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CORONAVIRUS

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

However, for the time being, we are not undertaking face to face contact.

We are regularly checking voicemails and emails and are receiving mail from our office at a staff member's home address.

Please understand that it may be that we take a little longer to respond than we would normally.

Please DO NOT visit the office as we are all working from home.








NEWS UPDATES




1 April 2020

MSP Welcomes Greater Support for GP Practices

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed additional funding of £15 million to be provided to GP practices to help them cope with extra pressures arising from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Around a third of the funding is intended to allow practices to remain open on Good Friday and Easter Monday if it is safe to do so – helping to alleviate pressures on out-of-hours services.

The remainder will help to cover costs of equipment, additional non-clinical staff, GP partners and locum cover for sickness leave.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“I am extremely proud of how quickly GPs have responded to this challenge with flexibility and ingenuity and want to thank all GP practice staff for their incredible hard work throughout this pandemic. They are doing an invaluable job to keep crucial primary care services going in very challenging circumstances.

“There is also a huge amount of work being put in from the Scottish Government and across the system and now is the time for us to pull together, for clear thinking and strong leadership.

“I warmly welcome the package of additional funding for GP practices to help them meet some of the costs of responding to COVID-19. Part of this will help to cover the cost of remaining open on Good Friday and Easter Monday and the remainder will help to meet other costs being faced by practices during this difficult time.

“Our NHS is changing, and at the forefront of that change is the primary care response. General practice is part of that protective ring around the hospital system that will help us all cope with the surge in demand we are expecting."

31 March 2020

North-East MSP Urges People to "Stay Local" When Exercising

Stewart Stevenson MSP has urged constituents in Banffshire and Buchan Coast to 'stay local' when exercising and walking dogs, and avoid any unnecessary travel that could help spread coronavirus.



Official advice from the Scottish and UK governments warns that people in the North-east should not be driving somewhere with the intent of doing exercise or walking their dog – with new powers granted to police to enforce these regulations.



To protect yourself and others from illness and save lives, people in Banffshire and Buchan Coast should also avoid driving to beauty spots. 

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:


 

"Of course, exercise is extremely important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so it's important to note that people in the North-east can leave their homes for exercise once a day, with members of their own household. 

 

"However, you should only be outside for a reasonable purpose – buying food or essential household or medical supplies; travelling to or carrying out essential work; exercising once a day; or providing care or assistance to others.

 

"I’d urge the public to make use of gardens - if they can - and stay local when exercising or walking dogs, to ensure that we stop the spread of coronavirus.

 

"This is about saving lives and protecting our NHS. We all recognise how unusual these regulations are, and the Scottish Government will act to remove these restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so."

30 March 2020

Stevenson Calls for Healthy Scottish Volunteers

Stewart Stevenson MSP has urged healthy people in Scotland to volunteer to support vulnerable people in the North-east during the coronavirus pandemic.

People are being asked to go to the Ready Scotland website if they wish to provide practical or emotional help.

The drive is the focus of the Scottish government's new Scotland Cares campaign.
While the most important ask for the public remains to stay at home and follow the essential public health guidance, people who are healthy and not at risk can volunteer to provide practical or emotional help to those most in need.

Those wanting to volunteer to support their communities have three options which are signposted from the Ready Scotland website:
  • returning NHS workers will be directed to existing voluntary arrangements in NHS Scotland
  • people wishing to offer their support to our public services, including the NHS and local authorities, will be directed to a site coordinated by the British Red Cross
  • those looking for opportunities with other charities or community groups in their area will be directed to Volunteer Scotland for information
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast said:

“The last few weeks have been challenging for us all, yet the community spirit and desire of local people to help has in itself been unprecedented and once again shows our heart as a nation.

“Today the Scottish Government have launched a campaign calling on ordinary people who want to share their kindness with others to register as a Community Reserve Volunteer (CRV) and be part of Scotland-wide preparations to protect the NHS, support people in need and help save lives.

“While not everyone will be able to volunteer, through the readyscotland.org website, we can connect people to where their contribution is most needed locally.

“It is important to remember that the most helpful thing many of us can continue to do to help the NHS is to stay at home and follow all COVID-19 guidance.”

MSP Welcomes Measures to Protect Renters from Eviction

Scottish Government Announces Six-Month Ban on Evictions

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed the Scottish Government announcement that private and social tenants in the North-east are to be given increased protection from eviction during the coronavirus pandemic.
Emergency legislation will increase the minimum notice period for private and social tenants to up to six months depending on the grounds used, helping to protect them from eviction.

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill, which contains substantial further powers and measures to ensure essential public services can continue throughout the coronavirus outbreak, will be introduced in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday).

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

“We must all work together to meet this challenge, which is why I am pleased that measures have been introduced to prevent evictions and relieve some of the financial pressure people in the North-east may be facing due to the coronavirus crisis.

“The Scottish Government has encouraged all landlords to be as flexible as possible during this unprecedented time, and I would urge them to also seek assistance if necessary by speaking to their lenders about mortgage breaks.

“No-one should face losing their home as a result of this coronavirus pandemic. The move to ban evictions during this crisis will bring security to people's lives when they need it most.”

25 March 2020

MSP Makes Urgent Appeal for Retired Health Professionals to Support the NHS

Stewart Stevenson MSP has made an urgent appeal to constituents who can volunteer their time to fight coronavirus as the NHS launches targeted calls for volunteers.

NHS Scotland announced last week their plans to recruit volunteers with relevant skills and experience to support front line staff as demand and needs increase.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP has now urged anyone who has left the professional register within the last three years as a Registered Nurse, Midwife, paramedic, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, diagnostic or therapeutic radiographer, biomedical scientist, pharmacist or pharmacy technician or medical practitioner is being urged to return to the NHS in their professional capacity.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“In its hour of need, I want to add my plea to any recently retired NHS staff who could return to work and offer their skills and support to help deal with the current demands on our health service.

“I am under no illusions of how big an ask this is, but I want to be clear that we need many more staff.

“The whole country needs the NHS right now and so I want to appeal to you if you're a recently retired healthcare professional then your NHS needs you.”

24 March 2020

Stevenson's Call for Action to Help the Self-Employed

Stewart Stevenson MSP is demanding more support from the UK Government to help self-employed workers and freelancers impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

The North East MSP is calling for the Jobs Retention Scheme announced last week to be expanded to include the self-employed. He also appealed for a change in the rules to enable more people to access statutory sick pay.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast representative has welcomed the funding commitments from both the Scottish and UK Government to support local businesses during these extremely challenging times, however, he’s been in touch with many self-employed constituents who are concerned at the lack of support for them.
Commenting Mr Stevenson said:

“Action must be taken to provide more support for the self-employed and the current measures in place do not go far enough. There are 330,000 self-employed workers in Scotland, who are critical to our economy, and they must not be left behind in the response to this crisis.

“This is an anxious time for thousands of self-employed workers in the North-east, many of whom have contacted me raising legitimate concerns about their individual needs.

“They are extremely worried about their income given that, in many cases, orders and events have been cancelled and customers are staying at home and opting not to spend money.

“I know that UK Ministers are being lobbied hard to build on the welcome support already announced for employees and businesses, but we can’t afford to leave the self-employed behind as they are fundamental to our economy and will face ruin if similar help is not forthcoming.”

