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CORONAVIRUS

My staff and I remain available to assist constituents in any way we can.

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31 December 2019

Stevenson Welcomes Canadian Breakthrough for Scotch Beef

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement that Scotch Beef is being sold in Canada for the first time in 24 years following a campaign supported by the Scottish Government.

Aberdeen Angus is on the menu at steakhouse Jacob’s & Co in Toronto, Ontario, making it the first Canadian restaurant to sell Scotch Beef since a ban on UK beef imports was introduced in 1996.

Speciality grocer Denninger's has also reintroduced Scotch Beef to its fresh meat counters across its five stores in Ontario.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is very welcome news indeed for the beef sector and I pay tribute to the huge amount of work done by Quality Meat Scotland, the Scottish Government, and others to get Scotch Beef back on the market in Canada.

“The key selling point for Scotch Beef is its high quality backed by a trusted brand. I’m delighted this breakthrough has been made and look forward to further opportunities in the re-emerging Canadian market.”

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP said:

“I’m delighted that, after 24 years, Scotch Beef is now available in a Canadian restaurant and can be bought in stores alongside some of the finest global produce. Since Canada reopened its market, we have been committed to connecting key buyers and retailers with Scotch Beef farmers.

“This is the result of significant work by many to support Scottish producers and engage potential Canadian buyers, including Quality Meat Scotland and our dedicated food and drink in-market specialist who took businesses out to meet farmers and producers.

“There is a growing appetite for premium produce with a strong sense of Scottish provenance which we should capitalise on. Scotch Beef exports are currently worth £46.4m to our economy and we will work closely with partner agencies and businesses to help this grow.”

29 December 2019

Tories Should Match Scotland's Support for Nursing Students - MSP

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has said the Tories have failed their first test of support for the NHS by trying to train nursing students on the cheap - and called for Boris Johnson to match Scotland's support for nursing students.

The call comes after Prime Minister Johnson offered student nurses in England bursaries worth only half of those in Scotland – and failed to remove tuition fees from nursing courses.

Bursaries for student nurses in England were scrapped as part of the Tories’ austerity measures - a policy that led to more than a 30% drop in nursing applications.

In stark contrast, they were protected and increased in Scotland by the SNP Scottish Government with numbers of nursing student numbers in Scotland having increased for the seventh year in a row. Thanks to the decisions of the Scottish Government, nursing students in Scotland will also receive an increased bursary of £10,000 per year from next September and already benefit from free tuition.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Boris Johnson is failing the NHS and failing those in England who want to become nurses - he wants to train nurses on the cheap and leave them facing huge debts.

“This is after the Tories removed nursing bursaries and introduced tuition fees that led to a 30% drop in nursing student applications at a time when NHS England faced over 40,000 nursing vacancies.

“In Scotland, student nurses will receive a bursary of £10,000 from next September and already benefit from free tuition. The Tories are now offering only half of that and still expect nursing students, who train on the job, to pay thousands in tuition fees.

“This announcement shows that the Tories remain as out of touch with the real cost of living and as wedded to austerity as ever.

“It is time the Tories followed Scotland’s lead, to attract more people into the profession, and gave student nurses the support they need by raising the bursary to £10,000 and making tuition fees free for all.”

27 December 2019

Local SNP Enjoys Post-Election Membership Boost

SNP Branches across Banff & Buchan have been enjoying a post-election membership boost with new members joining the party in the wake of the election result which saw the SNP winning the election in Scotland, taking seats from Labour and the Lib Dems and the number of Tory seats being more than halved.

Nationally, the SNP has received more than 5,000 applications for membership in the past two weeks. The party has seen a consistent rise in its membership in recent years going from just over 25,000 in 2013 to more than 90,000 in 2014. As at December 2018, membership was at 125,500.

Commenting, MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast Stewart Stevenson said:

“The SNP has had an overwhelming response since the General Election from people applying to join the Party from across the country.

“As well as this spike in membership applications, this month also saw the Yes.scot pledge for independence reach the milestone of 500,000 signatories and of course, there are now a dozen new SNP MPs fighting to make Scotland’s voice heard at Westminster.

“I look forward to working with all of our members – old, new and those yet to join –as we work hard to deliver the best government for Scotland and move forward to independence.”

You can join the SNP online at snp.org/join.

SNP Call for Action on 1,000 Army Homes Sitting Empty

Figures Renew Calls for UK MoD to House Homeless Veterans

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has renewed the party’s call for the UK Ministry of Defence to use empty homes to house veterans – after new figures showed more than 1,000 army homes remain unoccupied.

The figures, uncovered through Freedom of Information, show that the number of vacant MoD properties in Scotland has increased from 690 in 2013 to 1,087 this year.

While some of these properties are in need of modernisation or have structural damage, many are considered “surplus” and could be used as homes.

The SNP manifesto contained a commitment to press the UK Government to use vacant MoD homes to house homeless veterans.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Veterans deserve to be supported by the UK Government, and it’s tragic that some veterans find themselves homeless.

“The UK MoD has a duty of care to veterans and should do everything they can to help those who struggle.

“The SNP Scottish Government is taking action to reduce the number of privately-owned empty homes across Scotland.

“Yet for three years, more than 1,000 UK MoD owned homes have sat empty – many of which are perfectly suitable for use.

“It’s not right that those homes lie empty and it is in their gift to put them to good use and support ending homelessness.”

