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Karen Adam is now the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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24 March 2021

Stevenson Welcomes Digital Packs for North-East Schools

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a digital donation to help support secondary school pupils in the north-east.

It comes after supermarket Asda announced it was working with Dell Technologies to donate 7,000 laptops to partner schools across the UK to help tackle digital exclusion.

Fraserburgh North School and Peterhead Academy will both receive 10 laptop bundles each.

Each tech bundle includes a headset and dongle and laptops will include a one-year warranty and technical support.

According to Ofcom, around 9% of children in the UK - between 1.1million and 1.8million - do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome this funding from Asda to help support schools in the north-east which will help to close the gap in digital poverty.

“The coronavirus pandemic has emphasised the very real challenges and disparity across society in access to digital technologies. This support will go a long way to help pupils in their learning both in school and at home.”

Stevenson Welcomes Update on Place of Worship

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a Scottish Government announcement on attending places of worship.

From Friday 26 March people living in all parts of Scotland will be able to attend places of worship in gatherings of up to 50 where there is space for physical distancing.

And the updated guidance will also allow people to travel between Level 4 areas to attend their usual place of worship.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome the return of collective worship which I know is of great importance to many constituents. This is a positive change I know it will be especially welcome as we head towards religious festivals over the next few weeks.

“This has been an incredibly tough year for so many people and I am thankful to everyone in my constituency and across the north-east who have shown solidarity, compassion and love to one another by sticking to incredibly tough rules and restrictions.

“To lift restrictions in the future, we still need to suppress the virus just now, so please stay within the rules in the coming weeks – stay at home for now, unless for an allowed reason; do not meet people from other households indoors; and follow the FACTS advice when you are out and about.”

23 March 2021

MSPs Welcome Funding for Green Jobs

North-east MSPs has welcomed funding to help support Scotland’s economic recovery and stimulate the creation of new green jobs following the coronavirus pandemic.

The £4million Green Jobs Call from Scottish Enterprise is part of a three-year £27million package of green funding and applications will go live in May.

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

Grants of between £50,000 to £500,000 will be awarded on a competitive basis.

Supported through the Scottish Government’s Green Jobs Fund, the funding call is part of Scottish Enterprise’s wider commitment to supporting Scotland’s net zero transition that delivers benefits for our environment, people and economic prosperity.

The call aims to support business to create jobs that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources and jobs that help drive more environmentally friendly processes in Scottish businesses.
Picture taken pre-COVID and social distancing
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said:

“As we continue to tackle to Covid-19 crisis and support the economy both here in the north-east and across Scotland, it is also crucial we lay the foundations for a green recovery and I welcome the work of Scottish Enterprise in helping to support this.

“This first call for the new green jobs fund is a really positive step and will help us to rebuild a fairer, stronger and greener country.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I would urge businesses to apply for this funding which will help support companies as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Scotland’s net-zero ambitions are impressive and funding opportunities such as this from Scottish Enterprise help us to work solidly towards this.”

17 March 2021

Stevenson Welcomes UN Rights of the Child Bill Becoming Law

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed Scotland becoming the first country in the UK to put the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into law.

It comes after MSPs vote unanimously to pass the Bill at Stage Three and the Bill will now commence six months from Royal Assent.

The move means public authorities will have to comply with children’s rights and Scotland is one of only a small number of nations who have directly incorporate the UNCRC into domestic law.

It sets out the specific rights that all children have to help fulfil their potential, including rights relating to health and education, leisure and play, fair and equal treatment, protection from exploitation and the right to be heard.

The Bill makes it unlawful for public authorities and anyone undertaking functions or providing services to children with public money to act incompatibly with the incorporated UNCRC requirements

It also gives power to the Children’s Commissioner to take legal action in relation to children’s rights and requires Ministers to produce a Children’s Rights Scheme setting out how they comply with children’s rights and to report annually.

A £2.1 million programme over three years will help public authorities implement the legislation.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is a landmark Bill which is the most significant piece of legislation since devolution, delivering a revolution in children’s rights. That is a major cause for celebration.

“The Bill will deliver the highest protection possible for children’s rights across the north-east and Scotland and within the powers of this Parliament.

“It will ensure that a rights-respecting approach is at the heart of our recovery from the pandemic.

“Parliament passing this Bill means that Scotland stands amongst a small number of nations like Norway, Belgium and Finland, and I am proud the Scottish Parliament’s work will encourage other countries to follow suit.

“But it does not represent the end of the journey in making children’s rights real. It is now incumbent upon us all to ensure the Bill’s ambitions are translated into real-life improvements which transform the lives and life chances of our children and young people.”

Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland Bruce Adamson said: “Scotland has shown real human rights leadership in incorporating the UNCRC into Scots law. It is the most important thing we can do to protect and uphold the rights of children and young people.

“Exactly 18 years ago, the Scottish Parliament showed its commitment to children’s rights by creating the office of the Children’s Commissioner and today it has reinforced that commitment by passing the Scottish Government’s world-leading children’s human rights legislation. This will improve life for all children but children whose rights are most at risk will feel the biggest impact."