23 March 2020

'Our Actions Matter': Stevenson's Plea to Over 70's

Stewart Stevenson MSP has this week launched a new diary sharing his experience as an over 70 in self-isolation due to the spread of COVID-19.

Following advice to minimise social contact as much as possible Mr Stevenson has begun recording his experience on http://8th.decade.scot in the hope that it will help others in a similar situation feeling lonely or anxious.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP launched the blog to emphasise the important and positive contribution the over 70s can make to reducing the current strain on the NHS and counter the idea that anyone over a certain age is in any way a burden.

While the North-east MSP is in self-isolation he has reassured constituents he stands ready to help anyone in need of support and is working online and conducting meetings by telephone as his constituency and parliamentary offices are closed.
Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“For many folk my age this is a stressful and anxious time, having lived through many major events I truly have never seen anything like this and so I want to share my journey from beyond the 70-year barrier.

“My experience cannot and indeed must not, be unique. If over 70’s are to stay healthy and not overwhelm the NHS, we've got a significant role to play. Our actions matter. Our actions can set an example for other age groups.

“Just last week I was in Peterhead Academy meeting a modern studies class for a lively, even robust, set of exchanges with students. And it was the usual great fun.

“However in just one week my circumstances have changed significantly and it is now sensible, and community duty, that I distance from others. I hope my diary will be a real encouragement to others in the same situation knowing while they may be physically isolated they are far from alone.”

20 March 2020

Stevenson Praises ASDA's Approach to COVID-19 as They "Lead by Example"

Stewart Stevenson MSP has praised the approach taken by supermarket chain ASDA in response to the COVID-19 outbreak as workers in Peterhead and Fraserburgh are offered financial support.

ASDA has confirmed that all staff in self-isolation will receive full pay for the duration of their time off work, while the store is also working with more than 20 other companies to offer quick-start employment to those who have lost their job due to the virus.

The supermarket has also announced plans to offer a three month rent holiday for around 250 small business tenants in ASDA stores, pay smaller goods suppliers immediately to help them keep their business operating and offer local cafes and restaurants the opportunity to take on additional catering services for colleagues to stay afloat.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP has lauded ASDA bosses – who are also prioritising elderly and vulnerable customers with adjusted opening hours – calling on other large businesses to “lead by example”.
ASDA, Fraserburgh
[courtesy of Google Maps]
Earlier this week, the Scottish Government announced a £2.2 billion ‘lifeline’ package of support for businesses.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“In times of crisis, we all need to step up and do what we can to help.

“It’s heartening that huge business chains like ASDA are choosing to back their workers, protect their customers and support smaller firms to stay afloat.

“We can’t avoid the fact that this pandemic will disrupt lives like never before and cause financial hardship across Scotland – but if businesses can take the time to reassure their staff it will make it that much easier for households to get through the next few months.

“Of course not all firms are in as fortunate a position as ASDA, and that’s why the Scottish Government has announced a massive £2.2 billion package of support to help businesses get through this pandemic.

“I hope now we’ll see other large scale businesses lead by example and support their staff.”

19 March 2020

Stewart Stevenson MSP Comments on Exam Cancellation

“The decision to cancel school exams is a measure of the seriousness of the situation we face.

“I know it has been no easy decision, but I hope that this announcement today will provide some clarity to parents and children in the North-east.

“If anyone has specific concerns please get in touch with me or my office- we stand ready to help anyone affected. Help and advice is also available for parents and carers concerned with Children’s 1st offering an online and telephone support at 08000 282233 or www.children1st.org.uk/parentline.”

18 March 2020

Stewart Stevenson MSP Calls for Energy Bill Amnesty

A North-east MSP is calling on energy companies to keep customers’ lights on as coronavirus threatens the closure of businesses across Scotland.

Stewart Stevenson MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast wants energy suppliers to ensure a “a humane and consistent approach” if customers cannot get out to top up their gas and electricity meters.

Mr Stevenson is urging suppliers to offer support to customers and ensure those on top-up meters are not left in the cold and dark if pay points begin to close or they are self-isolating.

Commenting Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The scale and seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic demands a collective response across all sectors, and this unprecedented time requires unprecedented levels of support.

“Faced with this emergency, it is now more important than ever that we practically and effectively work together to protect and support the most vulnerable in our society.

“I hope that energy companies will take the lead by recognising the unique situation facing those on top-up energy meters.

“Many of my constituents have raised their concerns with me about the impact of not being able to leave their homes, not least those who depend on local shops being open to ensure they have access to gas and electricity.

“For the most vulnerable in society, I hope that energy companies will offer them reassurances that they will be protected now but also that they won’t be burdened with debt once the crisis ends.”

17 March 2020

Coronavirus




Statement and Q&A from the First Minister of Scotland

In line with advice provided by scientists to the Chief Medical Officer and the First Minister, as someone over 70 years of age, I am obliged to restrict my physical contact with others. I have been asked to stay at home and not attend Parliament for the time being.

This does not mean that I will be distancing myself from providing assistance to my constituents but does mean that for the time being we are not scheduling face to face surgeries and I shall not be attending public events.

The over 70s and vulnerable groups are also advised not to use public transport. However, I have concluded that with trains now running very empty it will be reasonably proper for me to travel offpeak home to Banffshire. Although I shall be in isolation at home I remain in contact with my staff and available by phone, text and email to them and to my constituents.

NHS24.scot is the first port of call for anyone who feels unwell or needs advice. In relation to the Cororavirus they are currently saying:
If you've developed a cough or fever in the last 7 days, stay at home for 7 days from the day your symptoms started.
Only phone your GP or 111 if your symptoms are severe.
Visit the coronavirus (COVID-19) page on NHS inform for the latest advice or phone 0800 028 2816.
I will update this page as required but I am not qualified to provide medical advice. I shall assist you to find assistance or advice relevant to your personal situation.

In relation to social media comment, be careful! On Twitter trust only accounts which are marked as being verified. That is indicated by a blue spiky circle with a white tick which immediately follows the Account Name. Here's an example:



Be cautious where you do not immediately recognise the individual or organisation. It may even be a scam. Simply do not give any information away to false sites or in response to unsolicited telephone calls or emails.




**Message updated at 15:19 hrs, Tuesday, 17th March**

16 March 2020

Stewart Stevenson MSP Backs Marie Curie's Great Daffodil Appeal

Stewart Stevenson MSP lent his support to Marie Curie’s big fundraising appeal, the Great Daffodil Appeal, in the Scottish Parliament last week.

Meeting with staff from Marie Curie, Mr Stevenson was interested to hear about the care and support provided to people living with a terminal illness in Scotland.

Marie Curie supported over 7,500 people in Scotland last year through their hospices, nursing care and support services. In North-east Scotland last year, 89% of patients cared for by Marie Curie died in their place of choice.

Everyone donating and wearing a daffodil pin in March helps Marie Curie provide vital care for people living with a terminal illness and support for their families. Marie Curie hopes to raise £700,000 this Great Daffodil Appeal.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Marie Curie has 56 nurses and 110 volunteers in NHS Grampian who provides care and support to people living with a terminal illness across the North-east.

“The work carried out by Marie Curie nurses is exceptional, and the Great Daffodil Appeal is vital to generate the funds needed to carry out the work that they do.

“I hope everyone in Scotland will get behind the daffodil and join me in supporting people living with a terminal illness by donating and wearing a daffodil pin. Your support will help them provide more free hands-on care and emotional support to people living with a terminal illness and their families.”

