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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.”


30 August 2019

MSP Receives Commitment from SPS on Support for HMP Grampian

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has received details of the commitment by the Scottish Prison Service on support for HMP Grampian to address their staffing issues.

A report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland published in July found issues with staffing shortages at the prison, with recruitment and retention of staff being highlighted as a problem owing to the high employment rate in the Buchan area.

Responding to a letter from the SNP MSP, Chief Executive Colin McConnell detailed a range of actions and initiatives designed to support the prison and recruit staff members.

Welcoming the commitment, Mr Stevenson again highlighted the overall positive nature of the inspectorate’s report and the efforts of the staff at the facility, stating:

“It was clear from the report that, despite some challenges, the staff at HMP Grampian are carrying on the ethos of the old HMP Peterhead and deserve to be commended for their hard work. Back then, the officers charged with custody of what was then a sex-offender population were a team who were highly motivated in their jobs by doing their utmost to protect the public by ensuring their inmates got every support to make them not re-offend. Prevention of re-offending remains a top priority for the staff.

“Bringing together two prisons with very different cultures in HMP Peterhead and HMP Craiginches was always going to present some challenges, but the report stated the “inspection team found an establishment that had matured, and despite a small number of significant incidents in 2018, was largely calm and purposeful with emerging signs of stability and progress”.

“There were issues highlighted in the report which require to be addressed, and I raised these with the SPS, who have responded positively with details of what they are doing to address staffing and other issues.

“In particular, new initiatives and changes to the recruitment process appear to be generating increased interest from potential job applicants. These include Open Days, online testing as part of the recruitment process, funded visits with a family member to HMP Grampian to meet other staff who had also relocated to the area, and also promoting career opportunities at North-east secondary schools.

“None of these represent a ‘quick-fix’ but I am confident that SPS management are taking all reasonable steps to address the staffing situation highlighted in the report.”

28 August 2019

MSP Echoes Safety Advice on Tumble Dryers

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has highlighted safety advice issued by campaigning charity Electrical Safety First on avoiding tumble dryer fires.

“With 47 fires caused by tumble dryers in Scottish homes last year and a major, ongoing tumble dryer recall, all of us need to check and use them safely”, explains Stewart Stevenson MSP “So I’ve joined Electrical Safety First’s campaign to ensure my constituents stay safe in their homes.”

White goods manufacturer, Whirlpool, is recalling a number of its tumble dryers – but the company estimates that there are still around 500,000 affected machines in UK homes.[i]

Mr Stevenson continued:

“I am supporting the charity’s campaign to ensure that all recalled tumble dryers are removed from use and to encourage people to check if they have an affected model. But even if you are not one of those affected by the recall, it’s really important to follow some simple safety tips when using your machine”.

"Currently, recalls have just a 20% effectiveness rate, so checking you don’t have an effected model is a priority. However, Wayne Mackay, Deputy Public Affairs Manager at Electrical Safety First, explains that the campaign also has a wider aim.

“We also want to provide a timely reminder on using tumble dryers safely”, reveals Wayne. “And we have devised a range of tools and top tips to help, including our dedicated site - www.whitegoodsafety.com - where my constituents can check if you have an affected tumble dryer, or indeed, other recalled ‘white goods’, such as fridges and washing machines”.

For more information, take a look at Electrical Safety First’s top tips, below:

To check if you have a recalled tumble dryer
  • Visit: www.whitegoodsafety.com.
  • Check if you have a Whirlpool owned brand machine, such as Hotpoint, Creda, Indesit or Swan. You can do this by looking at Whirlpool’s online model checker to see if your product is affected – if it is, call Whirlpool on 0800 151 0905 to have it replaced or consult https://safety.hotpoint.eu to check your model.
  • If you’re in any doubt, stop using - and unplug - your machine immediately.
Top tips for tumble dryer safety
  • Never overload the dryer – take large or bulky items like duvets to the dry cleaners.
  • Always allow each drying programme, including the "cool-down cycle", to completely finish.
  • If you have to stop the dryer before the end of the cycle, remove all items and leave the door open to dissipate heat.
  • Don't use your tumble dryer to dry clothes that are contaminated with combustible substances like solvents, grease, oils or fats.
  • Don't leave your tumble dryer running overnight, or when you are out.

26 August 2019

MSP Highlights Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight, which begins later this week

Starting on Saturday 31 August, the fortnight long campaign will amplify the great work that’s happening now and talk about the future potential for Scotland’s food and drink industry.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP believes this is an opportunity to highlight some of the innovation that is going on across the sector and profiling the work that goes on behind the scenes with retailers and foodservice customers to help Scottish companies realise their full potential, as well as promoting the rich array of locally-produced food and drink in the North-east.

Commenting Mr Stevenson said:

“Scotland can be rightly proud of the outstanding products being reared, grown and manufactured on our doorstep- particularly in the North-east.

“Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight is a phenomenal opportunity to cement Scotland’s reputation as the Land of Food and Drink and celebrate the reputation we have globally.

“The Food and Drink industry in Scotland deserve great congratulations for all that has been achieved as we approach our target of being home to a sector worth £30 billion by 2030.”

25 August 2019

Stevenson Asks RBS to Look at Shared Rural Banking Hub Pilot Scheme

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to Royal Bank of Scotland Chief Executive Ross McEwan asking the bank to consider setting up a pilot scheme for a shared banking hub in a rural area.

Through its NatWest bank subsidiary, RBS is already involved in such a pilot in England with Barclays Bank and Lloyds Bank.

It is understood there are several trials currently ongoing, all of them in urban areas and Mr Stevenson has asked RBS to trial such a scheme in a rural area such as the North-east before reaching any conclusions.

In a letter to Mr McEwan, Mr Stevenson states:

“As you will be aware, various banks including RBS have closed a large number of branches in the North-east in recent years and, increasingly, one of the things I am hearing from constituents is the desire for the banks to co-operate through shared provision of premises.