26 December 2019

Surge In Tree Planting Under SNP

UK Government Needs to Take Action on Climate Change

The SNP has challenged the UK Government to match its ambition on tree planting after figures show that over 200,000 hectares have been planted in Scotland since the party came to power.

The SNP Government is leading the way in the UK on tree planting – with Scotland planting 22 million trees last year alone and making up nearly 84% of the UK’s mainland tree planting last year.

Figures from Forest Research, a leading forestry data organisation, show that between 2007 and 2019, a total of 201,430 hectares of new planting and restocking took place in Scotland.

The SNP has pledged to plant 36 million trees a year by 2030 to tackle the climate emergency.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Increasing tree planting can play a key role in tackling climate change.

“Trees are the planet’s lungs – and as we enter this new year, we are faced with the greatest threat to humanity in climate change.

“The SNP has pledged to plant 36 million trees in Scotland by 2030 and the Scottish Government has set world-leading climate change targets in the world but these figures show the good work that has already been done in tackling the climate emergency.

“In 2020, COP26 UN Climate Summit will take place in Glasgow. This is a chance for Scotland to be at the forefront of the global effort to tackle climate change.

“We must use that platform to push our international allies to adopt the same radical approach championed by the SNP in Scotland.”

18 December 2019

Stevenson Warns Scotland's Fisheries Set for Tory Sell-Out

Stewart Stevenson MSP has warned that the vital fisheries sector is set for a Tory Brexit sell-out, after a number of EU states made clear that fishing quotas and access to waters must be on the table and up for negotiation before any final deal can be reached.

Despite pledging a "sea of opportunity" for Scotland’s fishing communities, the MSP has warned that the Tories are instead “serving the fishing industry up as bait.”

Following a meeting with EU ministers, Denmark’s fisheries minister said access to UK waters “should be a part of it (UK-EU trade deal)… and also the signals we get from the Commission is that they see it like that as well.”

Yesterday, the Spanish minister stated that

“Progress can only be made on the trade deal if in parallel we have advanced on the fisheries agreement, which is very important.”

“For Spain, this is a fundamental question.”

Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, said:

“In the first week of the new Parliament, the Tories are already lining up a sell-out of Scotland’s vital fisheries sector for their own narrow party interests.

“Rather than following through on their pledge of a 'sea of opportunity', the Tories are instead serving the fishing industry up as bait.

“The remarks from both Denmark and Spain make clear that access to Scottish waters and fishing quotas must be on the table for negotiation before any Brexit trade deal can be agreed.

“And with the Tory government planning to make it illegal for Parliament to extend the transition period beyond the end of next year – ramping up the risk of a No-Deal exit – it’s clear that the Tories cannot be trusted to stand up for our crucial fishing and agriculture sectors.”

MSP Urges People To Stay Safe This Christmas

Stewart Stevenson MSP is urging constituents to stay safe this Christmas as more than 500 accidental house fires were recorded across Scotland during last year’s festive season, according to the latest statistics revealed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

The festive period is traditionally one of the busiest times of year for the fire service across Scotland– with the increase in accidental house fires during the period typically caused by a higher use of heating and electrical appliances - as well as higher alcohol consumption, decorations and the traditional use of candles also playing a role.

Christmas is meant to be full of joy and celebration, but it can also be a time when there’s an increased risk of an electrical fire and with electricity causing three quarters of fires in Scottish homes.

Guidance has been published for those responsible for electrical safety by Electrical Safety First.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“Christmas is a time of twinkling lights, full glasses and Christmas cheer, but we can all forget some of the safety fundamentals and it’s no time to become complacent.

“While I want people to be able to celebrate and relax over the festive period, it is extremely important that they also keep themselves and others safe.

“For that reason I’d urge people to follow the advice of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Electrical Safety First and act responsibly.”

Commenting, Wayne Mackay, Deputy Public Affairs Manager at Electrical Safety First, said:

“Our research found that a number of dangerous electrical goods – which present a real risk of fire - are being sold by unregulated ‘third-party’ sellers via online marketplaces such as Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Wish”, explains

“But many people think they are buying from the platform itself, which they consider reputable. For example, we found that 44% of people we surveyed didn’t know the difference between Amazon and Amazon Marketplace – and it’s the latter where we are more likely to purchase from a third-party vendor.

“So we have created an app for Google Chrome – Check it Out – which we hope will provide some clarity to this, by alerting people when they are buying from a third-party seller.”

To help the whole family to have a safe and happy festive season, visit: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/christmas,

16 December 2019

MSP Welcomes Rise in Number of Aberdeenshire Teachers

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed the rise in primary school teacher numbers which are at their highest level since 1980.

New statistics have shown that over 100 additional teachers have been added to Aberdeenshire classrooms since 2013.

The overall number of teachers across Scotland also rose to 52,247, an increase of 1,530 since 2015 and the highest level since 2009.

Separate figures show the proportion of primary pupils assessed as achieving the expected levels in listening and talking, reading, writing, and numeracy has continued to improve.

Performance among S3 pupils has remained stable, with almost nine out of 10 achieving the expected levels in listening and talking, reading, writing and numeracy.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“These latest statistics demonstrate that education in Scotland is moving in the right direction with the number of teachers in our classrooms rising.

“I am delighted to see this increase locally in Aberdeenshire with levels at their highest in a decade and the number of primary teachers being the highest since 1980.

“Since 2006 there are now fewer P1-P3 pupils in large classes of 31 or more, which is particularly important as helping children in the early years is crucial if we are to close the attainment gap between the most and least deprived.”

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.”

Stewart Stevenson
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