Richard Meade, Head of Policy and Public Affairs Scotland at Marie Curie said:

“Thank you to Stewart Stevenson MSP for his support.

“Whether you wear a daffodil pin in celebration, in solidarity or in memory of a loved one, you are joining with millions of others to help make sure all dying people get the care and support they deserve.”

Donate and wear your daffodil now. Visit mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil, SEARCH ‘Marie Curie Daffodil’ or text DAFF to 70099 to donate £5*. *Texts cost £5 plus your standard network rate. Marie Curie receives 98% of your donation.

14 March 2020

Primary Kids Receiving Free School Meals Triples in Last Decade

Working Families Saving £450 per Child
Thanks to SNP Flagship Policy

The number of primary-aged pupils receiving free schools meals has tripled in the last decade, saving working families hundreds of pounds a year, according to a new analysis.

The latest figures, released by the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICe), show that over 53% of primary pupils were registered for free school meals in 2019 – a substantial jump from 2009 when just 16.7% of kids were registered.

The SPICe analysis has also estimated that families are saving £450 a year for each child, thanks to the SNP’s commitment to extend free school meals for more pupils across Scotland.

In 2015, the SNP Government introduced free school meals for all pupils in primary 1 to 3 – with evidence showing initiatives like this can help close the education attainment gap while improving the performance of children from low-income backgrounds.

The number of secondary pupils registered for free school meals has also steadily increased in the last decade – rising from 12.3% in 2009 to 15% in 2019.
Welcoming the news, Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, said

“Free school meals are an important part of ensuring that every child gets the best start in life.

“Guaranteeing our youngest pupils a healthy meal during the school day helps them to learn – but it’s also a huge financial help to working families.

“This policy has been a huge relief for many families at a time where household budgets are tight – saving parents over £450 a year for each child.

“The evidence is clear that free school meals can help close the attainment gap in education, and that’s why this SNP Government has put this policy at the heart of our ambition to build a better Scotland.

“There’s still a lot to do in reducing poverty and inequality in Scotland – but universal benefits like free school meals for our youngest pupils, free prescriptions and free higher education are helping keep more money in the pockets of hard-working families.”

10 March 2020

371 New Homes Built in Moray Council Last Year

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed new figures that show 371 of new build homes were completed in Moray Council last year.

The latest statistics from the Scottish Government show that over 9,300 affordable homes were delivered in 2019 across the country, an increase of more than 25% since 2016

Meanwhile, the number of homes for social rent in Moray Council hit 184 last year – of which 102 were new council homes and 82 were housing association properties.

Welcoming the news, MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Having a home to call your own really matters – that’s why the SNP Government has made the delivery of thousands of new affordable homes a priority.

“Just last year alone, we’ve seen 371 new homes completed in Moray Council, 184 of which are for social rent.

“On top of our commitment to deliver 50,000 affordable homes, we’re helping first-time buyers here in Banffshire and Buchan Coast get on the property ladder by lending them a chunk of their deposit.

“I’m proud that this SNP Government is getting on with the day-job, and is quite literally, building for the future of Scotland.”

6 March 2020

Stewart Stevenson MSP Backs Budget to Deliver for Scotland

Budget Secures Funding Boost
for Banffshire and Buchan Coast
in Face of Westminster Chaos

Stewart Stevenson MSP has voted to pass the Scottish Government’s budget for 2020/21– securing a cash boost for NHS Grampian, investment in vital public services in the North-east and a more progressive tax system.
The amended budget delivers on key issues raised by all parties in the parliament – and will see the SNP Government take the radical step of introducing free bus travel for those aged 18 and under, benefitting an estimated 12,000 young people in Banffshire and Buchan Coast.

The agreement builds on key Scottish Government commitments to invest £15bn in health and care services – with NHS Grampian benefitting from a cash boost of £55.6million an increase of 5.84% since 2019/20.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“In the face of massive Westminster cuts - the SNP has always taken a different, fairer approach to give people living in Scotland the best deal in the UK.

“I’m proud to have voted for a progressive budget which protects our cherished health service, supports our schools and allows us to play our part in tackling the climate emergency.

“Despite being set a backdrop of heightened uncertainty and risk, created by the UK government’s decision to delay their own budget – the SNP government’s budget delivers certainty and stability for our economy, industry and businesses in Banffshire and Buchan Coast.

“These figures speak for themselves. This budget is a good deal for the North-east and a good deal for Scotland – and I’m delighted it has now received the support of the Scottish Parliament.”

MSP's Delight as More Homes in Peterhead go Digital

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed figures that more than 2,200 homes and businesses in Peterhead can now access fibre broadband through the £463 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) rollout - and nearly two in three have already connected.

They’re among 86,000 homes and businesses reached by the DSSB programme in Aberdeenshire, where take-up of services across the new network now stands at more than 60 per cent.

Openreach engineers have used a mix of technologies in the town, offering residents mainly superfast and some ultrafast broadband speeds. Local people can check what services are now available to them at https://www.scotlandsuperfast.com/.

Across Aberdeenshire, the DSSB rollout has recently reached more homes in places like King Edward, Fyvie, Portsoy and Turriff. Some of the latest premises passed in Peterhead can now connect to the most reliable and fastest residential broadband available as engineers build more full-fibre networks to harder-to-reach homes.

Welcoming the news Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“It is great news that the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme has reached more places including Peterhead.

“Faster broadband is great news for both residents and businesses alike who use the internet during day-to-day work or for pleasure after the working day is finished.

“It’s fantastic that 60 per cent of the homes and businesses which are eligible for an upgrade have chosen to do so, and I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t yet made the move to check if they could get a faster service.”

Sara Budge, DSSB Programme Director, said:

“Thanks to the £463 million programme more businesses and homes are able to access fibre broadband technology, resulting in a better online experience.

“Just remember upgrades are not automatic, so do shop around for the best deal which suits your needs at www.scotlandsuperfast.com/yourstreet.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Suzanne Robertson said: “Aberdeenshire Council is proud to have supported the roll-out of broadband connectivity across the area, contributing £16 million to the Digital Scotland programme which has now enabled more than 86,000 homes and businesses in Aberdeenshire to access fibre services.

“We are continuing to invest in improving digital connections and resilience through the City Region Deal Full Fibre programme and through our support for initiatives to bring 5G mobile services to more rural parts of Aberdeenshire. All of this supports our wider goals to make Aberdeenshire a great location for businesses to invest and thrive.”

Robert Thorburn, Partnership Director for Openreach in Scotland, added:

“It’s great to visit somewhere steeped in Peterhead’s maritime past to celebrate its digital future.

“The Digital Scotland rollout, coupled with commercial investment, means that the vast majority of local homes and businesses are now within reach of a fast fibre broadband service. I’d encourage residents and business people to make sure they’re up to speed.

“Organisations can use better connections to increase online audiences, sell services and generate bookings while businesses can manage day-to-day operations more efficiently using cloud services.

“Take-up rates in Peterhead and across Aberdeenshire are healthy, but there’s still plenty of capacity available in the local network. People have nothing to lose by upgrading – and may have a lot to gain.”

Research has suggested that every £1 of public investment in fibre broadband in Scotland is delivering almost £12 of benefits to the Scottish economy. The independent report commissioned by DSSB and undertaken by consultants Analysys Mason estimates the total benefit from the investment as £2.76 billion over 15 years.

