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Karen Adam is now the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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25 February 2021

Stevenson Backs Calls for Clear Timetable on Alcohol Duty

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has backed calls for a clear timetable to be set out on alcohol duty.

The issue has been raised repeatedly with the UK Government following a devastating financial year for the industry – due to high US tariffs as a result of Brexit.

It comes after the issue was raised again to the UK government in Westminster by Mr Stevenson’s colleague Brendan O’Hara MP, chair of Westminster’s APPG on Scotch whisky.

The UK’s Scotch whisky export has been reduced by a staggering 22.6% in 2020 – with losses exceeding £500million.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The whisky industry employs 11,000 people in Scotland - with over 7,000 of those from rural areas. This clearly highlights the importance of the industry to Scotland.

“The financial loss that our whisky exports has faced is eye-watering and simply not sustainable. It is of vital importance that the UK government take action immediately.

“Sadly, this is just the latest in a long line of issues that has been created as a result of Brexit. The Tories dragged Scotland out of a major trading bloc - against our will - making our position weaker. It would seem the UK government is wilfully ignoring the fact that industries like the Scottish whisky industry are on their knees.

“Boris Johnson assured us that he would find a solution to this crisis – his government even claimed that it was their ‘top priority’. By failing to act, they have reaffirmed their position that Scotland and its industries aren’t a priority.

“If the Tories are serious about protecting our whisky industry, they must deliver a clear timetable of completion of the review on alcohol duty.”

24 February 2021

North-East MSPs Urge Food and Drink Sector to Apply for Funding

North-East MSPs are urging food and drink projects to apply for a new Scottish Government fund launched to celebrate locally sourced produce food and drink.

It comes after the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership was launched to help the sector with its recovery from COVID as well as to prepare for Brexit.

It is supported by £5million from Scottish Government and in the following year an additional £50 million will be provided.

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

Grants of up to £5000 are available to applicants and the deadline to apply is the March 15th.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“Our world-class food and drink sector has faced an extremely challenging year, so this funding - which will contribute to its recovery from Covid-19 - comes at an important time.

“Between Brexit and COVID-19, there are very few food and drink businesses which haven’t been seriously affected - but it’s vital our food and drink industry keeps growing and bringing benefits to Scotland and the north-east.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This money will play an important role in promoting food and drink in local communities and delivering benefits to Scotland’s local food and drink sector over the long-term.

“I’d encourage all eligible groups and businesses in Aberdeenshire to apply before the deadline on 15th March.”

23 February 2021

Stevenson Backs Social Security Survey

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the findings of a new survey which show that more than four in five clients feel Scotland’s social security agency treats them with dignity, fairness and respect.

More than 3,000 people took part in Social Security Scotland’s client survey – with 90% of people rating their overall experience as ‘very good’ or ‘good’.

Some of the feedback included clients describing their experience as “compassionate”, “1st class” and an “accessible and professional service.”
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“The results of this survey clearly show those using the service provided by Social Security Scotland feel respected and that they are being treated with compassion.

“The system has been built on the lived-experience of those who need it following engagement with communities.

“We have already seen the impact of game-changing policies to tackle poverty and support some of the most vulnerable families, including the Scottish Child Payment, the Best Start Grant and the Job Start Payment.

“This is in stark contrast to Tory welfare cuts which are driving more and more people into poverty with a system based on a punitive, mean-spirited and often callous approach.”

11 February 2021

Bombshell Evidence as Fishing Chiefs Slam Tory Brexit Deal

Tory Brexit Deal "Falls Very Far Short"
of UK Government Commitment

Scottish fishing chiefs have slammed the Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson, describing it as an “extremely disappointing” deal which “falls far short of what the UK government had committed” to the industry.

Giving evidence to Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, Elspeth Macdonald, Chief Executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said Boris Johnson’s claims on a visit to Scotland in January that there would be a 25% increase in overall quota was “misleading” and “for some of these species, we will have less fishing opportunity than we had previously” and will “leave us worse off.”

Asked whether the fishing industry feels “betrayed” by the UK government, she said “we feel very badly let down. We feel that the government made repeated commitments and promises to the industry, and these were not met."

Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Seafood Association, Jimmy Buchan warned that "we've ended up with the worst of the worst of the worst" and said the UK government's compensation scheme doesn't go far enough.
Stewart Stevenson MSP at Peterhead Fish Market in Better Times
Stewart Stevenson MSP, a member of the committee, said:

“This was a significant intervention from fishing chiefs, who have every right to be livid about the broken promises, utter incompetence and outright lies coming from the very heart of Boris Johnson's government.

"Since the EU referendum, the Tories have made exaggerated promises that they knew they couldn’t keep, and shown complete contempt towards our vital fishing industry.

“It's clear that the Tory Brexiteers never had any intention of keeping their word to fishermen - they've betrayed a vital part of our economy, and an industry which is crucial to the livelihoods of communities and families across the country.

“For over 40 years, Westminster has treated Scotland’s fishing industry as an irrelevance and a pawn to be traded away, and that doesn’t look likely to change any time soon.

“The Tories simply can’t be trusted when it comes to standing up for our interests. The only way to escape the Tory Brexit disaster, protect Scotland's interests is to become an independent country."

SNP Council Tax Freeze Offers Financial relief for Local Householders

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has said the SNP Government’s Council Tax freeze will provide financial relief to thousands of local households during tough times.