“I understand . . . that none of these pilots are taking place in Scotland but the results of the pilots in England will be assessed before any decisions are reached.

“I should be grateful if you are able to update me on when you expect the reach any conclusions from the data gathered. I note also that all of the pilots are in urban areas and should be grateful if consideration could be given to a similar trial in a rural area, such as the North-east, so that the data gathered is not based entirely on urban experiences.”

Commenting on his approach, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The North of Scotland has suffered a large number of bank branch closures in recent years, with the closures affecting even large towns such as Fraserburgh, Banff and Buckie.

“Any initiative which could retain or even bring back a range of services provided by the banks themselves is worth serious consideration. It’s very interesting that there is a pilot scheme in place in some urban areas in England and there is no reason why a similar pilot scheme could not be set up to assess its viability in a rural area of Scotland, so I hope RBS will agree in principle as a first step.”

23 August 2019

Stevenson Joins Banff Community Policing Team on Beat

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson joined officers from Banff Community Policing Team on the beat this week.
The SNP MSP was taking part in the ‘Give a Day to Policing’ initiative for MSPs which saw MSPs joining police officers across the country, allowing them to see first-hand the hard work and commitment that police officers display on a daily basis to support communities across Scotland.

Commenting afterwards, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This was an exceptionally useful visit and I am grateful to the officers at Banff for hosting me and giving me the opportunity to learn more about their daily responsibilities.

“It also provided an opportunity to see how policing and the expectation of the public in respect of policing has changed, reflecting the changing nature and complexity of crime, and the fact that an increasing amount of officer time is spent helping to safeguard vulnerable people.

“Spending some time with our local police gave a valuable first-hand insight into their day to day work, and gives a broader understanding of the operational challenges facing policing. It is difficult to overstate how important the work of Police Scotland is to our daily lives, and it is right that they are recognised for their significant contribution to our community.”

20 August 2019

MSP welcomes rail reopening

Stewart Stevenson MSP has praised the work of Network Rail as passengers travelling between Aberdeen and Inverness will return to the track today.

Network Rail has been improving the stretch to increase capacity and upgrade the service- another substantial investment in the North East.

Sections of the line were closed as part of a £300 million project to dual the track and improve the North East transport network. This follows hard on the heels of the recently upgraded Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.

The majority of Aberdeen to Inverness services will be highspeed and an extra 1,400 seats a day will be available.

Commenting Mr Stevenson, said

“I am delighted today to see the rail link between Inverurie and Dyce reopening for passengers to use and welcome yet another substantial investment in the North East.

“I’d like to thank all at Network Rail who have worked around the clock over the last 15 weeks to ensure this project would be reopened on time.

“These improvements will help to transform rail in the North East and I congratulate all of the staff who have kept customers informed throughout the process. I am pleased to see the service completed today.”

Stevenson welcomes multi-million pound investment in the North

Banffshire and Buchan coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has this week welcomed figures showing a multi-million pound investment in the North of Scotland.

The north has been granted the biggest share of a community fund generated by SSE Renewables according to a new report.

A review carried out by the energy firm SSE Renewables, shows the company has invested more than £4.5 million across businesses and not-for-profit organisations in the Highlands and Islands and the north-east.

SSE have provided more than £6.6m in support for community projects across the UK as a whole between April 1 2018 and March 31 this year.

Local MSP says that this sum is the largest ever invested by the UK renewable energy developer and the £4.5m being invested locally across the region will have a significant impact on rural communities.

Mr Stevenson commenting, said:

“Following the Scottish Governments announcement of a climate emergency earlier this year it is excellent to see the renewable energy sector stepping up to tackle the problem and investing in the north-east.

“Nationally, by 2030 we aim to generate 50% of Scotland's overall energy consumption from renewable sources, and by 2050 we aim to have decarbonised our energy system almost completely.

“I have no doubt this money will make a huge impact towards helping rural communities to thrive and is a positive step in achieving our targets and tackling climate change locally.”

16 August 2019

MSP Calls for Banks to Sign-up to Customer Protection Code

Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast has called for banks to urgently sign up to a new code which is designed to protect users from payment scams.

The code, which came into force in May, aims to make it easier for victims of authorised push payment (APP) fraud to get their money back and avoids life changing sums of money being lost.

Recent figures from UK Finance shows that a staggering £354 million was lost to bank transfer fraud in 2018, with only £83 million of it recovered.

Mr Stevenson has written to the Chief Executives of several banks which have yet to sign up to the code. He urged them to offer greater protection to fraud victims and introduce the customer protection code.

Commenting Mr Stevenson said

“The launch of the APP voluntary code in May marked a significant moment, bringing a new level of security from scammers.

“Individuals across Scotland must be protected from fraudsters and it’s incredibly concerning that not all bank and building societies guarantee refunds to APP fraud victims yet.

“All too often victims of APP fraud are losing money to this type of crime and so I’m calling for urgent action from banks to help protect those affected.”

12 August 2019

Stevenson Welcomes Bellwin Support for Moray Council

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to activate the Bellwin Scheme following a request from the Moray Council following the structural damage caused by the recent extreme weather.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The emergency services, council staff and local volunteers have done a tremendous job and the focus is now on the clearing-up operation. I’m therefore pleased that the Scottish Government has agreed to Moray Council’s request for assistance under the Bellwin Scheme.”

Minister for Public Finance & Digital Economy Kate Forbes MSP said:

“The Council made the request following the structural damage within the Council area as a result of the recent extreme summer weather. Moray Council’s threshold for 2019-20 is £428,518 which means that all eligible revenue expenditure which the Council incurs over and above this sum as a result of these recent incidents will be funded in full by the Scottish Government.”

Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead added:

“I’m pleased the Scottish Government have responded positively to the Council’s request to activate the Bellwin Scheme – which exists to help local authorities deal with the unforeseen costs of emergency incidents, such as extreme weather, and to ensure they can safeguard life and property.

“The heavy rain has made it a challenging few days with flash flooding causing disruption and damage to local infrastructure. Although the rain is set to continue the Council is already turning its attention to the clear up, particularly the works that will be needed to repair damage caused by the landslips.

“I want to pay tribute to the emergency services, Moray Council and all the local volunteers who have been working hard over the last couple of days to protect homes and businesses.”

11 August 2019

Banffshire MSP Congratulates New Lord Lieutenant on Appointment

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the appointment of local man Andrew Simpson as the new Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire.

Mr Simpson takes over from Mrs Clare Russell, who retired last week.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I warmly congratulate Andrew on his appointment as Lord Lieutenant and look forward to working with him to help promote the interests of those Banffshire communities which lie within my constituency.

“Clare Russell did a huge power of work in support of local organisations and keeping the historic County of Banff on the map and I pay tribute to her work over many years.

“I am sure that Andrew Simpson is relishing his new role and will be an equally strong advocate for the county and I wish him well in his duties.”

4 August 2019

Stevenson Calls on DEFRA Secretary to Carry Out New PM's Promise

Westminster Continues to Withhold EU Millions from Scotland

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to the new DEFRA Secretary Theresa Villiers asking for a timetable for the repayment of the £160 million stolen from Scotland’s farmers by the UK Tory Government.

The £160 million of convergence funding was allocated by the EU to Scotland but was retained by the Conservative Government and used across the UK instead.

However, new Prime Minister Johnston appeared to give a commitment to “make sure Scotland’s farmers get the support they are owed” (The Scottish Farmer, 12 Jul 2019) at a Conservative Leadership hustings event in last month. Stewart Stevenson has written to Theresa Villiers asking her to make good in the new PM’s pledge and release the money.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“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 new Secretary of State has an opportunity early in her tenure to set right this historic wrong. New Prime Minister 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.”

2 August 2019

Stevenson: "Game Changer" Anti-Poverty Payment to Benefit Thousands of North-East Children

An estimated 11,800 children in 6,800 families across the North-East are expected to benefit from the Scottish Government’s ground-breaking anti-poverty payment, it has been revealed.

The Scottish Child Payment will be worth £10 per child for low-income families by the end of 2022, with introduction for under-6s starting by early 2021.

The brand-new benefit was described as a “game changer” and a “lifeline” by anti-poverty campaigners and is central to the SNP’s ambitions to tackle child poverty.

The Scottish Government this week published estimates, based on the number of Tax Credit recipients prior to the rollout of Universal Credit Full Service, showing how many children and families are expected to benefit in each local authority.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Scottish Child Payment is an ambitious and ground-breaking new benefit that will directly tackle child poverty.

“When fully rolled out, the Scottish Child Payment will benefit over a third of all children – giving families £10 per week for every eligible child under 16 years old.

“Tory cuts are driving too many families in North-East into poverty – but the SNP are determined to use every power at our disposal to help families make ends meet.”

1 August 2019

Stevenson Urges North-East Groups and Charities to Apply for Funding from £3 Million Cash Pot

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is urging community groups and local charities to apply for funding from a pot of more than £3 million.

The funding has been raised by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery with applications now open until August 14th.

A wide range of community organisations, from registered charities, to voluntary groups and social enterprises, are eligible to apply for grants of between £500 and £20,000.

The funding can be accessed through three different trusts and each trust supports projects focussed on different themes.

Groups are encouraged to apply to the trust that best fits their proposed project including applications from projects aimed at promoting human rights, combating discrimination and poverty prevention.

Other groups urged to apply are initiatives working to improve the health and wellbeing of communities, including arts and physical recreation projects, as well as those with a focus on reducing isolation

The Postcode Local Trust is also looking to provide funding that’s dedicated to improving outdoor space, in addition to increasing access to it.

Groups working on flood prevention measures and looking to implement renewable energy strategies are also encouraged to apply.

More than 300 groups were awarded grants earlier this year, with sports groups for military veterans, counselling support services for young carers and sensory gardens for people with dementia among some of the organisations that benefitted.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson, said:

“There are countless organisations doing fantastic work across the North-East. This is the perfect opportunity for them to take advantage of the funding available and expand the

reach of an existing service, get a new project off the ground, or allow it to help extend an already successful initiative. I strongly encourage as many groups as possible to apply.”

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, added:

“It’s not just players who win with People’s Postcode Lottery - over £3 million in grants will have a tremendous impact on grass-roots groups across Britain.

“Between the three trusts, a huge array of projects is able to benefit, and I would urge all groups to look at the funding guides and apply.”

31 July 2019

Thousands of North-East Households Helped in Time of Crisis

The Scottish Welfare Fund made more than 3,000 payments to people in the North-East in the last financial year, new figures show.

A total of 665 Community Care Grants and 3,275 Crisis Grants were awarded in the region over the year.

The money helped people with essentials such as food, heating costs and household items.

The Scottish Government introduced the Scottish Welfare Fund in 2013. The Fund is part of a £125 million annual package to mitigate the impact of UK government austerity.

Since its launch in April 2013, the Fund has paid out more than £200 million to support over 336,000 households across Scotland, with a third of recipients being families with children.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Scottish Welfare Fund is a vital lifeline for many people facing poverty or personal crisis.

“The fact that so many households in the North-East are in need of emergency financial help is appalling, and a sad indictment of the UK Government’s record on austerity and welfare changes.

“The Scottish Government would prefer these resources were invested directly to tackle poverty rather than protecting people from Tory austerity.

“Indeed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty described it as outrageous that the Scottish Government had to divert funds to protect people from Westminster’s mess.

“The Scottish Government will continue to do everything in our power to tackle poverty and support low income families. It’s time for the Tories to end their austerity agenda and stop forcing families in the North-East into poverty.”

