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11 November 2019

Net-Zero Fund to Invest in Low Carbon Future

£1 Billion to Invest in North-East Economies

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed calls for future oil and gas tax revenues to be ring fenced in a Net Zero Fund to boost the transition to a net zero economy. SNP MPs have argued that at least £1 billion of those revenues should be dedicated to helping provide jobs and investment for areas, such as the North-east of Scotland, where the local economy has been driven by oil and gas production.

With clear commitments from the Scottish Government to move to net zero climate emissions by 2045 and a challenge to UK parties to match that ambition, investing the tax revenues from oil and gas in low carbon energy, transport, infrastructure and jobs, could form a major part of the transition to a zero carbon society – as we move away from reliance on oil and gas.

The Office for Budget Responsibility projects that over the next five years oil and gas revenues will be worth £8.5 billion – all of which should be ring fenced to support long term investments in tackling the climate crisis.

The SNP have argued that at least £1 billion of the fund should be set aside to support a just transition for areas like the North-east where the oil and gas industry is a major employer.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“We must do everything in our power to tackle the climate crisis and Scotland has set the most ambitious legal targets in the world.

“But we also have to ensure that areas like the North-east of Scotland, where the economy has been built on the oil and gas industry, are supported to make the transition to new low or no carbon industries.

“The North-east is already playing a major part in Scotland’s renewables revolution, by ring-fencing the current tax revenues from oil and gas in a Net-Zero Fund and investing in a just transition we can deliver real benefits to these communities and to our environment.

“The SNP has long argued that revenues from oil and gas should be invested for the long term, rather than fund day to day spending. Westminster failed to set up an oil fund, where Norway’s is now worth $1 trillion and is investing hugely in the low carbon economy. We should seize the opportunity to ensure we do not waste future revenues in the same way.

“We need to take urgent action to diversify our transport and energy sources, and to speed that up, tax revenues from oil and gas should be invested directly in the transition.”

8 November 2019

Parliamentary Recognition for Peterhead Director's Scottish BAFTA

Peterhead film director Jon S Baird has had his achievement winning a BAFTA Scotland award recognised in the Scottish Parliament.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has tabled a Motion congratulating the director on the Director-Fiction award he won at the Scottish BAFTAs earlier this week.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I was delighted to see Jon had been awarded a Scottish BAFTA for his film ‘Stan and Ollie’, which has been a tremendous success, receiving very positive reviews and was highly-praised by critics.

“Jon himself has been great at encouraging young people into the creative industries, providing advice to students at Peterhead Academy. With a cinema soon to open in Peterhead, this award really has special significance for the town.

“With Jon’s local connections, his support of the academy, and also the sterling work done by the volunteer group at Peterhead Community Centre in bringing a cinema experience to the town on a regular basis, I’m certain the new cinema will be a success and assist in the ongoing regeneration of the town centre.”

6 November 2019

MSP Welcomes New Action Plan to Boost Banffshire and Buchan Coast

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed the Scottish Government’s new action plan to kick-start developments in rural areas.

The need for planning permission could be removed for certain types of rural developments to help tackle depopulation and support the North-east economy.

The changes are being considered as part of a new action plan to implement a radical shake-up of planning laws.

Under this review, small scale developments, such as the conversion of agricultural buildings to deliver more homes in Banffshire and Buchan Coast, could automatically be given the go-ahead.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome this new action plan and think these proposed changes would be transformational for Banffshire and Buchan Coast.

“A top priority for me has always been to support and boost the local economy and help local families get the homes that they need- these new proposals seek to do exactly that.

“Locally there is still so much untapped potential and this action plan aims to help grow Scotland’s rural areas.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting Scotland’s farmers, promoting sustainable growth and safeguarding the long term prosperity of Scotland’s rural communities.”

4 November 2019

MSPs Welcome £4.5 Million Boost to North-East Rail

North-east MSPs have welcomed an extra £4.5m investment from Network Rail to boost performance in the North-east and Highlands.

The plan will see extra money spent on the Aberdeen-Inverness line targeting specific projects to help prevent infrastructure faults, or reduce the time it takes to fix faults when they do occur.

In the North-east, this December will also see the completion of the £330m Aberdeen-Inverness Improvement Project which will cut journey times and increase service levels. This will include an increase in services that call at Inverurie each weekday from 45 to 76, with a similar improvement on Saturdays.

Network Rail will also deliver up to three trains per hour from Aberdeen-Inverness and two additional morning peak trains into Aberdeen. An additional evening peak train out of Aberdeen will also be added, along with an improved cross-city service, with 27 trains per day between Inverurie, Dyce, Stonehaven and Montrose. A direct morning peak service from Montrose to Dyce and Inverurie will also be part of the improvements.

Gillian Martin MSP said:

“Access to greener forms of transport are an important step to tackling the climate crisis- and this new investment can make a real difference.

“Having spent some time campaigning for investments in North-east rail services this a welcome improvement to the current services.

“However I very much wish to see even more being invested in our rail infrastructure and will continue to call for the re-opening of the Dyce- Ellon line.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This additional investment in rail will bring a vast improvement to rail in the North-east which I regularly use along with many other constituents.

“Cutting journey times and increasing service levels are a top priority for customers and so I applaud Network Rail for the steps they have taken to address these issues.

“Rail improvements in the North-east are invaluable and I am particularly pleased the investment will mean more trains available for commuters and at weekends.”

31 October 2019

MSP Saddles up in Support of Annual Poppy Ride Contest at the Scottish Parliament

Stewart Stevenson MSP has taken part in the charity event, organised by Poppyscotland which sees politicians compete on an exercise bike to see who can cover the greatest distance.
Mr Stevenson cycled 2.88 km in just four minutes in a bid to raise awareness of this year’s Poppy Appeal.

The Scottish Poppy Appeal is Scotland’s largest annual street collection and helps to raise millions of pounds each year which Poppyscotland uses to support the country’s Armed Forces community.

This week, more than five million poppies and 60,000 collecting tins have been distributed around Scotland as the public is encouraged to wear a poppy with pride.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am proud to lend my support to this year’s Scottish Poppy Appeal and to do my little bit to encourage us all to contribute to Poppyscotland as they continue their ongoing work to support the Armed Forces community throughout Scotland.

“The launch of the Scottish Poppy Appeal is a very important date in the calendar of Remembrance and I will certainly be putting on my poppy with pride to remember all of those who selflessly served our country, both past and present.

“It really does feel like a time when the country comes together to support a common cause – and we need that more than ever in these chaotic times.”

Poppyscotland Chief Executive Mark Bibbey said:

“We congratulate Stewart and all his parliamentary colleagues who showed what good sports they were by taking part in the 2019 Poppy Ride.

“While there were lots of laughs and banter along the way, it was important opportunity for Poppyscotland to highlight the issues facing the Armed Forces community and remind our politicians why the Scottish Poppy Appeal continues to be so vitally important in raising funds to support them.”

29 October 2019

'Do It Now' says Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP

The constituency MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast has urged constituents to register their electrical items as part of Electrical Safety First’s new ‘Do It Now’ campaign.
Around three quarters of fires in Scottish homes are caused by electricity – with most linked to electrical appliances.

If consumers’ electrical items are registered, it means they can be contacted much more easily if a product they have bought has been recalled for safety reasons.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It is obviously very useful to register your electrical items – and to read Electrical Safety First’s guide.

“The process will only take a few minutes but it truly could save your life and others’ lives.

