making preparations for the impact of Brexit on key sectors such as agriculture.

The First Minister has previously said Scotland’s interests are best served by the UK remaining in  the single market and customs union.

In June, the Scottish Government launched a consultation which set out proposals to stabilise and simplify income support for rural communities in Scotland during the period immediately after Brexit.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The rural economy is vital to Scotland’s economic prosperity but Brexit remains the biggest threat to the industry.

“At the moment, farmers in the North-East and across Scotland, receive valuable support from the EU.

“The paper produced suggests that in the short term there should be support schemes for active farming, food production, environments improvements, forestry and rural development.

“That’s why it is so important we hear directly from those working in the rural sector so they can get the right support to go through the transition period after the UK leaves the EU.”

6 August 2018

MSP Backs Scotch Lamb Funding

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a six-figure sum to support Quality Meat Scotland’s 2018 Scotch lamb promotional campaign.

The announcement was made by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she attended the Turriff Show alongside Mr Stevenson and his fellow North-East MSP Gillian Martin.
The sheep sector plays a significant part in Scotland’s red meat industry, which is worth £892 million to Scotland.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I’m delighted the First Minister came to the Turriff Show to make this important announcement.

“Lamb is an excellent product and part of an important ecosystem that keeps our countryside tidy and attractive.

“There is plenty of scope for increasing Scotch Lamb consumption and I know our farmers stand ready to help.”

Speaking from Turriff Show, NFU Scotland Vice President Martin Kennedy said:

“The announcement by the First Minister of additional funding for Scotch Lamb marketing is great news for our lamb producers.

“The move by the Scottish Government to further support the sector in this way is a significant marker of the positive impact that the Scottish sheep sector has on the Scottish economy.”

3 August 2018

MSP Welcomes Extension of Scottish Government Concessionary Travel Scheme

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed an announcement the National Concessionary Travel Scheme will be extended.

It comes after the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said the scheme would now also include companions of eligible disabled children aged under five.

The move could result in more than 3,000 families and children additionally benefitting from the bus pass.

Additionally, Mr Matheson announced that the age of eligibility will not change for the National Concessionary Travel Scheme and that the options to provide free bus travel for Modern Apprentices will continue to be considered.

The consultation on the scheme closed in November 2017, with nearly 3000 responses received from people and organisations all across Scotland.

Two thirds of respondents felt that that the free bus pass should remain available from the age of 60.

A similar number of respondents felt that Modern Apprentices should benefit from free bus travel, and an overwhelming number of respondents were in favour of providing companion cards for eligible disabled children aged under five.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am pleased this extension to the bus pass has now been made.

“The bus pass is a benefit that many people enjoy and use as part of their daily lives and the concessionary travel scheme enables independence, accessibility and social inclusivity.

“It is right the Scottish Government carries out this work and ensure the sustainability of the National Concessionary Travel Scheme and I am grateful to all those who took part in the consultation process and helped inform the future scope of Scotland’s bus pass.”

Banking Study Could Show Way Forward For Services - Stevenson

A study into the importance of local banking services in rural areas which recommends a ‘whole system response’ to meeting the banking needs of communities and businesses could show the way forward according to local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson.

The study was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) amid a growing trend of rural bank branch closures.

The report says banking facilities need to be understood as core to local community infrastructure. It added that there is a disconnect between local bank closures and efforts to strengthen and grow local economies.

Access to cash remains fundamental to the viability of small retail businesses, prominent in rural areas. This is especially in relation to tourism, where successes in generating income within fragile communities could be hit by the loss of access to cash via local banks.
Commenting on the report, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The recent round of bank branch closures we’ve seen have started hitting large towns, such as Fraserburgh, Buckie and Banff that most people would have assumed were safe from such closures.

“Online banking, Post Office banking and mobile bank vans go some way to providing alternatives but can only go so far. One of the recommendations of this report is a “collaborative approach” to ensuring communities are not “unbanked”. This would involve a range of partners including the banks, the Post Office and local authorities in a service point-type provision which would ensure that a physical presence remains within communities.

“It’s a proposal which is very much worth investigating further. In the meantime however, I would urge people affected by bank branch closures to support their local Post Office and those banks which still remain within their community.”

