Karen Adam is now the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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31 December 2020

Stevenson Warns Fishing Industry Left in "Worse Place" after Brexit Deal

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has warned the Brexit deal agreed between the UK Government and European Union will leave the fishing industry in a “worse place” than the Common Fisheries Policy.

Speaking during the Scottish Parliament’s debate on the Brexit deal reached last week, Mr Stevenson warned despite many promises offered by senior Tories about Brexit, the sector had been left with a raw deal.

The Brexit deal will pass into law at 11pm tonight after it was passed following a recall of MPs to the House of Commons to vote on it.

A number of prominent voices from the fishing sector have spoken out against the deal since it was announced.
Commenting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is a shabby deal which will put our fishermen in a worse place than they have been for decades.

“Both Douglas Ross and David Duguid met with members of the fishing industry time and time again and promised them their vital sector would not be sold out by the UK Government.

“For the fish which are most important to us in the north-east – cod and haddock – the quota will decrease.

“This is why skippers from my constituency have been saying that this deal is worse than membership of the common fisheries policy. It is not a better deal.

“Boris Johnson and his Tory Government promised the fishing industry they would be given control of 100 percent of catch as an independent coastal state when we left the European Union. Instead it will be less than 25 percent.

“This is a shoddy deal and while the EU has got everything it wanted the fishing industry in the north-east and across Scotland has been left worse off than it was as a member of the CFP.”

17 December 2020

Stevenson Welcomes New Agreement Between Royal Mail and Post Office

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a new agreement between Royal Mail and the Post Office.

The new agreement, known as the Second Mails Distribution Agreement, reaffirms the long-term commercial partnership between the two companies.

The new agreement will begin on 29 March next year and will continue until at least 28 March 2032.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:
“Both Royal Mail and the Post Office have a long-shared history and have played an important role in keeping the UK connected.

“I welcome this development which renews the partnership between the two businesses. I hope it will benefit customers who will be able to access a range of services.

“This holiday season, more than ever, we know how important these services have been in keeping us connected with family and friends.”

16 December 2020

Royal Mail Agree to MSP's Request for a New Postbox in Macduff

Following an approach by a constituent to Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson, Royal Mail have agreed to the MSP’s request to locate a new postbox near to the relocated Macduff Post Office.

Concerns were raised by a Macduff resident that there was no convenient postbox out-of-hours since the previous mailbox, set in the window of the former Post Office, fell out of use.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I’m pleased to have been able to assist with this request from the community. I was delighted when Porterfield’s newsagents took on the running of the Post Office, keeping it close to where it had previously been and supporting a local business. The restoration of an external postbox close to this location should make things more convenient for people once again.”

In a letter to the MSP, Senior Public Affairs Manager for Royal Mail Michael Hogg stated:

“A new postbox will be installed near the new Post Office in Macduff. Royal Mail will endeavour to complete requests for postboxes within 12-16 weeks . . . to comply with the Streetworks Act 1991.”

14 December 2020

Stevenson Welcomess Roll-Out of North Contract for Superfast Broadband

A contract for delivery of the Scottish Government’s R100 programme has been agreed after a successful procurement process.

The North lot of the contract for the Reaching 100% (R100) programme will now progress as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensure every home and business across the country has access to superfast broadband.

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands Paul Wheelhouse confirmed the move.

BT has been contracted to deliver all of the E100 contracts with the North lot contract ensuring some of Scotland’s most remote areas benefit from better connectivity.

More than 80% of the North lot contract build will be delivered utilising fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, capable of providing gigabit speeds over 30 times faster. 
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The roll-out of the R100 programme is very welcome and I know many businesses and homes will be eager for this work beginning in due course at the start of the year.

“The Scottish Government has made a clear commitment to ensuring access to superfast broadband in one of the most ambitious projects across the UK.

“The coronavirus pandemic has shown now, more than ever, just how important connectivity is both in how we stay in contact with family and friends and how we are able to work.

“More than £380million has been committed by the Scottish Government investing in more accessible, faster broadband.”

Stevenson Calls on Tories to Stop 'Dithering' on Whisky Tariffs

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has accused Tory ministers of ‘dithering’ over US tariffs on Scotch whisky.

The US introduced crippling tariffs on the sector last year, costing the industry £176million in the first part of 2020, according to new figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe).

It is now being reported that UK Government Tory ministers are planning on extending an olive branch to the new Biden administration in Washington in an attempt to have the tariffs lifted.

The Department of International Trade said lifting the tariffs would be it’s ‘top priority’ but more than a year later the issue has continued to rumble on.

The failure to settle the issue forms part of a growing list of broken promises made to Scotland. Boris Johnson also promised around the same time last year to find an Energy Sector Deal, which has also not come to fruition.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:
“For more than a year the Tories have dithered on this issue costing the industry to lose out on millions.

“Alongside the global pandemic this has been an incredibly difficult year for the sector which has been left out in the cold by this Tory government.

“These tariffs need removed immediately as Scotch whisky producers could soon be hit by the double-whammy of tariffs to export to Europe with a low-deal or no-deal Brexit, a further blow to businesses.

“Scotch whisky is a brand renowned worldwide, so the Tories must show the urgency that they promised to have these tariffs lifted or risk one of Scotland’s greatest exports.”

11 December 2020

North-East MSPs Urge Constituents to Apply for Self-Isolation Grant

North-east MSPs have welcomed the announcement that the Scottish Government’s self-isolation payment will not be impacted, following an update that anyone required to self-isolate will need to do so for 10 days, rather than 14 days.

The £500 grant - which will not be reduced as a result of the updated clinical guidance - is for those who will face financial hardship due to being asked to self-isolate and will be targeted at people who are in receipt of Universal Credit or legacy benefits. 

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the move.

The four chief medical officers of the UK announced on Friday that close contacts of a positive case and those returning from countries without a travel corridor will be able to self-isolate for 10 days instead of the current 14 days from Monday.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“Self-isolation, both for contacts identified by Test and Protect and through the foreign travel quarantine requirements, is critical to protecting people and reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“While self-isolation may be for a shorter period, it remains vital that everyone who is required to do so remains at their home or other named address for this time. Only by doing this can we break the chain of transmission of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“To ensure people do not experience financial hardship as a result of doing the right thing, the SNP Government has ensured that the £500 grant for people on low incomes who have been asked to self-isolate will not change.

“I’d urge everyone in the north-east who is facing a loss of income due to self-isolating to apply for this payment.”

7 December 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Rates Relief for Nurseries

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed an extension on non-domestic rates relief for the childcare sector.

The move means a previously announced end date to the scheme of 31 March 2021 will now continue until at least June 2023.

It will allow for a full evaluation of the impact of the day nursery relief on providers, parents and carers.

According to figures, in 2020/21 the relief has been worth an average of more than £12,000 to each eligible nursery.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is a very welcome news in what has been a very challenging year for many businesses including those in the childcare sector.