“I am helping to raise awareness about this because of how vitally important it is.”

Wayne Mackay, deputy public affairs manager at Electrical Safety First, added:

“Registering your product is essential in helping manufacturers to contact you rapidly if there is a known problem, or a recall of a product.

“Many electrical products are recalled because they can lead to fire or electric shock – presenting a serious threat to life and property.

“And with the low (roughly 20 per cent) success rate of recalls, there could potentially be thousands of recalled items still in Scottish homes.”

Since 2007, 559 recall notices have been issued for electrical products, yet Electrical Safety First’s research found that only 21 per cent of Scots always register their electrical goods.

The guide is also supported by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services (SFRS).

David Dourley, SFRS head of fire investigation, said:

“We are regularly involved in fires, some of them fatal, which have been caused by faulty electrical appliances.

“So we’re urging people to protect themselves from these risks by always registering their products.”

MSP Welcomes Victory on "Historic Injustice" for Scotland's Farmers

CAP Funding Returned after Years of UK Government Delay

Stewart Stevenson MSP has today welcomed news that North-east farmers and crofters will benefit from the first instalment of convergence funding – addressing an “historic injustice” which the Scottish Government has long campaigned for.

The funding is the first tranche of an £160 million package the UK government has finally returned to Scottish farmers after pocketing EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding intended for Scotland since 2014.

The initial £80 million will be distributed to support active farming, with a focus on those who farm in marginal uplands, hill farms and island areas.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is money that was hard fought for over many years, and I am delighted for farmers in the North-east that the £160 million of convergence money that the UK government tried to appropriate from Scotland has been returned.

“Scottish farmers have been short-changed by the UK government for years, and the SNP has argued long and hard for that injustice to be addressed.

“This funding will play a vital role in helping us meet our agricultural commitments, and will make a crucial difference to the future viability of Scotland’s farming industry.

“However, Brexit is by far the biggest threat to Scotland’s farming and crofting communities, but this funding will help to provide some security to North-east farmers during these uncertain times.

“With future arrangements for agriculture still unclear amidst the turmoil around Brexit, it is absolutely vital that North-east agriculture benefits from the EU support to which the sector is entitled, while it still can.

“We now need real commitments over future funding, and an end to the attempted power grab over farming powers that should rightfully be at the Scottish Parliament.”

28 October 2019

MSP Pledges to Stand up for Nature

Stewart Stevenson MSP has added his pledge to Scottish Environment LINK’s campaign ‘Fight for Scotland’s Nature’.
The campaign has seen 37 environmental charities from across Scotland coming together to ‘Fight for Scotland’s Nature’ and gather support for a Scottish Environment Act.

The North-east MSP added his support following growing uncertainty of the threat Brexit has to current EU environmental protections that enhance Scotland’s nature.

At a time when 1 in 11 species in Scotland are at risk of extinction, environmental charities are calling for a Scottish Environment Act to set clear ambitions for Scotland’s own environmental policy and set a clear trajectory towards a more sustainable future, particularly in the approach to 2020, a year critical for the culmination of global efforts to halt biodiversity loss.

“The joint emergencies of rapid biodiversity loss and climate breakdown require transformative action. As a member of the Scottish Parliament, I have added my pledge to stand up for nature.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure Scotland’s natural environment has strong and effective protection, alongside ambitious targets for its recovery and enhancement.

“When 1 in 11 species in Scotland is at risk of extinction, these measures are vital, whatever our future relationship with the European Union.”

25 October 2019

Stewart Stevenson MSP Welcomes New Funding for Care Experienced Young People

Stewart Stevenson has welcomed news that care experienced young people in Aberdeenshire will benefit from £328,800 of funding.

The Scottish Government announced today (Friday) that the Care Experienced Children and Young People fund would increase from £8 million to £12 million in this academic year.

The fund is designed to support the educational attainment of young people, up to the age of 26, who have been in care, with projects as diverse as mentoring programmes, counselling services and driving lessons were supported.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan MSP, Stewart Stevenson said:

"Improving the education and life chances of all our children and young people is the defining mission of the SNP in government.

"Young people living in, or leaving, the care system often face additional barriers to learning - which is why this funding can be so vital.

"I'm delighted that care experienced young people in Aberdeenshire will benefit from £328,800 of targeted funding this year, with a substantial increase in funding across Scotland."

22 October 2019

MSP takes a trip down Guide Dogs’ Memory Lane

Stewart Stevenson MSP recently met with the charity Guide Dogs Scotland to discuss the challenges that blind and partially sighted people face when walking the streets, including pavement parking, street clutter and shared spaces.
Pavements blocked by parked cars or street clutter such as wheelie bins and overhanging branches can force pedestrians to walk onto the road, putting them in danger of oncoming traffic.

Shared space streets, where vital safety features such as kerbs and controlled crossings are removed, can also be dangerous and disorientating for people with sight loss.

To illustrate these risks, Guide Dogs asked Stewart Stevenson MSP to take a trip down memory lane and play their ‘Navigation Game’ – a take on the classic final challenge of the Generation Game – memorising the hazards that a guide dog owner might encounter on a typical journey.

Guide Dogs are calling for action on the most common dangers for people with sight loss, including a new law limiting pavement parking to areas determined by the local council, action from local authorities on street clutter and a safety review of existing shared space schemes.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I applaud the work of Guide Dogs Scotland- through their work guide dogs transform lives for individuals who are registered blind or have partially lost their sight.

“On street parking and blocked pavements can add to the complexities and challenges facing blind or partially-sighted individuals and so I was delighted to meet with Guide Dogs and discuss their new campaign.”

Niall Foley, Engagement Manager at Guide Dogs Scotland, commented:

“The street environment has a huge impact on people with sight loss. When a street is blocked with obstacles or lacks vital safety features, it can make the difference between getting out and about with confidence or feeling forced to stay at home.

“We’re calling for action to tackle the most common hazards that affect blind and partially sighted people on their local streets: pavement parking, street clutter and shared spaces.”

21 October 2019

MSP’s Welcome £460 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Rollout

North-east MSPs Gillian Martin and Stewart Stevenson have welcomed a £460 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout.

The rollout will enable more households and businesses across Aberdeenshire to upgrade to faster fibre broadband. Across Scotland, thanks to the programme, more than 940,000 premises will now be able to connect to the new network. The programme has brought fibre broadband to Cornhill, Lumphanan, New Pitsligo and Strathdon, with more fibre also now live in several communities including Alford, Ellon, North Water Bridge and Forgue.

Some of the latest premises to be reached – in places like Glenkindie and New Deer – are connected to a full fibre network. Also known as Fibre-to-the-Premises or FTTP, the technology provides ultrafast broadband directly into local homes. They are among more than 117,000 homes and businesses across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire which are now able to connect to the Digital Scotland network as engineers from Openreach continue work on the ground during 2019/20.

Across the country more than 5,000 new fibre street cabinets are now live – offering broadband services at speeds up to 80Mbps – and more than 13,700km of cable has been laid, equal to the length of around 25 per cent of all the roads in Scotland.

Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable connections at a range of speeds and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from. Local people can check if the new fibre services are available to them at www.scotlandsuperfast.com/yourstreet.

Gillian Martin MSP, said:

"More and more people are now able to sign up to fibre broadband thanks to the £460 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme, and it is particularly pleasing to see this in rural areas and rural market towns such as New Deer.

"The difference that having fibre broadband can make to businesses or to improving the range of services available in the home is amazing. I’d urge everyone to take advantage of the faster speeds now available.”

