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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.”

21 January 2020

MSP Urges North-East Good Causes to Apply for New Batch of Funding

Stewart Stevenson MSP has urged charities and not-for-profit organisations across the North-east to consider applying for up to £20,000 of People’s Postcode Lottery funding.

There are three grant-giving trusts, funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, which will open for funding applications from good causes between 21st January and 4th February 2020.

The trusts are the People’s Postcode Trust, which supports projects aimed at promoting human rights, combating discrimination and preventing poverty. The Postcode Community Trust is for initiatives seeking to improve the health and wellbeing of communities – including arts and physical recreation projects – as well as those with a focus on reducing isolation. Finally, the Postcode Local Trust, for groups dedicated to improving and increasing access to outdoor space. Groups working on flood prevention measures and looking to implement renewable energy strategies are also eligible to apply.

Registered charities can apply for between £500 and £20,000 while the limit for not-for-profit organisations without charitable status is £2,000.

Stewart Stevenson, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, said:

“This is another fantastic opportunity for some of the great charities and not-for-profit organisations in my constituency to access funding.

“The funding ensures that money goes directly to projects seeking to help communities locally, rather than getting absorbed elsewhere.

“This money can unlock opportunities from tackling poverty, reducing social isolation and tackling flood prevention. I’d strongly encourage constituents to apply.”

For more information on how to apply, please see here: www.postcodelottery.info/about-us/public-affairs/local-funding-opportunities.

20 January 2020

MSP Welcomes Scammer Prevention

Stewart Stevenson MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast has welcomed a new initiative which seeks to cut down on the number of scams and frauds for those with dementia.

Funded by the Scottish Government, www.advice.scot provides free, practical and impartial advice to everyone in Scotland. There is a webchat facility as well as a Freephone number 0808 800 9060.

It’s a one-stop-shop covering everything including mobile phones and internet providers, purchases on and offline, travel, banks and insurance firms, builders and public bodies.

Their current campaign with Age Scotland focuses on scam prevention for vulnerable groups and those most at risk- particularly those living with dementia.

Mr Stevenson said:

“It is really important that people know where to turn for help and advice when it is required.

“A lot of the cases that I get are because people have been the victims of scams whether that be online, through telephone or on the doorstop it is important that constituents know where to get help.

“Sadly, there are scams and fraud and people get taken for a ride too often. I hope this initiative can help people who need it, especially the most vulnerable and at-risk groups in Scotland.”

17 January 2020

MSP Calls on U-Turn to Save Uniform Business Rates

Opposition Parties Must Rule Out Threat to Scotland's Businesses

Stewart Stevenson MSP has urged opposition parties to scrap plans allowing local authorities to adjust business rates.

This comes as the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) in conjunction with 26 other business groups, including Federation of Small Businesses, has raised concerns over an opposition amendment to the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill – which would mean that rates would no longer be set nationally and business rates reliefs, including the Small Business Bonus, transitional relief and rates relief for nurseries – would automatically end.

Stewart Stevenson MSP has urged the Tories to reverse amendment 9 to the Bill that seeks to end nationwide-rates reliefs and introduce local rates multipliers.

The MSP called opposition parties to “overturn the amendment” voted through by Green, Tory and Labour MSPs, and vote to retain the Uniform Business Rate.

If the Small Business Bonus scheme was abolished, some smaller businesses in [area] could face a business rate hike of more than £7000.

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The move to scrap over £308 million of relief - which is strongly opposed by the SNP – will impact more than 100,000 businesses across Scotland.

“These plans would deliver a body blow to businesses in the North-east and could risk the delivery of vital local services, the work of charities and third-sector organisations.

“Experts have raised concerns over the impact of the proposed changes, warning it will create added costs and deter investment.

“Opposition parties must heed those warnings, and backtrack on this disastrous move at the final stage of the Bill – in order to support our economy and make Scotland the best place for business to invest.”

14 January 2020

MSP Urges Constituents to Nominate Inspiring Young Scots

Stewart Stevenson MSP has urged his constituents to nominate exceptional young people from across the North-east in the 2020 Young Scot Awards.

Nominations are now open across 14 categories from the community award, to the young volunteer of the year to health and wellbeing award for the annual award ceremony.

Since its launch in 2006, the Young Scot Awards have been Scotland’s only national awards evening for the young people of Scotland. They have celebrated the inspirational contributions and achievements of thousands of young Scots who have made a real difference to communities across Scotland.

Now the Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP has urged constituents to nominate any young people who have done exceptional work before the deadline on 23rd February 2020. The awards are set to take place later this year on 23rd April 2020 in Edinburgh.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“We are not short of truly inspirational young people in the North-east with everyday stories to be proud of.

“Each year the most incredible stories are celebrated at the awards ceremony. Former nominees have risen to the top of the sporting, business, entertainment and the art worlds. Hundreds more are making a lasting difference all over the country.

“If you know of a young person who has made a real difference and deserves recognition I’d encourage you to nominate them before the deadline at the end of next month.”

Nominations can be submitted at https://www.youngscotawards.com/.