“Nurseries help to play a vital role in helping our economy, not only helping support children’s development but also allowing parents to access employment, education or training.

“We have seen just how important this has been during the pandemic as parents and carers have juggled the many everyday challenges of childcare and working all under one roof.”

Stevenson Welcomes Loan Fund for Rent Arrears

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a £10million fund which offers interest free loans to tenants who are struggling with rent arrears.

The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund is designed to help people who have had their finances or employment impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and do not have other means of housing support.

The new fund is part of a range of support and interventions by the Scottish Government in response to the pandemic.

By giving tenants access to loans to cover a maximum of nine months’ worth of rent arrears and long repayment terms, it provides another option for people who have lost out financially due to the pandemic, but who can’t claim support from other means, such as welfare benefits.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is a very welcome step in helping those who have gone into arrears on their rent because of the financial hardship brought about by the pandemic.

“The Tenant Hardship Loan Fund is part of a broader effort to support those affected and give people access to appropriate financial support.

“For the majority of tenants facing financial difficulties and arrears the best means of support is regular non-repayable support, for example through Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payments.

“This fund will allow those who may fall through the gap and be unable to claim such support, or who might have been thinking of borrowing.

“It will allow them to manage rent issues which have arisen as a result of the coronavirus.”

Stevenson Congratulates Deveronvale FC on Award Win

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated a north-east football club after it was recognised for its work in the community by the Scottish Football Association.

Deveronvale Football Club has been named the ‘Best Community Football Club’ as part of this year’s Scottish FA Grassroots Awards.

The club received the accolade for their work in a number of key areas including its football pathway which supports children from nursery age to Scottish Youth Football Association district football.

More than 300 boys and girls play football almost every night and the club continuously engage and support local schools and football clubs.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

"I am delighted for Deveronvale Football Club who are very deserved winners of this accolade.

“The work they do in the community with young people is vital particularly now as ensuring young people are connected to one another.

“Getting the chance to exercise and stay active is more important than ever particularly after months of lockdown.

“I would like to thank the team for all their hard work in the community. Their continuous engagement and support for schools and charities allows children from nursery age onwards to play football, learn and most importantly, have fun.”

The annual Scottish FA grassroots awards aim to recognise and reward people across the country that make a difference to grassroots football in their local community.

1 December 2020

North-East MSPs Welcome Plans for Free School Meals

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed plans for free school meals to be made eligible all year round to every primary school pupil.

The move, which was announced by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, would be implemented if the SNP are re-elected in May next year.

It comes after Mr Swinney set out this latest step in the drive to tackle child poverty and make Scotland the first nation in the UK to offer universal free primary school meals.

The Scottish Government previously extended eligibility for a free school lunch meal to all P1 to P3 pupils while P4 to P7 pupils are eligible based on a range of income and benefits criteria.

Now, in the face of predictions that Westminster cuts will drive child poverty rates even higher, the expansion - estimated to cost around £230 million per year in additional expenditure - will introduce a free year-round breakfast and lunch for all primary school pupils from August 2022.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has put real financial pressure on families, and it’s right that the Scottish Government ensured that children in the north-east would continue to receive free school meals over the holidays.

“But we will not stop there. If the SNP is re-elected in May, every single primary school pupil in Aberdeenshire will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch, all year round.

“And unlike the Tories, we didn’t have to be publicly shamed and condemned into choosing to feed hungry children – that is the basic duty of any government.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This ambitious expansion of the free school meals scheme is the next step in our battle to stop the Tories forcing more and more kids into poverty, support families, and make Scotland the best place to grow up.

“That progressive vision, underpinned by human rights, equality and wellbeing, is exactly why people in Scotland continue to put their faith in the SNP.”

20 November 2020

North-East MSPs Welcome Vaccine Progress

North-east MSPs have welcomed Scottish Government plans for the first coronavirus vaccinations to be given as early as next month.

It comes after Health Secretary Jeane Freeman updated the Scottish Parliament and said the first groups to be prioritised for vaccination have been identified based on current independent clinical advice.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the news which could see older care home residents and the over 80s be the first to be vaccinated.

Ms Freeman has said once these initial priority groups have been vaccinated, those over 65 will be offered the vaccination along with those under 65 who are at additional clinical risk, before moving on to the wider population over the age of 18.

An agreement has also been reached with the British Medical Association on the terms and conditions of GPs’ involvement in the programme.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“This is very welcome news after what has been an incredibly tough time for everyone as the coronavirus has impacted every aspect of our day-to-day lives and devastatingly led to the loss of so many lives.

“The global scientific, research and pharmaceutical community has come together and achieved creating vaccines which are not years but months away.

“It is a brilliant step forward and I look forward to more announcements to come from the Health Secretary in the months ahead.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am delighted that after months of uncertainty, we have news which makes the possibility of a return to normality next year far more realistic.

“This is an important step in making sure the general population is protected against the coronavirus.”

17 November 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Funding for Care Homes after Aberdeenshire Pilot

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed additional funding to provide 1,400 care homes in Scotland with digital devices to connect loved ones with those receiving care.

The £1million fund will enable all care homes across the country to access iPads to help residents stay connected with friends and relatives as well as supporting the clinical management of health conditions remotely.

It comes after a pilot project provided digital services to six care homes in Aberdeenshire to address digital exclusion, supported by Scottish Care, the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

Care homes will be able to apply for up to two iPads to support their residents through combined Scottish Government funding from the Connecting Scotland Programme and on top of funding allocated in the Adult Social Care Winter Preparedness plan.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am pleased following the success of the pilot project in Aberdeenshire that this scheme will be rolled out further.

“Keeping residents in care homes connected with their families and friends is really important especially as we go into the winter period.

“While digital devices can never replace human interaction, digital technology can help us to keep in touch with our loved ones and provide vital access to healthcare through services such as NearMe for video consultations.”

11 November 2020

North-East MSPs Welcome Boost in Teacher Numbers

More than 1,250 New Teachers and Support Staff Recruited Since Summer

North-east MSPs have welcomed news that 1,250 new teachers, and 155 support staff, have been recruited in schools across Scotland in recent months.

It comes after the Scottish Government pledged £80 million of support this summer to help local authorities’ recruitment for the safe re-opening of schools.

And Councils across Scotland have now indicated that an estimated further 200 teachers are also in the pipeline with 100 extra support staff also expected to follow.

Last month, figures from the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) showed that the number of newly-qualified teachers going straight into employment has risen by nearly 30%.

Analysis also revealed that the number of teachers in Scotland under the age of 45 has risen to 61.5% of the workforce as of 2019.

This is in comparison with 2009, when most teachers were over 45.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“In the middle of a global pandemic, it’s absolutely vital that local authorities are fully supported to ensure that our schools remain safe for pupils, teachers and staff.