1 August 2018

MSP Backs Farmers' Calls For Rules Relaxation To Ease Fodder Crisis

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has asked Rural Affairs Secretary Fergus Ewing to consider a relaxation on rules on ‘green manure’ crops to assist with the fodder shortage currently being experienced.
The MSP raised the matter with the Cabinet Secretary after meeting farmers at New Deer Show last week. The Scottish Government has also today met with stakeholders from the farming industry including Scottish Beef Association; Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB); Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS); Scottish Machinery Ring Association; Scotland’s rural charity RSABI; Scottish Dairy Hub; Maltsters Association of Great Britain; Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC); NSA Scotland; Scotch Whisky Association; SAC Consulting and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“There are severe challenges facing farmers at the moment as a result of the wet winter and spring and now an exceptionally dry summer.

“Chief among these is the fodder shortfall which will make for a difficult autumn and winter. I’ve raised the issue of ‘green manure’ crops as fodder at the request of local farmers as a sensible and useful contribution to helping meet the shortfall.”

NFUS Vice President Martin Kennedy, who chaired today's meeting and was among those who met with Mr Stevenson at New Deer Show, said:

“This is set to be an extremely challenging autumn and winter, but those round the table today are committed to helping the industry through it.”

MSP Condemns UK Tory Govt Plans To Take €1 Billion from Scottish Control After Brexit

The UK Tory Government has been criticised for its plans to replace the €1 billion European Structural and Investment Funds, currently distributed by the Scottish Government, with a UK Government-controlled 'UK Shared Prosperity Fund' which will merely “engage” with devolved administrations after Brexit.

The European Structural and Investment Funds, being the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF), help a wide range of projects including initiatives to address poverty, improve infrastructure and the environment and tackle pollution across Scotland.

The announcement, made by UK Tory Government Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire MP, has been heavily criticised by third sector organisations and the SNP, as new evidence of a Tory power grab on Scotland.

Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), commented:

“The SCVO has been consistent in our position that powers returning to the UK from the EU should be devolved so that Scotland’s needs can be considered and reflected in decision-making.

“The UK Parliament has promised engagement with devolved administrations on these matters before but their track record suggests they are more interested in England’s priorities and not at all concerned with those of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.”

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“European Structural Funding has helped to create employment, build roads and infrastructure and help tackle unemployment in every corner of Scotland – particularly in some of our most remote communities.

“To replace this with a system administered entirely by Westminster, instead of here in Scotland, would be completely unacceptable.

“Given their recent form in seeking to tear up the devolution settlement, there would be little reason to trust the Tories.”

The European Structural and Investment Funds scheme is currently handled by Scottish ministers. Money is allocated on a six year basis with the 2014 to 2020 funds for Scotland worth €476 million and €465m respectively.

Schools Suffer Huge Decline in EU Teaching Applicants

Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP has called for the devolution of migration powers, following a massive fall in the number of European Union (EU) citizens choosing to join the education workforce in Scotland, as insecurity surrounding the UK’s impending departure from the EU grows.

The most recently published figures by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) show that only 14 EU teachers from six nations have applied for registration so far in 2018, a dramatic decline compared to the 186 received last year.

The starkness of this contrast is further illustrated by the fact that over previous years, there had been a steady upward trend from 128 applications in 2015, to 159 in 2016 and 186 in 2017.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP said:

“Scotland voted clearly and decisively to remain within the European Union and we have repeatedly demonstrated that this is the best option for Scotland’s future.

“These figures show the stark reality of Brexit. Already highly-skilled and hard-working EU citizens are thinking twice about choosing to live and teach in Scotland which will not only have a negative impact on the education workforce but our economy and society as a whole.

“Last year we had citizens from almost every EU member country applying for GTCS registration but, so far this year, citizens from just six countries have applied to live and work in Scotland. The GTCS - the independent body that registers teachers - has made plain that Brexit is driving this slump.

“Once again this underlines the clear case for the SNP Government, accountable to the Scottish Parliament, to set the rules for a migration system tailored to meet the country’s needs.

“It is vital we continue to attract the very best candidates to work within the Scottish education system regardless of their nationality. Our young people deserve no less.”

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

“Scotland has differing needs and wishes to England and as such, requires a system tailored to meet Scotland’s requirements. We need EU-citizens with the appropriate skills to come and strengthen our workforce.

“Immigration policy must be devolved to limit the damaging impact of this.”

Rocketing Hinkley Point Nuclear Costs Will Increase Energy Costs - MSP

Latest fears of delays at Hinkley Point where the world’s most expensive nuclear power station is being built, are likely to lead to increased costs for the billpayer, the SNP has said.
from wikipedia
Industry reports suggest that EDF, in charge of developing a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, has been forced to delay energy generation at other sites in Europe due to significant plant problems, likely to affect their UK developments too.

