Karen Adam is now the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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28 September 2006

Stevenson To Launch Banff & Buchan College 'Goldeneye' Training Programme

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson will officially launch Banff & Buchan College’s ‘Goldeneye’ Training Programme on Friday 29 September at 11.15am at Banff & Buchan College, Henderson Road, Fraserburgh.

The technician training programme, which is sponsored by Shell, is now in it’s fifth year.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“The training scheme is an excellent opportunity for the young people of the North-east to embark on an exciting engineering career while gaining a well respected qualification at the same time.

“The level of skills and training that students receive while participating in the scheme is second to none.  The strong partnership between Banff and Buchan College and the team is a great example of organisations working together to not only fill skills shortages but ensure that local talent is encouraged and developed”.

Stevenson Welcomes SNP Commitment To New Entrants Scheme

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has warmly welcomed the commitment given today by the Scottish National Party that a new entrants to agriculture scheme will be introduced by an SNP-led Government after next May’s elections.

Mr Stevenson has been pressing for the introduction of such a scheme by the Scottish Executive for some time now and made this one of his key points for action in his submission earlier this year to the Rural Development programme consultation.

Speaking from the Scottish Parliament, Mr Stevenson said:

“This policy announcement today by the SNP will be welcomed by the industry in general and those farmers and organisations who raise this issue with me regularly in particular.

“We now have the very real prospect of the SNP being in Government next May led by Alex Salmond and being in a position to introduce this highly-necessary scheme to secure the future of the Scottish agricultural industry.

“This is excellent news and will further increase the pressure on the current Labour-led Government to do likewise and stand up for Scottish farming.”
Categories [Environment and Rural Development]

Stevenson Comments On Peterhead Prison Report

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the publication of HM Chief Inspector of Prison’s report on Peterhead Prison.

The report follows a full inspection focussing on prisoner conditions and treatment. However, the report includes a call to the Scottish Executive to decide on the future of the prison.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“The Chief Inspector of Prisons makes an important point when states that prisoners feel safer at Peterhead than they would at any other prison. Only sex offenders who feel safe in prison are likely to engage with the consequences of their offending and to change their behaviour.

”Peterhead's record in dealing with the most serious of sex offenders is second to none and the contribution of staff to reforming these difficult prisoners is exemplary and the contribution they make to making Scotland’s streets safer is immeasurable.

”The ongoing uncertainty continues to hang over dedicated prison officers and specialist staff. With the consultation completed many months ago it is time for a proposal for re-build to be tabled. The Criminal Justice Authorities have a role in working out the approach they need to take to a new prison for North-east. They must neither be allowed to delay a decision on the new prison nor should they be permitted to re-open to debate the issues covered by the consultation.”
Categories [Justice]

27 September 2006

Local MSP Backs Parliament Commemoration Of Scotland's Worst Ever Fishing Tragedy

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has added his name to a Motion laid in the Scottish Parliament commemorating the 125th anniversary of Scotland’s worst ever fishing tragedy.

Speaking from the Scottish Parliament, Mr Stevenson said:

“Fishing is one of Banff & Buchan’s longest and proudest traditions, and for many fishermen that history is in their blood. They accept the realities of the industry which are often harsh physically for rewards that are often variable.

“Sadly, the loss of fishermen’s lives in the course of their work out at sea is one which is all too often a consequence of that tradition.

“It is therefore right and proper that our Parliament should keep this at the forefront of our thoughts when dealing with issues of importance to the industry, and it is appropriate that we remember the events of October 1881 when 189 East coast fishermen lost their lives.

“This is an ever present reminder of the true cost of our fish.”
Categories [Environment and Rural Development]

26 September 2006

Parliamentary Motion - 50th Anniversary of First North Atlantic Telephone Cable

*S2M-4851 Stewart Stevenson: 50th Anniversary of First North Atlantic Telephone Cable—That the Parliament celebrates the half-century since the first North Atlantic telephone cable between Oban and Canada went live on 25 September 1956, creating a permanent link between Scotland and North America which built on the work of the Scot, Alexander Graham Bell, who first demonstrated the telephone in 1876, and welcomes the significant role that modern telecommunications plays in bringing together Scots around the world regardless of the country in which they live.

