Karen Adam is now the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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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."

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