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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.”

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