25 September 2006

Local MSP At Major Cancer Conference

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has played a key role at the fifth annual ‘Scotland Against Cancer’ Conference. The event, hosted by Cancer Research UK Scotland and organised in collaboration with some of Scotland’s leading cancer organisations, is the most important cancer conference before next year’s Parliamentary elections.

Mr Stevenson led one of five discussion groups, all looking at the broad theme of how Scotland can prepare itself for the challenges of cancer up to 2020 and beyond.

Issues, which the groups considered, included how politicians can help the NHS respond to the rising cancer incidence resulting from an ageing population, how they can ensure everyone living in Scotland has equality of access to the appropriate care and treatment and what role patients can play in the development of cancer policy.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I was really pleased when Cancer Research UK Scotland asked me to contribute to this unique event in the Scottish political calendar. I learnt a lot from listening to people in the frontline of research and clinical care and those with firsthand experience of living with a cancer diagnosis about what they want politicians to do. The consensus was clear: as Cancer Research UK’s ‘Cancer 2020’ campaign advocates, we’ve got to start planning now for the cancer challenges of 2020 and beyond. More than 150,000 have signed their Cancer 2020 petition, and I was delighted to add my support to such a powerful cause.”

Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, Professor Alex Markham, said:

“Cancer Research UK Scotland is really grateful to Stewart for making the time to be with us today. We really value his support and that of so many MSPs who campaign on cancer issues, especially through the Cross Party Group on Cancer in the Scottish Parliament.

“It’s so important that the priorities of Scotland’s diverse cancer community are taken on board and championed by the different parties in advance of next year’s Parliamentary elections. In particular, we hope that our call – supported by our Cancer 2020 petition signed by over 150,000 people from across the UK – for politicians to plan now for future cancer challenges up to 2020 and beyond will be heard. With Stewart’s backing, we’re confident it will be”.


The Scotland Against Cancer Conference is a major event in the Scottish cancer community’s calendar. In addition to active support from the influential Cross Party Group on Cancer in the Scottish Parliament, it had an impressive line-up of keynote speakers. These included Andy Kerr MSP, Minister for Health and Community Care, and Sir David Carter, Chairman of the Health Foundation & Trustee of Cancer Research UK. MSPs from all parties also contributed to the day.

Cancer Research UK Scotland will use the Conference’s recommendations to help inform its own manifesto for the election. This will be published in the New Year and circulated widely to the different political parties.

Cancer Research UK Scotland is very grateful to Gold Sponsors, Scottish Cancer Industry Group of the ABPI, and Silver Sponsors, Bayer HealthCare; GlaxoSmithKline; Lilly; Merck; Novartis Oncology; Ortho Biotech; Roche and Sanofi Aventis, for their support, without which the Scotland Against Cancer Conference would not be possible.

Cancer Research UK Scotland is also very grateful to Cancerbackup Scotland, Macmillan Cancer Support, Myeloma UK, Scottish Cancer Industry Group of the ABPI and Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care for their help in organising the conference programme.
Categories [Health and Community Care]

Stevenson Secures Banffshire Visit From Farm Minister

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has secured a commitment from Minister for Rural Development Ross Finnie to visit Banffshire and meet with farmers.

Mr Stevenson made the invitation following feedback from farmers that they would welcome such a meeting with Mr Finnie. The visit is expected to take place in early November.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“Farmers in my constituency are becoming more and more concerned on a number of issues, not least of which is the increasing burden of bureaucracy and red tape which they have to contend with.

“Added to this are the pressures on farm incomes, the need for a support scheme to attract young farmers into the industry, and the behaviour of the large supermarkets towards farmers and suppliers, and it is clear that there is much to discuss with the Minister.

