Apr 012017
 

Cllr Fiona McRae and Cllr Anne Allan at the new Peterhead Travelodge in Chapel Street.

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

Local councillors Fiona McRae and Anne Allan have hailed the opening of the new Travelodge in Peterhead as a tremendous boost for the Town Centre.
The new hotel in Chapel Street officially opens on Tuesday at a ceremony to be attended by Aberdeenshire Provost Hamish Vernal, amongst others. 

The development has transformed a semi-derelict part of the Town Centre and has saved the eastern façade of the street from demolition.

Commenting, Cllr Fiona McRae said:

“The former flats in Chapel Street have been a long-running issue and it’s great to see this development come to fruition with a new business coming to Peterhead and redeveloping the site.

“This is a huge boost for the regeneration of Peterhead Town Centre, brings life back to what was previously a very run-down building, and also brings another quality brand to Peterhead.”

Cllr Anne Allan added:

“While I’m delighted that Aberdeenshire Council has over £1.5Million allocated to assist with regeneration in Peterhead, private investment is a huge part of the process and this is an excellent example of that. 

There’s a lot going on currently in terms of investment in Peterhead. Work will begin shortly to upgrade the area at the Clerkhill shops; we’re seeing plans for a new academy move forward; Peterhead Port Authority are continuing their expansion, assisted by Scottish Government funding; and we’re seeing new businesses such as Travelodge moving into the Town Centre.  It’s all very encouraging and I’m keen to see more done, but this is a good start.”

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Mar 242017
 

Stewart Stevenson, has contacted ALDI to voice local residents’ concerns re. new store.

With thanks to Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP.

Concerns from local residents over the apparent lack of any visible progress in developing the former Kirkburn Mills site in Peterhead have prompted local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson to contact ALDI Stores.

ALDI secured planning permission to build a store on the site but, to date, this prominent piece of land on the approach to Peterhead Town Centre remains undeveloped.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I am pleased that ALDI have confirmed once again their commitment to Peterhead and it does appear that work is going on in the background in order to get to a position where construction on the site can start.

“This site on the main approach to Peterhead Town Centre has lain vacant for too long and has been a source of vandalism around the perimeter hoardings.  ALDI recognise that the local community is keen to see this move forward and I trust we can see some evidence of this on the ground before too long.”

In his letter to Mr Stevenson, ALDI Managing Director Richard Holloway said:

“Having recently received planning consent, we are now undertaking a series of complex tests to fully assess the works required to build a store on the site. We are of course working to start construction as soon as possible and understand from previous engagement that the community are eager to see the store opened.”

Peterhead North & Rattray SNP councillor Anne Allan added:

“I’m grateful to Stewart Stevenson for keeping the pressure on ALDI. With the council having granted planning consent, I think everyone in the town is keen to see progress made and the site developed in the very near future.”

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Mar 102017
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Aberdeen Asset Management apprentices organised a fundraising sleep out which helped raise over £14,000 for charity.

A group of Aberdeen Asset Management apprentices who have made their mark on their workplace – and also in their community by raising over £14,000 for charity – are meeting their local MSP during Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart’s visit to Aberdeen Asset Management comes as the firm is looking to recruit its next batch of talented young recruits for offices in Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

Aberdeen is inviting applications from would-be apprenticeships in Aberdeen and Edinburgh between now and April 2.

Applicants meeting the criteria will be invited to attend a recruitment open day and selected candidates will be asked to complete two weeks’ work experience during July 2017. The final interview for the apprenticeship programme will take place during work experience with apprenticeships commencing in September.

MSP Mr Stewart will meet a group that includes the five strong team of apprentices who organised a series of events, including a sponsored sleep-out when they were joined by colleagues in sleeping outdoors in Aberdeen on a winter’s night, helping them raise an impressive £14,000 plus for Aberdeen Cyrenians.

Apprentice Rachel Adam will be among those meeting with the MSP and said:

“We’re looking forward to sharing the benefits we have found from directly entering the workplace rather than choosing higher education.