Research has suggested that every £1 in public investment in fibre broadband in Scotland is delivering almost £12 of benefits to the Scottish economy. The independent report commissioned by DSSB and undertaken by consultants Analysas Mason estimates the total benefit from investment as £2.76 billion over 15 years.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"The Digital Scotland rollout is reaching new communities across the North-east and bringing better broadband to rural residents, families and businesses.

“Better connectivity right across Scotland means digital progress on every level – from pupils doing homework and communities tapping in to the tourist trade online to virtual assistants helping vulnerable people to live more independent lives.”

Thanks to additional investment as a result of innovation and new funding generated by stronger than expected take-up, the rollout will continue in every local authority area during 2019 and into 2020, complementing ongoing commercial build across Scotland. More than 50 per cent of properties reached by the programme have switched to fibre broadband.

11 October 2019

Stewart Stevenson MSP Renews Calls to Restore TV Licences to Over 75s

A new report published today by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee has criticised the UK government for seeking to "bounce" the BBC into accepting a deal that exposed it to "administering welfare benefits," and calls for free TV licences to be restored to over 75s who don’t receive Pension Credit.

North-east MSP Stewart Stevenson has slammed the Tories for their handling of the 2015 negotiations that led to the BBC making decisions regarding welfare payments – ultimately leading to free TV licences for over 75s being scrapped - and has renewed calls for them to be restored after campaigning consistently for them to be saved.

The report finds that the 2015 "flawed" funding negotiations gave no opportunity for consultation with licence fee-payers, that the BBC put itself in the "invidious" position as administrator of welfare benefits, and criticises the 2015 UK government for seeking to ‘bounce’ the BBC into accepting the measures.

The DCMS Committee has recommended that the UK government and BBC work together to find a funding formula to restore free TV licences for over 75s.

Commenting Banffshire and Buchan MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“It is downright shameful of the Tories to pass the responsibility of administering much-needed welfare benefits, such as free TV licences, on to a public broadcaster, and this report rightly lays that bare.

“The report was also right to point out the complete lack of transparency surrounding the negotiations and that the BBC cannot be absolved of responsibility. I hope Lord Hall has learned his lesson – don’t do secretive back-stair deals with people you can’t trust.

“The way they handled – or mishandled - the 2015 funding negotiations by not consulting licence fee payers and allowing false reassurances to be made to over 75s is further proof that this Tory government is uncaring and incompetent when it comes to looking after our older generation.

“The SNP warned of the danger of transferring this decision to the BBC. The UK government should now atone for their mistake and work with the BBC to find a funding formula to restore free TV licences for over 75s – we will not let them off the hook over this broken manifesto commitment.”

8 October 2019

MSPs Welcome £10 billion Investment in the North-east

Aberdeenshire MSPs Gillian Martin and Stewart Stevenson have welcomed £10.1 billion of public and private investment in infrastructure projects due to be delivered in the North-east before 2030 following the Investment Tracker published today.
Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce’s investment update, shows committed future investment in the region has risen by £1.7 billion over the past 12 months.

This comes on top of £800 million worth of projects being completed since the 2018 Tracker was published, including Aberdeen Art Gallery, the Music Hall, Banchory Sports Village and the region’s new world-class events complex P&J Live.

Much of the investment in the document comes from Scottish Government funding which is scheduled for the next three years and includes projects involving transport & infrastructure, office & retail and leisure & culture, as well as health, sport & education.

Gillian Martin, MSP for Aberdeenshire East, commented:

“Digital connectivity is absolutely critical to opening up the huge economic potential of the North East.

"While this is an issue reserved to Westminster, I am delighted that the SNP has taken the initiative and committed £77 million to make sure everyone in Aberdeenshire has access to superfast broadband by 2021.”

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“The Tracker tells a story of great progress for our regional economy with £2.5bn of infrastructure projects delivered since 2017 and more to come.

“The North-east’s bold investment programmes are creating an energised, connected and revitalised region, one that offers an unparalleled experience for residents and visitors alike.”

MSP welcomes financial discipline reimbursement for farmers

Stewart Stevenson MSP this week welcomed news that Scottish farmers are to receive £5.89 million in reimbursement payments from the European Commission.

Payments under the Financial Discipline Mechanism will begin arriving in bank accounts this week, with the average reimbursement worth around £374 per claimant.

The Financial Discipline Mechanism aims to keep the Pillar 1 budget in balance through the creation of a crisis reserve, which is then released back to farmers the following year, if the reserve is not required.

Welcoming the reimbursement, Mr Stevenson commented:

“I am pleased that around 15,300 Scottish farmers and crofters will receive Financial Discipline Reimbursement payments totalling £5.89 million this week. The repayment varies in relation to the total value of Direct Payment they receive, so not every claimant gets the same amount, but it averages £374.

“With farmers facing the unwelcome prospect of a ‘no deal Brexit’ and the uncertainties this will inevitably bring to their business, it is important that they are aware of the service offered by the likes of RSABI to help them through any hardships they may be facing now or in the future.

“In the meantime, I hope this small injection will be a welcome addition to eligible farmers’ finances.”

7 October 2019

MSP Supports Regulation of Scottish Electrical Trade

Stewart Stevenson MSP with
Alan Wilson, MD of SELECT
MSP Stewart Stevenson has become the latest political brick in the Wall of Support for better regulation of the electrical trade across Scotland.

The representative for Banffshire and Buchan Coast has given his backing to the long-running campaign led by trade association SELECT for the recognition of electricians as a profession.

The Campaign calls for Protection of Title to help ensure that anyone calling themselves an electrician is actually qualified to carry out the work.

It has been estimated that as many as 16% of all domestic electricians operating in Scotland are either unqualified or under-qualified.

“I am delighted to add my support to SELECT’s campaign urging for the regulation of all electricians in Scotland,”

Mr Stevenson said.

“It is important for both safety and professionalism that we ensure anyone calling themselves an electrician holds appropriate qualifications.

“Introducing a title of recognition will create greater trust between consumers and industry and should be standard practice in all types of construction work, be they multi-million-pound contracts or small domestic jobs."

Mr Stevenson’s endorsement comes amid a growing swell of support for the campaign.

As part of its 2019-20 Programme for Government released last month, the Scottish Government has pledged to publish a consultation on the regulation of electricians.

“We would like to thank Mr Stevenson for adding his support to this vital cause,”

said Alan Wilson, Managing Director of SELECT.

“Improving the regulation of electricians will not only better help to protect people’s lives, but also has huge benefits for the wider Scottish economy.

“We are also delighted that the Scottish Government has committed to examining this issue, but continue to urge prompt action – this needs to happen sooner rather than later.”

MSP Encourages Carers To Apply For £1.1million 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 £1.1 million is available. Grants are for one year between April 2020 and March 2021.

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.”

6 October 2019

MSP Receives Assurance on Peterhead Courthouse Works

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has been given an assurance from the Scottish Courts Service that works at Peterhead Sheriff Court are on schedule and the scaffolding will be removed by the end of the month.

Local residents have long-complained about the eyesore as scaffolding has covered the building for years while works to repair the roof and cladding have been ongoing.

Now, Chief Executive of the Scottish Courts Service Eric McQueen in a reply to the SNP MSP has advised the works are on schedule to be completed on 17 October with the scaffolding removed by the end of the month.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I’m pleased the end is now in sight for these works and the removal of the scaffolding will take place shortly.

