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28 September 2018

MSP Encourages Carers to Apply for £1.2 Million Short Break Funding

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is encouraging carers to apply for more than £1million of funding available for short breaks projects for children and young people with disabilities.
The Better Breaks programme provides 12 month grants to third sector organisations to develop and deliver short breaks projects for those aged 20 and under and their adult carers or young carers.

The projects can include breaks away, days out and shorter sessions including regular activities.

To be eligible for Better Breaks funding, projects must be able to evidence how their activities will benefit both children and young people with disabilities and their carers, by providing a break from their normal routine.

A total of around £1.2 million is available. Grants are for one year between April 2019 and March 2020.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Carers do an incredibly valuable and demanding role looking after loved ones and those who need support in our North-East community. Having access to funding which can provide memories which can last a lifetime is so important.

“I would encourage carers and organisations to apply for funding which can be used for short breaks and days out which could be of real benefit to carers and those they help support.”

27 September 2018

MSP Welcomes Re-Opening of the Smiddy in Banff

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the re-opening of The Smiddy in Banff.

The local MSP attended the official opening on Friday 21 September 2018.
The Smiddy, run by Glasgow based arts company Vanilla Ink, is a centre of excellence for Silversmithing & Jewellery.

For a period of 200 years up until the 1880's 24 different Silversmiths based themselves in Banff. Banff silver had its own assay mark and has become a collectable and worth a significant amount of money.

The refurbishment of The Smiddy was part of a wider regeneration effort to revitalise Banff and Macduff. It was a partnership project with The Scottish Government, Aberdeenshire Council, the North Aberdeenshire Leader Programme and Banff Preservation and Heritage Society.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It’s wonderful to see the art and craftsmanship of Silversmithing back in Banff again. The town has a rich heritage of creating these wonderful pieces and I am delighted that it is taking place again.

“There is a huge amount of work going on to regenerate the wider Banff and Macduff area and it’s great to see projects like this coming to life.

“The grant of £295,000 from The Scottish Government to revive Silversmithing in Banff shows the commitment this government has to regeneration of the North-East economy and is a very welcome investment. Huge thanks go to all of the partners involved in the project.

“I was delighted to attend the official opening and I would like to wish Vanilla Ink and the centre staff all the very best as they cast a new future for Silversmithing in Banff.”

26 September 2018

MSP Welcomes Scheme to Boost Health of Fishing Industry

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a scheme which being launched in Peterhead providing free health checks for fishing communities.

The Fisherman’s Mission and Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) charities said the SeaFit programme would be aimed at fishermen and their families.

Mr Stevenson welcomed the plans which will include dental checks, mental health support, and advice on drug and alcohol problems with a parliamentary motion.

The programme is being launched in Peterhead next Tuesday and has an aim to offer a long-term range of services.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The coastal fishing communities in my constituency will now be able to benefit from services which will protect their health.

“Fishing is an arduous and sometimes dangerous occupation and making sure we enable fishermen and women to be able to work as best they can is important.

“I am pleased Peterhead will be at the forefront of this programme which I have no doubt will make a clear difference to the lives of those working in the sector.”

David Dickens, Chief Executive of the Fishermen's Mission, said:

"We know from our work in the community that the health and wellbeing needs of fishermen and their families are often just not being met.

"This event is the first of many initiatives that we will be launching around the UK over the next few months as part of the SeaFit Programme.

"All the services on offer are free and no appointment is needed, so if you live or work in the Peterhead area and you're interested in finding out more about getting SeaFit, come down to the Sea Cadets building and see what we can offer."

Peter Coulson, secretary of SHS, said:

"Fishing remains the most dangerous occupation in the world and yet there are no occupational health services for fishermen.

"We hope that by bringing a range of health and wellbeing services to fishermen and their families at the harbourside we will begin to make a real and sustainable difference to their health and wellbeing."

25 September 2018

MSP Welcomes Figures Showing Housing Target on Track

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed figures showing the Scottish Government is on track to meet its affordable housing target.
New statistics have shown an increase of 745 homes across all sectors, from 18,683 in 2016 to 2017 to 19,428 in 2017 to 2018.

This is the fifth consecutive increase and the highest annual figure since 2008 to 2009.