29 July 2019

Stevenson Blasts UK Gov Response on TV Licence Plans for Over 75s

The UK Government has refused to intervene after the BBC revealed plans to axe free TV licences for those over the age of 75.

It was previously revealed more than a million Scots pensioners will be hit when the BBC axes the free TV licence – at an overall cost of £41.4 million.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson wrote to the UK Government on behalf of concerned constituents calling for intervention to help support the move from happening.

However, in correspondence from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Mr Stevenson was told the decision to axe the concession was “entirely a matter” for the BBC.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright QC MP, said as part of the 2015 funding settlement changes had been introduced which meant responsibility for the concession would be in the hands of the BBC solely by June 2020 next year.

And despite concern from Mr Stevenson regarding the impact the changes could have on the older population including issues of loneliness, the UK Government insisted it was working to combat this.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“The Tories are breaking a manifesto commitment to over-75s and should be meeting this funding gap to help those affected by the move.

“Particularly in rural areas of the North-East, having access to television can be a lifeline for many older people.

“The UK Government claims it is committed to helping support the elderly population, so it is once again disappointing, but not surprising, that they have failed to provide any support on this issue.

“The Tories have tried to pass the buck by passing the blame to the BBC rather than taking action.

“The last thing people need in the North-East is another extra burden on top of household bills.”

Carbon Capture Progress Early Test for New PM

UK Government Must Move Forward with CCS "Without Delay"

The SNP has called on the UK government to move forward with the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology “without delay” following the appointment of a new Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Energy.

Alarm bells have been raised with the appointment of Andrew Leadsom to the top job at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Ms Leadsom previously said a national strategy for CCS was “unnecessary”.

Under Theresa May, the UK government finally accepted the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) which determined that CCS technology was “crucial to the delivery of zero GHG emissions and strategically important to the UK economy”.

Despite promising £1 billion investment in a shovel-ready CCS project for Peterhead ahead of the Scottish independence referendum, the Tories reneged on the commitment. CCS was then put back on the table by the government after a three-year delay.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“In the context of a climate emergency, there is simply no argument against it – carbon capture is crucial and must play a central part in tackling climate change.

“But actually getting on with the job has been one sorry saga for the UK government from start to finish.

“First they promised the earth in 2014, when they sought to buy the votes of people in the North East of Scotland.

“In 2015, the Tories broke their promise, scrapped £1 billion investment and cost my constituency 600 jobs.

“They then had a eureka moment that climate change might just be a real and present danger to humanity – and put CCS back on the table after dithering for three years.

“Now it’s all change once again round the Cabinet table, with Boris Johnson at the helm and Andrea Leadsom calling the shots on tackling climate change. We need assurances that CCS will proceed without delay.

“The Tories promised Scotland £1 billion for carbon capture – it’s high time they paid up."

24 July 2019

MSPs Back Opening of £1.1 million NHS Base in North-East

North-East MSPs have welcomed the opening of a new £1.1 million base for Scotland’s emergency adult retrieval service in Aberdeen.

The ScotsTAR North base will provide potentially life-saving pre-hospital care for trauma patients and for other critically ill patients.
The opening has been backed by Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson.

With the opening of the ScotSTAR North base, the pre-hospital critical care teams join the teams at the base in Glasgow to provide services that now cover the whole of Scotland.

The consultant-led teams at the £1.1 million base are on hand to provide major incident pre-hospital medical response, retrievals of patients with major trauma, critically ill and critically injured patients and telephone advice to remote and rural hospital staff with regard to resuscitation and safe transfer of patients with critical illness.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP and Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“The opening of this new base builds upon previous investment in the North-East including the Major Trauma Centre in Aberdeen.

“The addition of this base will help to ensure care across the region is of the highest standard.

“Once again, it shows the commitment of the SNP Scottish Government to enhancing and continuing to improve patient care and and investing in vital public services.”

23 July 2019

Stevenson Visits New Deer Show

 (l to r): Cllr Alastair Forsyth
Stewart Stevenson MSP
Christian Allard MEP
Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson visited New Deer Show with local SNP councillors where he met with the local NFU Scotland branch. The MSP also toured the cattle and sheep lines before visiting various stalls and exhibitions around the showground.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

"New Deer Show is an important tradition, with over 170 years of history behind it. There is a huge amount of work for the Committee in organising the event and setting it up and it is thoroughly deserving of the support of the community.

“I had a useful meeting with local members of NFU Scotland. Brexit is clearly a concern for the farming community. Boris Johnson’s pledge to return to Scottish farmers the £160million of convergence money which the UK Government withheld from them is clearly welcome and I will be raising that issue with the DEFRA Secretary once he or she is confirmed in their position later this week.”

22 July 2019

Impact Of Parking Charges On Business Must Be Part Of Review - MSP

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has asked Aberdeenshire Council to review the impact on local businesses of its decision to withdraw free parking periods from its pay-and-display car parks after a bedding-in period.

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, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I have particular concerns regarding the impact this may have on the designated Regeneration Towns, all of which are located within my constituency and which have been the focus of much good work by the council working with the Scottish Government to access funding.

“Peterhead BID and business groups in other towns across Aberdeenshire expressed similar concerns at the potential for the town centre economy to be affected adversely by this decision.

“We’re not just talking about people having to pay 50p here or a pound there – it’s the impact the loss of even half-an-hour’s free parking can potentially have if people can get the same items at a supermarket where parking is free, or shopping online. It’s a psychological barrier to nipping into town for a short visit for one or two items.

“I’ve therefore asked Aberdeenshire Council to agree to include within their review of the implementation of the charges an assessment of the impact this is having on town centre businesses. I think it would be a sensible to include that element in the report coming back to the council.”

19 July 2019

Stevenson Backs Introduction of Opt-Out System for Organ Donation

Legislation to introduce an opt-out system of organ and tissue donation for deceased donors will come into force in Autumn 2020.