“Local residents have been concerned at the length of time taken for these works, albeit there is an understanding the works are of an essential nature. With a previous deadline for completion of the works having passed, I’m pleased it now looks like completion is imminent and we can see an end to the scaffolding covering one of the Peterhead’s main town centre landmark buildings.”

4 October 2019

MSP Welcomes Small Business Bonus for Thousands of Aberdeenshire Businesses

Andrew McRae, Scotland policy chair, FSB
with Stewart Stevenson MSP
Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson recently met with the Federation of Small Businesses to discuss the Scottish Government’s investment in the long term success of towns and high streets across Scotland.

Small businesses in the North-east are a large part of the economy making up 96% of the 14,185 registered businesses in Aberdeenshire Council.

Mr Stevenson took the opportunity to discuss the need to transform towns by delivering a sustainable future for local places and ensure businesses grow locally.

The meeting comes following 7,343 businesses in Aberdeenshire have received the Small Business Bonus in 2018-19.

Commenting Mr Stevenson said:

“I was delighted to meet with officials from FSB to discuss further the investment in businesses in my constituency.

“I welcome the news locally that thousands of small businesses have benefited from the Small Business Bonus.

“I know this bonus will make a huge difference to local small businesses in Aberdeenshire.”

SNP Won't Let Tories Renege on Promise to Scottish Farmers

The SNP has demanded the Prime Minister comes clean on when Scottish farmers can expect the £160 million stolen from them by the UK Government.

Last month, the Tories finally admitted that Scotland's farmers and crofters had been short-changed by the UK Government on CAP convergence funding with Boris Johnson committing to repaying the cash.

With no clarity on when Scotland will receive the funds owed, local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has warned that the UK Government can’t delay on this issue any longer with the threat to Brexit looming over the industry.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“It’s not good enough for Boris Johnson to keep ducking simple questions on when he’ll handover what he owes to Scottish farming.

“The Tories can’t be trusted - this money belongs to Scotland and it’s time for Boris Johnson to cough up.

“The SNP has fought tooth and nail for the Tories to right this historic wrong and we won’t rest until we see the colour of their money.

“But frankly it’s the bare minimum of what our farmers are due – with the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over the agricultural sector, Scottish farmers need more support from the UK government to deal with the fall out of crashing out of the single market.

“We need a cast-iron guarantee that Scottish farmers will see the money they’re due along with real commitments for support going forward.”

Tributes for Local SNP Stalwart Bob Ritchie

Bob Ritchie holding his SNP Life Membership card
Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has paid tribute to long-standing member of the Scottish National Party in Buchan Bob Ritchie whose funeral took place this week.

Peterhead resident Mr Ritchie was a founding member of Fraserburgh Branch SNP and was the Honorary President of Peterhead Branch SNP.

Mr Ritchie was also the Election Agent for the SNP at the 1964 General Election – the first time the Scottish National Party contested a Parliamentary election in Buchan.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Bob has been a stalwart of the SNP in Buchan for decades and an inspiration to many activists locally over the years.

“Bob holds a place in history as the first-ever SNP Election Agent in this area when the Party decided to contest the old East Aberdeenshire seat at the 1964 election. Bob tells a story that he narrowly avoided being the candidate at that election because he won the toss of a coin and chose to be the agent!

“At that 1964 election, the SNP got 6% of the vote and 1900 votes. It is thanks to the hard work and dedication of people like Bob in those early days that the party was able to put down such solid foundations to build on locally.

“I had the pleasure of presenting Bob with lifetime membership of the party a few years ago and enjoyed his reminisces about past election campaigns. He will be missed by everyone in the SNP and my thoughts are with his wife Beatrice and family at this time.”

3 October 2019

Stevenson: Legitimate Concerns over Car Park Charges Should be Listened to, not Dismissed

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has expressed his disappointment at the response from Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services chairman, Cllr Peter Argyle (Lib Dem: Aboyne, Upper Deeside & Donside) to calls for a review of free parking spaces in Peterhead.
The free periods were abolished by the Conservative-Lib Dem administration despite costed proposals from SNP councillors which would have seen the car parks breaking even but retaining a half-hour free period.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“This is a dismissive and negative response from the Chairman of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, particularly as I commended the council on its efforts through the regeneration partnership, which I know does good work, alongside Rediscover Peterhead.

“Cllr Argyle repeats the manta that 75% of all off-street parking spaces are free of charge, but again ignores the fact that in Peterhead that is simply not the case and the town has a disproportionate share of chargeable spaces. In fact, free spaces in the town’s car parks account for only 36% of the total available.

“I’ve previously asked for a review to take place, which the council has accepted and will happen next year. What I was asking for here was a review of the distribution of free spaces in Peterhead, particularly as most of the free spaces are not convenient for the main shopping areas.

“I don’t believe that is an unreasonable request and will continue to support that, especially now that we have businesses in other Aberdeenshire towns who have had a dramatic drop in footfall and are now offering to cover the cost of customers’ parking fees.

“I also don’t believe anyone has a problem with the council seeking to not make a loss on the running of its car parks but that should not exclude listening to the legitimate worries of businesses and others and taking on board these valid concerns. Cllr Argyle’s approach is disappointing in that regard.”

30 September 2019

Stevenson Comments on Weekend's Flooding

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has praised the emergency services and council workers who turned out to deal with the effects of the widespread flooding after torrential rain at the weekend.

The north coast was severely affected by the weekend’s exceptional weather with seven bridges being washed away of damaged, as well as damage to roads, verges and property.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“At the outset, let me say that I’m very relieved that we didn’t see any loss of life at the weekend. The catastrophic effects of the volume of water which came down resulted in bridges collapsing and road surfaces and verges being washed away. Such things can be replaced but not human life and this could have been so much worse.

“The emergency services and local authority staff did a tremendous job at the weekend, working hard to ensure public safety was paramount and I express my grateful thanks to them all.

“Clearly, there are now some major works required to bring roads back up to standard and to replace bridges which have gone and I will be liaising with the council in this regard. As ever with emergency situations, there are always valuable lessons to be learned in how to respond and I’m sure this will also be reflected upon, particularly in light of the fact that with climate change such extreme weather events such as this may become more frequent in future.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP Celebrates Thousands of Scottish Lifesavers on the Stem Cell Register

A North-east MSP celebrated the 1,293 potential lifesavers in Banffshire and Buchan Coast this Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

To mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month Stewart Stevenson MSP attended a reception in Holyrood, celebrating the 14,000 potential stem cell donors across Scotland on the Anthony Nolan register.
This event shines a spotlight on the vital work being done locally to ensure that every patient in need of a stem cell transplant can find a lifesaving donor.

In Banffshire and Buchan Coast 1,293 potential stem cell donors are registered with Anthony Nolan- 21% of these donors are men aged 16-30, and the average age is 32 years old.

Now, Mr Stevenson is encouraging more people from Banffshire and Buchan Coast, particularly men aged 16-30 and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, 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 be a 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 18% of the register. There is also a shortage of donors from non-white and mixed-race backgrounds.

Stewart Stevenson MSP also had the chance to meet with representatives of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) including Ally Boyle. Ally initiated a ground breaking partnership with Anthony Nolan in 2009, while he was Area Commander of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, after being diagnosed with myelodysplasia (a type of blood cancer). They have recruited thousands of lifesavers to the register, predominantly through their innovative SFRS Education Programme, which sees SFRS volunteers deliver inspiring educational presentations about stem cell, blood and organ donation to 16- to 18-year-olds across Scotland.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am very proud that Banffshire and Buchan Coast has 1,293 registered donors- any one of whom could offer someone with blood cancer a second chance at life.