The figures also show affordable housing approvals have totalled 11,926 homes, up 12% (1,252 homes) on the previous year.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I would like to welcome the news the Scottish Government has now delivered more than 78,000 affordable homes since 2007.

“The figures show we are on track to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over this Parliament, including 35,000 for social rent.

“This is backed by more than £3 billion - the single biggest investment in, and delivery of, affordable housing since devolution and we are determined to see it benefit all parts of Scotland.

"Making sure everyone has a safe, warm and affordable home is central to the drive for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.”

MSP Calls for More Stem Cell Donors in Banffshire and Buchan Coast

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed research which shows his constituency ranks in the top 20 for being registered to donate to those with blood cancer.

It comes as more men from the black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds between the ages of 16-30 are being encouraged to sign-up.

Mr Stevenson took part in an event held at the Scottish Parliament to mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

It was held for MSPs across all parties to celebrate the number of potential stem cell donors.

In Banffshire and Buchan Coast, 1159 potential stem cell donors are registered with Anthony Nolan.

29% of these donors are male, and the average age is 32-years-old.

In total, more than 700,000 people in the UK are on the Anthony Nolan register, any of whom could be a match for someone with blood cancer and asked to donate their stem cells to give a patient a second chance of life.

Now, Stewart Stevenson MSP is encouraging more people from Banffshire and Buchan Coast, to register as stem cell donors and make sure that a match is available for everyone in need of a transplant.

While anyone on the register could match for someone with blood cancer, men aged 16-30 are most likely to be asked to donate.

They provide more than 50% of donations yet make up just 16% of the register.

There is also a shortage of donors from non-white and mixed-race backgrounds.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am very proud that Banffshire and Buchan Coast has 1159 people who have selflessly volunteered to give someone a second chance at life.

“Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure.

“I strongly hope that more people from our community will be inspired to sign-up and show that together, we can provide a cure for blood cancer.”

Henry Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said: “Since 1974 thousands of caring, selfless people have joined the Anthony Nolan register and thousands of lives have been saved as a result.

“This Blood Cancer Awareness Month residents can be proud of all the lifesavers in your community. It’s wonderful to have the support of Banffshire and Buchan Coast in achieving our goal of saving and improving the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders.”

24 September 2018

MSP Calls on Tories to Freeze Excise Duty Ahead of Brexit Fall-Out

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has warned fresh analysis shows why excise duty must be frozen in the upcoming UK budget.

It comes after it was revealed Scottish Whisky production has slumped each time excise duty has been hiked.

The figures were released by Scottish Parliament Information Centre analysis.

Warnings have already been made about the impact a damaging hard Brexit could have, with unnecessary tariffs on Scotland’s most lucrative exports.

SPICe research also shows that the Scottish Government’s proactive support for start-ups helped 30 new distilleries open their doors between 2016 and 2017. This brought the total number of distilleries across Scotland to 220 last year, over a third increase since 2010.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“With damning new evidence that the UK Treasury’s excise duty hikes are causing whisky production to plummet, and likewise production soars with tax cuts – it’s obvious Philip Hammond needs to freeze the Tories’ tax on this global success story in the upcoming budget.

“Providing certainty that the Scotch Whisky industry won’t face further tax hikes from Westminster is the least the Tories can do as their blind Brexit threatens unnecessary and damaging tariffs on one of the country’s most lucrative exports.

“The European Union has already warned that the bourbon market will be targeted in any tit for tat tariff battle with Donald Trump - and in any such trade war with America, Scotch Whisky’s biggest export market, the UK will have little clout to protect Scotch Whisky without the weight of the world's largest trading bloc, the EU-27, behind us.

“We cannot afford to put Scotch Whisky in the hands of the Tory Brexiteers, who think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it.”

12 September 2018

MSP Warns UK Government Agricultural Bill Will Hit Rural Areas Hardest

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has warned rural areas will be hardest hit by the UK Government’s Agriculture Bill which was published today.
It comes after the Michael Gove, Cabinet Secretary for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, gave farmers at the Turriff Show assurances that the Scottish Government would be consulted on the bill.

Mr Gove also gave assurances Brexit would not impact farmers in Scotland negatively.

