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11 December 2019

MSP Supports Foster and Adoption Campaign this Christmas

Stewart Stevenson MSP has added his support to Home for Good’s campaign this Christmas as they urge more individuals to consider fostering and adoption.

During the Twelve Days of Christmas, around 130 children will enter the care system in Scotland. There is currently a shortage of around 580 foster families needed over the next year to provide a loving home for children and young people.

Home for Good is a national charity seeking to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children by finding loving homes for children in the care system.

Mr Stevenson has added his support to their campaign Christmas tree calling on more individuals to play their part in caring for vulnerable children.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Especially as we approach Christmas, I think it is vital that we consider what more can be done to ensure that every child and young person across Scotland finds the loving, safe home that they need.

“We urgently need more foster carers to step up and support some of the most vulnerable youngsters in the North-east.

“It was great to hear about Home for Good and the work they are doing in Scotland and beyond, equipping churches to foster and adopt, as well as positively engaging with those in the care system.”

9 December 2019

Labour and Tories Risking £6.8 Million in Council Funding

North-east MSPs Stewart Stevenson and Gillian Martin have condemned opposition parties after figures laid bare the cost Aberdeenshire council could be faced with under plans backed by Tory, Labour and Green MSPs.

Tory and Labour MSPs voted for an Andy Wightman amendment to the Non-Domestic Rates Bill that would remove the ability of Scottish Ministers to set the business rates nationally.

Under the current system, the Scottish Government guarantees the total level of income to councils by filling the gap in funding if business rates receipts are lower than forecast.

If the plans backed by the Tories and Labour had been in place, Aberdeenshire council would have faced a shortfall of £6.8 million over the past two years.

During this period, 24 councils have benefited from Scottish Government funding protection – including Aberdeenshire council.

Amendment 9, lodged by Andy Wightman, sets out to devolve powers to set business rates to councils. The effect is that rates would no longer be set nationally and business rates reliefs – including the Small Business Bonus and rates relief for nurseries – would automatically end.

North-east MSPs Gillian Martin and Stewart Stevenson have criticised the plans, saying that Local Governments and businesses benefit from the certainty that a national framework for NDR provides.

Stewart Stevenson MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast said:

“Under these reckless plans council finances would be exposed to the risk of economic shock.

“If these plans had been in effect over the last two years, Aberdeenshire council would have faced a shortfall of £6.8million.

“The Tories and Labour must listen to the concerns of industry and urgently backtrack on their support for these proposals.

“The last thing businesses in Aberdeenshire need is more chaos and uncertainty. It has become clear that the SNP is the only party standing up for Scotland’s businesses.”

Gillian Martin MSP for Aberdeenshire East said:

“Shamefully the Tories, despite their bluster on Business Rates for over two years, have voted to axe more than £6.8million of Non-Domestic Rates relief to Aberdeenshire council in a move that would have devastating consequences locally.

“The Scottish Government covers local authorities when revenues from NDR are lower than what was forecast.

“Over the last two years, Aberdeenshire has benefited enormously as a result of SNP representatives advocating for Transitional Reliefs to ease the effects of a low oil price. Businesses in the North-east now face even more uncertainty imposed by the Tories in their reckless decision making.”

6 December 2019

MSP Welcomes International Arts Festival to Showcase Peterhead

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed the international spotlight on a North-east fishing community during a coveted arts festival being held on the Winter Solstice.

Peterhead has been selected as one of only seven locations in four countries to play a part in the 2019 Solstice Shorts Festival of live new stories, poems and songs on the shortest day of the year on Saturday, December 21 under the theme ‘Time and Tide’.

The festival, now in its sixth year, will also be showcased in Clydebank, Holyhead in Wales, Maryport, Greenwich and Hastings in England and the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. Live-streaming of all six events will enable a global audience to enjoy the performances, with a video and book capturing the events scheduled for the Spring.

‘Time and Tide’ will focus on stories and poems about communities that make a living from or beside the water, but also about the forging of new lives across the seas to highlight the history of immigration, emigration and diaspora.

Peterhead was chosen for inclusion in this project for its rich maritime heritage and will see the return of Intuitive Music Aberdeen to the town to present an event at the Symposium Coffee House in the Scottish Maritime Academy in collaboration with Artventure.

Poems and stories were submitted to the project from writers around the world, with those chosen for the Peterhead event including pieces by local writers from Buchan, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen, as well as from far further afield.

The music for the North-east event will again be provided by Buchan-based composer Haworth Hodgkinson and local actors and musicians are already in rehearsals.