“I would especially like to commend the great work of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in engaging local communities, particularly secondary schools across Scotland. They’ve recruited more than fifty people who have gone on to donate. Their steadfast commitment over the past ten years has had a truly lifesaving impact.

“Donating stem cells is straightforward but it could make an enormous difference to someone with no other chance of a cure- I’d encourage even more of my constituents to register.”

Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, said:

“In the last year 147 selfless people from Banffshire and Buchan Coast joined the Anthony Nolan register, each one representing hope for patients with blood cancer, and blood disorders, in need of matching stem cell donors.

“This Blood Cancer Awareness Month residents can be proud of all the lifesavers in your community.

“To everyone from Banffshire and Buchan Coast who has taken the decision to join the register, thank you. We rely on young people aged 16-30 joining the register now to save lives in the future. Without you, there is no cure.”

For more information on Anthony Nolan visit anthonynolan.org/join.

Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a stem cell transplant. It also carries out vital research to make stem cell transplants more successful, and supports patients through their transplant journeys.

27 September 2019

MSP criticises UK Government for blocking potential fishing reforms and welcomes increase in Scottish fish value

Stewart Stevenson MSP has condemned Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg for blocking fishing reforms that could be worth an additional £540 million a year and 5,000 new jobs to the seafood industry.

The Commons leader said it was “not essential” for the Fisheries Bill to become law before Brexit – inviting accusations that the new UK administration viewed fishing as “expendable”.

On the same day the Scottish Government welcomed the value of fish landed by Scottish vessels in 2018 increased by 1% to £574 million, despite a 4% drop in the total tonnage of fish landed.

The figures were published yesterday as part of Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics 2018.

The statistics also show an increase in the overall number of people working on Scottish fishing vessels, as well as more fishers working in the industry on a regular rather than irregular basis.

Stewart Stevenson commented:

“For a small nation, in an EU member state operating within the Common Fisheries Policy, Scotland punches well above its weight in the European fishing sector. With one of the largest white fish markets in Europe in my constituency in Peterhead, Scottish boats catch 8% of the total EU landings and the industry turnover exceeds half a billion pounds each year. Much of that money is the lifeblood of some of Scotland’s most vulnerable coastal communities.

“It’s therefore encouraging to see the total value of landings increase – although the story isn’t positive across the board, with the total shellfish tonnage dropping again. That’s a particular concern for an industry which could be one of the most adversely affected by the impacts of an EU exit, given the dependence of that sector on its export trade.

“It will not be lost on fishermen that Jacob Rees-Mogg regards the first Fisheries Bill to be debated in the Commons for years as ‘not essential’.

“I am delighted that the Scottish Government are working to ensure that more economic benefit is created for our coastal communities from the value of the fish being caught in Scottish waters. That is why we are introducing a landings target in this Parliament and will amend the current economic link licensing condition in our new approach to fisheries management.”

MSP Welcomes Further Progress on Delivering Rental Homes Locally

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed today’s official opening by Housing Minister Kevin Stewart and Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson of the latest tranche of social housing for rent in Peterhead.

Ruby Crescent – named by pupils from nearby Dales Park School in commemoration of the school’s 40th anniversary – and the extension to Dales View Drive provide over 30 new houses to Aberdeenshire Council’s housing stock.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I’m very pleased the Housing Minister has found himself in Peterhead again so soon after his visit a few weeks ago launching yet another new development of social housing.

“The SNP Scottish Government has ambitious plans to deliver 50,000 new rental homes before the end of the current Parliament. I’m pleased to see Peterhead benefitting from that ambition.”

Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith, who attended today’s launch added:

“I’m delighted to see yet another new social housing development completed in Peterhead.

“The shortage of council housing caused by the selling-off of stock under previous Tory Government’s caused huge difficulties for councils and those looking for affordable rented accommodation. There’s a long way to go to redress that but this latest development is very welcome and makes a huge difference to tenants’ lives.”

25 September 2019

MSPs pass landmark Climate Change Bill

North-east MSPs have today voted in favour of a new Climate Change Bill that demonstrates international leadership on climate action and takes bold steps in response to robust scientific assessment.

This bill comes following the First Minister's announcement earlier this year recognising a climate emergency, along with recent climate strikes.

The landmark legislation commits Scotland to becoming a net-zero society by 2045- tougher than a net-zero target that commits only to balancing carbon dioxide emissions and the toughest statutory target of any country in the world for this date.

Both MSPs spoke in favour of the bill in the stage three debate and welcomed the adoption of the ambitious new target to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP for Aberdeenshire East said:

“After the passing of this bill today the most important thing is to put the systems in place that will make it possible to achieve these extremely challenging targets.

“In the North-east those challenges are significant and I will be doing everything I can to ensure we have a just transition that protects the livelihoods of my constituents and creates the low carbon jobs we need for the future.

“One of the most pressing issues for my area is a vast improvement of public transport choices available. This will ensure that we can play our part in meeting the challenges ahead.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast said:

“I am delighted to see the Scottish Government is leading the way internationally by introducing the toughest statutory target of any country in the world for this date- to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030.

“However now is when the hard work begins and it is crucial that the UK Government follows the Scottish Governments example and commits to becoming a net-zero society.

“There is no doubt that there is a climate emergency and so people must act with the same urgency as any other emergency ensuring no one is left behind.”

Local MSP Comments on Rock Challenge Disappointment

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has expressed his disappointment at the announcement that Rock Challenge and J Rock will not be taking place in 2020.

Mr Stevenson is a strong supporter of the Rock Challenge and travelled with Peterhead Academy when they competed in Grimsby a few years ago and even picked up his own – unexpected – award at the 2003 event for his help in securing funding to allow the event to continue.
Clerkhill School with Stewart Stevenson at '18 J-Rock
The organisers have cited the current uncertain economic conditions and also the addition by some venues of various levies and other charges on ticket sales as the reasons behind the decision.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Rock Challenge is a great experience for those involved and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to attend heats in Aberdeen and finals in Grimsby in recent years. The serious message behind Rock Challenge of course is the anti-drugs and anti-crime message which the event actively promotes.

“I’m so disappointed for the local schools who have participated in J Rock and Rock Challenge with great enthusiasm and success in recent years. However, I’m heartened that the organisers are actively looking to stage events in 2021 and I will be offering any assistance I can in this regard.

“In the meantime, I’ve suggested to Aberdeenshire Council that they perhaps consider whether an event for Aberdeenshire schools could be arranged to fill the gap next year and avoid disappointment for those who were already looking forward to participating.”

24 September 2019

North-East MSP calls for devolved consultation following historic judgement

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has today called for the Scottish Parliament to be consulted with during the next stages of Brexit negotiations.

This follows today’s historic judgement as the UK’s highest court today ruled unanimously that the Prime Minister had acted unlawfully when he suspended Parliament.

Mr Stevenson asked the First Minister in her statement today if section 60 of the judgement recognises a legal duty on the Prime Minister to consult with the Scottish and Welsh legislatures as they seek a new Brexit deal.

The defeat of the Tory Government highlights the sovereignty of Parliament, and the Supreme Courts president Lady Hale said the unanimous decision of the eleven justices meant Parliament had effectively not been prorogued - the decision was null and of no effect.

Stewart Stevenson MSP commented,

“Today’s ruling is one of historic proportions. Few of us thought that the court would go so far as actually to quash the prorogation.