This latest warning over the beleaguered Hinkley project comes in addition to the fact the cost of the new plant is already three times over budget - and rising. Hinkley’s ‘strike price’ is already guaranteed to be higher than prices for other energy sources, meaning big increases in electricity bills for consumers.

French power utility EDF announced that there will be further delays and cost overruns at its Flamanville nuclear site in France.

The start-up date for the Flamanville 3 reactor has now been pushed back to the second quarter of 2020, having originally been slated for 2012 when construction began in 2007. The revised cost estimate of 10.9 billion euros is now three times the original budget.

There is now serious doubt over whether a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point can be built by 2025, or within the £20 billion revised budget which is already set to impact upon consumers’ energy bills. Costs running even further above this exorbitant rate will mean further pain for bill payers.

These latest fears over Hinkley and the expensive energy it will produce comes just one week after the Tories announced plans to scrap feed-in tariffs for renewables projects from next year.

The SNP has reiterated its calls for the plug to be pulled on Hinkley and the billions saved to be reinvested in green energy.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson commented:

“Hinkley Point is a complete white elephant; it is already significantly delayed and well over budget. I would be flabbergasted if all these delays and complications didn’t lead to a massive increase in the initially estimated costs. If the project ever becomes operational.

“The UK Prime Minister only two years ago wavered on pursuing Hinkley. She should have followed her instincts and cancelled the project.”

“The biggest tragedy is that this saga is only one of many symptoms of how out of touch the Tories are with their energy policy.

“With one hand they cut support for the clean industries of the future, like the Peterhead CCS scheme, while with the other they continue to throw money at this project which was racked with problems before it got off the drawing board.

“The sooner Scotland has full control over energy policy the better, so we can invest wisely in green energy.”

27 July 2018

Stevenson Completes Successful Surgery Tour

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson completed his annual surgery tour in the last week, clocking-up nearly 40 surgeries in communities across the constituency.

Mr Stevenson’s record of holding surgeries is second to none and makes him one of the most accessible MSPs in the country, having held over 1,100 surgeries since he was elected.
Commenting, Stewart said:

“Most of the casework I receive from constituents these days comes in via e-mail, post or by phone, but I think it’s still very important to be available for face-to-face discussions in people’s own communities and the Surgery Tour serves that purpose very well.

“People brought a range of issues to me, which I am progressing with the relevant authorities.

“Over the years, many thousands of people have been in touch through one of my surgeries. It’s not always possible to achieve the outcome that people are seeking with a particular issue or problem, but on many occasions, simply the act of writing a letter on Parliamentary-headed paper on someone’s behalf is enough to make the powers that be or private companies sit up and pay attention to someone’s problem. Being able to help people in this way is both a pleasure and a privilege and I’m pleased to be able to do so.

“I’ll be holding more surgeries of the conventional type across the larger towns in the coming months but in the meantime, any constituent wishing to contact me can do so in a range of ways; by phone, e-mail, post, calling in at my Constituency Office or online via my website, www.stewartstevenson.scot, which also has full details of how to get in touch.”

Arrangements are already being made for Stewart’s next round of surgeries, which will take place next month.

25 July 2018

MSP Calls for Change After Teaching Council Figures Reveal Drop in EU Teaching Applications

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has called for changes to immigration measures to attract and retain talent in the teaching sector.

It comes after figures were revealed which show only 14 EU teachers applied for registration to teach in Scottish schools in the first half of the year – when the bulk of applications normally occur.

In comparison, there had been a steady increase with 128 applications in 2015, 159 in 2016 and 186 in 2017.

The drop was attributed by the General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS) Chief Executive Ken Muir to Brexit and the Tory government’s damaging approach to immigration.

Now, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has warned exiting the European Union will impact the North-East and chances of attracting and retaining talent in the teaching sector.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The consequences of Brexit and damaging Tory policies around immigration are now hitting close to home – in our local schools and communities.

“Despite the best efforts of the Scottish Government to attract and retain the talent we need in our teaching sector, this work is being completely undermined by Westminster.

“The existing cap on the number of qualified teaching professionals allowed to enter the UK has already left some schools denied a teacher they had recruited, but these new figures are absolutely devastating.

“They prove the Tories put their own Brexit obsessions ahead of what’s good for our kids’ education – that is completely intolerable. They’re actively driving talent away.

“The Tories should drop their anti-migrant obsession and drop it now – and give Scotland full control over immigration so we can design a better system, suited to our needs, with the right skills in our schools to give our children the best education we can provide.”