The announcement has been welcomed by Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson who has long supported the introduction of these changes.

Under the new law, if an adult does not opt-in or opt-out of donation they may be deemed to have authorised donation for transplantation.

This is subject to the safeguards in the Act which seek to ensure that donation will not go ahead where it would be against the person’s wishes.

Last month, the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill was passed having completed all parliamentary stages and has now been given Royal Assent.

The new law will add to the package of measures already in place which have led to significant increases in donation and transplantation over the last decade.

It will follow a public awareness campaign of at least 12 months which will provide more information about what the changes mean and what choices people will have.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“There are currently more than 500 people across Scotland waiting for an organ transplant.

“This Bill has the potential to be transformative for many people because organ and tissue donation can be a life changing gift.

“I would urge people to continue to make a decision about donation, to discuss it with their family and other relatives and record this on the NHS Organ Donor Register.”

15 July 2019

Stevenson Welcomes Scottish Wind Power Figures

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed figures which show wind power hit a record high during the first six month of 2019.

According to figures from Weather Energy it has been calculated that the energy produced by turbines could power every home in Scotland and part of the North of England.

Mr Stevenson, a member of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, has welcomed the latest figures which have been described by WWF Scotland as a “wind energy revolution”.

The period to June, is understood to have seen the equivalent of 4.47 million homes’ consumption supplied by wind power.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“These figures show the potential, once again, for wind energy as a source of power in the North-East and across the whole of Scotland.

“Onshore wind provides the opportunity for clean, green electricity and this demonstrates clearly that it is now a major player in the UK energy market.”

11 July 2019

Stevenson Welcomes £32.5 million Scottish Government Investment in Moray Growth Deal

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed today’s announcement of the Moray Growth Deal, which sees the Westminster Government matching the £32.5 million invested by the Scottish Government.
Stewart at Findochty
The Moray Growth Deal will see £65 million invested in creating high-value jobs, strengthening local communities and safeguarding the future of the local economy.

The Scottish Government will invest up to £32.5 million in Moray over 10 to 15 years to drive inclusive economic growth across the region, with the UK Government matching the funding over a 15 year period.

The investment will fund targeted economic development activity across a range of themes, including infrastructure, transport, tourism, energy and skills.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson, whose constituency includes the eastern part of the Moray Council area, said:

“The Moray Growth Deal has the potential to be transformational for the region and is a major investment in the area by the Scottish Government, with matching funds from Westminster.

“I’d like to thank all those involved for getting the Moray Growth Deal across the line, particularly those at Moray Council and their partner agencies.

“Separately from the Moray Growth Deal, we also have of course huge investment from the Scottish Government in the Inverness to Aberdeen rail link and also the A96 dualling project, both of which will make Moray and Banffshire more accessible and attractive. It’s clear that the North-east is going places under the SNP Government.”

Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead, who made the announcement on behalf of the Scottish Government, said:

“The Moray Growth Deal will make a real lasting difference to the future of the region and inject confidence into the economy, improving the quality of life for local people.

“Successful delivery of this deal will create new high-value jobs, help safeguard the local economy and strengthen Moray’s communities. I am grateful to Moray Council and all their partners for their hard work in getting to this stage, and I recognise the important involvement of the community in developing the deal proposals.

“We will continue our dialogue with our Moray partners on projects that will have a transformative effect on the Moray economy. We will announce a Heads of Terms agreement as soon as possible, which will specify which projects will be supported by this significant joint investment.

“The Scottish Government has so far committed more than £1.7 billion over the next 10 to 20 years to City Region and Growth Deals and related investments across Scotland.”

The specific projects and activities to be supported will be announced over the coming months, as part of a Heads of Terms agreement, following detailed discussions with the UK Government on their investment in the deal.

Stevenson Comments On HMP Grampian Inspection Report

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has praised staff and management at HMP Grampian following publication of a report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland.

The report found that in the nine standard assessments, eight were rated as either Good, Satisfactory or Generally Acceptable. Preparation of prisoners for a successful return to their communities received the best rating within the report.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“The staff at HMP Grampian are to be commended on this report. For me, the measure of the success of a prison is whether those who are released from it are prepared for a return to day-to-day life as someone who contributes to society, and not someone who goes on to re-offend and end up costing the taxpayer more money as they go through the justice system.

“It’s clear from this report that, despite some challenges, the staff at HMP Grampian are carrying on the ethos of the old HMP Peterhead. Back then, the officers charged with custody of what was then a sex-offender population were a team who were highly motivated in their jobs by doing their utmost to protect the public by ensuring their inmates got every support to make them not re-offend. Prevention of re-offending remains a top priority for the staff.

“Bringing together two prisons with very different cultures in HMP Peterhead and HMP Craiginches was always going to present some challenges, but the report states the


“inspection team found an establishment that had matured, and despite a small number of significant incidents in 2018, was largely calm and purposeful with emerging signs of stability and progress”.

“There are issues highlighted in the report which require to be addressed, and I will be raising some of those with the authorities, but overall this is a very positive report.”

10 July 2019

Over 27,000 People In North-East To Lose Free TV Licence

UK Government Under Pressure To Act As Tories Hammer Older People

Thousands of people in North-east Scotland will be hit by the Tory government’s decision to scrap the free TV licence for over-75s, new figures have revealed.

It is estimated that over 27,000 of over-75s people in Moray, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City will be forced to pay an extra £154.50 in household bills when the free TV licence policy for over-75s is axed.

The SNP has renewed calls on the UK Government to ensure the free TV licence is fully-funded, and can continue to benefit households and elderly people across Scotland and the UK.

Commenting, local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“A decade of damaging Tory government cuts has left older people in Scotland worse off – and it’s concerning to see that the decision to axe the free TV licence will hit over 27,000 over-75s in Moray, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City.

