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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.”

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