21 July 2018

Stevenson Congratulates New Deer Show Organisers

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson visited New Deer Show today with local SNP councillors where he met with the local NFU Scotland branch. The MSP also toured the cattle and sheep lines before visiting the various stalls and exhibitions around the showground.
MSP Stewart Stevenson with
Turriff & District SNP councillor Alistair Forsyth
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

"I'm very pleased for the organisers that, on the whole, the weather was kind to them this year.

"There is a huge amount of work goes into planning a successful show like New Deer and the President Alistair Kindness, Secretary Lynne Morrison and Committee deserve our thanks for putting together another excellent showcase for the best of Buchan and North-east livestock.

"The support given to the show by the Buchan community and the public at large is vitally important to ensuring that this 171-year old tradition continues not only as part of Buchan's farming heritage but also as an important contributor to the rural economy."

20 July 2018

MSP Congratulates RNAS on Successful Banffshire Farming Event

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson attended this week’s ECOAgriTech event held in Knock.
Organised by the Royal Northern Agricultural Society (RNAS), the event focussed on sustainable agriculture techniques and featured a range of specialists, displays and talks.

Commenting on the event, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I congratulate the Royal Northern Agricultural Society and those involved in the organising of the day on a successful and very worthwhile event.

“In particular, it was good to sit-in on John Kinnaird’s lecture in the afternoon and have the opportunity of a chat with him afterwards. As a former President of NFUS and the Scottish Government’s Sustainability Champion, John had things to say about the industry, Brexit and a range of other issues which were very insightful.”

Tories Waste Three Years to Re-Identify Peterhead as Prime CCS Location

UK Government Cannot be Trusted to Deliver for North-East

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has criticised the UK government for scrapping a proposed £1 billion Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) scheme at Peterhead in 2015 – only to reidentify the site as a key region for the technology this week.
Then-Chancellor George Osborne announced £1billion of potential funding had been axed in 2015, costing jobs and investment in Peterhead, where the power station had been earmarked as a potential site for CCS. A new report by the Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage Task Force (CCUS), has described the region as having “unique potential” for the project due to its links with the oil and gas industry – which was clear for all to see in 2015.

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has now demanded that the UK government quits stalling and gets on and delivers.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“It has taken the UK Government three years to reaffirm what they already knew about the opportunity from CCS.

“In 2015, then-Chancellor George Osborne scrapped funding which could have transformed energy in Scotland and beyond and brought hundreds of jobs to Peterhead.

“There are already a number of projects in place including the Acorn Demonstrator Project at St Fergus.

“I am pleased the government has set up a taskforce and is now reconsidering its options but this is a complete waste of money and time given that the benefits were for all to see three years ago.

“We’ve had enough stalling – the UK government must now get on with delivering the project at Peterhead.”

17 July 2018

Scots Schools Swindled by Toxic PFI Legacy

Aberdeenshire Council Spends 5% of School Budget
Paying PFI Debts

Schools across Aberdeenshire continue to count the cost of a toxic PFI legacy started by the Tories – which will see the local authority spend 5% of their school budget.
New research into the toxic PFI legacy which continues to plague Scotland’s public finances shows that of the total spend on schools across Aberdeenshire this year, 5% of that money will be used paying off debts from the discredited funding scheme.

The analysis by independent researchers in the Scottish Parliament Library has found that PFI unitary charges for Scotland’s schools in 2018/19 are estimated to be £434.3 million – a significant amount of Scottish schools’ total resource budget of £5.159 billion.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“A toxic PFI legacy means the public purse is still paying heavily over the odds servicing decade old debts.

“Money that councils could use to pay for teachers, books and facilities is being used by councils forced to pay for the Tory obsession with bringing privatisation and private profit to our education system.

“Thanks to this shameful legacy, the reality is we are going to be saddled with this bill for years come.”

16 July 2018

Poll Shows Tories Out of Touch on Energy

Two-Thirds Oppose Tory Government Onshore Wind Policy

The SNP's Stewart Stevenson has warned that the Tories are "dangerously out of step with public opinion" on energy policy, following new YouGov poll findings that two-thirds of people in the UK believe that the Tory Government's opposition to onshore wind is wrong.

The poll, commissioned by industry body RenewableUK, showed strong support for renewables generally, with a clear majority favouring onshore wind over nuclear power and fracking, and 69% of respondents also backing the development of more onshore wind farms.