Last month, Scotland’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP announced a £90 million fund to compensate local authorities who choose to scrap planned rises in Council Tax.

Mr Stevenson has welcomed today’s decision by Aberdeenshire councillors not to raise the Council Tax level this year.

Under the draft budget plans, a majority of taxpayers will also continue to pay less income tax than they would in the rest of the UK.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“We all know the financial impact that this global pandemic has had locally.

“So it’s great news that this SNP Government has sought to provide relief to households by supporting local authorities to freeze the Council Tax for the coming year.

“In these tough times, the SNP Government has proven that where Scotland has the powers, we will take a different approach to give people in Scotland the fairest deal in the UK.”

10 February 2021

Stevenson Welcomes Council Commitment to Replace Bridge of Fortrie

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed confirmation he has received from Aberdeenshire Council that it intends to replace the Bridge of Fortrie.

The structure is one of the six bridges in the King Edward area damaged by flooding in late September 2019. Bridge of Fortrie carries the C9S Road from Mains of Fisherie westward to join the A947 at Keilhill.

Bridge of Fortrie has been prioritised for replacement as it has been assessed that it makes the most effective contribution to re-establishing connectivity within the local community.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This confirmation is good news indeed and will be welcomed by local residents in the area.

“Subject to any further restrictions owing to the current pandemic, I understand from council officials that it is envisaged construction of the new crossing will be completed by the end of this summer.

“The replacement will cost around £100,000 and I look forward to further progress being made with work towards replacing the other bridges which were lost in 2019.”

2 February 2021

Stevenson Hits Out at UK Gov Over Whisky Tariff Cost

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has hit out at the UK Government for its “failure to act” on Scotch whisky tariffs imposed by the US.

The US introduced crippling tariffs on the sector more than a year ago, costing the industry £176million in the first part of 2020, according to figures previously release by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe).

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has now estimated that losses from exports have reached £500million.

In December it was reported that UK Government Tory ministers were planning to extend an olive branch to the new Biden administration in Washington in an attempt to have the tariffs lifted.

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

“The losses to Scotch Whisky exports are eye-watering and are simply unsustainable for this vitally important industry.

"For more than a year the Tories assured us that finding a solution to this crisis was their top priority.

“Their strategy of pandering to the disgraced Trump administration, however, entirely failed to deliver any resolution to this deeply damaging dispute, proving that Tories promises to Scotch Whisky industry ring just as hollow

as the promises they made to Scotland’s fishing and agriculture sectors.

“Scotch whisky plays a crucial role in the success of our global food and drinks sector and our economy but has been dealt a triple whammy with the economic impacts of the tariffs, Brexit and the pandemic.

“If the Tory government is serious about protecting our vital industries then it will take every step it can to oppose and end these punitive US-imposed tariffs."

Stevenson Welcomes Funding to Help Tourism Sector

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a significant cash-boost to help support Moray’s tourism sector.

The project, by destination management organisation Visit Moray and Speyside (VMS), will deliver a series of initiatives aimed at inspiring, enabling and delivering destination recovery.

Now VMS has secured £350,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to encourage collaboration among businesses, communities, public and third sector partners.

The funding will create two new full-time equivalent jobs in VMS and the group will provide support, advice and signposting to communities looking to improve conditions for visitors.

VMS said it will also use the funding to help tourism businesses to make sure they have the skills and knowledge to rebuild their operations, access new markets and embed resilience in their approach.

There will be specific engagement with food and drink producers to work with operators in showcasing Moray’s natural larder to a worldwide audience.

The HIE funding is from £3m approved by the agency in September 2020 to support strategically important tourism destination management organisations (DMOs) over the next three years, as part of wider support for the tourism sector’s recovery.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This funding is very welcome to help support the vital work of VMS.

“Tourism is central to the economy across my constituency and has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

1 February 2021

Stevenson Welcomes Awareness on Changes to Organ and Tissue Donation

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has backed a campaign launching this month to make households aware of changes to the law around organ and tissue donation in Scotland.

The move means that from March 26th the law around organ and tissue donation will change to an opt out system.

This means that most adults who die in circumstances where they are able to donate will be considered as having agreed to be a donor unless they record a decision not to – what’s known as ‘opt out’.

People will still have a choice. If you don’t want to be a donor you can choose to opt out on the NHS Organ Donor Register at any time, before or after the law changes.

If you support donation, you can still choose to actively record your decision to be a donor on the NHS Organ Donor Register. You can also choose which organs or tissue you would want to donate on the register.

The leaflet contains detailed information about law change and it clearly explains the choices people have. Everyone aged 16 or over in the household should read it in order to understand why it’s important to make their donation decision, record it and share it with family and friends.

The new law will add to the package of measures already in place which have led to significant increases in donation and transplantation over the last decade.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome this campaign to highlight, once again, the changes which will take place regarding organ and tissue donation.

“It is important everyone is aware of how the law is changing to help save and improve more of the lives of those on the waiting list.

“Only 1% of people die in circumstances where they might become an organ donor. This means every opportunity for donation is very precious.

“We want everyone in the north-east to understand what this change means for them and to have the right information so that they can make their choice and I would urge all members of the household aged 16 or over to take the time to read the leaflet.

“Donation remains a personal decision and we’re encouraging people to make the choice that’s right for them – whether that’s to be a donor or not.”

Stewart Stevenson
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