“The unanimous judgement sends a strong message of democratic outrage to the Tory Government. The Prime Minister must accept that you can’t by pass democracy and must now seek to work together with the devolved institutions of the UK to secure a deal.

“The Parliament should reconvene as soon as possible and Mr Johnston must resign having acted out with the law.”

In response to Mr Stevenson’s question the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said,

“Paragraph 60 of the judgement does talk about the consultation that is required with the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.

“I hope that any steps that are taken now by the Westminster Government, that this principal of consulting the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Parliament is respected in a way that it hasn’t always been previously.”

21 September 2019

MSP & Councillor Join Volunteers at Banff Beach Clean

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson and Banff & District councillor Glen Reynolds joined the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and hundreds of volunteers during a beach clean event at Banff today (Saturday).

The Great British Beach Clean is the biggest annual beach clean-up and survey in the UK and is organised by the MCS. The event is now in its 26th year and MCS hopes to beat what was a record-breaking 2018 with even more beach cleans organised and more volunteers getting involved. Last year, 2,913 Scottish volunteers took part, removing an incredible 75,807 individual items of litter at 135 beach cleans along 15,680 metres of Scottish coastline.
Stewart Stevenson joined the citizen science project to help clear and survey the litter found on the beach at Banff. Data collected by volunteers from over 25 years of MCS-led Great British Beach Cleans has been instrumental in the introduction of Scotland’s 5p single-use carrier bag charge, commitments to implement a ban on plastic stemmed cotton buds and to introduce a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

"I'm pleased to be joining the Marine Conservation Society and other volunteers at Banff on Saturday to take part in the beach clean.

"Looking after our environment is important and the issue of plastic in our seas is becoming ever more serious. As well as being a practical way to clean up the beach, MCS will also be surveying the litter which is collected, to enable more understanding of where it has come from, how far it may have travelled and, hopefully, provide more information on how we can counter this."

Banff & District councillor Glen Reynolds added:

"The beach clean activity at Greenbanks in Banff today, illustrated how every little can indeed help, to raise awareness surrounding the fragility of our beautiful coast and the problem over plastic contamination. I was hugely impressed by the school children as well as the adults, who took time to help in project Beachwatch - the UK's largest beach clean and litter survey!"

A spokesperson for the MCS said:

“It’s fantastic to see local MSP Stewart Stevenson joining us at Banff to support our Great British Beach Clean; it’s really important for decision-makers to see how much litter, especially plastic, makes its way on to our beaches. We hope that Stewart’s attendance at the Great British Beach Clean will encourage local constituents to join us for an eye-opening day on the beaches. It's vital that we all continue to work together to stop the tide of plastic in our oceans.”

This year, for the first time, the Great British Beach Clean will be sponsored by the Ocado Foundation, the charitable arm of the online supermarket. The Foundation will be sponsoring the event to the tune of £300,000 as part of the Environmental Pillar of its ‘Ocado Way 2020 Vision’.

Suzanne Westlake, Head of Corporate Responsibility & Corporate Affairs said on behalf of the Ocado Foundation:

“We're delighted to be teaming up with the Marine Conservation Society on the GBBC. It will be an amazing four-day event and one we are proud to be a part of.”

20 September 2019

Stewart Stevenson MSP encourages businesses to take part in Autism Hour

A North-east MSP is calling on local businesses to take part in Autism Hour to encourage shops to be more autism-friendly. Autism Hour highlights that small changes can make a big difference to autistic customers and families. National Autistic Society Scotland hope that, after participating in Autism Hour, shops will introduce regular autism-friendly sessions.
From Saturday 5th to Saturday 12th October hundreds of shops around Scotland are turning down music and dimming the lights, as well as providing staff with information about autism to enable them to help and understand autistic customers.

There are around 58,000 autistic people in Scotland. Being autistic means seeing, hearing and feeling the world in a different, often more intense way to other people. Autistic people often find social situations difficult and can struggle to filter out the sounds, smells, sights and information they experience, which can make busy public places, like shops, overwhelming.

Major names from high streets across Scotland are taking part in Autism Hour, including The Entertainer, Morrisons, Lloyds Banking Group, Home Bargains and intu Group. A full list of participating shops in Scotland can be found at www.autism.org.uk/autismhour.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I think Autism Hour is an excellent initiative and I’d encourage all shops, cafes and other businesses in my constituency to get involved.

“Creating an autism friendly environment is simple and small changes like dimming lights and turning music down is easy to do, but goes a long way to making autistic people and their families feel welcome.

“Holding an Autism Hour is the first step to creating a more autism-friendly Scotland.”

Nick Ward, Director of National Autistic Society Scotland, said:

“I’m delighted Stewart is supporting Autism Hour and encouraging businesses to take part.

“We know that 66% of autistic people in Scotland avoid the shops. And, shockingly, 27% have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism. They and their families want and deserve to have the opportunity to go to the shops, just like anyone else.

“Small changes can make a big difference for autistic people and their families.”

Local MSP refutes Tory Attempts to Claim Credit and Thanks for Farmers' Funding

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has this week refuted claims from David Duguid’s column that the Conservative UK Government welcomed the announcement that £160 million worth of convergence funding from the European Union. This money was originally intended to benefit Scottish agriculture and will be paid to the Scottish Government after Mr Duguid’s party refused to hand over the money in 2013.

Convergence uplift is extra Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) funding allocated to the UK to bring Scotland’s per-hectare subsidy average up.

The full allocation was not given to Scotland and years of lobbying from industry and the Scottish Government led to the formation of the Bew Review Group to look at intra-UK farm subsidy allocations.

Earlier this month Chancellor Sajid Javid vowed to “correct that decision” by awarding £160m to Scots farmers, while the Bew Review Group recommended a further allocation of £51.4m in funding over the next two years.

While local Conservative David Duguid attempts to hail the return of the funding which was withheld from Scottish farmers by the Conservative UK Government as some kind of victory for the Conservatives, Mr Stevenson likened his attempts to that of a pickpocket seeking thanks for returning a stolen wallet.

Mr. Stevenson commented:

“Better late than never.

“This money was given by the EU to the UK Government in 2013 with the express purpose of uplifting the low per hectare payments received by Scottish farmers. I was delighted to note Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid’s own observation that the decision by David Cameron’s Conservative Government to withhold this money was wrong – and that the payment will be made after all.

“His announcement follows on from cross-party pressure at both Holyrood and Westminster to right this long-running injustice against our farmers – including from members of the Conservative Party who, I note, are spinning the line that this somehow represents a generous gift from Westminster.

“My constituents in the farming sector will, I’m sure, reach their own conclusions on how much weight this spin should carry. And, indeed, the appropriate level of gratitude due to the pickpocket who returns your wallet six years later.”

19 September 2019

MSP backs calls to address plight of local egg producers

Stewart Stevenson MSP has this week backed calls from SNP colleagues to address the challenges which will face local egg producers after Brexit.

Joan McAlpine MSP has raised fears about the future of egg production after the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing told her the sector could be "wiped out" if a no-deal Brexit leads to a mass influx of cheap, poor quality produce into the UK market.

UK ministers propose to drop tariffs on eggs from abroad in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Mr Ewing told Holyrood he had raised the British Egg Industry Councils concerns with UK ministers just last week, but they were unable to give any reassurance about fears a no-deal could lead to an influx of poor quality eggs produced to lower animal welfare standards.

