Karen Adam is now the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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28 February 2018

MSP Advises Safe Return of Depositors' Monies after Credit Union Closure

A credit union has gone into administration after it was declared to be in default.

The decision will affect more than 2600 members of North East Scotland Credit Union (Nescu) after it was declared to be in default.

The not-for-profit union has confirmed anyone who has savings with them is guaranteed to have their funds returned.

Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“While this news will come as a shock to the members of the union, it is important they are aware that their money will be returned to them.

“Anyone who has been affected or has any concerns should contact me. I would advise anyone withdrawing cash to have another place to deposit their money safely.

“I will be contacting Nescu to request further information on this matter.”

27 February 2018

School Leavers Across Aberdeenshire Heading for Work or Study

School leavers in Aberdeenshire continue to go on to positive destinations after finishing secondary school, new figures show.

The most recent data reveals 95.5% of youngsters are going into further or higher education, employment or training three months after leaving school.

The total across Scotland has risen from 93.3% last year to 93.7% this year – showing that even more young people are finding fulfilling opportunities after leaving school.

In Aberdeenshire, the percentage of people going on to positive destinations has gone from 94.7% last year to 95.5% this year – and increased from 94.1% since 2011/12.

Of those in positive destinations, 41% are in Higher Education at University and 29% in Further Education are at college, while 21% are in employment and 1% are in training.

Commenting on the latest stats, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“The Scottish Government continues to make education its priority this parliament – and these figures reflect just how important SNP action on education is for our young people.

“Being able to go on to a positive destination after leaving school – whether that is college, university, work or training – is a great boost for young people across Aberdeenshire, improving their self-confidence and setting them up to make positive contributions to our communities as adults.

“That more young people across Aberdeenshire are going on to positive destinations this year than previously – up from 94.1% to 95.5% over the last six years – is fantastic news for our local community.

“Our young people need fulfilling work, study or training after leaving school to help ensure they don’t get left behind – and these positive figures for Aberdeenshire and across Scotland show that they are benefitting from exactly that.”

23 February 2018

MSP Welcomes 'Radar' Installation to Monitor Gardenstown Landslip

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson visited Gardenstown today (Friday) at the invitation of Troup councillor Ross Cassie to see the area affected by the landslip in the village.
Whilst there, Mr Stevenson met with local residents and officials from the Roads Department at Aberdeenshire Council who briefed him on the engineering and geological surveys being carried out in the area. Mr Stevenson welcomed the deployment of a radar system to monitor any further slippage on the slope.

Commenting following his visit, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It was useful to see the situation at first hand and meet with affected constituents and officials from the Roads Department who were on-site.

“This is having a serious effect on the community. I was briefed on the engineering and geological surveys being undertaken. I am pleased that a radar system to monitor any further slippage from the slope is being installed and hopefully this will give some further reassurance to local residents.

“I also understand today that Aberdeenshire Council has made an approach to the Scottish Government for assistance in discharging their responsibilities to the community and I will be seeking to encourage a positive response to that request.”

MSP Thanked for Work on Sea of Opportunity by Fishing Sector

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has been thanked by the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation (SFF) for his work on the Sea of Opportunity.

The comments were made by Executive Officer Simon Collins during the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.

Mr Stevenson, a member of the committee, wanted to discuss with representatives from the SFF their views on the Common Fisheries Policy.

He wanted to discuss issues around quota and how it might work during the transition as the UK leaves the European Union.

He said he wanted to know what process would be in place for coming out of the CFP to manage the move afterwards for the catching sector to be at a starting position of 100% of the quota being owned and controlled by Scotland.

Responding to him, Mr Collins said:

“I am glad that Stewart Stevenson is here, because he was one of the first people who came forward with a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the sea of opportunity.

“He was the first to recognise the opportunities for that part of the catching sector.”

Representatives from both the catching and creel sector were in Parliament to put forward their views on the future of fishing post Brexit and during the transition period.