5 March 2020

Tory Immigration Plans "Disastrous", says Leading Seafood Firm

SNP MSP: UK Government Proposals will
"Inflict Lasting Harm" on North East

Stewart Stevenson MSP has echoed warnings raised by a key Scottish firm that the Tories’ post-Brexit immigration plans would be “disastrous” for businesses, “devastating” for communities, and “catastrophic” for Scotland and the UK’s economy.

Christopher Leigh, the chief executive of award-winning Scottish seafood processor John Ross Jr (Aberdeen), added that the Tory government’s proposed immigration system highlighted “just how out of touch” UK government ministers are with businesses.

This comes after Boris Johnson unveiled plans last week to block most European workers from entering the UK.

The MSP also condemned the UK government for disregarding the Scottish Government’s detailed proposals for a tailored Scottish visa system to address Scotland’s distinct immigration needs.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The chief executive of John Ross clearly has profound concerns that the Tories’ restrictive visa plans will have on businesses in the UK.

“John Ross is just one of many seafood firms where the overwhelming majority of the workforce are migrant workers who are contributing to the economic success of Scotland.

“It is vital that the UK government takes action before it is too late. Boris Johnson's proposed immigration system will inflict lasting harm and cause catastrophic damage for businesses in Aberdeen, and across Scotland.

“In stark contrast, the SNP Scottish Government submitted detailed proposals for a devolved Scottish visa system to meet Scotland’s specific employment challenges.

“These sensible proposals were welcomed by the business and third sector community, but ignored by the Tories.

"The Tories simply don’t care about the future prosperity of Scotland – the people of Scotland must have the choice of a better future as an independent country.”

2 March 2020

Scots Tories Must Condemn Anti-Farming & Fishing Comments

Top Adviser's Remarks a Prelude to
"Biggest Betrayal in Scottish Political History"

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has today called on Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw to publicly dissociate himself and the party from the remarks of a senior Treasury adviser who said that Scottish agriculture and fishing “certainly isn’t” important.

Dr Tim Leunig, an adviser to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, has been condemned for the remarks - in which he also said the “food sector isn't critically important”.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Scottish Tories must publicly condemn these comments, which are a huge embarrassment for Jackson Carlaw and his MSPs.

“The remarks, from the heart of the UK Government, expose how little the Tories actually care about Scotland’s farming and fishing industries.

"They sold out our fishing fleet on the way into Europe when they said it was ‘expendable’, and now they are gearing up to sell it out again on the way out of the EU.

“The SNP will always stand up for Scotland’s farming and fishing industries. Unfortunately, it’s becoming clearer by the day that the Tories are lining up a sell-out of fishing, which will be the biggest betrayal in Scottish political history, while Scotland Office Ministers seem to think allowing sub-standard meat imports into the country is the way forward.

“Either they will fold in trade talks and break their promise to Scottish skippers, by allowing free access to Scottish waters for other EU fleets – or they will allow huge tariffs and red tape to be slapped on our seafood products, which would devastate the sector.”

Mr Stevenson added:

“Successive Westminster governments, Labour, Tory and Lib Dems in coalition, have consistently failed to stand up for Scotland’s fishing industry.

“When they’ve had the chance to fight the sector’s corner in Brussels, they’ve actively decided not to bother.

"Brexit now threatens to be utterly catastrophic for our fishing industry and the wider seafood sector – and every single Scottish Tory politician who repeated the bogus 'sea of opportunity' pledge must now be held to account for misleading the public."

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Announces Retirement at 2021 Election After 20 Years of Service to Constituents

After twenty years of service as an MSP Stewart Stevenson has announced he won’t be seeking re-election in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections.

Mr Stevenson was first elected to the Banff and Buchan Constituency in 2001 which was later re-boundaried to Banffshire and Buchan Coast. He served in the Scottish Government as Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change and Minister for Environment and Climate Change taking through Scotland’s world-leading Climate Change Act in 2009.

The North-east MSP has made over 820 parliamentary speeches, will have attended over 1,000 Parliamentary Committee meetings before retirement and held almost 1,200 advice surgeries for constituents.

During his time as an MSP he campaigned for a new prison in Peterhead, protecting local jobs; championed the rebuilding of Chalmers Hospital and lobbied for significant investments to be made in Fraserburgh and Peterhead harbours.
Commenting on his announcement Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“After joining the SNP in 1961 and being elected in 2001 it has been my honour and privilege to serve the people of Banffshire and Buchan Coast as their MSP for the last twenty years. I am incredibly proud over that time to have been a part of many positive changes, both large and small.

“I will miss working with, and for, so many people in the Constituency, but for the year next I shall continue to work hard to represent the people of the North-east and I hope to say a personal thank you to the many people who have been part of my life over the years in both the Constituency and at Holyrood.

“My leaving Parliament does not mean that I shall be leaving politics. Until Scotland can make its own decisions as a normal independent country, co-operating with friendly neighbours for moral causes, I shall continue to lend my efforts wherever and whenever I can.”



Mr Stevenson’s letter to his constituency party members:

Dear Friends,

By the end of this Parliamentary Session in 2021, I will be in my twentieth year of service for my constituents and will pass my 75th birthday in that year.

No one is indispensable and I know that there is a breadth of talent in the SNP ready to fight for the people of Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency. I will therefore not be putting my name forward to contest the Parliamentary elections in 2021.

After joining the Party in 1961 I spent 40 years working for Scotland’s cause as a volunteer and have participated in over forty Parliamentary Elections and by-elections as well as in more local contests than I can count.

But the highlight of my involvement in politics has been my approaching 20 years in Parliament and especially my five years as a Government Minister.

My leaving Parliament does not mean that I shall be leaving politics. Until Scotland can make its own decisions as a normal independent country, co-operating with friendly neighbours for moral causes, I shall continue to lend my efforts wherever and whenever I can. I came into the SNP as a volunteer and expect to depart it, and eventually life itself, as one.

In Banff & Buchan Constituency, which became re-boundaried to become Banffshire and Buchan Coast in 2011, I am happy to have been part of many positive changes, large and small.

The community rallied around to keep the £15 plus million that prison jobs contribute annually in Peterhead. The partners of the prison staff fought in an exemplary fashion and I was happy to play my part.

We saw the Chalmers Hospital rebuilt in Banff and significant investments made in Fraserburgh and Peterhead harbours. And 50% more people have signed up with NHS dentists in the area.

I have always felt it important to engage with my constituents and have held 1,181 surgeries. My diary has been filled with about twenty-five thousand various entries related to my work as an MSP.

And in Parliament, I have made over 820 speeches so far, and expect to have attended over 1,000 Parliamentary Committee meetings before I retire.

As a Minister and MSP, I was responsible for 5 Parliamentary Acts and for 132 pieces of other legislation.

My taking our world-leading Climate Change Act through Parliament in 2009 I regard as the most important. I have represented the Scottish Government, and on a number of occasions, the UK Government, in many countries and have met climate activists from across the globe.

I am now down to working between 50 and 60 hours a week. Others are waiting for a little more of my time.

People in the constituency, with a bare handful of exceptions, have been polite and friendly even when they have disagreed with me, or I with them.

Politicians must be tested by challenge. And develop reasoned responses that serve a common good.

For the year next I shall continue to work hard to represent the people of Banffshire and Buchan Coast in what can only be described as particularly challenging times.

My annual summer tour of my mobile surgery will enable me to meet many rural constituents again in 2020. I also plan to visit as many of my constituents as I can who live at the very edge of our large constituency over the summer - significantly stepping up my engagement with the people and issues which confront us.