“I am sure that the Minister will find this a useful visit to the North-east to hear the concerns at first hand of those at the sharp end of the agriculture industry.”
Categories [Environment and Rural Development]

20 September 2006

Scottish breaching cattle identification verdicts are overturned - Farmers Weekly

Twenty-four Scottish farmers wrongly convicted of breaching cattle identification and movement rules are to have their convictions quashed after a government blunder.

Scottish rural development minister Ross Finnie has admitted in a written parliamentary answer to Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson that the convictions have now been deemed unsafe and farmers will have their fines repaid.

Mr Stevenson described the episode as "a real Whitehall farce on the part of the London government".

"Farmers have to contend with a huge amount of red tape as it is and instances such as these just go to prove that even the government does not know which regulations it is imposing on the agriculture industry," he said.

The decision follows a similar situation in England and Wales (News, 14 July) where it was established that the European legislation responsible for convicting farmers for the breach of cattle movement and identification regulations was repealed and not replaced in 2000.

The problem was initially identified this March during a court case involving a Flintshire farmer. The Scottish convictions between August 2000 and June 2006 involve farmers in the Greenock, Ayr, Campbeltown, Falkirk, Peterhead, Stranraer, Stirling, Kilmarnock, Lanark, Kirkcaldy, Dumfries and Jedburgh sheriff court areas.

A spokesman for NFU Scotland said the union was pressing for the fines imposed, which ranged from £50 to £2500, to be returned with interest.

NFUS has asked SEERAD to consider that over the six year period during which the regulations were deemed "unsafe", many farmers faced subsidy penalties for not complying with cattle ID regulations.

"Those who faced a penalty between 2000 and 2002 are penalised permanently because that was the reference period for the single farm payment. In other words, a penalty at that time means they face a penalty on their single farm payment every year from now on," a spokesman said.

"Nine of these overturned Scottish convictions were during the single farm payment reference period and there are many more farmers who faced a government subsidy penalty, if not a court penalty."
Categories [Environment and Rural Development]

19 September 2006

Stevenson Raises Maternity Issue In Parliament

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has challenged the Deputy Health Minister on local delivery of services during a debate in the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Stevenson, who has been campaigning to retain maternity services in Fraserburgh and Banff, was speaking during an SNP-initiated debate on the health service in the Scottish Parliament.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“The policy of the Scottish Government is for local delivery of health services. The Deputy Health Minister has once again confirmed this on the Parliamentary Record and stated that we need to rely less on acute hospitals and provide more local services.

“I couldn’t agree with him more and so, he will find, does the population of Fraserburgh, Banff and surrounding areas.

“Yet the policy of NHS Grampian is entirely at odds with stated Government policy. This is all the more bizarre when one considers that Fraserburgh is the only town in Scotland with a population of over 10,000 which is more than one hour away from an acute services hospital.

“Ministers will have the final say on NHS Grampian’s proposals for maternity services and it is incumbent upon them to support local delivery of maternity services and back their own policy.”

Note: Speaking on the record in Parliament, the Deputy Health Minister said: “When we debated "Delivering for Health" there was widespread understanding of and agreement on the key principles on which we needed to base future services. Those include the need to shift the balance of care, so that we rely less on acute hospitals and provide more local services . . .” Lewis Macdonald MSP, Deputy Minister for Health & Community Care, Official Record, 14 September 2006
Categories [Health and Community Care]

MSP Welcomes £26,800 Lottery Cash For Museum Of Scottish Lighthouses

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the news that The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses has been awarded a grant of £26,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Commenting on the news, Mr Stevenson said:

“I welcome the news that the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses has been awarded a substantial grant of £26,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“The award will help the museum in terms of their Seascapes project which will go on to improve conservation and develop interpretation at the museum in Fraserburgh.

“I know that the award will go to good use, enabling the museum to conserve, interpret and re-display two flags and a bible which belonged to the renowned Lighthouse designers, the Stevenson family, which are currently on display within the museum.