“Thanks to significant investment from the SNP Government this summer, we now have hundreds of extra teachers and staff in our schools to support their safe re-opening.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“These additional teachers and support staff will not only bring much needed resilience to Scotland’s education system, but they will help compensate for the loss of learning suffered by pupils during lockdown.

“I want to express my appreciation once again for our brilliant teachers, and wider workforce, who are helping to ensure our young people continue to get the education they deserve during these tough times.”

9 November 2020

North-East MSPs Urge Applications for New Child Benefit Payment

North-east MSPs are urging families who may be eligible for the Scottish Child Payment to apply as figures show more than 10,000 children in Aberdeenshire could benefit.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson are now encouraging parents and carers to put forward applications.

It comes after the Scottish Government announced plans for early applications to be made possible to help support families amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The move will help to provide eligible families on low incomes with a child under six an extra £10 per week for each child.

The first payments are expected to be made in February next year.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“This support is needed more than ever, and it’s early introduction for children under six - almost two years ahead of the original commitment for a new payment.

"While the Scottish Government does everything it can to tackle poverty, the Tories at Westminster are still helplessly trying to defend their shameless decision to deprive children of free school meals over the holidays.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Children and families simply shouldn’t have to depend on the whim of Boris Johnson’s callous Tory government to get through this Covid-19 crisis.

“This benefit will be a lifeline for many children, young people and their families in the north-east. I’d encourage anyone who is eligible to apply as soon as possible.”

4 November 2020

North-East MSPs Back Calls for Tighter Controls on Fireworks

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed calls for a fundamental shift in the way fireworks are bought and sold in Scotland.

The independent Firework Review Group, established by the Scottish Government, has called for the introduction of no firework zones and tighter restrictions on the use of fireworks to help tackle anti-social behaviour at this time of year.

The group, chaired by former Chief Fire Officer Alasdair Hay, also recommended an introduction of mandatory conditions when fireworks are purchased from retailers as well as restricting the times of day and volumes of fireworks are purchased from retailers.

It also urges a restriction of the days and times fireworks can be set off and the creation of a proxy purchasing offence to prevent adults from buying fireworks on behalf of those under the age of 18. 

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“Here in the north-east, and right across Scotland, there is widespread public support to crack down on the negative impact of anti-social firework use.

“This Scottish Government is determined to make these recommendations a reality and help keep our local communities safe from the harmful use of fireworks.“

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Tomorrow is Bonfire Night, and I would ask those who plan on using fireworks to do so responsibly and be mindful of their neighbours – the noise of fireworks can have a real impact on those with sensory issues, on pets and on livestock.”

Chair of the Review Group and former Chief Fire Officer, Alasdair Hay, said:

“I am pleased to set out the recommendations from the Firework Review Group. We have carefully considered the available evidence and believe a step change is needed in how fireworks are accessed and used by the general public.

"This is not to prevent adults using fireworks sensibly and safely – rather, to ensure all safety requirements are fully understood and adhered to, and the impact on others has been fully considered.”

3 November 2020

Stevenson Backs Early Applications for Child Payment

Parents are being encouraged to apply for the new Scottish Child Payment which has been opened early to the public.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is urging constituents to apply for the payment which ahead of its introduction to help manage expected demand.

The new benefit will give eligible families on low incomes with children under 16-years-old an extra £10 per week for each child.

It had been for full roll-out by the end of 2022, but Ministers have now prioritised the early introduction for children under the age of six with payments to begin from early 2021.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is an ambitious anti-poverty measure with the Scottish Government leading the way.

“I am delighted an earlier payment will be introduced to help support families with younger children ahead of the full roll-out.

“I would urge all constituents who may be eligible to apply now as we know the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact has made the need far greater.”

Scotland is the only part of the UK where this additional payment for families with young children will be available.

The payment could support up to 194,000 children this financial year and the payment will be made every four weeks.

2 November 2020

North-East MSPs Welcome Support for Benefit Appeals

North-East MSPs have welcomed a payment introduced to protect people challenging disability benefit payments.

The announcement has been welcomed by Aberdeenshire East Gillian Martin MSP and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson.

The Short Term Assistance payment will allow people to continue to receive the amount of money they were getting before the decision was made to lower or stop their payment.

People will not have to repay the Short Term Assistance if the re-determination or appeal upholds the decision to lower or stop their social security payment.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said: 

“This is a first for benefit delivery in the UK and I am pleased the Scottish Government is providing an extension to support people looking to appeal a decision.

“This will be introduced alongside the Child Disability Payment, replacing the Scottish Government’s Disability Living Allowance for Children.

“I hope this allows people who may want to challenge a decision to do so without additional stress or worry in what can be a daunting process.

“It is important we give people the chance to appeal without feeling further penalised.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said: 
“We know people’s lives are complicated and there are many factors taken into consideration before making a decision.

“The Scottish Government is working hard to make sure decisions are made correctly the first-time but where this does not happen, this allows an applicant to go back and ask Social Security Scotland to look again.”

26 October 2020

North-East MSPs Back Consultation on Free Bus Travel

North-east MSPs are calling on constituents to take part in a consultation on providing free bus travel to young people under the age of 19.

The Scottish Government has put forward the proposed extension which would impact 770,000 young people and is now looking for people to put their views forward.

It would deliver on the budget agreement which was reaffirmed in the recent Programme for Government.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the move.

The proposals will also help support the vision proposed through the National Transport Strategy which looks to provide a transport system with reduced inequalities and one that advances equality of opportunity.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“This is a hugely exciting proposal for the future of our bus sector and will help to engage younger people with sustainable transport.

“Access to free bus travel would help young people under the age of 19 to access employment, education and leisure.

“It will also help to support low-income families who may not have access to transport.

“Free bus travel is also vital in our response to the climate emergency and we look to shift away from private vehicle use towards more sustainable transport.

“I would urge constituents to take part in the consultation and make their views heard.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“What we are proposing will help our young people as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic which will have a long-term impact on this age group.

“This would also support the vision outlined in our National Transport Strategy for a fairer and more sustainable transport system – reducing inequalities, tackling poverty and promoting opportunity.”

Stevenson Calls for Tory U-Turn on Free School Meals

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has called on the Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross to back a second vote on free school meals.

It comes after the Moray MP and his colleagues failed to support the measure in a vote at Westminster last week.

The decision has seen an overwhelming public outcry with many businesses offering to provide free school meals instead.

More than 2,000 paediatricians also signed an open letter to the Prime Minister at the weekend urging him to follow Scotland’s lead in providing free school meals over the coming holidays.

Earlier this month, the Scottish Government announced a £10million package of funding to continue free school meals over the coming holidays.

The policy has been funded from existing budgets after the Tory government cut off Barnett consequentials for the policy.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“There has been palpable public anger over the UK Government’s decision to vote against providing free school meals.