Tories Set for Fishing Sell Out to Win EU Market Access

The SNP today questioned how the Tories will deliver on their promises to Scottish fishermen as it becomes increasingly clear that fishing will be the first item on the table in any discussion on the future relationship with the EU.

The EU’s negotiating position – and the political declaration – makes any free trade deal after Brexit contingent on a fishing agreement, a position emphasised by a number of member states and the new EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“It is as clear as day that Scotland’s fishing industry will be on the table for a post-Brexit trade deal and the Tories should be honest about that.

“The SNP wants the best possible outcome for all of Scotland’s fishing fleets and our wider seafood industry and we will do our best to secure that.

“The SNP will hold the Tories to account for the promises they made – but it is time they set out honestly to the fishing industry and all other industries how they intend to secure a close economic partnership with the EU without putting fishing on the table.

“The Tories sold out our fishermen in the first place, and they can’t be trusted not to do so again.”

9 January 2020

MSP Congratulates Youngsters for Drawing Attention to Using Water Wisely

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson has congratulated two local students on their Scarf School Calendar Competition award.

Mr Stevenson hosted the awards ceremony in the Scottish Parliament which event recognised winners from across the North East of the Scarf School Calendar Competition.

Among the winners were local students James Tait from Inverallochy School and Katie Leith from Crossroads Primary who won for their artistic submissions demonstrating how to be energy efficient and tackle fuel poverty.

The event was attended by winners from schools across Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Dundee City and Moray Council local authority areas and their parents. The 2020 calendar attracted hundreds of fantastic entries from primary schools throughout the region. A total of 13 pupils were selected for the calendar.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am very proud of my young constituents and for all those who took part in the calendar competition. They’ve created beautiful pictures that reflect creative solutions to saving energy and protecting our communities from climate change. As the former minister for environment and climate change, I’m highly impressed by their work and participation.

“Both James and Katie managed to create interesting, thought-provoking art. They’ve clearly put a lot of work into their submissions and the calendar is lucky to have them. I would also like to congratulate all the young people who took part – their creativity, work ethic and awareness are the foundation for combating climate change and creating a world that’s more energy efficient.

“Well done to Scarf for hosting another great competition. They really are playing a key role in creating an energy-aware culture among our young people. I’m glad they continue to inspire our young people and I wish them the best of luck for next year’s competition.”

MSP Calls for Action as Emergency Food Parcel Provision in Scotland Soars

Stewart Stevenson MSP has called for urgent action from the UK Government as foodbank use reaches crisis point across the North-east.

It was revealed today (9th January) that almost 600,000 food parcels were handed out in Scotland over 18 months seeing a 22% rise.

Charities have slammed Westminster cuts, with data revealing that between April 2018 and September 2019, 278,258 emergency food parcels were distributed by independent foodbanks in Scotland – with a further 318,214 parcels distributed by the Trussell Trust.

A group of front-line organisations, including Oxfam Scotland and the Child Poverty Action Group, is now calling on the UK government to remove the unfair two-child limit and benefit cap, increase the National Living Wage, uprate all benefits in line with inflation, and ban zero-hours contracts.

In stark contrast to Westminster austerity, the Scottish Government has been working to develop a social security system with dignity and fairness at its heart – introducing a raft of benefits to provide much needed financial support to low-income families, including a brand new benefit which will provide eligible families with £10 a week for every child under 16 by 2022.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“It’s a sign of the times that people are dependent on food donations in a rich country – and an indictment on welfare reform which has left people with no other choices.

“While food banks such as the ones in Peterhead and Macduff do an excellent job of providing support for those who need it, the fact that they even exist is a damning result of UK Government policies which are actively driving people into desperate situations.

“The UK government needs to wake up to the cost of this crisis and stop shunning responsibility before more families and children are pushed into poverty.”

7 January 2020

MSP Condemns Tory Power Grab on Holyrood

Stewart Stevenson MSP has condemned the UK Tory government for plans to grant themselves the powers to overrule MSPs on devolved areas, according to an independent report.

Analysis by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) warns that the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill will “allow UK Ministers, acting alone, to make provision in devolved policy areas."

The SNP has challenged the Scottish Tory leadership candidates to stand against this deeply undemocratic attack on the Scottish Parliament, labelling it an “early test” of their willingness to stand up to Boris Johnson.

The Tory government has consistently used Brexit as a smokescreen for a power grab on devolved matters – with the Tory manifesto also pledging to “look at the broader aspects of our constitution” after Brexit.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"I am appalled that Westminster has ploughed ahead with an undemocratic power grab - threatening Holyrood’s powers under the guise of Brexit.

“Far from taking powers back to Westminster, the clear view of the Scottish electorate is that more decisions should be made at Holyrood to create a fairer, more prosperous country.

"While the Tories think they can do what they want to Scotland, we must be clear that is not the case. This will be an early test in the Scottish Tory leadership battle – the candidates should stand up to their Westminster bosses, and tell Boris Johnson to keep his hands off the powers Holyrood has held for two decades.

“The SNP will seek to amend the Bill to stop this power grab, and all parties at Holyrood must stand firmly against any attempts to erode the hard-won powers of our Scottish Parliament.”

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