Mr Collins said control of UK waters once more would mean the industry was in a “strong position” to demand if any fleets required access that they should be “prepared to give up” some of their quota.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Since my first day as a Parliamentarian I have made it clear that we should have control of our waters and that the CFP was not fair for the fishing industry in Scotland.

“I am pleased to see that the SFF has a determined and attitude and clear outlook on what it wants to achieve from negotiations in the year ahead.

“It is crucial we retain control of our waters once more and I look forward to continued negotiation and discussion on this matter.”

20 February 2018

MSP Backs Reforms to Scotland's Income Tax System

Low and middle income earners will be protected in the Scottish Government’s budget which will also deliver for public services and public sector workers.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the progressive reforms to Scotland’s income tax system.

It comes as Stage 3 of the Budget (Scotland) (No.2) Bill is laid before the Scottish Parliament.

There will be modest increases on high earners, while 70% of taxpayers will pay less than they did last year and 55% will pay less than the rest of the UK.

Opinion polling has found that Scots back the SNP’s tax plans by two to one.

The Budget will also deliver an additional £400million for the NHS, an expansion in childcare, more spending on broadband, extra funding for police and fire services and a pay rise for hard-working public sector employees.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is a budget for a stronger economy and a fairer society – with increased funding for the NHS and protection for low and middle income earners.

“The Scottish Government is delivering lower income tax for 70% of Scots, with every worker earning less than £33,000 paying less in tax next year – while protecting public services across the Banffshire and Buchan Coast that we all hold dear.

“This budget brings an additional £400 million to NHS Scotland, delivers a pay rise for public sector workers, £756 million for affordable homes, additional funding for the arts and culture sector, a £4 billion investment in infrastructure, including in superfast broadband, as well as significant investments in research, education and childcare.

“In the face of massive Westminster cuts, ongoing Tory austerity and a damaging hard Brexit – this budget provides investment to seize the opportunities of tomorrow.”

15 February 2018

MSP Welcomes Success of North-East Shop's Accolade

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated a North-East tourist shop after it achieved one of the highest Quality Assurance accolades from Visit Scotland.

The Platform, in Macduff, has achieved the prestigious five-star Tourist Shop award following its first ever grading visit.

It comes after the once former railway station was renovated into a shopping destination.

The shop offers a wide selection of gifts, home furnishings and clothing.

The Platform has also joined the VisitScotland Information Partner (VIP) programme.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“My constituency is full of many hidden treasures I am delighted The Platform has been recognised by Visit Scotland.

“It is clear hard work has paid off and it is a testament to staff who are clearly very valued by their customers.

“I would like to congratulate them on achieving this award on their first grading visit and I look forward to their continued success in the future.”

Jo Robinson, Regional Director at VisitScotland said:

“The Platform is an exceptional example of a business that is working in partnership with VisitScotland – making the most of our opportunities and drawing on the impartial advice and experience to invest in and develop their business.”

9 February 2018

MSP Slams Tory Broadband Claims

MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson, has slammed Tory claims that not enough is being done to improve broadband.

Mr Stevenson has pointed to figures published by Ofcom that show progress in properties accessing superfast broadband is faster in Scotland than elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

Between 2014 and 2016 Scotland saw a 22% increase in the proportion of properties that can access superfast broadband compared to 14% in the UK.

Rural areas in Scotland have also seen action being taken quicker than other countries with the increase in availability of superfast broadband in rural areas being at 46% in Scotland whilst England saw an increase of 38%; Northern Ireland 29% and Wales 5%.

Further figures show that had the Scottish Government not stepped in Aberdeenshire would have seen 25% of its properties access superfast broadband whilst the current figure is actually 82%.

Mr Stevenson has also pointed to The Scottish Government’s commitment to provide 100% of residential and business premises with superfast broadband which is three times faster than the UK. A commitment which has not been matched by any other country in the UK.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“It really beggers belief that a local Tory MP is having a go at the Scottish Government despite Scotland seeing faster progress in getting superfast broadband in recent years than it is being done elsewhere in the UK.