With no public consultation and no parliamentary scrutiny or debate, the Tory government locked out almost all new onshore wind projects from the UK’s contract-for-difference (CfD) support mechanism, while projects in England are also subject to planning rules designed to hamper development.

The Scottish Conservative's 2017 party manifesto stated: “we do not believe that more large-scale onshore wind power is right for Scotland."

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson, who sits on Holyrood’s Environment Committee, said:

“The Tories’ backwards decision to cut subsidies for the renewables sector is not only dangerously out of step with public opinion, including a majority of Tory voters, it has also hampered growth in a vital industry of the future that experts say will be more cost-effective than nuclear power.

“Despite the Tories' damaging opposition to onshore wind, the SNP continues to support Scotland’s renewables potential, both in generation and infrastructure, with renewable electricity capacity in Scotland making up approximately 25% of the UK's renewable generation in 2017.

"The SNP recognises that renewable energy plays a hugely significant role in powering Scotland's future, and it is clear that for Scotland to maintain a strong renewables sector, environment and energy policy must be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.”

MSP Seeks Assurances on Clydesdale Bank Tie-Up with Virgin Money

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has sought assurances from the Clydesdale Bank following the announcement that it is to link-up with Virgin Money.

The announcement by the bank signalled the end of the iconic Clydesdale Bank branch as it will be dropped in favour of the Virgin Money brand, and also lead to a projected 1500 job losses as well as ‘efficiencies’ in the branch network.

Mr Stevenson has written to Clydesdale Bank Chief Executive David Duffy seeking assurances on branches, jobs and the continuation of the bank’s note issue.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The North-east in particular has been badly affected in recent times with the closure of bank branches across all three major banks, not least the Royal Bank, which is majority-owned by the UK Government on behalf of the taxpayer. My constituency has gone from 12 Clydesdale Bank branches down to only one remaining.

“On the subject of job losses, the loss of high-quality jobs in the banking sector from rural areas has diminished the ability of rural areas to retain its young people and attract professionals into the community.

“I have asked the bank for assurances on these points and also about the continuation of the bank’s future note issue, which is an important part of day-to-day life.”

SNP Poll Boost as Labour and Tories on the Slide

The SNP has received a boost in the polls, while support for Labour and the Tories continues to ebb away.

On Westminster voting intentions, the SNP commands an 18-point lead over the Tories, with Labour trailing even further behind. If applied to a General Election these figures would give the SNP 13 more MPs than at present with the Tories losing 7 seats and Labour 6.

The findings from Survation published in a national newspaper chime with other recent polls showing Labour’s boasts of a resurgence have failed to materialise, as they lose support on both the constituency and regional vote for Holyrood. Meanwhile support for the SNP holds strong – with a 19-point lead over the Tories on constituency voting intentions, with Labour trailing by 22.

These figures follow recent polling showing support for independence remains at historically high levels.

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The SNP is driving Scotland forward, delivering the best public services anywhere in the UK and building a fairer country.

“Our ambition for Scotland could not be further at odds with the despair and chaos from the Tories. That’s why they’ve slumped, while support for the SNP continues to grow.

“And what’s clear is that fewer and fewer people think Labour are a serious alternative. They’ve got no credibility on the big issues we face as a country and their support is disappearing at a rate of knots.

“We never have, and never will, take our support for granted. We’ll continue to raise our sights after 11 years in government and keep fighting Scotland’s corner at Westminster, unlike the Tories.”

12 July 2018

MSP Urges Voters to Update Electoral Information

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has encouraged constituents to make sure their details are correct on the electoral register.

Canvass forms for 2018 have been arriving in households across Grampian since the beginning of July.

Each year, forms are sent out with members of the household listed, seeking confirmation the details are correct.

And the Grampian Electoral Registration team is encouraging people to use the automated response function to make their return as soon as possible.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Constituents should make sure their details are correct on the electoral register in order to vote in any local or national elections.

“Last year, many households responded quickly and I am hopeful this will be built on again this year.

“By responding online, savings are also made both by the household and back-office processing costs. Every vote matters in an election and it’s why registering is so important.”

Last year 95,000 of 276,000 households across Grampian responded using the automated system - an increase of more than 20,000 on the previous year.

10 July 2018

Stevenson Welcomes Decision to Save Sandend Beach

Sandend Beach No Longer To Be Considered
For Windfarm Connection


MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson, has today welcomed an announcement that Sandend Beach will not be used as the landfall location for the Moray West Offshore Wind Farm Project.