And to my successor as SNP candidate in 2021 - whoever they may be - you will have my full support.

Thanks to you all for your encouragement and engagement. I have enjoyed working with you..

Stewart Stevenson MSP

26 February 2020

Stewart Stevenson MSP Urges Vigilance over Coronavirus

Stewart Stevenson MSP is urging constituents to be vigilant and follow public health advice for the coronavirus.

The Scottish Government yesterday published new guidance and updated travel advice for people returning from overseas.

Common symptoms of coronavirus include:
  • high temperature or fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
Updates on public health advice for the coronavirus can be found on the NHS Inform website, and a free helpline has been set up for those who do not have symptoms but are looking for general health advice: 0800 028 2816.

Commenting the Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP said:

“While all tests in Scotland have so far been negative, the Scottish Government has put plans in place to ensure a rapid response should a case of Coronavirus be confirmed.

“It is extremely important that people are vigilant and that anyone in Aberdeenshire returning from overseas follows the advice that has been issued by the Chief Medical Officer.

“Early detection will be vital to ensuring that the virus is contained and to stop it from spreading, so it’s essential that folk take the same precautions they would to avoid a cold or the flu, for example washing their hands and covering their nose and mouth when coughing.

“If there’s anyone who has returned to the UK from the countries listed in the travel guidance they should follow advice to remain indoors and should they experience any of the symptoms of Coronavirus they should contact NHS 24 as soon as possible, even if their symptoms are mild.”

MSP Welcomes Community Connected to Superfast Broadband

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed the news that superfast broadband will now be available to customers of Gardenstown Exchange.

The MSP raised concerns with the Minister for Digital Economy after there were significant delays in deploying the necessary digital infrastructure to properties in Gardenstown Exchange. This came as the result of damage affecting the fibre spine of the cabinet.

The cabinet has now been fixed a month ahead of schedule after an intervention from the Scottish Government meaning that residents of Gardenstown Exchange can now access superfast broadband from their homes.

Across Scotland, more than 60 per cent of properties reached by the programme have now switched to faster fibre broadband. Local people can check if the new fibre services are available to them at www.scotlandsuperfast.com/yourstreet.

Commenting, the Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP said:

“It is great news that the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme has reached more places including Gardenstown Exchange in Banffshire.

“Faster broadband is bound to be of benefit for residents and businesses alike who use the internet during day-to-day work or for pleasure after the working day is finished.

“The Digital Scotland rollout is a huge civil engineering success which has reached 100,000 more premises than planned and beat targets on time and under budget.

“It’s fantastic that 60 per cent of the homes and businesses we’ve passed have now upgraded, and I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t yet made the move to check if they could get a faster service.”

25 February 2020

Four Months Until Tory Fishing Sellout

EU Put Fishing First in Discussions to Secure Trade Deal

It’s time for the UK government to deliver on its promises to Scotland’s fishing industry – that is the message from the SNP today as the EU publishes its negotiating mandate.

It makes clear that a fishing agreement must be agreed by July 1st – with the EU seeking to “uphold the existing reciprocal access to waters as well as stable quota shares”.

Yet earlier this month, the Tories published their fisheries bill claiming that it would give the UK the powers needed to “control who fishes in our waters and under what terms.”

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The clock is now ticking – with just four months until the Tories are set to sell out all their promises to Scotland’s fishing communities.

“The Brexiteers put fishing front and centre of their campaign, insisting that leaving the EU would mean boom time for our fleets.

“But the reality is that the UK government will only be able to secure a free trade deal with Europe if they let EU fleets continue to access our waters on essentially the same terms as today.

“The Tories sold out Scottish fishing on the way into Europe – and now they’re going to sell out Scottish fishing on the way out.”

24 February 2020

MSP Pledges Support for Fairer Benefits System

Stewart Stevenson MSP has offered his support for a campaign seeking to ensure that Scotland’s new social security offers greater support to people living with disabilities after years of Tory failings.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) Society Scotland is leading calls at Holyrood to scrap the nonsensical and unfair ‘20-metre rule’ imposed by the UK Government.

The 20-metre rule states that anyone who can walk this short distance is not entitled to the higher rate of mobility assistance and is viewed as widely unpopular and discriminatory for conditions like MS where symptoms fluctuate
The calls come as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) UK-wide system is set to be devolved to Holyrood next year.

The MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast said:

“After years of failings from the Tories, the Scottish Government are prioritising delivering payments for disabled people, as social security is set to be devolved to Holyrood.

“I have been moved by the personal stories I have heard as constituents struggle with the penalising assessment process applying for PIP.

“We have a duty to quickly reform the parts of the current system which cause stress, anxiety and pain and ensure that everyone in Scotland gets the help and support they need.”

More than 15,000 people live with MS in Scotland and nearly one in six will lose out on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) support because of the 20-metre rule.

As a result of this rule, thousands with MS have been stripped of their Motability cars and left trapped in their homes and unable to work, seen their health deteriorate, and been forced to face stressful and lengthy appeals to get their benefits reinstated.

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland, said:

“We’ve long known about the enormous harm caused when PIP takes vital support away from people with MS. Not only does the process lack respect for people and their lives but arbitrary and nonsensical conditions like the 20-metre rule can deprive people of vital support.

“We have heard pledges that under devolution the system will treat people with respect and dignity and what we have heard from our community is that for that to happen then, simply put, this rule must be scrapped.

“MS can be painful and exhausting, it shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense.”

19 February 2020

MSP Slams Tory Immigration Plans

Stewart Stevenson MSP has slammed post-Brexit Tory immigration plans announced overnight by the UK Government.

The UK Government unveiled its points-based immigration proposal – which has been described by industry experts as a “deep disappointment” and risks harming our industry by driving workers away from Scotland.

Under the proposals, low-skilled workers would not get visas under post-Brexit immigration plans. It is urging employers to "move away" from relying on "cheap labour" from Europe and invest in retaining staff and developing automation technology.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP has warned that a cross-party report by Holyrood’s Finance Committee previously showed the damaging effect that demographic changes could pose to Scottish public spending, and our ability to fund the NHS.
Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, said:

“The UK Governments proposed immigration system will not deliver the skilled staff needed for the farming, food and drink industries across the North-east.

“Despite the clear evidence, the Tories seem utterly determined to back Boris Johnson’s closed-minded plans, which will be immeasurably damaging to Scotland.

“It is absolutely shameful that not a single Scottish Tory MSP or MP can bring themselves to speak out against this out-of-touch approach.

“We need a system that recognises the different regional requirements across the UK and welcomes EU citizens. We must see a tailored migration system which works for Scotland.”

North-East MSP Welcomes Cash Boost for Carers

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed Carer’s Allowance Supplement (CAS) payments of up to £452 a year introduced by the Scottish Government as thousands of carers in the North-east benefit.

New figures show that 2,595 carers in Aberdeenshire and 1,230 carers in Moray have received CAS payments since September 2018, when the payment was introduced.

The Carer’s Allowance Supplement is an extra payment made to carers in Scotland twice a year, in recognition of the important contribution they make to our society.

Carers now receive two supplementary payments totalling £452 per year, equivalent to an extra £8.50 per week, which is a 13% increase on the Carer’s Allowance from the UK government.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“Since its introduction, the Carer’s Allowance Supplement has supported almost 100,000 carers across Scotland, including 3,825 in Aberdeenshire and Moray.

