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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.”



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