“Businesses already impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are offering to provide free school meals despite struggling themselves.

“Moray MP Douglas Ross and his colleagues at Westminster have made a catastrophic error of judgement.

“Mr Ross completely failed his first test of leadership and if he wants to salvage any credibility he must back calls for a U-turn.

"The Scottish Tories have an abysmal voting record at Westminster. In the past few months alone, they have voted to impose an extreme Brexit against Scotland's will, backed a power grab on the Scottish Parliament, voted against protecting Scottish food standards, opposed human rights for refugee children, and backed Tory plans to scrap the furlough scheme - putting millions of jobs and businesses at risk during a pandemic.

"It is clear, that they are the same old toxic Tory party that they have always been - and they are lurching even further to the right under Douglas Ross.

"The SNP government has rightly committed to £10million of funding to continue free school meals in Scotland over the coming holidays - but we have had to find this money from existing budgets, which could have been spent in other areas were it not for Tory cuts.^

22 October 2020

Stevenson Slams Moray MP Over Free Schools Meal Vote

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has slammed Moray MP Douglas Ross after he voted against free school meals for children in need.

It comes after the Scottish Government pledged £10million to help support low-income families provide food over the school holidays.

However, as the UK government has refused to fund free school meals in England, this money has been found from existing budgets rather than Barnett consequentials.

Now the Scottish Tories have been accused of false promises after Mr Ross previously pledged his party would support the policy.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This was a key test of leadership for Douglas Ross and he has failed abysmally.

"The Scottish Tories are complete hypocrites for voting against free school meals despite previously claiming to support them. They are trying to hoodwink voters with false promises by saying one thing then doing the complete opposite when instructed by Boris Johnson.

"People in Scotland will not be fooled. By voting to deprive children of food, Scottish Tory MPs have also voted to deprive Scotland of crucial Barnett funding - leaving the SNP government to fund Scotland's progressive free school meals policy from existing budgets.

"The Scottish Tories are the same old toxic Westminster party. This month alone, they have voted to impose an extreme Brexit and a power grab on Scotland, and voted against free school meals, extending furlough support for jobs, and helping refugee children.

"The Scottish Government will continue to deliver progressive policies in Scotland despite Westminster cuts but the only way to properly protect Scotland's interests and values is to become an independent country."

21 October 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Proposed Delay to Fire Alarm Regulations

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed an announcement by the Scottish Government to delay plans which requires all homes in Scotland to have interlinked smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

The move will now be postponed until February 2022 amid the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Government confirmed earlier this week that it will ask Parliament to approve a 12-month delay in the deadline to carry out this important safety work.

If the delay is approved, the new regulations, which extend the standard which currently applies to private rented property and new-builds to all homes in Scotland, will be moved back to February 2022.

The Scottish Government has already made over £15m of loan funding available for Social Landlords to procure and install the necessary alarms which should help ensure that social tenants are safe in their homes.

The Scottish Government has also provided additional funding of £870,000 in each year for the last two years to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to support their Home Safety Visits for vulnerable and high-risk people.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Fire safety is an absolute priority for all of us, and these improved regulations will mean that everyone in my constituency will benefit from the same level of protection, whether they own their home or rent from a social or private landlord.

“However, given the impact of Covid-19, and the difficulties this legislation was likely to cause for people seeking to install new alarms, it’s welcome that the Scottish Government has listened to concerns and decided to ask the Scottish Parliament to delay the deadline by 12 months.

“As your representative for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, I will continue to look closely at ensuring people have the support, information and advice they need to make changes in advance of the new standards coming into force in February 2022.”

Stevenson Urges Young Carers to Apply for Grant

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is encouraging young carers to check if they’re eligible for a funding grant.

It comes as the Young Carer Grant marks its second anniversary.

The payment of £305.10 is awarded on an annual basis for 16, 17 and 18-year-olds who spend an average of 16 hours a week caring for someone who receives a disability benefit.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Young carers play a vital role in the lives of many people across Scotland.

“This is another important step in demonstrating how the Scottish Government is using social security powers to provide extra support to those who need it.

“I would encourage young carers who are eligible for the payment to apply and those who have already had the payment and who may still be eligible to reapply for the grant.”

20 October 2020

Stevenson Backs Fuel Poverty Scheme

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has praised the impact of fuel poverty scheme in supporting homes across the north-east.

More than 300 households in Mr Stevenson’s constituency have benefitted from the scheme’s help since it was launched in 2015, each of them saving around £300 on their energy bills per year.

The £224million Warmer Homes Scotland scheme provides a step-by-step service to help make homes warmer and more comfortable.

Assistance can include installing new and efficient boilers, fitting new radiators, insulating lofts or even working with partners to install gas mains to make heating homes in hard to reach areas more affordable.

All work is carried out by registered and accredited local sub-contractors, who work to rigorous quality standards across the country.

Warmworks is the Managing Agent of Warmer Homes Scotland and receives referrals to the scheme from Home Energy Scotland.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome the impact that Warmer Homes Scotland has made in my constituency. For too many families, living in fuel poverty is a harsh reality and it is great to know that they are now living in warmer, cosier homes with greatly reduced fuel bills.

“I would encourage others to check if they are eligible to receive help under the scheme, as improvements could make a significant difference this winter and for years to come.”

With the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019 now enshrined in legislation, both the extent of the Scottish Government’s ambitions and the scale of the task ahead are very clear.

While the end goal for the eradication of fuel poverty may be some years away, there is no question that the help available under Warmer Homes Scotland will play a key role in helping people become warmer, happier and healthier in their homes.

Ross Armstrong, Warmworks’ Managing Director said:

“It has always been important to Warmworks that the delivery of Warmer Homes Scotland results in real and lasting benefits for vulnerable people and communities across Scotland.

“I am delighted to have helped over 300 households in Mr Stevenson’s constituency and we hope to build on our success as we continue our efforts to move towards greener, fairer and more affordable ways to heat our homes.”

MSPs Back Funding for Free School Meals Over Holidays

North-east MSPs have welcomed plans for two new funding packages from the Scottish Government to help support people on low incomes.

It comes after an announcement was made by Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville regarding £10million of funding being made available for free school meals over the Christmas holidays, February half-term break and Easter.

Local authorities will also be reimbursed for provision during the current October half-term break.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the move which will support more than 150,000 children across Scotland.

It will be up to each council how this support is delivered, but the Scottish Government is encouraging a cash first approach where necessary to allow families the option of what food they buy and where they purchase it from.

In addition, there will also be an £18million fund available to local authorities to tackle financial insecurity.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“This is a very welcome and necessary step in ensuring no child goes hungry.

“We know the cash flow of many families have been dealt a blow by the impact of the coronavirus and we must ensure we do all we can to help support them through this difficult time.