“The funding will also make it possible for volunteers to interview the Lighthouse keepers, their families and colleagues in order to capture and record their important social history. The information, in turn, will then be used to create a film which will be shown to visitors to the museum as an introduction.

“Once again I applaud the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses on their success.”
Categories [Tourism, Culture and Sport]

18 September 2006

MSP Calls For Executive To Bring SEPA To Heel On Road Planings

Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to Ross Finnie urging him to intervene over bizarre rules which mean SEPA (the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) wants to charge farmers for using tar planings from roadworks to repair their tracks.

SEPA cite the Waste Management Licensing Regulations as justification for charging farmers £58 for using small amounts of tar planings to repair tracks, but their equivalent in England and Wales – the Environment Agency – has adopted a common-sense approach and waived the requirement in anticipation of the UK Government changing the law before next June.

SNP MSP Mr Stevenson had the issue raised with him at Turriff Show and pledged to investigate. He said:

“This is a quite ridiculous state of affairs. On the one hand, Government is trying to promote a message of “re-use and recycle”, yet on the other, SEPA are using legislation to justify imposing even more costs and bureaucracy onto farmers with the very real consequence that tar planings which would have been used to mend a farm track may end up in a landfill site.

“Meanwhile, the Environment Agency south of the border is taking the common-sense approach of waiving the costs and registration involved in anticipation of the law being changed next year, and I commend them on this approach.

“I have raised this with SEPA but they claim that a change in law is needed if they are to follow the Environment Agency’s good example. I have therefore asked Ross Finnie to intervene in an attempt to clarify the position and bring forward any amendments needed to legislation so that SEPA can be put back in their box on this issue.

“It really should never have got to this stage and could quite easily have been avoided had SEPA not viewed this as another opportunity to maximise its income.”
Categories [Environment and Rural Development]

Stevenson Pays Tribute To Douglas Henderson

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has paid tribute to former East Aberdeenshire MP Douglas Henderson.

Speaking this morning, Mr Stevenson said:

“Douglas was a wonderful orator who could captivate an audience either with the strength of his argument or with the warmth of his wit.

“I was fortunate enough to be present at what we unfortunately now know was his last public engagement in his old constituency when he spoke at a dinner in Peterhead to mark the 40th anniversary of Peterhead’s SNP branch.

“It is a great testament to Douglas that I still come across many constituents at my surgeries who speak fondly of him and how he had gone into battle either for them personally, or for the North-east in general on a particular issue.

“Douglas was a great friend to East Aberdeenshire and a proud champion of Independence for Scotland. He will be sorely missed.”

17 September 2006

Stevenson to Meet Georgian Justice Minister in Tbilisi

The SNP's Shadow Deputy Justice Minister, Stewart Stevenson MSP will be visiting the Republic of Georgia on Monday and Tuesday [18th & 19th September] to host a workshop on Civic Nationalism with local politicians in Marneuli and to meet Members of the Georgian Parliament in Tbilisi. Stewart Stevenson previously visited this area in March and met young political activists and aspiring local councillors.

Stewart plans to meet leaders of a number of Georgia's parliamentary parties and will discuss the local elections which will take place on 5th October with the Georgian Parliament's Committee of Local Self-Governance.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with the Georgian Minister of Justice, Gia Qavtaradze, Stewart Stevenson said;

“Since Georgia regained its independence in 1991, it has faced many challenges. In particular the widespread protests that led to the resignation of then President Eduard Shevardnadze in 2003, created instability with which today's government has had to grapple.

“Mr Qavtaradze has difficulties within the country's prisons and in law enforcement generally. I am looking forward to an interesting exchange of views.

“We shall also, of course, be looking forward to next year's football matches between our two countries. As a token of friendship I shall be presenting a Scotland football strip to the Minister.”

The Westminster Foundation for Democracy, which is funding this visit, provides money to parliamentary parties represented in the UK Parliament. The SNP has chosen to focus its efforts on Malawi and the Caucuses, building on the work of SNP MP Angus Robertson in bringing people together in Scotland to reduce regional tensions and build capacity in local democratic organisations.