“Carers in the North-east make a vital contribution to our society, and it’s only appropriate that their hard work is valued and they are properly supported.

“The SNP is determined to use the powers available to the Scottish Government to improve the lives of people across Scotland.

“This supplementary payment allows the Scottish Government to get more money into the pockets of carers as quickly as possible.

“I am delighted that carers in the North-east are being recognised for the important contribution they make to our communities - in what can often be difficult circumstances.”

17 February 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Commemoration for Declaration of Arbroath

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed the issue of a commemorative sheet of stamps including four definitive Scottish stamps to mark the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.

This comes after Mr Stevenson called on the Chief Executive of Royal Mail to commemorate the anniversary of the historic and iconic document.

Royal Mail released special stamps to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and have now confirmed plans to create a stamp sheet which will feature four Scottish definitive stamps printed within a miniature sheet which notes the anniversary.

Commenting Mr Stevenson said:

“I am delighted to see the fitting decision by Royal Mail to commemorate the Declaration of Arbroath given the document’s importance to Scotland.

“It is a unique document that is an iconic part of Scotland’s history and over the course of 2020 there will be events taking place all over the country to celebrate its 700th anniversary.

“Collectors and stamp enthusiasts will know that Royal Mail often mark historic events and anniversaries, and so I am delighted that they are producing a stamp sheet to highlight this important anniversary.”

13 February 2020

MSPs Welcome Over 13,000 Baby Boxes Delivered to North-East Parents

North-east MSPs Gillian Martin and Stewart Stevenson have welcomed figures showing that 13,495 baby boxes have been delivered by NHS Grampian to new parents across the region since its introduction in April 2017.
The boxes contain various essential items for a child’s first weeks and months including clothes, a changing mat and a box which can be used for the baby to sleep in.

Across Scotland, 120,193 baby boxes were delivered and the latest parent survey shows 100% satisfaction. The box also includes a reusable nappy voucher which 723 families in NHS Grampian took up.

The success of the baby boxes comes on top of the SNP Government introducing Maternity and Early Years’ Allowances – the Best Start Grant – which provides expectant mothers on low incomes with £600 for their first child and £300 for any subsequent children. A total of £456,138 payments have been made to parents across Aberdeenshire Council and £63,008 from Moray Council.

Banff and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson welcomed the numbers and praised the government initiative. Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“Figures show that across Scotland 96% of expectant parents in Scotland are now requesting a baby box – that’s a huge vote of confidence in the baby box. To date, more than 120,000 have been delivered, of which 13,495 have been sent to families across Grampian, including to my Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency.

“The Baby Boxes are full of useful items such as books, clothes, blankets, a bath towel, a changing mat, a bib and a thermometer, while also providing a safe space for babies to sleep near their parents, to promote bonding and early attachment, and send a signal that every child, regardless of their background, matters.

“The baby box is part of a much wider programme by the Scottish Government to help tackle deprivation, improve health and support parents during the first few months of their child’s life.”

MSP Gillian Martin, who represents Aberdeenshire East, is encouraging soon-to-be mothers to register for the baby box. Gillian Martin said:

“The Scottish Government have proudly offered a Baby Box to every child in Scotland to help ensure that every child has an equal start in life.

“I know from speaking to mothers across Aberdeenshire East just how transformative this initiative has been as they have welcomed a new-born into the world.

“The SNP Government are continuing to provide significantly more targeted support for new parents than anywhere else in the UK, to help low-income families via our Maternity and Early Years’ Allowances- replacing the UK Sure Start grant with our Best Start Grant.”

12 February 2020

Stevenson Urges North-East MSPs to Back Record Health Spending

Stewart Stevenson MSP has called on his political opponents across the North-east to get behind the Scottish Government’s draft budget proposals that commit a record £15 billion to health and care services.

Last week, the SNP Government announced plans to increase spending on health services by £1 billion – with local health and social care partnerships earmarked to receive nearly £9.5 billion.
MSPs will vote on draft budget proposals next month, that includes £117 million for mental health funding.

Under the SNP, Scotland has the best performing A&E in the UK with the number of people working in our health service reaching historic levels.

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

“The Scottish Government is investing record amounts in our NHS, to build a health service fit for the future.

“For the first time ever, this budget provides funding of over £15 billion for our health and care services.

“As a cherished public service for the past seventy years, MSPs must do all we can to ensure our health service is properly funded.

“That’s why I’m calling on my political opponents across the North-east to get behind the SNP’s plans that will protect our NHS – ensuring it remains safe in public hands, not put at risk of privatisation by Westminster.”

10 February 2020

Scotland's £1 Billion Salmon Industry Warns of Devastating Brexit Blow

The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation has said Boris Johnson’s Brexit damaging deal will place “huge unnecessary financial and bureaucratic burdens” on the UK’s biggest food export and cost the industry up to £9 million a year.

The Scottish salmon industry - estimated to be worth over £1 billion to the Scottish economy in 2018 - faces the prospect of high tariffs and lengthy border checks thanks to the Tories decision to not align with EU regulations going forward.

The SSPO has estimated the cost of this for Scottish farmed salmon will be up to £8.7 million per year depending on the amount charged by councils for each EHC and the number of EHCs required per lorry load. Brexit could also mean the processing and signing of a 100,000 of costly Environmental Health Certificates every year.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“This inept Tory government has failed to offer any assurances to the industry that’s worth over £1 billion every year to Scotland’s economy.

“Throughout this entire process Scotland’s voice and interests have been ignored – now the arrogance of Boris Johnson and his cronies risks costing the UK’s biggest food export millions in lost profits.

“Without an agreement for a frictionless border with the EU, we will see lorry-loads of top-quality Scottish salmon going to waste as drivers sit in enormous queues at Dover waiting on customs checks.

“It’s time for Scotland to escape this devastating path that puts jobs, businesses and industries on the line."

7 February 2020

MSP Slams Tories for £500 Million Wasted on Universal Credit Admin

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has slammed the Tory UK Government for wasting £500million as a result of delays and problems in rolling out and getting right the implementation of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit - which was due to be fully rolled out by 2017 - has now been delayed on numerous occasions to a new date in late 2024, adding a staggering £500million to the total cost of the policy.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This further delay is of little surprise as Universal Credit continues to be beset by problems and scandals - it highlights just how far the UK Government is from getting Universal Credit right that they need to enforce this delay to avoid causing further hardships to those in receipt of the benefit.

“There also seems to be a complete lack of clarity from the Department for Work and Pensions on whether this delay will mean that more people will be part of natural migration rather than the managed migration process, risking people losing out on transitional payments and saving the UK Government money at the expense of those who really need it.

“It should shame the Tories that the continued delays and issues surrounding Universal Credit have added a staggering £500m to its total cost, while families on UC having to turn to food banks to survive.

“The UK Government should use this delay productively by making a meaningful investment in Universal Credit to see it fixed, such as scrapping the two-child cap and rape clause, ending the debt and poverty-inducing five-week wait, and making work pay by fully restoring the Work Allowance.

“In Scotland, we are taking a different approach and building a social security system based on fairness, dignity and respect – it’s time the Tories followed suit.”

Stevenson Seeks Assurances from DEFRA on Food Standards

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to the Conservative Secretary of State for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs seeking assurances that commitments given on food and environmental protections and animal welfare will not be compromised in pursuit of a trade deal with the USA.