“We are receiving on-the-job training and are gaining relevant qualifications and we work well as a team. We’re  developing our networks and building up great connections with colleagues and we were delighted to exceed expectations in the fundraising challenge set by our employers by raising over £10,000 for Aberdeen Cyrenians, thanks to the support of our colleagues.”

Aberdeen Asset Management has introduced its own apprenticeship scheme for school leavers in recent years. The programme runs for 12-24 months and is designed to help apprentices learn about the organisation, meet the people involved and help them decide which area of the business to begin their career in. Appprentices are challenged to work together for community projects.

Lynn Brown from Aberdeen Asset Management’s learning and development team said:

“Scottish Apprenticeship Week celebrates the benefits apprenticeships bring to individuals, businesses and communities, as well as their contribution to the Scottish economy and we have first hand experience of that here at Aberdeen Asset Management.

“As a business we understand that recruiting, developing and retaining the best people is fundamental to our ability to perform and through our apprenticeship and other entry level programmes we look to identify talented individuals at the start of their career.

“Our apprenticeship programme comprises of six rotations over two years in different departments across the business giving our apprentices a well-rounded view of the asset management industry and its related functions. Apprentices will complete rotations in teams within our Operations and Technology, Finance, Distribution, Corporate, and Risk divisions.”

More information on apprenticeship opportunities at Aberdeen Asset Management are available by contacting entrylevel.recruitment@aberdeen-asset.com

 

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Mar 022017
 

Stewart Stevenson MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast has pledged to work with the Arrhythmia Alliance and its sister organisation, AF Association, to demand the creation of a national screening programme for people over 65 at risk of AF. Currently, one in three of all people with AF have not even been diagnosed and are at an increased risk of suffering an AF-related stroke.

Stewart Stevenson at the Arrhythmia Alliance event in the Scottish Parliament.

At a Know Your Pulse event held in Holyrood hosted by the Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association, Stewart Stevenson MSP supported our call upon the Scottish Parliament to debate the need for an AF screening programme for people over 65 in Scotland.
This event raised awareness of the importance of a simple manual pulse check in helping to detect AF, Parliamentarians who attended had a pulse check and an ECG hand-held recording.

Trudie Lobban MBE, Founder & CEO, Arrhythmia Alliance, who hosted the event, said:

“Manual pulse rhythm checks are a simple, cost-effective way to identify people with irregular heart rhythms, such as AF, which is why we are calling for a debate in the Scottish parliament on the value of screening for AF.

“A manual pulse check, is so simple to do, takes less than a minute and does not cost the NHS – but the benefits in preventing AF-related strokes and unnecessary deaths are enormous. Everyone needs to be aware of their pulse and how to manually check for an irregular rhythm.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP added:

“I was shocked to hear about the numbers of people walking around today completely unaware that they have AF and who could be at risk of a debilitating or life-threatening AF-related stroke.

“I fully endorse the work of the Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association and their call for a national debate on AF screening in Scotland. The pulse check I had taken showed just how simple and easy it is to identify someone who may have AF.”

AF is the most common heart rhythm abnormality, and is associated with a third of ischaemic strokes, which are typically more severe and debilitating for the patient. Data from stroke registries show that both unknown and untreated or under treated AF is responsible for most of these strokes.

The tragedy is that most could be prevented if efforts were directed towards detection of AF before stroke occurs, through screening or case finding, and the provision of oral anticoagulant medications to prevent clots being formed in the heart, dislodging to be carried to an artery of the brain, blocking the circulation and causing an AF-related stroke.

For more information about the Arrhythmia Alliance and AF Association, please go to: www.heartrhythmalliance.org

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Feb 242017
 

With thanks to Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP.

Tory councillors in the North-east of Scotland have rejected plans to offer businesses rates relief for the second time in under a week – after the Tory-led Moray administration recently threw out an SNP amendment encouraging the Moray Council to follow Aberdeenshire’s lead in offering local business rates relief.