15 September 2006

MSP Challenges Minister On Rural Gas Supplies

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has challenged the Government to use the awarding of the contract for the Central Heating Programme to Scottish Gas to encourage the company to expand its operations into rural communities which do not currently benefit from gas.

Speaking during Question Time in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Mr Stevenson said:

“The Minister will be aware that, even at the current high prices, gas is one of the most cost-effective fuels with which people can heat their homes. In the light of the appointment of Scottish Gas as the managing agent, has the Executive encouraged that company to supply gas to the many rural towns and villages that currently have no access to it even though, in my constituency, they are within a few hundred metres of gas mains?”

Commenting afterwards, Mr Stevenson said:

“I hope that this is something the Government will examine.

“If Ministers are serious about ending fuel poverty then it is incumbent upon them to help find ways in which the gas supply network can be extended into rural areas where the pipelines currently pass through but no gas connections have been made.”
Categories [Environment and Rural Development] [Communities]

Stevenson Backs First Aid Education

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson is backing a Red Cross campaign to ensure that young people know basic life-saving skills. The charity recently launched a report “Life, Live it.- The Case for First Aid Education in UK Schools”, which puts forward flexible and pragmatic proposals about how first aid can be delivered, and fit within the school’s curriculum.

Commenting on the scheme, Mr Stevenson said:

“Just knowing even the basics of first aid can literally mean the difference between life or death.

“It is estimated in the UK that three million people attend Accident and Emergency departments each year with the types of injury and illness first aid could treat. However, there is no comprehensive first aid programme in our schools.

“However, having basic life saving skills can reduce injury and save lives. I therefore, strongly support the Red Cross’s call for every pupil to learn at least eight first aid essentials.”
Categories [Education and Lifelong Learning]

Stevenson Backs Local Food Campaign In Parliament

Local SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament Stewart Stevenson has praised the high quality food producers of Banff and Buchan while also going on condemn the practices of the big supermarkets. The MSP was speaking following a Parliamentary debate on local food production. Mr Stevenson also went on to highlighted the need for Scotland to change its diet to that of a healthier balanced one.

Stewart Stevenson at the farmer's market in ParliamentSpeaking during the debate, Mr Stevenson also highlighted the Welsh Assembly Government's stated procurement policy of giving an advantage to local producers in respect of the time constraints that are involved in harvesting local food produce and asked that the Scottish Government take similar action.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“Banff & Buchan is home to some of the very best of Scottish produce from the harvest of the sea to the produce of the rich Buchan land and is synonymous with quality.

“Scottish Food Fortnight is all about increasing awareness that local Scottish food is of the highest quality and meets rigorous safety standards. Buying locally produced food also helps reduce ‘food miles’, strengthens local food networks and helping create a spin-off for farm shops, rural producers and processors and independent shops.

“With an abundance of local bakeries, quality butchers who can trace their meat back to the farmer and fish and seafood shops right on our doorsteps, we really need to make the most of them and give our tastebuds and our families a treat by getting into the habit of getting out of the supermarkets and into the small independent retailers where quality is the watchword.

“I’m very excited by the possibilities that events like Scottish Food Fortnight opens up for local producers and I’m proud to be playing my part in promoting it.”

Categories [Environment and Rural Development] [Enterprise and Lifelong Learning]

14 September 2006

MSP Brands Clydesdale Bank Jobs Blow 'Shameful'

SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has branded the latest jobs blow from Clydesdale Bank to the North-east as “shameful”.

The MSP was speaking after the Australian-owned bank announced that it was closing its Aberdeenshire service centre and axing nearly 80 jobs from the area, moving the work to an existing centre near Glasgow.

The move comes after the Clydesdale Bank closed over 20 branches across Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and Moray including Portsoy, Cruden Bay, New Deer, Aberchirder and Strichen. Rival bank RBS stepped in and continues to provide a mobile banking service in the communities affected and recently took over the closed New Deer branch and opened a new full time Royal Bank branch, proving the viability of the rural community.

