19 March 2018

Tories Sell Out Scottish Fishing in Brexit Deal

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

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

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

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

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

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

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

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

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

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

16 March 2018

Banffshire Public Hall Gets Boost from MSP

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

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

Commenting, Stewart said:

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

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

11 March 2018

Tories Preparing "Cruel Betrayal" Over Fishing Powers

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

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

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

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

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

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 March 2018

Modern Apprenticeship Starts On The Up

MSP Marks Apprenticeship Week with Visit to Successful Broch Company

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

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stevenson Helps Kick-Off 'Bucks for Buckie' Event

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

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

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

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

7 March 2018

Tories Cannot Be Trusted Over Fishing

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

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

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

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 March 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

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

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

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

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

5 March 2018

MSP Supports Awareness of Eating Disorders

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Stevenson added:

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

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

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

Commenting after the debate, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

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

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

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

2 March 2018

SNP Call For More Support For Hall Transfers

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

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

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

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

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

Commenting Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

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

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

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

Cllr Sonya Warren (Buckie) said:

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

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

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

Cllr Theresa Coull (Keith & Cullen) commented:

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

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

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

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