The announcement comes following a meeting the local MSP held with local residents in June which was organised by the Fordyce, Sandend & District Community Council. At that meeting Mr Stevenson promised to take their concerns directly to the company and met with Moray West Offshore Wind Farm a week later.

In a letter to the SNP MSP the company pursuing the project have confirmed that “Sandend Beach and potential landfalls to the west of the beach to Findlater Castle are no longer being considered as potential landfall locations”.

Welcoming the announcement Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I very much welcome that after a strong community campaign Sandend Beach has been saved.

“I was delighted to meet with local residents and to take their views on the proposal directly to the developer.

“I am glad the developer has listened to those very genuine concerns and have ruled out using Sandend Beach and the stretch to Findlater Castle as their onshore landfall location.

“This stretch of the Banffshire Coast is a hugely important to local tourism and leisure activities so it’s vitally important that those concerns were taken on board and thankfully they have.

“I know this decision will be warmly welcomed by the local communities along this stretch of the coast and I wish to congratulate them on a hard fought and successful campaign – one which I was proud to support.”

5 July 2018

SNP Seek Assurances on Buckie Post Office

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson and Buckie councillor Sonya Warren are seeking reassurances that the Buckie Post Office will reopen and looking for a timescale of when that will happen.

The Post Office in the town’s High Street has reportedly been closed for 2 days however there has been no official notification to the two politicians of any closure.

Mr Stevenson has written to Post Office Ltd. asking when the facility will re-open highlighting the effect the closure is having on customers and businesses, particularly given the recent closure of two banks in the town.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Post Office is a lifeline service for many individuals and business, particularly following the recent closure of two banks in the town. Therefore, it is hugely important that Buckie’s Post Office is re-opened as soon as possible.

“I was not made aware of any closure by the Post Office so I have written to them asking that they outline how long the facility in Buckie will be closed for.

“So many services are now delivered through the Post Office and people rely on them. Local people and businesses need to know when they are going to be available.

“Hopefully this situation will be resolved soon and people can start using the services again shortly.”

Councillor Sonya Warren said:

“I have been approached by many people in the town who are extremely concerned that the Post Office has been closed unexpectedly.

“Some businesses have told me that they have had to go to Findochty to deposit money and are limited to how much they can put in there so this closure is really affecting local businesses.

“We were told by the two banks that recently closed their doors that we could use the Post Office so it’s vital more than ever that the Post Office is available for folk to access.

“We need certainty from the Post Office of when this vital facility will reopen again.”

SNP Start Campaign for ATM in Cullen

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson and Keith & Cullen councillor Theresa Coull have launched a campaign to try and re-instate an ATM in Cullen.

The local community, including businesses, have raised concerns that there is no cash machine available for people to access at all times. Since the closure of the Bank of Scotland and the subsequent removal of the cash machine there has not been a 24 hour ATM in Cullen.

Many businesses have reported losing business as visitors and tourists want to pay by cash but cannot access a cash machine nearby.

Both SNP politicians have written to Link and the Bank of Scotland urging them to find a solution to the problems that tourists and businesses in Cullen are facing.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Cullen was only just recently named as one of the top holiday destinations in the UK yet tourists, and locals, are not able to access cash 24 hours a day.

“I am pleased to join with my SNP colleague, Councillor Theresa Coull, in campaigning to get an ATM re-installed in Cullen.

“This is not only important for tourist’s convenience but also to ensure that the small businesses in Cullen can thrive and flourish. Many of the businesses in Cullen rely on accepting cash and if tourists and locals cannot access cash easily then they will take their money elsewhere.

“I will continue to do all I can, working alongside the local community, to try and get a cash machine back to Cullen so that businesses in the town can prosper.”

Councillor Theresa Coull said:

“The lack of a 24 hour cash machine in Cullen is a real problem for many of the tourists, visitors and businesses.

“It was great news when Cullen was voted one of the best places to have a holiday but the unavailability of cash is a serious issue. Not everyone can or wants to pay by card and not every business can take them. Therefore, it’s important that for Cullen businesses to really benefit from tourism that cash is readily available.

“I hope that the campaign we are starting will result in an ATM being reinstated back in to Cullen so that the tourist pound can stay in Cullen.”

1 July 2018

Banffshire MSP Thanks Festival Organisers for Hard Work

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated the organisers of this year’s 25th anniversary Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy on another highly-successful event.

Mr Stevenson tabled a Motion in Parliament recently to mark the occasion and highlight the growing success of the event over the past quarter of a century.