Commenting on the latest withdrawal by the bank, Mr Stevenson said:

“When the Clydesdale Bank announced their mass closure programme last year, we thought that this was the final act in a prolonged period of service cuts and closures. It seems we were wrong.

“This latest announcement is yet another shameful act from a bank which is remotely controlled from furth of Scotland.

“It is symptomatic of an organisation which has lost its way and my thoughts are with those staff who now have the unenviable decision of whether to uproot from the North-east and follow their job south or face redundancy.”
Categories [Enterprise and Lifelong Learning]

13 September 2006

Parliamentary Motions Tabled - 13th September 2006

*S2M-4786 Stewart Stevenson: Prison Staff Assaulted in the Course of their Duties—That the Parliament expresses its concern at the number of assaults perpetrated by prisoners against prison staff in the course of their duties in Scotland’s prisons; notes that 4% (169) of prison staff were the victims of such assaults in 2005-06; condemns the actions of the perpetrators of such assaults, and expresses its support for the work that prison staff do in what is an extremely demanding working environment.

supported by: Brian Adam, Bruce Crawford, Roseanna Cunningham, Fergus Ewing, Colin Fox, Phil Gallie, Rob Gibson, Alex Johnstone, Richard Lochhead, Mr Kenny MacAskill, Jim Mather, Michael Matheson, Mr Stewart Maxwell, Pauline McNeill, Margaret Mitchell, Alex Neil, Rt Hon Jim Wallace, Ms Maureen Watt, Ms Sandra White, Trish Godman, Patrick Harvie, Dr Elaine Murray, Mike Pringle, Mr Jamie Stone, Dr Jean Turner, Margaret Smith, Donald Gorrie, Mr Brian Monteith, Murdo Fraser, Murray Tosh, Shiona Baird

*S2M-4785 Stewart Stevenson: Record Prisoner Numbers—That the Parliament notes the continuous increase in prisoner numbers in Scotland’s prisons from an average of 5,362 in 2000-01 to an actual number of 7,178 as at 1 September 2006, an increase of over 33.86%; recognises that the record increase in prisoner numbers over the last six years has taken place during a period of sustained operational efficiency cuts that have resulted in significant reductions in the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) staff complement at all SPS establishments; acknowledges the additional strain placed on staff and the prison system by such record prisoner numbers; recognises that such overcrowding in Scotland’s prisons is having a detrimental effect on the health and safety of staff and prisoners, and calls on the Scottish Executive to review urgently the current operational budget allocation of the SPS.

supported by: Michael Matheson, Donald Gorrie, Murdo Fraser, Brian Adam, Jim Mather, Mr David Davidson, Mr Kenny MacAskill, Bruce Crawford, Fiona Hyslop, Fergus Ewing, Patrick Harvie, Alex Neil, Shiona Baird, Rob Gibson, Christine Grahame, Mr Adam Ingram
Categories [Justice]

12 September 2006

MSP Welcomes ASDA' s Call For End Of CFP

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement by Asda Supermarket calling for the Common Fisheries Policy to be scrapped.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“This is further confirmation of the urgent need to remove Scotland’s fishing industry from the clutches of the CFP.

“I welcome that Asda is in agreement with the SNP in recognising the need to withdraw from the CFP in order to protect the livelihoods of local Scottish fishermen and preserve fish stocks in the North Sea.

“The real threat to the marine environment lies in the Common Fisheries Policy, it has failed our fishing industry and been a disaster for our fishing communities. The CFP has failed to protect some key stocks whilst preventing our fishermen from catching Scotland’s premium stocks that are in plentiful supply such as prawn, haddock and monkfish. It is also a Policy that forces our fishermen to throw perfectly good fish back dead into the sea.

“Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands all have an economically viable and environmentally sustainable fishing industries out with the CFP. They would not dream of giving their crucial fishing industries away to the dead hand of Brussels mismanagement.”

