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.”

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