The BEIC fear that in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, many of the EU regulations and quality controls which ensure the welfare of egg laying hens and the quality of the eggs sold at market, could be scrapped.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“A no-deal Brexit scenario could be disastrous for Scottish consumers and for our high-quality egg industry. Rural areas like the North East have risen to the challenge of producing high quality free-range eggs in recent years, and it would be disgraceful to put these businesses at risk by allowing poor quality ‘battery’ eggs back onto the market.

“If we leave the EU without a deal, we will revert to WTO rules. Under the World Trade Organisation’s sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules, animal welfare cannot be used as a barrier to trade, so we could go backwards."

Responding to Ms McAlpine’s questions in the Scottish Parliament, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said:

“Unfortunately our assessment is that egg production is another of our successful food and drink sectors that will be negatively impacted by a no deal Brexit, and this is particularly true if, as expected, the UK Government leaves the sector without the protection of tariffs or quantitative restrictions on egg products coming into the UK. That would leave Scottish producers at an unfair disadvantage with the potential for imported products of much lower quality and welfare standards flooding the market here.

“These issues were raised with DEFRA Ministers on Monday, but yet again they were completely unable to give us any reassurance whatsoever to alleviate these real and practical concerns. It was completely inadequate, and utter shambolic.”

18 September 2019

Stevenson Comments on Resignation of Ron Shepherd

Commenting on the announcement by Moray councillor Ron Shepherd that he is to step down from his position on 4 October, Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“I’m sorry to see Ron stepping down as a councillor but fully understand his reasons for doing so.

“Ron has served on Moray Council since 1999 and has been a stalwart of the local community. I wish him and his wife Dorothy well in his retirement.”

10 September 2019

Minister Visits New Peterhead Rental Housing

Stevenson Welcomes Further Provision of Social Housing in Buchan

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson was on hand to view some of the new properties for social rent now available in Peterhead thanks to over £2 million of investment from the Scottish Government.

The SNP MSP accompanied Housing Minister Kevin Stewart on a visit to the Osprey Homes development at Lingbank Close, where they met some of the new tenants.
Commenting, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said the Osprey homes represented ‘more than just bricks and mortar’ for the tenants. He said:

“Meeting the new tenants at Lingbank Close, it’s clear to see how their new homes have had such a positive impact on their lives.

“These high-quality houses are more than just bricks and mortar — they provide a sense of pride and belonging in a warm, neighbourly setting.

“The success of this development is testament to the strong collaborative working between housing associations, the construction industry, local councils, and the Scottish Government.

“These new homes will help us stay on course to meet our ambitious target of 50,000 affordable homes by 2021, backed by record investment of over £3 billion.”

Stewart Stevenson added:

“The lack of affordable housing to rent is a common issue raised with me at my surgeries. Tackling the housing shortage locally caused by the Tory sell-off of council housing and council’s not being allowed to build replacements is a key priority. It won’t be rectified overnight but we’re seeing significant new developments coming on stream in recent years.

“I’m delighted this latest development in my constituency has benefitted from support from the Scottish Government and look forward to other new housing schemes in the pipeline.”

9 September 2019

Stevenson Welcomes First Minister & Deputy First Minister Announcement on Peterhead Community Campus Funding

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement this afternoon in Peterhead that the town’s school campus will be included in the Scottish Government’s New Learning Estate Investment programme.
Stewart Stevenson MSP
Depute Head Teacher Gordon West
Peterhead South & Cruden councillor Stephen Smith
The announcement represents further substantial progress on delivering a new school campus for Peterhead first prioritised by the SNP/Labour administration which ran Aberdeenshire Council between 2015 and 2017.

Commenting after the announcement, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I’m delighted the Scottish Government have responded positively to the very strong case made by my councillor colleagues and others that Peterhead needs new secondary school provision.

“While there have been calls for many years for a replacement for the ageing Peterhead Academy, it wasn’t until the SNP took over the running of Aberdeenshire Council with our Labour colleagues in 2015-17 that this started to become a priority.

“Today’s announcement is very good news for Peterhead and I look forward to the project progressing.”

Speaking in Peterhead Academy, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“This additional £1 billion investment will benefit around 50,000 pupils across Scotland, with the first phase set to upgrade and modernise schools across 11 of our local authority areas.

“This investment builds on the progress that we have made over the last 10 years. The National Statistics published today reveal that, even before today’s announcement, Scotland’s school estate has never been in better condition, with a record percentage in good or satisfactory condition. That is a result of sustained investment and we will now build on that.

“Modern, state of the art buildings can make a real difference to the lives of pupils, teachers and parents, as well as the wider communities they serve. This investment continues our efforts to improve the condition of our entire learning estate, from early years through to schools and colleges.”

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney said:

“Creating and maintaining high quality, fit for purpose educational facilities demonstrates to pupils, teachers, staff and the community how valuable learning is.

“The progress made through Scotland’s Schools for the Future has had a significant impact on the condition of schools across the country - almost 90% of pupils are learning in schools in good or satisfactory condition.

“We are committed to making even more progress and I have seen myself the urgency with which some schools require updating. The first phase of the £1 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme prioritises schools in need of updating or where there are significant capacity issues, as identified by local authorities, to ensure rapid progress where most required."

6 September 2019

North-East Set to be Worst Hit by Brexit

Farm Cash Thieves "Returning to Scene of the Crime"

Boris Johnson has been warned that North-east voters “will never forgive” the Tories for inflicting a Brexit that is set to hit the area worse than any other part of the UK, the SNP has said.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson spoke ahead of a visit by Boris Johnson to the North-east, where the Prime Minister will announce an end to the historic theft of farm funding after sustained pressure by the SNP.

Analysts at the London School of Economics found that Aberdeen would be the worst hit city in the UK by a hard Brexit – having a wider knock-on effect to the region as a whole.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“It was a Tory government who stolen millions of pounds of European cash from the pockets of Scottish farmers.

“Boris Johnson is like a thief returning to the scene of the crime.

“In doing so, the Prime Minister is reminding voters across the North-east how disastrous his Brexit plans will be – with experts predicting Aberdeen will be the worst hit city in the whole of the UK.

“No wonder polls show that the Prime Minister is deeply unpopular, with voters backing the SNP to stand up for Scotland’s interests.

“It is essential that Boris Johnson is stopped in his tracks – or voters in the North-east will never forgive the Tories.”

5 September 2019

Stevenson Welcomes UK Govt's Change of Mind on Farming Cash

But Tory Attempts to Claim Credit Akin to Pickpocket Returning Wallet and Asking for Thanks

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement that £160 million worth of convergence funding from the European Union originally intended to benefit Scottish agriculture will be paid to the Scottish Government after Westminster refused to hand over the money in 2013.

While local Conservatives attempt to hail the return of the funding which was withheld from Scottish farmers by the Conservative UK Government as some kind of victory for the Conservatives, Mr Stevenson likened their attempts to that of a pickpocket seeking thanks for returning a stolen wallet.

Mr. Stevenson commented:

“Better late than never.

“This money was given by the EU to the UK Government in 2013 with the express purpose of uplifting the low per hectare payments received by Scottish farmers. I was delighted to note Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid’s own observation that the decision by David Cameron’s Conservative Government to withhold this money was wrong – and that the payment will be made after all.

“His announcement follows on from cross-party pressure at both Holyrood and Westminster to right this long-running injustice against our farmers – including from members of the Conservative Party at Holyrood who, I note, are today spinning the line that this somehow represents a generous gift from Westminster.