Commenting after visiting the festival this weekend, Mr Stevenson said:

“It is a testament to the hard work, vision and enthusiasm of the organisers and volunteers that what started out as a small local commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the town’s harbour has grown into one of the country’s leading tourism events.

“It is a truly great thing for Portsoy and the Banffshire coast to have an event like the boat festival which attracts thousands of visitors from near and far and provides a huge annual boost to the local economy. The support of North-east businesses as well who provide sponsorship for the event is, likewise, greatly appreciated.

“Therefore, I say ‘congratulations’ to the organisers on reaching their 25th anniversary and I look forward to many more.”

Local MSP Meets New Port Chief Executive

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson met with newly-appointed Chief Executive of Peterhead Port Authority Simon Brebner.

Mr Brebner took up his duties on 11 June having held senior positions in multiple ports throughout the world. With over thirty years commercial shipping experience he has a deep understanding of stakeholder needs and business activity.

Commenting after meeting with Mr Brebner, Stewart Stevenson said:

"Simon brings a wealth of experience in harbour management to Peterhead at a time when there is great change in our fishing industry.

“He will be inheriting a harbour which has made a significant investment with its new fish market and I look forward to working with him to further the interests of Peterhead and the North-east”.

Stevenson Backs Moray Council Moves on Crossing Patrollers

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson today welcomed the decision by the new SNP-led Moray Council Administration to reinstate School Crossing Patrollers which were removed by the previous Tory/Independent Administration from non-signalised crossings.

SNP Councillors had requested a report on School Crossing Patrollers be brought to a Special Council meeting this week and successfully won a debate to reinstate all Crossing Patrollers not on signalised crossings, meaning that the vast majority of School Crossing Patrol locations will remain, providing morning and afternoon cover.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“This is a very welcome decision indeed and is an early indication that the new SNP Administration on Moray Council will be putting our communities first as they navigate some very difficult decisions in the time ahead.

“I am sure parents across the Moray Council area will welcome this decision.”

Welcoming the decision SNP councillor for Speyside Glenlivet, Louise Laing, who has been very vocal on the issue, said:

“I am delighted to have the majority of School Crossing Patrollers reinstated. The biggest issue with the most complaints that I deal with is the speed and volume of traffic coming through the towns in my ward.

“It may not be the council’s statutory obligation to get children to school but morally it’s an issue that’s important to both SNP group and the people we represent.

“There are many difficult decisions to make in the coming years but child safety has to be amongst our top priorities. We want to encourage our children to walk or cycle to school and be fit and active, but we also need them to be safe.”

SNP councillor for Buckie, Sonya Warren, said:

“There has been huge concern from parents and the wider community about the loss of School Crossing Patrollers and we have always felt that this was a cut too far in the last Council budget.

“I am delighted that one of our earliest actions as the new Council Administration has been to get this issue back on the table and I am grateful for the support from other councillors who backed our proposal to reinstate the majority of the School Crossing Patroller sites, including a particularly busy location in Buckie that is set to get busier with the opening of the new early years facility at Lady Cathcart.

“We have already made significant progress towards what will be a challenging budget but the safety of children walking to school is an area we firmly believe must be protected.”

29 June 2018

MSP Welcomes Rugby Cash Prize for Club

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated Fraserburgh RFC after they were awarded a four-figure sum and a chance to meet a number of famous rugby players.

The Aberdeenshire club will receive their prizes ahead of RugbyForce Weekend in August when a number of pre-season events are held to raise awareness of participating clubs within local areas.

Fraserburgh RFC has been recognised as a ‘star club’ and will be awarded a £1,000 cash prize as well as branded merchandise and a visit from a current Scottish International player.

The club has said it will be putting its cash prize towards a club DIY day.

More than 130 clubs applied for Royal Bank RugbyForce support this year and an official panel of judges picked winners based on plans put forward for fundraising.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I would like to congratulate Fraserburgh RFC for their hard work which has led to this award. It is clear they have an enthusiasm, commitment and passion for rugby.

“I am pleased to see their hard work has paid off for them and I look forward to seeing how it continues to grow in the future.”

28 June 2018

Scotland's Emissions Reduction Progress Best in UK - Report

Scotland is “at the forefront of the low carbon transition” in the UK, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has said today as the Committee on Climate Change’s progress report confirmed Scotland’s progress on emissions reduction was the best in the UK.

The ‘Reducing UK emissions 2018 Progress Report to Parliament’ published today shows that Scottish emissions decreased by 11% in 2016, and by an average of 5% a year between 2009 and 2016.