In his letter to the UK Secretary of State, Mr Stevenson says:

“I note with some concern comment in the farming press regarding the above Bill and the lack of any commitment to maintaining current food and environmental standards.

“The issue of food standards post-Brexit, in particular, is an issue which has been raised with me on previous occasions by my farming constituents.

“I should be grateful if you would put an end to their uncertainty and let me have an assurance that animal welfare, food and environmental protections will not be diluted.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Scotland’s farmers have had years of uncertainty from the Tories, coupled with contempt over the theft of their Convergence Funding. The big concern is that Tory Ministers have not put any of the commitments they gave during the election campaign into this Bill and it looks increasingly like the pursuit of a Trump trade deal will be at any cost.”

5 February 2020

Tories Back Down on Abolishing Rates Relief

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has claimed that the credibility of the Tories “lies in tatters” following their backtrack on the issue of devolving non-domestic rates to local authorities.

The Tories, who this week voted against a Green Party amendment to devolve business rates, had previously supported the same proposal at stage 2 – a move that would have removed rates relief and seen small businesses facing a rates hike of over £7,000. In the last year alone, over 100,000 Scottish businesses saved nearly £300m from rates relief introduced by the Scottish Government.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is a humiliating U-turn by the Tories and highlights the strength of opposition from the Scottish business sector to their initial decision to support the devolution of business rates to local authorities.

“I received numerous e-mails and letters from business organisations extremely concerned at the consequences had the proposal gone through. The effects locally in the North-east would have been devastating.

“Whilst I am glad that the Tories have finally come to their senses, it is a damning indictment of their lack of commitment to Scottish businesses that they would be willing to cause such uncertainty in an attempt to score cheap political points.

“At stage 2 of the bill, the Tories voted to jeopardise local funding for councils and abolish rates relief worth £300m for over 100,000 businesses across Scotland. Between this shocking decision and the untold damage and uncertainty that Brexit is causing to businesses across the country, the reputation of the Tories as “the party of business” lies in absolute tatters.

“Far from being a party fit for government, the Tories show with each passing day that they are not even fit for opposition.”

2 February 2020

Scottish Fishing Industry to be Left High and Dry by Johnston's Brexit

Northern Ireland Deal Leaves Scotland at Disadvantage

The Scottish fishing industry is set to be left high and dry by Brexit, with the agreement reached for Northern Ireland leaving Scotland at a competitive disadvantage.

Even in the event that no trade deal is reached between the UK and Europe in the months ahead, Northern Ireland would face no tariffs or trade barriers with the EU.

That means that fishermen in Northern Ireland would have unfettered access to 500 million consumers in Europe’s single market, while Scottish vessels do not — potentially devastating sales of Scottish fish and an entire processing and haulage sector.

Alternately, Scottish vessels could move their registration to Northern Ireland to maintain market access which would also hammer Scottish ports, most of the onshore sector and thousands of jobs in Scotland.
Those in the small-batch, high-value export seafood business such as creel fishermen may be hit particularly hard with Alistair Sinclair from the Scottish Creel Fishermen’s Federation telling BBC Scotland that trade barriers could “kill the sector stone dead if we can’t get access to markets”.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Boris Johnson has made huge promises to Scottish fishing which he knows he can’t keep.

“Scottish fishing looks set to be sold out once again.

“The only agreement so far reached is for Northern Ireland’s fishing industry. Scotland it appears is a low-priority afterthought.

“The danger now to an entire industry is real and deeply troubling.

“Some skippers and their crews will simply decide they cannot compete when placed at such a disadvantage and hang up their oilskins for good.

“Others might move their home ports to Northern Ireland — though that would decimate an entire onshore processing sector, with thousands of jobs lost. It would be a disaster.

“Scotland didn’t vote for any of this, and the SNP won’t stand idly by as the Tories kill off another proud Scottish industry.

“We need the full powers of independence so we can fight for jobs and a brighter future.”

29 January 2020

More Cash for Coastal Communities Welcomed by North-East MSP

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed the news that a host of exciting North-east coastal projects are to benefit from the first tranche of marine-sourced funding from the Scottish Crown Estate.

Aberdeenshire Council has received their allocation of £328,314 for the current financial year which will invest thousands of pounds to improve facilities across popular North-east tourist spots.

Among the eight proposed projects is Aberdeenshire Council itself who will receive £50,000 towards research into opportunities to link the Moray Coast Way with the Formartine and Buchan Way as part of the North-east Highland Way.

Other projects receiving funding include improvements to toilet facilities and disabled access at Balmedie Country Park, refurbishment of pedestrian signage from Fraserburgh town centre to the beach, harbour and Kinnaird Head, development of the Discover Fraserburgh initiative, and new maps and signage to link the Peterhead Prison Museum to the beach, port and town centre via the Peterhead Town Trail.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“The Coastal Communities Fund is an invaluable resource for communities in my constituency and I am delighted to see so much funding being allocated to local projects.

“I am particularly pleased that so much of this funding has gone to projects in my constituency and I hope to see even more out of this new tranche continuing to relieve pressures.

“In places right across my constituency from Fraserburgh to Peterhead, the Coastal Communities Fund will truly empower communities to solve local problems.

“The rapid increase in tourism along the coast has inevitably put pressure on parking, toileting and camper van facilities and the Coastal Community Fund has targeted funding at the places that need it most.”

28 January 2020

MSP Welcomes Fall in Homelessness Applications in Moray

Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed new figures showing a 5% fall in homelessness applications in Moray.

The figures showed a decline in applications in the 12 months to September 2019 compared to the previous year.

The Scottish Government has invested £32.5 million into Rapid Rehousing and Housing First to prioritise permanent, settled accommodation, as the first response to minimise the length of time people spend in temporary accommodation.

The government also changed the Unsuitable Accommodation Order in 2014 so that families with children and pregnant women only stay in accommodation, such as B&Bs, for a maximum of seven days.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Everyone should have a home of their own, and any level of homelessness is too high.

“While we must not become complacent, it is very welcome that the number of applications in Moray has fallen.

“The SNP in government is determined to tackle homelessness and good progress is being made on our £50 million Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan.

“It’s now vital that we do all we can to prevent homelessness in the first place, and ensure that when it does happen support is available to move into settled accommodation quickly.”

Stevenson Hails Record Number of NHS Dental Registrations in Aberdeenshire

Stewart Stevenson MSP has hailed the latest NHS figures that show NHS dentist registrations have rocketed under the SNP – with 102,956 more adults registered in Aberdeenshire since 2007.

The number of children in the Aberdeenshire registered with an NHS dentist has also risen dramatically with 50,849 now registered – nearly a 50% rise since 2007.

In 2007 just 72,418 adults and 33,905 children in Aberdeenshire were registered with an NHS dentist, compared to September 2019 where 175,374 adults and 50,849 children in Aberdeenshire were registered with an NHS dentist.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“This Scottish Government have taken huge strides in improving the oral health of people in Aberdeenshire and across Scotland.

“Since the SNP came to power, efforts to increase the number of people receiving regular dental check-ups is paying off, with the number of adults registered nearly doubled locally and across Scotland.

“It’s only a few years since the shortage of NHS dentists in Aberdeenshire was a big issue for families locally and we had queues of people outside dental surgeries trying to register, so the progress we’ve made is to be warmly welcomed.

“Of course there’s always room for improvement, and I hope to see even more people in the North East ensuring they are able to access a local NHS dentist.”