"This is yet another broken Tory manifesto commitment which will take money out of the pockets of older people.

"It is time this Tory government finally made the welfare of our older population a priority – instead of making things even worse by taking away key benefits.

"The Tories should urgently stop this swindle and ensure that the TV license for over-75s is be properly funded and protected.”

MSP's Delight As Peterhead To Get Third Post Office

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has reacted with delight after receiving confirmation from Post Office management that a new Post Office Branch will open in Peterhead next month.

Located at the Londis Store in Blackhouse Terrace, the new branch will mean Peterhead once again has three Post Offices after the closure of Buchanhaven Post Office several years ago.

Welcoming the news, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is excellent news for Peterhead and I’m delighted at this expansion in Post Office services locally. It’s particularly pleasing as the shop where the new Post Office will be located was itself closed until the new owner refurbished it and brought it back into use last year.

“When Buchanhaven Post Office closed several years ago I made representations at the time saying that it was a valued local service and changes in the way people access banking services and online shopping meant Post Offices would become more and more important. It’s taken a while for the UK Government to realise this but with a further reduction in banking services and the growth of internet shopping, the Post Office really is more important than ever now and I’m sure the new branch will be an asset to the community.”

Peterhead North & Rattray SNP councillor Anne Allan added:

“I very much welcome today’s announcement by the Post Office. It was a fairly short-sighted action to close Buchanhaven Post Office but the new Blackhouse Post Office will more than fill that gap and I wish the new Sub-postmaster every success going forward.”

5 July 2019

Busy MSP Completes Successful Surgery Tour

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson completed his annual surgery tour last week, clocking-up nearly 40 surgeries in communities across the constituency.
Mr Stevenson’s record of holding surgeries is second to none and makes him one of the most accessible MSPs in the country, having held over 1170 surgeries since he was elected.

Commenting, Stewart said:

“Most of the casework I receive from constituents these days comes in via e-mail, post or by phone, but I think it’s still very important to be available for face-to-face discussions in people’s own communities and the Surgery Tour serves that purpose very well.

“People brought a range of issues to me, which I am progressing with the relevant authorities.

“Over the years, many thousands of people have been in touch through one of my surgeries. It’s not always possible to achieve the outcome that people are seeking with a particular issue or problem, but on many occasions, simply the act of writing a letter on Parliamentary-headed paper on someone’s behalf is enough to make the powers that be or private companies sit up and pay attention to someone’s problem. Being able to help people in this way is both a pleasure and a privilege and I’m pleased to be able to do so.

“I’ll be holding more surgeries of the conventional type across the larger towns in the coming months but in the meantime, any constituent wishing to contact me can do so in a range of ways; by phone, e-mail, post, calling in at my Constituency Office or online via my website, www.stewartstevenson.scot, which also has full details of how to get in touch.”

Arrangements are already being made for Stewart’s next round of surgeries, which will take place next month.
Stewart at Findochty

Banffshire MSP Expresses Concern Over Whisky Tariff Threats

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has expressed his concerns over the threats of tariffs for Scotch whisky as part of an ongoing trade war between the EU and the US.

Commenting Stewart Stevenson said:

“There is a danger that Scotch whisky will be caught-up in this long-running trade dispute between the United States and the EU and I’m very concerned about that.

“Our exports of Scotch whisky to the United States were worth over £1billion last year with global sales absolutely vital to the Banffshire economy. Our local distilleries have benefited from duty-free access to the US and EU markets for decades, and any proposal to introduce tariffs would cause serious damage to the industry.

“With the huge uncertainty facing the industry over Brexit, this is the last thing it needs. We can’t afford for Scotch whisky to be caught in the cross-fire – we need the UK Government to make urgent representations to the EU to ensure that Scotch whisky is not collateral damage to this long-term dispute.”

3 July 2019

Positive Figures Show Rise in Operations Across NHS Grampian

Figures have revealed more than 2,500 operations were undertaken by NHS Grampian compared with the previous year.

The findings have been welcomed by Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson.

The latest elective surgery statistics were released by ISD Scotland and show the health board has performed 2,543 operations more than in the same time period last year and 2,210 more than in 2017.

ISD figures also highlighted how the lowest proportion of operations cancelled in almost four years.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP and Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“These results from ISD Scotland are extremely positive.

“We recognise there has been a number of innovative projects which have helped to create extra capacity as well as improving the experience of patients.

“This includes the ERAS (Enhanced Recovery After Surgery) Scheme which has helped to create extra free beds at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen.

“We would like to thank all the staff at NHS Grampian for their determination and diligence in the past year which has led to an increase.”

The health board undertook more than 3,120 elective procedures in May with 7.6% (257) of those scheduled in the region not taking place, including almost 100 cancelled by patients and 88 for clinical reasons.

NHS Grampian also performed ahead of the Scottish average of 1.7%, with 1.6% of scheduled elective procedures postponed for non-clinical reasons – the lowest figure for this measure for the region in three years.

Stevenson Welcomes North-East Funding Boost

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed funding for a trio of groups in the North-East.

It comes after the latest round of funding from the National Lottery Awards for all Scotland were announced.

The Three Kings Cullen Association received a £6,500 cash-boost which will be used to install a second toilet in their community centre to provide separate facilities for the groups hiring rooms and residential guests.

And Peterhead & District Men’s Shed received a £10,000 award to erect a third wheelchair accessible workshop for multiple activities including space for crafts and building projects, a teaching space and a free community space for groups to meet.

Gardenstown Community Hub was also awarded £6,000 of funding which will be used for a ramp and accessible toilet in their newly-acquired community hub.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"I am delighted than more than £20,000 of funding has been secured in total across these organisations

“They all do such vital work to support their community and this added cash-boost will help them to offer better facilities.

“National Lottery funding is one of the crucial ways community groups can secure extra cash to improve the services they offer.