“It is the UK which is the responsibility for digital services. However, the SNP Scottish Government have made a very bold and ambitious commitment to give 100% of premises access to superfast broadband, three times that of which the UK Government will deliver, because the UK Government are not being ambitious enough. Something I know that my constituents in Banffshire & Buchan Coast are delighted about.”

Highlighting the funding being made available for the R100 programme, Stewart Stevenson MSP, said:

“£600 million is be provided to deliver this by the SNP and rural areas are being prioritised. What are we getting from the Tories? £20 million. This is less that Devon and Somerset are getting for a less ambitious programme.

“Instead of his usual deflection of SNP bad stories perhaps Mr Duguid and his Tory colleagues should stand up for Scotland at Westminster and address the measly funding we are getting from the UK Government as well as getting improvements made to mobile coverage for the communities of the North East of Scotland.”

MSP Welcomes Business Boost for Macduff Shipyard

A business boosted by more than £500,000 thanks to a new product it developed has been congratulated by an MSP.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has commended the work of staff at the Macduff Shipyard.

It comes after they were approached by client Scottish Sea Farms and asked to create a new way to remove algae from its fish pen nets.

The product designed by the shipyard was found to be more effective at removing build-up of algae.

Now six more units have been ordered worth more than £500,000.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is brilliant news for Macduff Shipyards. They have worked hard alongside their long-standing client to develop this technology which will help enhance both the health and welfare of salmon within pens.

“Working with communities is hugely important and this will create a real boost for the local area.

“It is clear the work has been somewhat of a game-changer and we hope this is only the beginning.”

8 February 2018

UK Tory Government 'Found Out' on Delivery Charges

Documents have revealed a senior politician was previously warned about the huge costs facing people across Scotland from delivery charges.

It comes after Margot James last month denied in the commons that she had any correspondence on the issue from the Scottish Government prior to a debate put forward by Tory MP Douglas Ross.

In December, a debate was secured in the Commons following a year-long campaign by Moray MSP Richard Lochhead.

During the debate, Douglas Ross asked for confirmation on what contact her department had with the SNP Scottish Government on the issue of delivery charges.

Ms James responded:

“I am not aware of any contact. My office has not had any, but I will find out whether any other offices in my Department have had any contact and write to my hon. Friend with the answer.”

But the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was contacted in December 2016 by the Scottish Government Minister Paul Wheelhouse.

In the letter he said:

“I welcome the engagement of the UK Government on this issue and its recent work on producing a leaflet outlining retailers’ responsibilities.

However, as the regulation for prices of parcels is reserved to Westminster, and many retailers are based outside Scotland, I believe that the UK Government needs to take further measures to improve the situation.”

And in a response in January last year by Ms James, she thanked the Minister for bringing the issue to her “attention”.

She added:

“Regulating prices or intervening in how businesses establish their pricing structures would not be in consumers’ best interests.

“These are commercial interests and should be left to the market. For these reasons, I do not believe more legislation is necessary.

“We will work with the consumer advice agencies on promoting the messages in the leaflet, to make sure retailers are aware of and fulfil their responsibilities.”

The debate at Westminster last month took place after work by Drew Hendry MP and Richard Lochhead MSP to drive the issue forward.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am pleased to see the issue of delivery charges being brought to the attention of Westminster.

“But I am disappointed by the woeful attempt of Mr Ross and his Conservative colleagues to try and bring into dispute the hard work which has been going on for too long by my SNP colleagues both at Holyrood and Westminster.

“It is the UK Government who have the power to make the changes to delivery charges and they must do so now, rather than using the issue as a political football.

“Margot James has been left red-faced by her denial of any communication from the Scottish Government.

“Many people in my constituency of Banffshire and Buchan Coast and all over Scotland, are currently facing extortionate delivery charges based on where they live.

“Consumers are being classed as living in the Highlands and are often forced to pay more than the cost of the item itself simply to have it delivered.

“It must end now.”

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