The Peterhead event brings together a wide range of partners at local, regional, national and international level including Peterhead Arts and Culture network, Artventure, British Sign Language, Maritime Academy & Coffee Symposium, Arts Council England, Arachne Press London and Intuitive Music Aberdeen.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP commented:

“Time and Tide is an ambitious project which fits with the overall aim of ‘Creative Peterhead’ as this is an opportunity to contribute towards transformational change through the mechanisms of arts and culture and collective creativity.

“The event will help promote Peterhead as a distinctive, compassionate, and outward-looking community and hopefully stimulate the community towards taking greater pride of place and sense of confidence in the town and its people.”

For more information and to live-stream the event visit www.intuitivemusic.co.uk/2019/time-and-tide/ or log onto www.facebook.com/intuitivemusicaberdeen/.

5 December 2019

MSP Says "Shop Local" This Small Business Saturday

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed figures highlighted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), ahead of Small Business Saturday, showing that the number of businesses in the North-east is rising.
In Aberdeenshire and Moray in 2019, there was a total of 17,830 businesses - representing a turnover of £20,508m. This is an increase of 140 businesses since last year.

The Businesses in Scotland 2019 report shows that Scotland has more registered businesses per head of population now than at any point over the last ten years

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said:

“This Small Business Saturday we want to see Scottish high streets bustling with people choosing to spend their money with independent businesses. It doesn’t matter if you meet a pal for a coffee, pick up a Christmas present for a loved one, or get your cupboards stocked for the week ahead.”

Mr Stevenson is urging Banffshire and Buchan residents to get behind Small Business Saturday – which takes place this weekend.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Small Business Saturday is a fantastic initiative that encourages shoppers to help independent businesses, shop local and support your community.

“Banffshire and Buchan Coast is booming and Scotland is fast becoming one of the best places in the world to do business.

“Despite the challenges we have faced from Westminster budget cuts, this SNP in Government is supporting small businesses in Scotland to flourish – offering the most generous package of business rates reliefs anywhere in the UK

“However, just this month, Labour and Tory MSPs voted to back plans to set business rates locally rather than nationally – risking vital reliefs, such as the Small Business Bonus Scheme, that our small businesses rely on. These are very real threats to the health of Scotland’s economy and commerce.

“That is why Scotland’s future must be in Scotland’s hands. Only a vote for the SNP is a vote to escape Brexit, lock out the Tories and allow Scotland’s businesses to prosper.”

3 December 2019

MSP Praises Fraserburgh Film Student

Banffshire and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has praised Andrew Davidson a Fraserburgh student who created a film archive of the town.

Mr Davidson is currently studying a Masters Degree in Library and Information Studies at Robert Gordon University. The student sourced, researched and digitised film footage of the life, work and events of Fraserburgh, which is now available online.

Now, the North-east MSP has tabled a parliamentary motion commending Andrew’s work that provides a record of the cultural heritage of Fraserburgh.

Professor Peter Reid at Robert Gordon University has described the project as the “best film archive that any town in Scotland has” after unearthing mounds of historic footage of Fraserburgh.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I would like to congratulate Andrew for all of his hard work in getting this archive up and running.

“Reflecting on the rich history of the North-east is so important and I am sure these videos will be an asset not only to our town but to Scotland more broadly.

“This archive ensures the legacy of Fraserburgh is accessible and can be passed on to future generations.”

For access to the full archive please visit: https://www.fraserburghonfilm.com/

2 December 2019

MSP Welcomes Protection from Tory Bedroom Tax

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed the Scottish Government’s intervention protecting over 2,000 residents in Aberdeenshire and Moray from Tory welfare cuts.

New figures show that 1,195 Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) were made to those on low incomes in Aberdeenshire and 940 residents received awards in Moray between April and September this year.

The total award value spent in both local authorities during this period was £1,407,174.

The Scottish Government’s DHP scheme is an extra payment to help with housing costs, including cuts to the local housing allowance and covering in full the impact of the bedroom tax.

Commenting Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It is unforgivable that the Conservatives chose to target those on the lowest incomes by introducing the bedroom tax.

“The Scottish Government now spends millions every year to protect Scots from UK Government welfare policy. Locally we have supported over 2,000 families, but it should not be down to our devolved government to mitigate the decisions of the Tories.

“Social security should be about compassion and dignity but instead, the Tories have shamelessly presided over a callous and calculated dismantling of the welfare system.”

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