“My constituents in the farming sector will, I’m sure, reach their own conclusions on how much weight this spin should carry. And, indeed, the appropriate level of gratitude due to the pickpocket who returns your wallet six years later.”

MSP Backs Docu-Art Installation at ARI to Boost Organ Donation

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has praised the launch of a memorial to organ donors at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary which takes the form of a permanent art installation which incorporates a documentary featuring donor families and those who have had their lives changed by receiving a transplant.

In 2018 44 people died in Scotland while waiting for a transplant. Just 1% of us will die in circumstances that could allow organ donation. Although the law on organ donation is changing in Scotland, it is still incredibly important people who are willing to donate add their names to the register and make their loved ones aware of their wishes.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said,

“This is an innovative way to get the message across to the public how important organ donation is whilst commemorating those who became organ donors.

“Right at this moment in Scotland, around 550 people with life-threatening illnesses are on transplant waiting lists. So it is important for everyone to decide whether they want to be a donor and to share that decision with their family.

“Signing up to the Organ Donor Register could not be easier – and I would encourage my constituents to spare the two minutes that it takes to sign up at www.organdonationscotland.org/yes.

“The Organ Donor Register is a vital resource for our NHS and the fact that everybody has it in them to save a life.”

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick MSP said:

“NHS Grampian’s short film will give people a better insight into the difference donation can make and how it saves or improves people’s lives.

“I am grateful to those participating in Organ Donation Week for continuing the conversation and encouraging people to make a choice about donation and to discuss that with their loved ones.”

Stevenson Writes to Scottish Secretary on Civil Servant Meeting Ban

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack asking that he get his UK Conservative colleagues to remove their ban on civil servants attending EU meetings.

It was reported in the media this week that Scottish civil servants had been banned from attending EU meetings on the basis that the Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay had ruled that only meetings where “a significant national interest in the outcome of discussions such as security” was involved could be attended. The decision was taken without either consulting or informing the Scottish Government, leaving officials to learn of this from the media and is said to include a ban on meetings regarding fisheries and agriculture.

Writing to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Stewart Stevenson said:

“It is not treating our civil service colleagues with respect to allow them to find out about this change from the media in this manner. While the Scottish and UK Governments are clearly of differing political colours, that has not and should not get in the way of the orderly business of government and securing the best outcome for Scottish business, industry and individuals.

“I should be grateful if you would advise what representations you have made to your UK Government colleagues in this regard.

“Secondly, I understand that fishing and agriculture for example are covered by the Brexit Secretary’s ruling. While fishing is clearly not regarded as a “significant national interest” for the UK, it very much is so for Scotland and, in particular, my constituency. Given that co-operation with other coastal states will require to continue if/when the UK leaves the EU, it is clearly of vital importance for Scotland’s civil servants to attend meetings where matters such as fisheries – and agriculture, another significant national interest for Scotland – are being discussed.”

Commenting on his letter, Mr Stevenson said:

“It is quite incredible that the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is supposed to be representing Scotland’s interests in London, could have allowed this to pass unchallenged.

“Our civil servants should be in there regardless of any internal fighting in the Tory Party over Europe because whatever happens, there will still need to be mutual co-operation with our neighbour coastal states on matters relating to fishing so that our industry is not disadvantaged.”

4 September 2019

MSP Welcomes Convergence Statement in Parliament as Villiers Ignores Plea

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed yesterday’s statement in the Scottish Parliament by Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing on the repatriation of convergence funding withheld from Scotland’s farmers by the Westminster Government.

In his statement, Mr Ewing expressed the hope that “we can come together as a Parliament and focus on the final part of this six-year-long campaign to ensure its success and the delivery of the funding that is owed to Scottish farming”.

Mr Ewing continued: “In doing so, I offer the reflection that this Parliament is often at its best when we can act together and support with one voice a campaign to repatriate money that, plainly, is in the interests of our farmers and crofters, who face very real and pressing challenges in the short and medium term, as we all know.”

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The expressions of support from across the parties in the Chamber yesterday for the return of this funding to Scotland’s farmers was very heartening.

“However, it is now nearly six weeks since I wrote to the new Conservative DEFRA Secretary Theresa Villiers asking her to carry out the will of the new Prime Minister and return the £160million in convergence funding which the Westminster Government has been withholding from Scotland’s farmers.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Secretary of State has not even seen fit to acknowledge my letter, let alone reply on an issue of such importance to farmers in the North-east.

“Scottish farmers have not forgotten that the UK Tory Government has withheld £160m in funding rightfully due to them. It is solely because of Scotland that the UK, as the Member State, qualified for this funding.”

The £160million of convergence funding was allocated by the EU to Scotland and retained by the Conservative Government. However, new Prime Minister Boris Johnston appeared to give a commitment to “make sure Scotland’s farmers get the support they are owed” at a Conservative Leadership hustings event in July. Stewart Stevenson wrote to Theresa Villiers on 29 July asking her to make good in the new PM’s pledge and release the money.

Commenting at the time, Mr Stevenson said:

“The new Secretary of State has an opportunity early in her tenure to set right this historic wrong. New Prime Minister Boris Johnston has given a commitment, which has been welcomed by the NFUS President, so it should be a simple matter of carrying out the will of the PM and paying the money.

“Scottish farmers will be expecting more than warm words from the new Secretary of State. She needs to send a clear signal to Scottish farmers that she understands their distinct challenges and is prepared to pay them what is rightfully theirs. In other words, she needs to decide whether she will back Scotland’s farmers, or betray them like her predecessor.”

Mr Stevenson has today written again to Theresa Villiers on the matter.

3 September 2019

Regeneration on Agenda as Stevenson Visits Projects and Businesses in Fraserburgh

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson spent time this week visiting a range of businesses and projects in Fraserburgh 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.
Stewart Stevenson MSP
Caroline Bruce, Co-owner of the Beach Café
Councillor Charles Buchan
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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:
  • Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub, a project designed to increase access to mainstream business support and stimulate new and growth businesses. The project is run by Elevator in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council and is funded through the Fraserburgh Regeneration Action Plan and EU funding.
  • The Faithlie Centre – a key £2.6m strategic Regeneration project in the heart of the town centre partly funded by a Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund. This project will include new council facilities, community space and a new Enterprise Hub for start-up businesses and is the main priority project under the Fraserburgh 2021 initiative.
  • The Beach Café, which changed hands in May under a new tenancy. This is a new business enterprise and has created 14 new jobs and safeguarded one additional job. The new management has made a commitment to provide high quality locally sourced food and over time will seek to extend opening hours and provide a greater range of services.
  • South Links Sports Development, a new £1.3m new sports facility consisting of a new running track, football pitch and all abilities cycle track. The project is designed to increase and deepen participation in sport. The project includes a grant of £455k from the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund with funding also awarded by Aberdeenshire Council, Sports Scotland, LEADER and the Robertson Trust as well as financial support from local companies.
  • Discover Fraserburgh Tourism Group is the Destination Management project for Fraserburgh and surrounding areas. They have recently secured funding from Visit Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council and from private sponsorship to run a new and innovative visitor economy project, #Fraserburgh48, designed to encourage longer stays in the area.
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.

Stewart Stevenson MSP
Graeme Clark, Convenor of FSLDT
Councillor Charles Buchan
“There was a good mix of commercial 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 partnership in Fraserburgh and external funders such as the EU’s LEADER Programme and Aberdeenshire Council.

“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 Fraserburgh, all of which are helping to regenerate our towns, providing employment and bolster the local economy.”



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