“By ensuring food can be put on the table for so many families across Scotland we can help to support those who really need it.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“Children and young people have already had an incredibly turbulent year with disruption to school and their daily lives.

“By offering this support, we will endeavour to make sure families can feel additionally supported in helping to ensure children are fed.”

19 October 2020

Stevenson Urges Constituents in Need to Call Support line

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is encouraging constituents in need of support to use a free coronavirus support line.

The Scotland Cares Initiative has been launched by the Red Cross with volunteers trained in psychological support for anyone who needs practical or emotional support, advice and guidance on food provision, or support with loneliness.

The number is open daily 10am to 6pm and the support service also works with food banks to help deliver essentials to those who rely on support.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Red Cross is providing vital support for those who need it most at this difficult time.

“I would encourage anyone who may need support to call the helpline, which is being manned by lots of volunteers, to help anyone who may be isolated or need support or help accessing a food bank.

“Services like this are essential in providing assistance to the local community which is now more important than ever, particularly as we head into the winter months.”

The support service line number is 0808 196 3651 and is available from 10am to 6pm.

North-East MSPs Encourage Applications for Town Centres Fund

North-east MSPs are calling on businesses and projects to apply for a new £1million fund to help promote town centres and online businesses and encourage people to shop locally.

The Scottish Government fund will provide grants of between £500 and £5000 will be given out as part of the Scotland Loves Local Scheme.

The move has been welcomed by Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson.

Funding is aimed at supporting small scale improvement which will help people to shop whilst also ensuring public health safety and the cash can be used for protective screens, physical distancing markers, hand sanitising equipment and PPE.
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“We all have a role to play in Scotland’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s now more important than ever to consider shopping locally and supporting the brilliant local businesses in the north-east.

“The Scotland Loves Local campaign - which will provide grants of between £500 and £5,000 - encourages people to think how they can safely support people to shop, eat and relax within their community whilst ensuring public health safety.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP added:

“This £1million fund, delivered by the Scottish Government, is an exciting opportunity for local projects and locally-based online businesses to support town centres and promote their local community.

"I have no doubt this new fund will be a real boost for communities across the north-east.”

12 October 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Start of Bowel Screening Programme

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed plans by the NHS to resume its Bowel Screening Programme after it was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Screening kits will begin to be posted out again, and people who were sent a screening kit before the pause in March, are now being asked to complete and return them.

The programme was suspended after careful consideration of the risks, including for people asked to attend follow-up investigations, such as colonoscopy appointments, as a result of their bowel screening.

Bowel screening colonoscopies have also resumed for those whose test results need further investigation.

A range of additional safety measures have been put in place to allow staff and patients to adhere to physical distancing, staff will wear necessary personal protective equipment and there will be staggered appointments to ensure quieter waiting areas.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am pleased the Bowel Screening Programme will now resume.

“The temporary pause of the programme was one of a number of difficult decisions which was made in response to the impact of COVID-19.

“I would encourage constituents who received a bowel screening kit in March to return it and anyone who is sent one in the coming months.”

Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK, said:

“Bowel cancer is Scotland’s second biggest cancer killer but it’s treatable and curable, especially when diagnosed early.

“While we all clearly understand the massive impact, the pandemic has had on the NHS, getting back on track with screening now will help to save lives, and we urge all over 50s to complete it."

5 October 2020

North-East MSPs Welcome Broadband Upgrade

Households in Aberdeenshire can now upgrade to faster fibre broadband as part of the £463 million broadband rollout.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the announcement by DSSB (Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband).

It means more than 88,000 homes and businesses can now connect through the DSSB programme.

Engineers from Openreach have connected more homes in Lonmay and Methlick to superfast broadband.

Across Scotland more than 950,000 premises have now been passed by the programme – with 5,078 new fibre street cabinets now live, offering broadband services at speeds up to 80Mbps. More than 16,730km of cable has been laid – including 400km of subsea cable.

More than 67 per cent of properties reached by the programme have now switched to faster fibre broadband.
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“As we continue to work from home it is more important than ever to ensure we can connect to superfast broadband.

“I would urge constituents to check what faster speeds could be available to them as we make progress as a digital nation.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is a big leap forward in full-fibre technology and is more important than ever in what has been a turbulent year.

“It is particularly important that this technology has been expanded to more rural areas across the north-east.”

Delivered through two projects - led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in its area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland - funding partners also include the UK Government through Building Digital UK (BDUK), BT

Group, local authorities and the EU via the European Regional Development Fund, with Openreach leading the build on the ground.

Fibre technology offers fast and reliable connections at a range of speeds1 and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from. Local people can check if the new fibre services are available to them at

29 September 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Funding to Support Health and Social Care

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed £1.1billion of funding to support Scotland’s health and social care sector.

The additional funding will be allocated to NHS Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships across the country.

The move has been made to help support COVID-19 related costs such as additional staffing or sickness expenditure, enhanced infection prevention and control measures, and the purchase of PPE.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This additional funding is welcome as the country prepares for the winter period.

“It will help the sector as it continues to support the public through the greatest public health crisis in our lifetime.

“The Scottish Government is taking the action to support services and ensure NHS Boards and local Health and Social Care partnerships are prepared for the continued presence of COVID-19.”

24 September 2020

MSPs Back Transport Planner for Commuters

North-east MSPs have welcomed a new service which will let commuters check how busy public transport is to help plan their journey during the coronavirus pandemic.

The move has been announced by Traveline Scotland for multiple operators across the country including NESTRANS in Aberdeenshire.

Aberdeenshire has been picked to take part in the first tranche of the roll-out by travel operators which was part funded by £50,000 from the Scottish Government.

And both Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson are supporting the plans.

With capacity restricted on public transport due to physical distancing measures, the public are being encouraged to plan their journey avoid busy times where possible.

This development, which significantly improves people’s ability to plan their journey more effectively and travel safely, is the first part of a phased roll out that aims to cover the whole of the country over the coming months.

Information is being collated and verified so that the journey planners on the Traveline Scotland website and associated IOS & Android apps will now show how many seats are available, or how busy a bus is when it is in service.

By using the on board ticket machine and driver input, digital data is also able to indicate whether a service is quite busy, not so busy or relatively quiet in real-time for passengers benefit.
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“This will help allow members of the public to plan their journeys safely and I am delighted Aberdeenshire has been included in this first phase of the roll-out.

“As physical distancing continues this means people can effectively plan their journey knowing how busy their commute is likely to be.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome this announcement as well as the funding support of £50,000 from the Scottish Government.

“We know much has changed across public transport including mandatory face coverings and physical distancing.

“Now commuters will be able to how busy the service is and plan ahead, making the travel process easier than before.”

15 September 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Launch of Doric Course

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed news Doric will now be taught at university for the first time.

In a motion to the Scottish Parliament, Mr Stevenson celebrated the move by the University of Aberdeen.