27 January 2020

Fishing Leaders Warn of Tory Sell Out in Brexit Talks

Leaked EU Memo: Tories Gearing Up To Roll Back On Fishing Promises

Fishing leaders have warned the UK government not to sell out Scotland’s seafood industry after a leaked EU memo suggests the Tories will roll back on key promises.

According to the Press & Journal, the European Council has promised its members it will “demonstrate particular vigilance … in protecting fishing enterprises and coastal communities” – rubbishing the Tories’ promises that the UK will have complete control of its waters after Brexit.

Last week, Charles Grant, the director of the Centre for European Reform, told a Holyrood committee that senior UK Government officials had indicated they would “trade-off” or “bargain” with Scottish fishing to “get a better deal on financial services.” He added that the UK is prepared to “give access to EU boats in our waters otherwise we won’t be able to get anything on financial services.”

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Despite the Tories promises, Scotland’s fishing industry could end up with precisely no gains whatsoever from Brexit.

“Worse still, it looks like our fishermen could be subject to CFP rules without even having a voice or a say on the inside.

“Boris Johnson needs to be held to account for his false promises – the Tories sold out Scottish fishermen on the way into Europe, and they’ll do the same on the way out.

“We’re just days away from crashing out of the EU against our will – it’s time for some honesty from the Tories on how they intend to secure a close economic partnership with Europe without putting fishing on the table.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP Backs Proposals for New 'Scottish Visa'

Stewart Stevenson MSP has backed proposals for a new Scottish Visa to address depopulation and cut skills gaps in the North-east set to be made worse by Brexit.

Under plans announced by the First Minister, migrants who want to live in Scotland could choose to apply for a Scottish Visa or one of the existing immigration routes offered by the UK Government.

All of Scotland's population growth for the next 25 years is projected to come from migration. However, new UK Government immigration controls and the end of free movement after Brexit are expected to exacerbate the risk of skills gaps and labour shortages in Scotland.

Without migration, the North-east could face a demographic crisis that could hammer public services like the NHS – with an ageing population leaving Scotland with fewer working-age taxpayers.

A cross-party report by Holyrood’s Finance Committee found that, without additional powers for the Scottish Parliament, Scottish public spending may be put at risk by demographic changes.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“The end of freedom of movement poses a huge risk to our economy and public services in the North-east.

“It is vital for the North-east’s future prosperity that we continue to attract people to live and work here. Migrants make hugely valuable contributions to our economy, public services, and communities – and that must continue.

“The one-size-fits-all approach by the UK government ignores Scotland’s needs and could put our ability to fund public services like the NHS at risk.

“UK government proposals to end freedom of movement and put in place inappropriate salary and skills requirements for all migrants would be disastrous for our economy and society and would risk acute labour shortages.

“These sensible Scottish Government proposals, in line with other regional migration systems such as in Canada and Australia, would give us the ability to create a system which secures the future prosperity of the North-east.

“If the UK Government refuse to deliver that plan it will yet again underline the urgent need for Scotland to take these decisions for ourselves.”

23 January 2020

Stevenson Seeks Stamp of Approval for Declaration of Arbroath

Stewart Stevenson MSP has written to the Chief Executive of Royal Mail asking whether there are any plans to issue a commemorative stamp to mark the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.

Mr Stevenson is keen to find out what plans are in the pipeline for a special issue to commemorate the anniversary of the historic and iconic document.

Royal Mail released special stamps to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

Commenting Mr Stevenson said:

“The Declaration of Arbroath is a unique document that is an iconic part of Scotland’s history and over the course of 2020, there will be events taking place all over the country to celebrate its 700th anniversary.

“Collectors and stamp enthusiasts will know that Royal Mail has issued many special commemorative stamp covers to mark historic events and anniversaries, including the Magna Carter and the Battle of Hastings. So a commemorative stamp for the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath certainly seems fitting, given the document’s importance to Scotland.

“I’ve contacted Royal Mail to find out what its plans are and whether there’s anything in their pipeline to celebrate the special anniversary of this amazing document.”

22 January 2020

Local MSP Attends Fraserburgh RNLI Memorial Service

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson attended the memorial service held on Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Fraserburgh Lifeboat Disaster.

The Fraserburgh Lifeboat capsized on 21 January 1970 with the loss of five crew members. A commemorative service was held on Sunday in Fraserburgh’s Old Parish Church.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“We owe a huge debt to the current and former personnel who give of their time so freely to serve the RNLI in a variety of capacities.

“In particular, it is right and proper that we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in their attempts to assist others in distress.

“Sunday’s commemoration was a fitting and dignified tribute and one at which it was humbling to be present.”

Stevenson Pays Tribute to Brian Pack

Commenting on the news that former Aberdeen & Northern Marts Chief Executive and highly-respected member of the Scottish agricultural community Brian Pack has died, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“Brian Pack was a hugely influential figure in both North-east and Scottish agriculture. He has made an immense contribution to both the industry and to Scottish life from his management of ANM Group, to devising the annual ‘Taste of Grampian’ festival, to the Pack Report for the Scottish Government into future agricultural support.

“Brian was always a good source of sage advice and will be greatly missed.

“My thoughts are with his wife Pam and sons David and Alan at this time.”

Scottish National Investment Bank Given Green Light by MSPs

Holyrood Passes Plan to Transform North-East Economy

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has said the new Scottish National Investment bank will help encourage economic growth across the North-east, after the bill to introduce the body was formally agreed to in Holyrood yesterday.

MSPs from all parties gave their backing to the Scottish Government’s blueprint for the investment bank that will begin investing in businesses and communities later this year – committing to invest at least £2 billion in its first ten years.

The bank will have an important role in helping Scotland meet its ambitious climate change targets - forming part of the SNP’s Green New Deal to kick-start investment and build the momentum needed to reduce emissions and create high-quality jobs in the process.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Scottish National Investment Bank will help us reach our world-leading climate change targets while transforming communities here in Banffshire and Buchan Coast.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, that’s why the bank will invest in firms and community projects that are looking to play their part in tackling the global climate emergency.

“Individuals and small local businesses, the length and breadth of Scotland are set to benefit from this historic move as we move towards a low carbon economy fit for the future. I look forward to seeing the bank’s impact in the North-east.”

MSP Says Scottish Farmers Have Faced Crippling Uncertainty for Too Long

Stewart Stevenson MSP has slammed the Tories for failing to give farmers certainty for over three years – and said that the emergency Farm Payment Bill characterises their recklessness in pursuit of a damaging Brexit.

The Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Bill – a last-minute fix for a problem flagged by the Scottish Government last year – is set to begin its rush through parliament with the second reading today (Tuesday 21st January).

The emergency legislation needs to pass into law by the end of January to ensure farmers and crofters continue to receive CAP payments for the 2020 scheme year.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This legislation is a last-minute fix for a problem created by the UK government and flagged by the Scottish Government last year – and is representative of the Tories’ reckless approach to Brexit and their contempt for our farming and crofting communities.

“Scotland’s farmers and crofters have had broken promise after broken promise from the Tories and years of uncertainty - and now they face a Tory Trump trade deal that threatens to undermine our world-renowned Scottish produce and an Agriculture Bill that is still trying to grab devolved powers on key farming and food issues.

“Scotland’s farming industry deserves better than this, which is why the SNP will oppose any attempts to grab key powers from the Scottish parliament that impact on farming and food production.”

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