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.”

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