Doric is a form of North East Scots which is spoken by 49% of people in Aberdeenshire.

It will now be taught to undergraduates at Aberdeen University with the course counting towards a student’s degree.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am delighted Doric will be taught to undergraduates at the University of Aberdeen.

“It has a long history and there are many words and phrases linking Doric with Scandinavian languages too.

“This language is a critical part of north-east culture and I wish the University all the best in delivering this course which I hope will bring more interest and many new speakers.”

MSPs Warn Constituents to be Vigilant to Track and Trace Scammers

North-East MSPs have warned constituents to be vigilant after concerns were raised over scam artists asking for cash in exchange for coronavirus tests.

It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned the Scottish Government had been informed fraudulent calls had been taking place.

During the daily coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon called attempts to scam people for money as “despicable”.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have now urged to people living in the north-east to take caution when contacted by anyone claiming to be from track and trace.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“It is truly shocking that during such a time of crisis anyone would attempt to take advantage of it, I would urge anyone who receives a phone call regarding track and trace in which they are asked for any bank details to immediately hang up the phone.

“No one working in contact tracing will be asking for these details – tests are free.

“As the First Minister has highlighted, if you receive a call and you are unsure you always have the option to hang up and call back.

“Calls regarding track and trace will only be received from 0800 030 8012.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Anyone calling from track and trace will not ask you for any details regarding health other than directly related to the coronavirus.

“A caller will also not ask for social media details, passwords or pins or request you to make any payments.

“It is important we also alert any older people in the community who may be vulnerable to this time of scam what to look out for.”

Stevenson Slams House of Lords "Hardship" Claims

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has criticised peers in the House of Lords after they called for a hardship fund to help them during the coronavirus crisis.

The appeal, which was revealed in a freedom of information request, was included in a host of internal complaints to the Lords’ Commissioner.

Peers saw their daily allowance cut to £162-a-day as the House of Lords moved to remote working during lockdown.

A flurry of complaints from unnamed privileged peers followed, with the detail now being made public for the first time.

One unelected peer claimed that “a number of Peers have been financially embarrassed by the present arrangements”, while other peers queried “if there was any chance of setting up a hardship fund for members in financial difficulty during this time?”

Another Lord moaned that “I would be very disappointed to give up my lease and then find things back to normal” while a colleague remarked that peers may be forced to resign from their roles as “the financial pinch is so horrible”. A fellow Lord also claimed the pay cut has left them “feeling exploited” and “completely undervalued”.

Astonishingly, one peer also remarked that the changes to pay are “not even minimum wage”. Minimum wage for a worker over 25 in the UK is currently £8.72 per hour.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This Freedom of Information request exposes the total privilege and sheer arrogance of unelected Lords at Westminster.

“As people across Scotland struggle to make ends meet due to the financial impact of coronavirus these peers have the audacity to complain £162-per-day is not enough.

“These Lords are out of control and even more members of the privileged elite, like Baroness Ruth Davidson, will be skipping down the road to join them very shortly.

“It’s time to put the brakes on this gravy train and abolish the House of Lords for good.”

11 September 2020

MSPs Welcome Broadband Figures for Aberdeenshire

North-east MSPs have welcomed figures showing more homes are connected to superfast broadband.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the most recent statistics from Thinkbroadband.

It comes after significant investment from the Scottish Government.

The new figures show 83.4% of homes now have superfast broadband compared with only 16.6% in 2014 – a 66.8% increase.

A report published this week from Ofcom also found that 172,889 properties across Scotland have been connected to superfast broadband in the last year alone.

Despite connectivity and broadband remaining reserved to Westminster, Scotland is the only part of the UK that has guaranteed 100% superfast broadband access.

The Scottish Government is investing £600 million in the R100 programme, the single biggest public sector investment in digital connectivity in the UK, Westminster has contributed less than £21 million to the project – just 3% of the total funding.

Commenting, Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin said:

“These latest figures show a huge improvement compared with previously.

“It is so important homes are connected to superfast broadband – especially when the demand has increased due to home working.

“It’s also been important to keep families and loved ones connected too.

“The Scottish Government has made a commitment to invest £600 million in the R100 programme which will ensure superfast broadband speeds reach every corner of Aberdeenshire and Scotland.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Broadband is a reserved issue to Westminster, but successive UK governments have sat on their hands and done next to nothing to connect Scottish homes to superfast internet speeds.

“While the Tories might be happy to sit in the slow lane, this SNP Government won’t stop until 100% of Scottish homes are connected to superfast broadband by the end of 2021.”

10 September 2020

MSPs Urge Student Caution as University and College Students Return

North-east MSPs have urged students returning to university and college campuses across the region to listen to advice from Scotland’s most senior clinicians.

An open joint letter has been written by Dr Gregor Smith, Interim Chief Medical Officer, Professor Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer, and Professor Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director.

In the letter they also urge students to get tested if they experience any of the three main symptoms of COIVD-19 including a new and continuous cough, a fever or high temperature, or a loss of or change in their sense of taste or smell.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“It’s really important that new students and those returning to campuses are vigilant about any symptoms they develop.

“In order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at universities and colleges we must ensure students are sticking to Scottish Government guidance at all times.

“I know these are different circumstances than many students would have envisaged but the more we do now to follow these measures and to get tested early will benefit us all.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This letter clearly sets out the guidance on detecting signs of the coronavirus.

“It is up to us all to stay alert and to look out for symptoms of the virus. We know colds and flu-like symptoms are common at this time of year, so it is important we know what symptoms to look out for.”

Stevenson Urges Constituents to Download COVID App

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged people in his constituency to download the new ‘Protect Scotland’ app - to help slow the spread of Coronavirus and support the easing of lockdown restrictions.
The app can be downloaded onto phones and will let users know if they have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

The app will automatically alert users if someone reports that they’ve tested positive for Covid-19 and that they have been in close contact recently.

No personal identifiable information will be entered on the app and the Scottish Government has assured that it will not monitor the location of individuals as the app uses Bluetooth technology, and not GPS, to identify contacts.

The app has already been downloaded more than 50,000 times since its launch on Wednesday.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The Scottish Government has now launched the ‘Protect Scotland’ proximity tracing app, to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus and complement the person-to-person approach of Test and Protect.

“The app - which takes less than a minute to download - will allow us to alert people at risk far more quickly, so that we can all take steps to reduce the risk of infecting others.

“Scotland’s official contact tracing app will help us all to protect ourselves, our family, our friends and our community by enabling faster contact tracing.

“The more people who have the app, the more it can help to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

“That’s why I’m urging people in the north-east to download the app, and let’s all protect Scotland.”

Stevenson Urges Women to Visit GP Amid Drop in Ovarian Cancer Diagnoses

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson is encouraging women to visit their GP with any health concerns after a drop-in cancer referral.