11 September 2006

Farmer's Convictions To Be Set Aside As Unsafe Following Cattle Movement Blunder By Government

Twenty-four farmers across Scotland convicted under Cattle Identification Regulations and Cattle Database Regulations are to have their convictions set aside and fines repaid. The details were revealed in Written Parliamentary Answers to Banff & Buchan SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson who had raised the matter in Parliament.

Mr Stevenson questioned the Scottish Executive on the issue after concerns were expressed at a recent meeting with local farmers. DEFRA (Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) made the Scottish Executive aware in June this year that laws relating to cattle movement had been repealed in August 2000. As result, 24 convictions have taken place in Scotland for breaching regulations which did not exist.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“This whole episode has been a real Whitehall farce on the part of the London Government.

“Farmers have to contend with a huge amount of red tape as it is and instances such as these just go to prove that even the Government does not know which regulations they are imposing on the agriculture industry.

“The farmers affected are in the process of being written to and getting their fines repaid but it is hard enough trying to make a living from farming without being fined for breaking laws which do not exist. Those affected should get their money back as soon as possible with interest.”
Categories [Environment and Rural Development]

7 September 2006

Stevenson Welcomes Farmers Market In The Scottish Parliament

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the presence of the Farmers Market in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday evening this week. The event took place as part of Scottish Food Fortnight. Mr Stevenson met with a range of small food producers from around Scotland and also with Allan Murray, Chairman of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society at the event.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

"It was great to see the Farmers Market in the heart of the City of Edinburgh in our national Parliament. This was an excellent opportunity for the various farming enterprises to put on show their fine produce to be seen by Members of the Scottish Parliament. The event was extremely well attended by MSPs and showed how much support there is for the efforts of the Farmers Markets. 

Stewart Stevenson at the farmer's market in Parliament"Farmers Markets are an excellent way of ensuring that producers are able to retain more of the value of their produce rather than being at the mercy of supermarkets. I think there is a real trend amongst shoppers who want to support local produce and every step should be taken to encourage this trend. The Farmers Markets have been a visionary step in ensuring this can practically happen in all communities and I pay tribute to those who work so hard to make our local markets in Peterhead and Macduff a success.”

Stevenson Calls For Improved Rail Services For North-East Travellers

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has called for improved rail services for the North-east. The SNP MSP made his call in a submission to Network Rail’s consultation on route utilisation.

In his submission, Mr Stevenson urges better connections between rail services arriving in Aberdeen from Inverness, and those services to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“I know that many of my constituents in use their “local” stations at Dyce and Inverurie for their journeys south. I try to do so as often as practical for my journeys to Parliament.

“Unfortunately, I am not sure than many people know that they can now get trains at Dyce which go direct to Glasgow and Edinburgh without the need to change at Aberdeen with a prolonged stop. Not only does this avoid the congestion which invariably accompanies a journey to Aberdeen city centre, but parking is much less of a problem and is also free.

“I have asked Network Rail to look at publicising these services more widely and also urged that services serving other stations north of Dyce be dovetailed with connecting services in Aberdeen, which is often not the case at the present time.

“In addition, I have asked that the possibility of direct access to and from the airport where the station platform abuts onto the airport perimeter for rail travellers by means of a shuttle bus be investigated, as well as more frequent services on the Aberdeen-Inverness line.”

4 September 2006

Stevenson In Call For Health Minister To Change His Mind Over Matty

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to Health Minister Andy Kerr urging him to reconsider his decision not to visit the Aberdeenshire maternity units that have been earmarked for closure by NHS Grampian.

Commenting on the matter, Mr Stevenson said:

“I am deeply disappointed at the Minister’s decision not to visit the affected maternity units, especially given the strong opinion of the communities that are affected. The communities have vociferous in their opposition as this is an issue that they feel strongly about which will affect not just themselves, but future generations.