“I know all three groups will be delighted with this cash boost and I look forward to visiting the improvements when they are complete.”

2 July 2019

Stevenson Welcomes £3.9 Million Scottish Government Investment in New Housing in Portsoy

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has hailed Scottish Government investment of £3.9 million in social housing in Banffshire.

The construction will be completed by housing developer Sanctuary Homes for 44 properties in Portsoy.
The £3.9 million grant from the Scottish Government will help fund the project on the former Campbell Hospital site in the town.

Since 2016, a target has been set to build at least 50,000 new affordable homes, of which 35,000 will be for social rent, with investment of more than £1.75 billion.

In comparison, the number of social homes being built by the UK Government under the Tories has fallen by almost 90 percent since the Tories came into power in 2010.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Scottish Government is doing all it can to support decent, affordable housing in the North-east.

“Not only will it help to provide homes for people, it shows the Scottish Government’s commitment to improving infrastructure in the region, creating jobs and investment.

“While the SNP have delivered more affordable homes, the level of social housing available in England has continued to plummet under the Tories.

“The Scottish Government remains committed to helping people feel settled and giving them fair access to property at an affordable level.

“In this Parliamentary term, we have set a target to build at least 50,000 new affordable homes, of which 35,000 will be for social rent, with investment of more than £1.75 billion.”

25 June 2019

Stevenson Welcomes Progress on Peterhead Lifeboat Services

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed progress to resume a lifeboat service following its suspension.

It comes after volunteers from the Peterhead RNLI crew were stood down earlier this month after alleged disputes among crew members.

Due to the decision, a staffing shortage was caused which forced the charity to halt the service.

An intense training programme is now progressing with the expectation services can be brought back as part of a phased return in the coming weeks.

This includes for during Peterhead Scottish Week which starts on July 20th.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I know the decision to suspend the service at Peterhead was not one taken easily.

“I am pleased to hear that important steps are being taken to bring the service back gradually for use on a full-time basis.

“The volunteers who give their all are dedicated and committed individuals and I would like to thank them and everyone at the RNLI for all they do.

“I would encourage everyone to come out in force and show their support during Peterhead’s Scottish Week.”

19 June 2019

Stevenson Congratulates North-East School Crowned Winners of National Competition

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated a North-East school after they were crowned winners of a national competition.

Fraserburgh South Park Primary School were announced as the winners in the J Rock Scottish final which was held in Dundee.

The school were crowned winners for their Halloween-themed performance, ‘Trick or Treat Up Witches Street!’.

More than 1,500 pupils from 19 schools across Scotland participated and, in the events,, which also included the secondary school competition.

Fraserburgh South Park Primary was also awarded the Aberdeenshire Council Award of Excellence for Choreography and the Aberdeenshire Community Safety Partnership Award of Excellence for Performance Skill.

As well as this it received the NHS Grampian Endowment Fund Award of Excellence for Stage Use, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Award of Excellence for Drama and the Police Scotland Award of Excellence for Soundtrack.

Mr Stevenson is a strong supporter of the Global Rock Challenge and even picked up his own – unexpected – award at the 2003 event for his help in securing funding to allow the event to continue.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am delighted for Fraserburgh South Park Primary School in their success earlier this month at the J Rock Scottish final.

“I have always been a strong supporter of this competition which is a great event for many local schools.

“It is clear those who take part get so much enjoyment out of taking part because it engages the communities, the whole school and the skills and talent which are clear to see on stage during the performances.

“Well done to everybody who has been involved and of course to Fraserburgh South Park in particular."

The Global Rock Challenge and J Rock are exciting opportunities for schools to participate in a dance, drama and design spectacular where the young people are the stars. Teams are asked to create an eight minute performance exploring a theme of their choice.

The Rock Challenge® communicates health and social education messages in a positive and supportive environment.

Stevenson Welcomes Data Which Shows Alcohol Unit Pricing Impact

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed data which reveals alcohol sales have fallen to the lowest level since 1994 in Scotland.

The first tranche of analysis shows, just over a year since Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce minimum unit pricing, there has been a 3% fall in alcohol sales per adult from the previous year.

The volume of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland, compared to England and Wales, represented the smallest gap since 2002.

It comes after the Scottish Government brought into force legislation in May last year which set a minimum 50 pence per unit price to tackle the harm caused by cheap, high strength alcohol.

The results of the NHS Health Scotland Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) programme found that the volume of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland was 9% higher than in England and Wales, where 9.1 litres was sold per adult.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome this promising start following the Scottish Government’s world-leading action to introduce minimum unit pricing.

“This initial fall of 3% shows we are moving in the right direction. Statistics show there are 22 alcohol-specific deaths every week in Scotland.

“There are also more than 680 hospital admissions which impact the person, family, partner and community affected by alcohol harm.

“Minimum unit pricing is an effective way of tackling cheap, high strength alcohol which causes real harm to many.”

17 June 2019

NE MSP Pours Derision on Seafood Export Assurances

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has poured derision on assurances given by David Duguid MP to North-east seafood exporters, that there will be ‘no disruption’ to seafood exports in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Commenting, Mr. Stevenson said:

“Banff and Buchan Tory MP, David Duguid MP assured the press that he had ‘consistently received assurances from ministers that trade would continue unimpeded if the UK leaves the EU without agreement’. I thought that highly unlikely on the evidence that I had seen, and decided to seek more detailed assurances from the ministers in question”.

Mr Stevenson wrote to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs in May to question what arrangements have been put in place, and received a response from Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Michael Gove has made a number of whistle-stop photo opportunities in the North east, during which he has promised the earth to our farmers and the seas to our fishermen. However, as the prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit looms ever closer, he is clearly not in a position to deliver on those assurances.