It comes after a report which looked at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Target Ovarian Cancer UK published their findings earlier this year which showed many women have been worried about contacting their GP with symptoms.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I would encourage women who are showing any symptoms to visit their GP.

“Early diagnosis is very important, so I would urge women to make sure they see a doctor as soon as possible.

“I welcome this report by Target Ovarian Cancer UK which highlights the very real and devastating impact this disease has on women.”

9 September 2020

MSPs Welcome Payment to Tackle Child Poverty

North-east MSPs have welcomed a payment which will help tackle child poverty in Aberdeenshire.

More than 10,000 children across Aberdeenshire could benefit from the Scottish Child Payment which will be worth £10 per child for low-income families by the end of 2022.

The introduction of the payment for children under six will began as early as next year.

Latest figures from the Scottish Fiscal Commission estimate that 194,000 children aged under six in Scotland will be eligible for the new Scottish Child Payment.

Both Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the move.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“The Scottish Child Payment is an ambitious and ground-breaking new benefit which will directly tackle child poverty across the country.

“This support is needed more than ever, and when this additional £10 per week per child becomes available in February.

“It will help reduce financial pressures and demonstrates the potential of social security to make a positive difference and reflect our society’s shared values of compassion and fairness.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Tory cuts are driving many families in the north-east into poverty.

“This payment from the Scottish Government shows we are using every power at our disposal to help families make ends meet. We must do all we can to help support families.”

7 September 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Funding for North-East Businesses

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a six-figure sum for businesses across the North-East.

It comes from the Scottish Government’s Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF) and the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund (CTHEHF).

The PERF was a grant scheme for small businesses able to demonstrate they had been made vulnerable by COVID-19 but could present a strong business case for a viable future.

Meanwhile, the CTHEHF was designed to support companies in immediate hardship due to ongoing pandemic.

A total of seven businesses in the Banffshire and Buchan Constituency benefitted from the funding including the Fraserburgh Indoor Leisure Centre, Gourmets Choice Ltd and the Palace Hotel in Peterhead.

The funding given to these businesses totals £402,729.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Many businesses in the north-east have suffered loss and hardship from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is important the Scottish Government and other organisations can help to support in the immediate aftermath as well as in the long-term.

“I am pleased well-known businesses have been able to benefit from additional support in what is a difficult time for so many.”

3 September 2020

Stevenson Marks 60th Anniversary of Macduff Distillery

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has marked the 60th anniversary of a north-east distillery with a motion to the Scottish Parliament. 

The Macduff Distillery in Banffshire opened in 1960 and has produced both The Deveron and previously the Glen Deveron single malt whiskies. 

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:
“I am delighted to mark this significant anniversary for the Macduff Distillery with a motion to the Scottish Parliament. 

“The distillery has brought many benefits to the local area in its 60 years and I am sure it will continue for many decades more. 

“Its recent contribution helping to produce 15,000 litres of hand sanitiser for use by the emergency services NHS and cares home has also been greatly appreciated.”

Stevenson Welcomes Major Investment in Macduff Substation

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed major investment by the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) in the north-east.

It comes as part of a £5million programme of investment in Moray and the north-east with more than 11,000 properties expected to benefit.

SSEN is investing £1.2million in the local substation powering Macduff by replacing transformers and switchgear with new, upgraded equipment.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This investment will boost the resilience of the network and serve more than 6,500 properties in the local area.

“It will also help to allow for future growth in electricity demand. Some of this equipment was installed in the 1960s and has been due an upgrade so this next step is very welcome.

“I know this will benefit many people in the area, particularly with the demand caused by more people having to work from home and staying at home during the upcoming winter period.”

Michael Hilferty, Head of SSEN’s North Caledonia region, said:

“Our priority is to ensure a safe, secure and reliable supply of electricity for our customers, and this investment goes a long way to delivering on that commitment for thousands of existing homes and businesses, as well as those looking to connect to our network in the coming years.”

Disclosure: Stewart is a very small shareholder in SSE plc.

2 September 2020

MSPs Welcome Announcement on Recent COVID Cluster

North-east MSPs have welcomed the announcement by NHS Grampian concluding a recent cluster of positive coronavirus cases stemming from an outbreak at Aberdeen pubs is now over.

The health board’s incident management team met earlier this week and made the assessment.

It means they have ruled that it is no longer possible any positive cases can be linked back to the cluster and would be unrelated.

Both Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have welcomed the confirmation.
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“I would like to thank the hard work of the track and trace teams within NHS Grampian who have been committed to stemming this most recent cluster. 

“I would also like to thank everyone in the north-east impacted by the recent loc
al lockdown, I know it will have been a challenging time for many. 

“It is only down to your efforts that this announcement has been made possible. We must continue to adhere to guidance and make sure we are practising safe hygiene and social distancing.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is very welcome news and I hope it gives a sense of relief to people who have been impacted it.

“We must continue to take extra precautions and be mindful as we go about our day-to-day lives while fully aware of the impact COVID-19 continues to have.”

Stevenson Welcomes Ambitious Plan to Rebuild Economy

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced an ambitious Programme for Government aimed at ensuring a strong economic recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Under the commitments, all young people in Scotland aged 16 to 24 will be guaranteed a job, education, apprenticeship or formal training through a new £60 million government scheme.

By this Autumn, a £100 million Green Jobs fund will be launched to help up to 10,000 people of all ages retrain for jobs in growth sectors such as renewables.

The SNP government has also announced a new £10 million Tenant Hardship Fund, which will open later this year and offer interest-free loans to those unable to access other forms of support for their housing costs.

A comprehensive independent review of adult social care will also take place – setting out options for the creation of a National Care Service.

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

“Coronavirus has been the greatest public health crisis in our lifetime – impacting our health, economy and our way of life.

“The SNP government has made it its mission to create new jobs right here in the north-east. This is a Programme for Government that protects people’s livelihoods, guarantees opportunities for all our young people and points the way to a future with better, greener jobs as Scotland looks to becoming a net-zero country.

“We can’t simply go back to how things were – we have an opportunity to build back a fairer and better Scotland.

“That’s why the First Minister has announced these unprecedented measures to help us reform social care, protect our young people and invest in our local economy – all while continuing to suppress the virus.

“As ambitious as these commitments are, the Scottish Government continues to fight Coronavirus with one hand tied behind its back. Westminster’s plans to end to the furlough scheme prematurely and crash out of the EU without a deal later this year, will be deeply damaging."

Stevenson Backs Support for Hardest Hit Families

The Scottish Government has paid out more than £8million in crisis grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund to families this year.

This was up 63% compared to the previous year - with applications substantially higher due to increasing financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the support given to families.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“In only a five-month period between March and July, the Scottish Government has supported some of the most vulnerable families by increasing investment in Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs).

“This has helped to support people on low incomes and facing financial hardship amid the impact of COVID-19.

