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29 May 2018

MSP Welcomes Cash Boost for NHS in North East

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

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

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

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

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

MSP Responds to Tory Desertion of Moray Council

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

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

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

26 May 2018

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

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

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

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

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

18 May 2018

Stevenson Welcomes Lottery Funding Boost for Broch

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

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

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

A National Lottery Awards for All spokesperson said:

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

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

MSP Warns UK Tory Government Not To Abandon Erasmus+

Banff School Benefited from over £10,000 Funding

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

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

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

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

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

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

17 May 2018

Stevenson Warns of Brexit Risk to Scotch Whisky Exports

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

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

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

Commenting, local MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

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

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

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

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

Stevenson Comments on North-East Tory MSP's Resignation

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

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

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

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

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

9 May 2018

Funding Boost for Rothiemay Project

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

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

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

Stevenson Welcomes Lottery Funding Boost for Portsoy Project

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

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

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

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

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

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

7 May 2018

eBay Backs Fair Delivery Charges Campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 May 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stewart Stevenson
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