12 March 2021

Stevenson Welcomes Funding for Ports and Harbours

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed funding from the Scottish Government for the fishing industry.

The move has been made to support up to 20 ports and harbours that have lost income from landing fees due to the disruption caused by Brexit.

They will receive share of a £1.8million fund including more than half a million pounds for repair works at Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Macduff.

The funding was announced by Fisheries Secretary Fergus Ewing ahead of the third meeting of the Scottish Seafood Exports Taskforce where he called on the UK Government to improve collaboration on border and customs process for the EU.

Limited, complex guidance and the requirement to use multiple systems for catch and export certification and customs controls is leading to a number of EU vessels choosing to land into other countries like Norway, Denmark and Ireland.

EU flagged vessels account for around 7% of all landings by value into Scottish ports in 2019 and were worth £35.5 million, however there is more of a reliance on them in smaller communities like Ullapool where around 13% of landings by value were estimated to be from EU vessels.

Funding has been allocated to Fraserburgh for numerous repairs, to Peterhead for various improvements ranging from collection and disposal of waste from fishing fleet to quay cleaning and to Macduff Aberdeenshire for additional improvements.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This is necessary investment to help mitigate against the very real impact of Brexit for the fishing communities across the north-east of Scotland.

“Many of which are losing key landing fees from vessels and as a result essential investment they need for business.

“I am grateful for the Scottish Government’s commitment to step in to help with this financial support.

“It is obvious there needs to be clearer guidance too for EU vessels and their agents so they can have confidence and continue to land in our ports and I support the Fisheries Secretary’s efforts to encourage this.”

9 March 2021

Stevenson Delivers Final Address to Scottish Parliament

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has made his final speech to the Scottish Parliament after a career spanning two decades.

Mr Stevenson, who previously worked in Information Technology for the Bank of Scotland for 30 years before pursuing a career in politics, has been a campaigner for independence and a member of the SNP since 1961.

After standing as a candidate he became the constituency MSP for the Banff and Buchan from 2001 till 2011.

Following boundary changes he has been the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast since 2011.

Mr Stevenson has also held Ministerial roles during his time in the Scottish Parliament including as the Minister for Environment and Climate Change and as Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change.

He announced his plans to retire last year and will now continue with a number of personal projects as well as the newly-elected National Secretary for the SNP following his election in October 2020.

In his final speech to the Scottish Parliament Mr Stevenson spoke in the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Debate on the Scottish Government’s Climate Change plan.

Mr Stevenson paid tribute to a number of colleagues including former Scottish Conservatives MSPs Alex Fergusson and Alex Johnstone who “departed before their time”.

In his final speech – which was his 853rd since becoming an MSP – Mr Stevenson said he would continue to remain passionate about climate change and called for work to ensure a transition from oil and gas which would ensure an equal jobs market.

He also called for support for other countries across the globe who would be impacted by the western world’s use of fossil fuels and its global impact on climate change.

And Mr Stevenson, who has been a keen genealogist for six decades, revealed he and Scottish Government Minister Jenny Gilruth are distantly related after making the discovery during research.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve as the MSP for Banff and Buchan and latterly Banffshire and Buchan Coast.

“My time in the Scottish Parliament has never had a dull moment and I have been honoured to represent the Scottish Government as both the Minister for Environment and Climate Change and the Minister for Transport.

“I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues past and present - both those who have gone on to other things and those who are sadly no longer with us.

“The role of an MSP is to challenge and change and represent the people of your constituency with determination to improve their lives for the better.

“We should encourage more people from all walks of life to pursue a role in politics including the continued encouragement of women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities so that the Parliament is one which represents us all.

“I know I leave the Scottish Parliament in good hands in the pursuit of a fairer, more equal society for all and one that we can be proud to leave for the future generations to come.

“To the people of Banffshire and Buchan Coast who have made this job what it is I would like to say thank you and farewell for now.”

Stevenson Welcomes Review into COVID-19 Impact on Deposit Return Scheme

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed plans for an independent gateway review to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the roll-out of Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

The DRS had been expected to launch in July next year and will make it easier for everyone to recycle their used bottles and cans.

People pay a small deposit of 20p when they buy a drink in a single-use container and then get the deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can.

Mr Stevenson had called on the Scottish Government to ask what progress there has been in implementing it deposit return scheme.

Minister for Rural Affairs and the Environment Ben Macpherson said the Scottish Government was aware of the “unique and significant pressures that COVID-19 and EU Exit have placed on industry over the past year.”

He said this included the businesses which would be responsible for implementing the scheme.

Mr Macpherson said:

“Despite this, industry has made good progress towards implementing the scheme, including the recent establishment of Circularity Scotland Ltd as a not-for-profit industry body seeking to operate as a DRS scheme administrator. This is a significant step forward, which demonstrates the industry’s collective commitment to move ahead with the scheme.

“At the time that the DRS Regulations were passed, the Scottish Government committed to closely monitor the impact of the pandemic on implementation of DRS. Given the significant disruption caused to relevant sectors over the past year, we have decided to commission an independent gateway review to assess the impact of the pandemic on the go-live date for the scheme.”
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s review to assess the impact of the pandemic on the deposit return scheme.

