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28 November 2019

Stewart Stevenson MSP Calls for End to Eyewatering Delivery Fees

Stewart Stevenson MSP has called for an end to eyewatering delivery fees as over £2million was paid by his constituents as result of delivery surcharges.

New figures published ahead of Black Friday, have laid bare the annual cost of rip-off delivery charges for shoppers across rural Scotland.

The figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), found that consumers in Banffshire and Buchan Coast were left footing a £2,035,00 million bill this year alone in additional delivery fees.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the total figure paid by Scots shoppers has now reached £40.1 million relative to the rest of the UK.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Westminster has the powers to put an end to rip-off parcel delivery surcharges for Scots – but for too long now successive UK governments have sat on their hands and done nothing.

“It is completely unjust that shoppers in the North-east are expected to fork out huge sums of money each year on these surcharges.

“Delivery surcharges continue to hit the pockets of families across Scotland- it’s time for the next UK government to take some real concrete action and get a grip of these sky-high surcharge fees."

27 November 2019

MSPs Call for an End to Gender-Based Violence

Stewart Stevenson MSP joined with his male colleagues in parliament this week to stand against the gender-based violence of women and girls.
This comes during the ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign which is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.

In recent years, the voices of survivors and activists, through campaigns such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, and others, have put the spotlight on the issue of sexual violence and have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored anymore.

The theme this year is “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!”.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“I was delighted to add my support as an ally to women who have experienced gender-based violence.

“Still too many women across the world are victims of unthinkable crimes such as female genital mutilation, human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

“People from all walks of life can learn more and take a stand against gender-based violence.”

20 November 2019

MSP Congratulates Tech Savvy Charity

Stewart Stevenson MSP has congratulated Abilitynet for twenty years of helping older people and people with disabilities to get the most from their technology.

Abilitynet are a national charity supported by IBM and Microsoft which offers a free helpline for advice and information.

Abilitynet also have a national network of over 350 vetted Abilitynet ITCanHelp volunteers who visit clients in their own homes and in hospital offering them support with their technology free of charge.

Mr Stevenson has tabled a parliamentary motion commending their work and recognising the charity for the support they offer some of the most vulnerable in his constituency.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP said:

“I congratulate Abilitynet for their positive work over the last twenty years assisting some of the most vulnerable people to make full use of the internet.

“This is a charity committed to reducing social isolation and loneliness by helping to promote positive engagement with the internet.

“They ensure individuals have access to vital online services that so many of us take for granted such as online banking, postal services and assisting those with mobility issues to shop online.”

If you would benefit from this service or for more information please visit www.abilitynet.org.uk.

MSP Supports the Scottish Youth Parliament's Childhood Adversity Campaign

Stewart Stevenson MSP visited the Scottish Youth Parliament last week, adding his support to their campaign tackling childhood adversity.
Stewart Stevenson MSP with Rachel Ashenden
Communications Officer at the Scottish Youth Parliament

Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament have developed a resource for MSYPs which aims to spread awareness of childhood adversity, calling for stronger rights to act as a shield for children and young people.

The MSP added his support on UNICEF’s World Children's Day (20th November) an annual day of action for children, by children.

This year marks 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – 30 years of child rights that have helped transform children's lives around the world.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“I’m so impressed by the determination of MSYPs to have a real impact on Scotland’s political landscape and raise awareness of the impact of adverse childhood experiences.

“The Scottish Youth Parliament is a fantastic example of young people exercising their right to be at the heart of decisions which affect them.

“I hope that on the 30th anniversary year of the UNCRC even more, young people will be encouraged to make their voices heard.”

19 November 2019

Scotland Must Have Seat at Top Table for Fisheries Negotiations

Scotland must have a seat at the top table for crucial fisheries negotiations next month – by sending Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary to lead the UK delegation.

The talks will take place just days after the UK Election, raising the risk of a hung parliament leading to no functioning government or an inexperienced minister being sent to the talks.

Scotland makes up by far the largest part of the UK fishing industry and has world renowned expertise on fisheries. At EU Fisheries Councils, Flanders – which accounts for the overwhelming majority of Belgian fisheries products – leads the Belgian negotiating team as of right.

Speaking ahead of a the annual Holyrood debate on the end of year fisheries negotiations, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Scotland’s fishing industry needs an experienced and capable voice at these talks. The science is challenging and this is the last time for at least a year that Scotland and the UK is going to have a voice in EU talks on fisheries. So this isn’t the time to send someone with limited or no experience.

“We also know that the Tories have form when it comes to selling out Scotland’s fishing interests and it looks like they are gearing up to do so again.

“The UK government has already made clear that access to Scottish waters will be on the table in future trade talks with the EU, before these crucial annual EU negotiations take place.

“And any new trade barriers to Scottish seafood exports after Brexit will have a hugely damaging effect on the competitiveness of our industry.

“Scotland’s fishing industry needs a seat at the top table for these negotiations. We need a champion in the room fighting solely for Scottish interests. That’s why our Fisheries Minister Fergus Ewing should lead these negotiations on behalf of the UK.”

13 November 2019

Parliamentary Praise for Local Businesses Following Floods

Stewart Stevenson MSP has been joined by Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, in praising local businesses in the King Edward area following their response to recent severe flooding.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP tabled a parliamentary motion and lodged a question to congratulate Benzies, Volker Infrastructure and other businesses in the area for their co-ordinated effort to ensure that business disruption was kept to a minimum during emergency floods.

In the immediate days after the floods local businesses helped Aberdeenshire Council to implement a one way system to ensure that lower category roads could be used to keep commercial traffic moving.

The Scottish Government have now activated the Bellwin Scheme in Aberdeenshire Council which reimburses local authorities for the costs of emergency aid.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“The community spirit shown by local businesses after recent flooding was a testament to the people of the North-east.

“I’d like to personally thank all of those who were involved in responding quickly and were pro-active in ensuring that business could resume as quickly as possible.

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s activation of the Bellwin Scheme which reimburses local authorities for costs incurred to safeguard life and property following an emergency in their area.”

11 November 2019

Net-Zero Fund to Invest in Low Carbon Future

£1 Billion to Invest in North-East Economies

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

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

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

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

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

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

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

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

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

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

8 November 2019

Parliamentary Recognition for Peterhead Director's Scottish BAFTA

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

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

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

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

6 November 2019

MSP Welcomes New Action Plan to Boost Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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

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

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

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

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

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

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

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

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

4 November 2019

MSPs Welcome £4.5 Million Boost to North-East Rail

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

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

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

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

Gillian Martin MSP said:

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

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

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

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

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

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

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

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