The powers drafted under the bill could potentially see the Scottish Parliament unable to continue to provide coupled support for active beef and sheep farmers and LFASS payments for the toughest farming areas.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Despite assurances the Scottish Government would have contribution to the Agriculture Bill to involve the needs of Scottish farmers, the industry has once again been left in the dark.

“The bill in its current form does not do enough to respect the devolved governments particularly on issues including LFASS payments.

“As the MSP for a rural constituency I am acutely aware of how this bill could impact farmers in the North-East.

“It is not clear whether Scottish farmers would continue to receive the same level of funding as they currently do post-Brexit.

“If the UK Government does not include the views of the Scottish Parliament rural areas like the one I represent are going to be hardest hit.”

9 September 2018

MSP & Councillor Praise Work of Turriff & District Citizens Advice

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and local councillor Alastair Forsyth have both praised the work of the Turriff & District Citizens’ Advice Bureau after attending the organisation’s annual general meeting in Turriff on Friday held in the town’s Baden Powell Centre.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Citizens’ Advice Bureaux across the country do a tremendous service to their local communities and, locally, Manager Morag Fraser and her team do great work in assisting those who need help and advice on a wide range of issues.

“I was pleased to be invited to attend the AGM and hear about the CAB’s perspective on some of the issues raised with them.”

Speaking after the meeting, SNP councillor for Turriff & District Alastair Forsyth said:

“I am very grateful for the outstanding service and expertise provided by Turriff CAB.

“As one of the councillors for the District I benefit from being able to refer constituents to a highly professional organisation with specialism in a variety of disciplines. I am supportive of the Turriff Branch and its outreach work and trust that the service continues to offer this much needed community support service.”

6 September 2018

Tories' Two Fingers to Scotland's Soft Fruit Sector

Scheme Slammed as "Too Little, Too Late" by Industry

The SNP has today expressed its outrage at reports the Tories’ long overdue seasonal agricultural scheme will only allow for an additional 2,500 workers across the whole of the UK when launched.
This is despite the scale of the crisis facing Scottish soft fruit farmers being set out in a letter to Sajid Javid and Michael Gove from 30 rural SNP parliamentarians last month – noting examples of farms leaving tonnes of perfectly good crop to rot in fields at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds to individual businesses.

The UK Government promised at the beginning of this year to address the labour shortage quickly, but the reported scheme has already been described as “too little, too late” by one Perthshire grower quoted in the Courier, who added “there is something like 100,000 seasonal workers needed in horticulture – [2,500] is not a very big answer to the problem”.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Tories should hang their heads in shame. The industry has been calling for action since the Brexit vote over two years ago and what has been delivered is nothing short of insulting – a two fingered salute to our soft fruit farmers.

“We’ve known for some time that all of Scotland’s fruit and vegetable growers have faced great challenges recruiting labour over the past year, and any government action should have been bold and swift to address the matter head on.

“We need to remember that what is on the line here is people’s livelihoods and jobs. This pitiful solution from the Tories is – in the words of fruit growers themselves – too little, too late.

“It’s time the Scottish Parliament was given the relevant powers over immigration to build a better system which actually works for Scotland and our rural economy.”

2 September 2018

MSP & Cllr meet with National Trust to hear About New Strategy

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Turriff and District SNP councillor Alastair Forsyth met with the National Trust for Scotland yesterday to learn more about its new strategy.
The MSP and councillor visited Fyvie Castle at the invitation of the Trust where they were met by Ian Hawkins, North-east General Manager, who briefed them on the Trust’s new strategy.

The National Trust for Scotland is supported by more than 360,000 members and champions Scotland’s natural, built and cultural heritage.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This was a really informative, interesting and useful discussion with Ian about the work of the National Trust for Scotland.

“Fyvie Castle and the many other castles, houses and gardens in the care of the Trust across the North of Scotland contribute massively to our tourist economy and provide a range of high-quality visitor attractions.

“The Trust has been pivotal in protecting the things that make Scotland special since 1931 when it was founded and I’m confident that it will continue to go forward from strength to strength.”

Cllr Alastair Forsyth added:

“I was delighted to be able to attend this meeting and hear about the National Trust for Scotland’s strategy for the future.

“Ian provided a really interesting insight into the work of the NTS both here at Fyvie and across the North-east. NTS staff and the volunteers who help make the visitor experience do a tremendous job and I am grateful to them for the work they do at Fyvie.”

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