“I would urge anyone in the Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency who may need it to apply. This will be particularly important as we approach the end of the UK Government’s furlough scheme.”

1 September 2020

Stevenson Slams Scottish Tory Leader NFUS Claims

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has said he backs the NFUS (National Farmers Union Scotland) after its policy director criticised claims made by the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

Moray MP Douglas Ross came under fire for twisting the views of the NFUS regarding comments he made in an interview with Good Morning Scotland.

During the interview, Mr Ross was called out over his voting record at Westminster on upholding standards - including his vote against Clause 11 in the UK's Trade Bill which looked to protect high welfare and food standards in the UK, and prevent low-quality produce - such as chlorine-washed chicken or hormone-injected beef - flooding supermarkets.

The MP claimed that NFU Scotland's policy director, Jonnie Hall, said that no MP voted to reduce animal welfare or biosecurity standards.

But in response, Mr Hall stated that he was "fuming" over the remarks, adding:

"I remain very concerned that an honest and straightforward answer to a question has been basically turned through 180 degrees to misrepresent the situation whereby I think people are being misled.”

Hall went on to say that the purpose of Clause 11 was to uphold the high food and agricultural standards currently in place - adding that he was "perplexed" over Douglas Ross' remarks and that the Scottish Tory leader had "taken my answer out of context."

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Douglas Ross is only weeks into his role as leader of the Scottish Conservatives job and he has already been accused of twisting the words of the NFUS.

"This is not just embarrassing for the Scottish Tory leader, it is yet another sign of the Tories' sheer contempt for Scotland's vital agriculture sector.

"The fact that NFU Scotland's policy director has had to come out and call out Douglas Ross over his remarks and state that the Scottish Tory leader has misled the public is damning.

“Mr Ross must now publicly apologise to Scotland’s farmers for twisting their words, and to the Scottish public for trying to mislead them over this crucial issue.

"It's no secret that the Tories' plans will aim to lower Scotland’s world-class food standards in pursuit of a bottom of the barrel trade deal - and rather than owning up to his voting record that risks undermining Scotland's high-quality produce, Douglas Ross shamefully tried to twist the comments of NFU Scotland."

31 August 2020

Stevenson Welcomes Winter Disability Allowance

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed extra support for families of children with disabilities over the winter period.

The Scottish Government plans to put forward legislation to enable the delivery of the new Child Winter Heating Assistance.

It is the first disability benefit to be introduced using new social security powers.

Families with children in receipt of the highest rate care of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will receive an extra £200 to help with their heating costs.

These payments will be made automatically to eligible families through Social Security Scotland.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is fantastic news and will help to support many families as we move into the colder months.

“Additional funding will help to support seriously disabled children and their families with the additional costs they can have with heating a home.

“It is also very encouraging to note these payments will be made automatically to eligible families by Social Security Scotland alleviating some of the hurdles often faced when applying for benefits.”

27 August 2020

Stevenson Welcomes 12-Minute Coronavirus Test

NHS Scotland has agreed a £6.76million deal to purchase new machines capable of turning around coronavirus tests in 12 minutes.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said the investment will help meet needs in more remote locations.

It comes after the agreement with UK-based life sciences company LumiraDx to supply 300 rapid testing machines as well as a minimum of 500,000 tests.

The LumiraDx Platform instruments can be used anywhere making them ideal for local clinics or mobile units in Scotland’s rural communities.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This announcement is superb news for communities across the north-east and the wider country.

“This is a great example of our pioneering life sciences sector in Scotland. I am pleased it will also help to support a quick turn around on testing, particularly in rural areas.”

The instruments connect to a cloud system, which means outbreaks of COVID-19 can be tracked quickly by health authorities playing a vital role in Scotland’s Test and Protect strategy.

The test was authorised for emergency use by the US Federal Drug Administration last week and is going through the final stages of validation for use in Scotland and Europe.

Stevenson Welcomes Signing of Heads of Terms for Moray Growth Deal

The Moray Growth Deal has taken a further step forward after the heads of terms were signed by Moray Council, the Scottish and UK Government.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the move.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is a fantastic step forward and I am pleased to hear it has reached this stage.

“The Moray Growth Deal will provide a long-term boost for the area, helping to grow the local economy and create high value jobs.

“This is more important than ever with the impact of COVID-19 on the wider economy and this deal will help support diversification.”

Stevenson Welcomes Bill to Help Farmers Post-Brexit

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a Bill which will allow the Scottish Government to ensure the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can continue beyond this year.

It also means Ministers will retain the ability to make improvements to the scheme following Brexit.

Earlier this week, the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill passed Stage 3, following a debate in the Scottish Parliament.

And it will also improve the legal basis for collecting information about the agri-food supply chain and activities relating to agriculture.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Brexit continues to create ongoing uncertainty, coupled with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

“It emphasises how important it is to give farmers in the north-east financial stability in the next few years.

“This Bill will help to ensure CAP schemes can operate from 2021 – including the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme, Knowledge Transfer and Innovation and Small Farmers Grant Scheme.

“We will continue to press the UK Government to ensure they keep their commitment in which they promised the Scottish rural economy that EU funding would be replaced.”

25 August 2020

Stevenson Thanks Mystery Donor for Six-Figure Cash Donation to College

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has thanked an anonymous donor- after it was revealed the mystery person gave a six-figure sum to a further education hub.

The contribution will go towards the development of an innovation area within the Fraserburgh campus of NESCOL (North-East Scotland College).

Mr Stevenson has submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament to praise the donation from the mystery donor.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I am really pleased this very generous sum of money has been gifted to NECOL’s Fraserburgh campus.

“This contribution will go towards the innovation area at the college. This generous donor will have helped to further enhance the learning of students and I would like to say thank you on behalf of my constituency.”

21 August 2020

MSP Attends Parliament from Unexpected Location

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson surprised fellow committee members in the Scottish Parliament after appearing during the meeting from a north-east car dealership.
Mr Stevenson’s own internet at his home had been hit earlier this month by storms which had battered much of Scotland.

Fearing he would be unable to attend the most recent COVID-19 committee meeting due to his connection issues, a local car dealership came to his rescue.

Ewen’s of Cornhill – which sells new and used Hondas – offered to provide space for the MSP to be able to connect virtually to his meeting.

The appearance in the car dealership sparked a number of comments online from journalists and constituents entertained by the change in location.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Unfortunately the bad weather last week caused damage to the internet connection in our home.

“Living in quite a rural part of my constituency meant it’s not quite fixed and I would have had to miss my most recent COVID-19 meeting.

“Luckily Ewen’s of Cornhill were able to step in and help, offering me a spot at their dealership.

“I am incredibly grateful for their help particularly as the COVID-19 committee is of such great importance as we make our way through this pandemic.

“I would like to thank them for their help and I’m pleased to have been able to offer a light-hearted moment in what has been a very challenging time for Scotland.”

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