The report also confirmed that Scotland's share of the UK’s total emissions is 2% lower than Wales, and it has a lower share of emissions than its share of population.

This news comes the same day the Scottish Government’s data shows that renewable electricity generation in Scotland increased by 11% in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same quarter last year, with installed renewable electricity capacity also increasing by 11% over the same period. In 2017, just under 70% of Scotland’s electricity consumption came from renewables – up 15% from the previous year.

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson, who sits on Holyrood’s Environment Committee, said:

“This report shows that Scotland has the best record on long-term emissions reductions in the UK, and is at the forefront of the low carbon transition.

“Our emissions have almost halved since 1990, we are exceeding the current 2020 target, and in the EU-15, only Sweden has done better.

“Our new Climate Change Bill is the next step in Scotland’s transition – responding to the Paris Agreement with increased ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“And this ambition will continue to be matched by realistic action – including putting in place low emission zones in four Scottish cities by 2020, with the SNP administration in Glasgow leading the way approving the first low emission zone.

“This report confirms that Scotland contributes 25% of the UK’s renewable energy output - and with as much as a quarter of Europe's offshore wind and tidal energy potential and an estimated 10% of its wave power capacity - Scotland is well placed to become the continent's green energy powerhouse.

“The SNP Government knows that tackling climate change is both a moral imperative and an economic opportunity, and we are taking action now and setting an example to the rest of the UK.”

27 June 2018

MSP Welcomes 25th Anniversary of Boat Festival

Celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of a traditional boat festival have been welcomed in parliament a North-East MSP.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has put forward a motion welcoming the quarter of a century anniversary.

The annual event will be held on June 30th and July 1st and offer an array of sailing events displaying historic, traditional and modern craft.

Mr Stevenson said in his motion that the event “aims to bring families and the community together” as well as providing opportunity including for local artists and food producers.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival has become an event that people attend from all over Scotland.

“It offers the chance for local performers, artists and food producers to highlight their talents.

“Traditional events like this help to promote Scottish culture both regionally and across the globe.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to welcome tourism and I am delighted the festival has continued to go from strength to strength.”

26 June 2018

MSP Welcomes Cash Boost for NHS Grampian Staff

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a salary boost for more than 13,000 NHS staff in NHS Grampian.

More than 148,000 NHS Scotland staff will be offered a minimum 9% pay rise over the next three years.

The amount is the highest NHS pay uplift being offered in the whole of the UK.

It comes after the First Minister’s announcement that the NHS Agenda for Change employees would receive a 3% pay increase in next month’s pay packet and backdated to the beginning of the year.

Relative to staff in England, NHS Scotland nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and paramedics, amongst others, will receive minimum cumulative uplift of 9% and those earning £80,000 and over will receive a flat rate increase of £1,600 a year.

The changes will be agreed between NHS employers, unions and the Scottish Government by the end of the year.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is an important SNP Government investment in the many NHS staff who care for us day in day out in NHS Grampian.

“Currently, Advanced Nurse Practitioners in Scotland are getting paid £430 more a year than those in England, and if they secured a job with a band 7 salary last year, they’d see their salary grow by over £8,800 over the next three years.

“Not only is the SNP Government bringing NHS Scotland staffing to historically high levels – we are making sure that our healthcare professionals are getting the best pay deal in the whole of the UK and making our NHS a more attractive place to work.

“We will always stand up for what’s best for NHS Grampian’s health services and the hard-working staff who go to incredible efforts on our behalf.”

MSP Backs Calls for Change to Outdated Energy Systems

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has backed calls from Centrica to update outdated energy systems.

It comes as Centrica Business Solutions revealed new figures which show the NHS across Scotland could save at least £19million per year.

The data was released to mark NHS Sustainable Health and Care Week and form part of a larger report examining the potential impact of distributed energy solutions on job creation, economic growth and productivity.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Transforming buildings to be warmer, greener and more efficient offers substantial economic, social and health benefits.

“As this research from Centrica indicates, there is a real opportunity for large energy users to improve energy performance, bring down bills and, in the case of vital frontline services like our NHS, ensure budgets can be spent on frontline services rather than energy costs.”

Jorge Pikunic, Managing Director at Centrica Business Solutions, said:

“Our NHS is an incredible healthcare system and a source of national pride – but it’s also under intense pressure to reduce costs while delivering enhanced services. Energy has a huge role to play in that."

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.”
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