SNP councillors in Aberdeenshire last week passed a budget allocating £3 million for a local business rates relief scheme, to help those that have seen larger rates revaluations and are feeling the effects of the downturn in the north east economy.

SNP councillors in Moray had tabled an amendment to the Tory-led budget in Moray suggesting a similar scheme, but this was rejected by Tory councillors, including part-time-MSP-come-referee-come-councillor Douglas Ross.

On the same day as Ruth Davidson has reportedly stated that businesses are “staring down the barrel of a gun” due to changes to business rates, the actions of Tory councillors clearly demonstrated they are more interested in opportunistic soundbites rather than providing firms with meaningful support when they have the powers to do so.

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

“This is quite astonishing from the Tory-led administration in Moray. They have not stopped criticising the Scottish Government for the changes to business rates, yet they refuse to use the powers that they have at a local level to provide firms with meaningful support.

“It is clear that Ruth Davidson’s Tories are only interested in scoring political points rather than actually providing any support to the businesses they have claimed to support in recent weeks.

“Voters across Moray and Aberdeenshire aren’t daft, and they’ll have seen Douglas Ross and others leading the chorus against changes to businesses rates, before he voted today to prevent businesses from receiving substantial support. Their opposition has been proven to be nothing more than crocodile tears.

“The Tories ought to be ashamed of themselves – and their actions won’t be forgotten by voters in Aberdeenshire, Moray and beyond when they go to the polls in May.”

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Feb 202017
 

With thanks to Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP.

Aberdeenshire Council has refuted claims made by Tory MSP Peter Chapman that a new mental health service is excluding people, insisting that the new service will be equitable across Aberdeenshire and provides a more person centred service.

Following the awarding of the contract for a new ‘Mental Health – Pathways to Recovery’ service last year, Aberdeenshire Council has been working with provider SAMH as they roll out the new service across Aberdeenshire.

It was commissioned to provide a community-based mental health service and to promote the achievement of a mentally well and inclusive Aberdeenshire in which people who experience mental illness are enabled to recover and achieve their personal outcomes.

It provides more equitable services across north, central and south Aberdeenshire; to target service provision more appropriately to individual risk and need; and to support people who experience mental illness and help them enjoy mainstream activities alongside other members of the community.

Co-Leader of Aberdeenshire Council Cllr Richard Thomson said:

“It is simply not true to say people have fallen through a chasm and been forgotten about as has been claimed. Everyone who has registered with the new service has been contacted by SAMH and we continue to urge anyone who requires support to register with SAMH.

“If for any reason they do not want to register with SAMH they can contact our Community Mental Health Teams who will support them.

“We of course acknowledge that some existing services users remain anxious about the change of provider and new model of delivery, but there are many advantages of the new services which will be more personalised, more recovery focused, better linked to employability, accessible seven days per week, and is available across Aberdeenshire as a whole.”

Cllr Anne Allan (pictured), Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee added:

“The new service is about helping people to recover and supporting them to achieve their outcomes. A buildings based service restricts the number of people who can access the service. If people cannot attend the building at the time it is open then they are excluded from the service.

“When developing our modified service specification we were made aware that many people especially in rural areas who wanted help were unable to access the previous service model. We now have a service which is accessible to all. I completely understand that people are nervous about change but I would urge them to speak to SAMH or Community Mental Health teams so we can support them on the road to their recovery.“

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Feb 102017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

In a ground-breaking move, Aberdeenshire Council today became the first local authority in Scotland to set a carbon budget alongside its revenue, housing and capital budgets. All four budgets for 2017/18 were set at the meeting of the full Aberdeenshire Council yesterday (9 February).

The idea of a Council carbon budget was put forward last year by Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors Martin Ford and Paul Johnston.

The aim of the budget is to promote the effective management and delivery of reductions in Aberdeenshire Council’s own carbon emissions – and so contribute to the wider efforts to prevent more serious man-made climate change.