“The response which I have received from the Minister does not reassure me at all, and I am surprised that it has given succour to David Duguid. It opens by stating that 


'there will be a number of changes that UK businesses will need to make, in order to continue exporting wild-caught marine fish or fisheries products to the EU. These include providing catch certificates and export health certificates (EHCs), and in some cases they may also need a prior-notification form, pre-landing declaration, storage document or processing statement’.

Indeed, the letter lists at least six different documents which will require processing in addition to the fish, which might come as surprise to an industry which has repeatedly been told that leaving the EU would bring an end to its burden of bureaucracy”.

“I subsequently made enquiries to the Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Council, who confirmed my understanding that, as with a number of other local authorities, 


‘the Environmental Health Service [which issues EHCs] would face a significant increase in the numbers of requests from exporters should there be a No Deal Brexit’

 He goes on to say that 

‘A No Deal Brexit would pose challenges to a number of agencies, in addition to local authorities’ 

and concludes 

‘Therefore, at this stage it is not possible to quantify the impact of a No Deal on the Environmental Health Service’.

“It would therefore appear that the ‘assurances’ which have been given by the Westminster Government are based on passing the buck to the fishing and seafood industries and local authorities. The only difference between Michael Gove and his hapless colleague, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, is that the fishing industry does at least have its own vessels!”

14 June 2019

MSPs Back Affordable Homes Figures for North-East

Figures have revealed more than 2,000 affordable homes have been delivered in Aberdeenshire since 2007.
It comes after statistics were published which show there were more than 9,500 affordable homes delivered in 2018-19 – an increase of 12% on the previous year.

The figures have been welcomed by Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson.

A total of 2,383 affordable homes were delivered in Aberdeenshire, which included 1,578 for social rent since 2007.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP and Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“These figures show the Scottish Government’s commitment to building affordable and social housing.

“Providing affordable homes is a crucial part of the SNP’s aim to create a fairer Scotland, and improve communities through inclusive growth.

“We know that these developments make a real difference to people’s lives. For many, a home is more than bricks and mortar, but a sense of identity and belonging.”

Local MSP Visits Dales Park School

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson visited Dales Park Primary School last week following an invitation to be questioned by pupils in connection with a school project on the workings of the Scottish Parliament.
Teacher Lynsey Telford
Pupils from Dales Park Primary School
Stewart Stevenson MSP
In an hour-long session, the MSP fielded questions on a range of issues, from what duties an MSP has, to queries about parliamentary procedure. A lively discussion was initiated Mr Stevenson invited the pupils to suggest what legislation they would want to introduce if they were members of the Scottish Parliament.

Commenting on his visit, Mr Stevenson remarked:

“I was delighted by the level of interest being shown by these young children, and the questions which they posed.

“As always, when I visit schools in my constituency, I leave feeling confident that the future of Scotland will be in good hands. As an MSP, it is my duty to ensure that we hand it over to them in the best possible state, and that belief is one which motivates me on a daily basis”

12 June 2019

MSP Says New Bill Will "Make a Real Difference" in North-East

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has given his backing to the Scottish Government’s Fuel Poverty Bill.

It comes after it was passed unanimously by MSPs this week.

Under the plans no more than 5% of households in Scotland will be in fuel poverty by 2040.

It will ensure families who struggle to heat their homes are given the right support.

By the end of 2021, the SNP Government will have invested more than £1billion to tackle fuel poverty and improve the energy efficiency of Scottish houses.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The SNP is fully committed to tackling fuel poverty across Scotland – this world-leading legislation will go a long way in helping to support low income households here in the North-East.

“This bill is designed to work for everyone regardless of where in Scotland they live. Scotland is now among only a handful of European nations to have legally defined fuel poverty – linking the definition to household incomes and the higher cost of living in rural and island areas.

“The Fuel Poverty Bill is a massive step in tackling fuel poverty and will help make a real difference to the lives of thousands of people in Aberdeenshire.”

Climate Crisis: UK Gov Must Now Reverse Carbon Capture Betrayal

The UK government must reverse their betrayal of North East Scotland and urgently fund the development of Carbon Capture technology, the SNP has said.

Theresa May has finally accepted the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to pursue a net zero target for emissions by 2050 – which is less ambitious than the target set by the SNP Government in Scotland.

The Tories promised £1 billion investment into Carbon Capture and Storage technology, which was expected to create 600 jobs in Peterhead, in a deal signed by David Cameron in the months leading up to the 2014 independence referendum – before shamefully reneging on this commitment.

The CCC report said that Carbon Capture and Storage technology is “crucial to the delivery of zero GHG emissions and strategically important to the UK economy [but] is yet to get started.”

The Scottish Government immediately accepted the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations to target ‘net zero’ emissions by 2045, 5 years ahead of the UK.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Tackling climate change is the single biggest challenge faced by humanity. We need to take action.

“The scientific advice is clear – Carbon Capture technology is crucial to reaching net-zero, and has the benefit of creating hundreds of jobs.

“By accepting the need to reach net-zero, the UK government are surely also accepting that they got it wrong by ditching their promise to Peterhead.

“The Tories promised us £1 billion for Carbon Capture – it’s time to pay up.”

6 June 2019

Stevenson Welcomes Banff Academy Pupils to Holyrood

Pupils from Banff Academy have met with the Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson to discuss political issues including Brexit, local transport and education.
The group of around 30 students visited the Scottish Parliament to watch First Minister’s Questions and meet with the MSPs.

Questions from the panel of pupils included how Brexit was likely to impact Scotland’s future as well as increasing the frequency of public transport in the North-East.

The pupils ranged from S1 – S3.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It is always great to meet with young people who ask such inquisitive questions about current affairs and politics.

“The Scottish Parliament is very accessible to visitors and it’s great when constituents can come along to watch the heated debate during FMQs.

“I was pleased to answer questions alongside the Deputy First Minister which illustrated how engaged young people are in the world around them.

“It is always good to be challenged especially by the next generation of voters.”

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