“The Fraserburgh situation is particularly concerning as the Broch is the only town in Scotland with a population over 10,000 which is more than one hour’s travel from an acute services hospital. The decision regarding the proposal to close Fraserburgh maternity unit therefore deserves detailed consideration due to the unique circumstances surrounding it.

“I feel that the Minister can only truly appreciate the importance of the retention of Fraserburgh Maternity unit and the others earmarked for closure by visiting the units and seeing at first hand, the outstanding work done by those working at the units and the feelings of all those who have involvement with the units.

“I have therefore asked the Minister to reconsider his decision and to visit the affected units. Considering the nature of the decision which is placed upon his shoulders, I believe that visiting the units in question will be a very useful exercise for all concerned about the future of healthcare provision.

“And if the Minister does not visit Fraserburgh, then the opinions of the people in Fraserburgh will certainly visit him.”

Categories [Health and Community Care]

MSP Congratulates Banffshire Sub-Postmistress On Mammoth Petition

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson broke off from his surgery tour of local villages on Friday to congratulate a Banffshire sub-postmistress.

Whitehills postmistress Annette Addison has gathered over 900 signatures on her petition to save the Post Office Card Account from Government plans to phase it out in a few years’ time. The move is seen as yet another blow to the Post Office network which has recently lost the business of the TV Licensing Authority.

Speaking in Whitehills, Mr Stevenson said:

“This really is a first class effort for a community the size of Whitehills and makes it clear in no uncertain terms just how valued is the local Post Office by this small community.

“The Post Office really is the heart of many rural communities and even more so since many of the banks have closed their rural branches. We know that this Westminster Government is set on a course of undermining the viability of the Post Office for reasons which, frankly, escape me. Time after time we have seen a succession of blows to the viability of Post Offices from the scrapping of pension books, to withdrawing TV license facilities and now this daft plan to do away with the Post Office Card Account.

“I am not prepared to see the axe taken to rural services and the sheer size of this petition demonstrates that the Post Office is a highly valued service in the local community. I congratulate Annette on her effort in this regard and she can be sure that this has not gone unnoticed.”

Politicians Urged To Help Save Broch Hospital - The Press & Journal

by Jamie Buchan, The Press & Journal

North-east politicians are being urged to rally together and show their support for a closure-threatened maternity hospital.

Delivery ward campaigners in Fraserburgh have urged MSP Stewart Stevenson to put pressure on Scotland's health minister to reject plans to close four Aberdeenshire baby units. Mr Stevenson pledged yesterday to speak with other MSPs from the area to try and drum up cross-party backing for the Broch campaign group.

He wants them to persuade Health Minister Andy Kerr to retain the service, which locals have been battling to save for more than a year. Mr Kerr is expected to deliver his verdict on the future of the Fraserburgh unit, as well as wards at Aboyne, Banff and Huntly, later this year.

Mr Stevenson was urged to help when he met the Fraserburgh action group this weekend. He said last night: "The group has had my support from day one.

"It is commendable that they have kept going strong, despite no support from NHS Grampian."

The SNP MSP said: "What I will do now is speak to all the MSPs in the north-east and try and get them on our side.

"We want cross-party support to put pressure on the health minister." Mr Kerr declined recently an offer to come to Fraserburgh and meet the campaign group.

They now plan to send the minister a document detailing why they believe the health board's plans do not fit with the government's manifesto pledge that "by 2009 all women will have choice over where and how they have their baby".

The Fraserburgh Maternity Action Group also fears that the lives of mothers, and their babies, will be put at risk if they have to travel to Aberdeen or Peterhead to give birth.

NHS Grampian unveiled its plans to shake up health services in rural areas more than a year ago, to respond to a falling birthrate and growing elderly population and to target more cash at local diagnostic and treatment services.

After a public consultation, the Aberdeenshire Community Health Partnership, which is responsible for organising and providing NHS services in the area, recommended the closure of the Fraserburgh, Aboyne, Banff and Huntly maternity units.

Its proposals, which involve keeping open the ward at Peterhead Hospital but setting it targets, were backed by NHS Grampian's board in April.
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