“Despite Covid-19 and the impact it is had on all aspects of life, it is clear the government is determined to meet its target for the launch of the scheme next year.

“It is important we continue to look at ways we can reduce litter, protect our environment and tackle throwaway culture.”

5 March 2021

Stevenson Congratulates North-East Business for Vaccination Support

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has congratulated a north-east business for its actions to support local people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Regency Car Sales in Buckie has made more than 50 cars available to help assist people from the area getting to the Fiona Elcock Vaccination Centre in Elgin to be vaccinated.

Mr Stevenson has commended the support in a motion to the Scottish Parliament.

The generous move has meant many people eligible for their vaccine have been able to get to their appointments reducing the stress of those who are required to travel farther distances.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Regency Car Sales has shown the kind of incredible community spirit and generosity which is exemplary of care which has been shown across the north-east during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Many people eligible for the vaccine could have trouble travelling to their nearest vaccination centre without access to transport which can be particularly difficult for those living in rural areas.

“This has allowed many people to not have the additional stress or worry about getting to their appointment.

“I would like to say a very big thank you to Regency Car Sales for hard work.”

4 March 2021

Stevenson Welcomes Suspension of Scotch Whisky Tarriff

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a suspension on tariffs on Scotch whisky and other goods by the new US administration.

The move – which will last for four months – comes after repeated calls for the UK Government to put pressure on the US to seek a new long-term agreement.

Former US President Donald Trump had imposed a 25 percent tariff in October 2019 on imports of single malt Scotch whisky.

It is understood the UK and US governments will seek to reach an agreement during the four-month suspension period.

Earlier this year it was revealed 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:

“This is very welcome news for the sector which employs more than 11,000 people including 7,000 people in rural areas.

“The financial loss that our whisky exports have faced is eye-watering and simply not sustainable and I am glad there will be time now to look at this in more detail.

“Real damage has been caused by this 16-month long tariff on Scotch whisky causing a detrimental impact on the industry.

“I hope this announcement today will bring some relief and I hope moving forward there will be a resolution that is reasonable and fair.”

2 March 2021

Stevenson Welcomes New Heating Payment to Help People with Bills

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed a new home heating support fund launched to help people struggling with their energy bills as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The £4million Scottish Government scheme – which will be administered by national advice service Advice Direct Scotland – is designed to prevent households falling into fuel poverty.

The Home Heating Support Fund is open until March 31 and applications can only be made on behalf of individuals by referral partners.

This includes local authorities and third sector organisations, with payments then made directly to energy suppliers on behalf of their customers.

Eligibility is based on households which have been faced with rationing their energy usage, meaning those who are deliberately limiting their energy use so that they can afford to spend money on other goods or services.

In 2019, an estimated 24.6 percent of all households were in fuel poverty - around 613,000 households – and the pandemic has increased financial hardship for many.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome this funding which will help families who have had additional financial costs due to the increased bills from being at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This fund will help to assist in helping support households from the impact of fuel poverty which is a reality for many families just now.

“It is important the Scottish Government is able to support people by tackling inequality and ensuring people are not left making choices between different household costs.”

Commenting, Chief Executive of Advice Direct Scotland Andrew Bartlett said:

“No household should suffer in fuel poverty or have to ration fuel to get by.

“The Covid pandemic has increased financial hardship and many Scots have been left struggling as a result of increased energy costs while working from home or home-schooling.

“We are working hard to administer this new fund from the Scottish Government to ensure that fewer Scots are struggling with their energy bills.

“As well as working closely with partner organisations, our own expert debt advisers can also directly help individuals who have financial worries.”

More information on the Home Heating Support Fund is available here: https://homeheatingadvice.scot/

Stevenson Backs Scot Gov Calls on Green Ports

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has backed a call by the Scottish Government to ensure green ports have access to the same level of set-up of funding as freeports in England.

Trade Minister Ivan McKee has written to the UK Government calling for two green ports to be focused on fair and sustainable economic development to be established in Scotland.

The green port model will adapt the UK government’s freeport proposals, offering a package of tax and customs reliefs.

Earlier this year, proposals were put forward by the Scottish Government to establish green ports which would be more sustainable and require operators and businesses to pay the real living wage, adopt the Scottish Business Pledge and commit to supporting sustainable and inclusive growth in local communities.

Operators and beneficiaries will be required to commit to adopting Fair Work First criteria and contribute to Scotland’s just transition to net zero.
Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s call to the UK Government regarding green ports having access to the same level of seed funding which is being offered to freeports in England.

“It is clear there is support from businesses for green ports and it is important the UK Government supports the development of these ports right across the country and I look forward to the UK Government’s response on this issue.

“The Scottish Government’s proposals to take the freeport model and apply this country’s priorities from a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is one I wholeheartedly support.

“By diverging from the wider UK proposals, we can use a different freeport model to meet out net zero ambition and a wellbeing economy which upholds the highest standards of environmental protections and fair work practices.”

Stewart Stevenson
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