Aberdeenshire’s first carbon budget, agreeing to limit total Council emissions to 74007 tonnes CO2e for 2017/18, was backed unanimously by councillors. The new total represents a five per cent cut in emissions relative to emissions in 2014/15 (the most recent year for which data were available when the budget was being calculated). 

Speaking in support of the carbon budget at today’s meeting, Green councillor Martin Ford said:

“This is a very important improvement to the Council’s governance. It will change the way the Council takes decisions.

“Despite very considerable effort, the Council has only been managing to cut the carbon emissions arising from its operations by about one per cent per year – nowhere near enough to meet its own or national targets. I have held the view for some time that this is partly down to the governance arrangements in place in the Council for taking decisions with climate change implications.

“The adoption of an annual carbon budget should make it impossible to ‘forget’ in future that, as well as its intended consequences, a decision may also, unintentionally, increase carbon emissions.

“There is overwhelming scientific evidence for man-made climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. It’s the most serious threat we face.

“Aberdeenshire Council must play its part in tackling the problem, and get better at reducing its own emissions.”

DIGG councillor Paul Johnston said:

“The carbon budget will allow the Council to achieve the necessary carbon emission reductions as efficiently as possible. We can use it as a tool to ensure the Council gets best value, the maximum carbon bang for our bucks.

“We should never lose sight of the fact that carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels is pollution.”

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Feb 072017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire Green councillor Martin Ford has welcomed the extra money for local government secured by the Green MSPs in return for supporting the Scottish Government’s budget.
Aberdeenshire Council is set to benefit from an additional £6.309 million revenue funding and an additional capital allocation of £1.88 million – beyond the settlement previously intimated by the Scottish Government.

Budget day this year for Aberdeenshire Council comes on Thursday (9 February) and the agenda for the budget meeting has just been published containing proposals for balancing the 2017/18 revenue budget on the assumption of acceptance of the Scottish Government’s previous position on local government funding. 

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“I am relieved and delighted that, at the eleventh hour, additional government funding has been secured for next year for Aberdeenshire Council.

“For Aberdeenshire Council, Green MSP colleagues have secured a huge improvement.

“Even with £6.3 million extra funding, it is still going to be a tough budget this year for Aberdeenshire Council. But clearly the Council will now be able to re-visit the budget proposals just published and, at the very least, take out some of the proposed cuts to services. This is excellent news. I am so pleased.

“As it stands, the proposed budget includes some staffing reductions in Education and Children’s Services which I certainly don’t want to see implemented. Converting some of the Council’s spending on roads maintenance from revenue to capital, as proposed, is a short term saving, but long term is more expensive. There are good arguments for dropping these measures from next year’s Aberdeenshire budget now the financial pressure on the Council has been eased.”

The proposed Aberdeenshire 2017/18 revenue budget, as published yesterday, does include elements put forward in the Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) draft budget proposals last November – including additional money for active travel, traffic calming and youth work.

DIGG councillor Paul Johnston said:

“We’re pleased some issues we identified as needing support have been taken on board by the administration, but, given the financial squeeze, the amount of extra money was inevitably going to be very limited. There is clearly now scope for a greater investment in these agreed priorities.

“The DIGG will also want to look at the potential for using some of the new money for measures not included at all in the published proposed 2017/18 revenue budget – such as support for businesses affected by the business rates revaluation.”

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Feb 022017
 

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson

With thanks to Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP.

Fish processors in the North East of Scotland would be disproportionately hammered by reckless Tory plans to slap a £1,000 levy on EU workers in the UK following a hard Brexit.

The seafood processing sector employs thousands of EU citizens,
with the workforce largely
concentrated at individual sites in the North East. 

Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill suggested that firms could be charged £1,000 each year for every EU worker they employ.

The anti-business plans have been labelled xenophobic by former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt who is one of the EU’s chief Brexit negotiators and even criticised by senior Tory Anna Soubry who blasted the proposals as a “tax on successful businesses”. 

Figures reveal that individual businesses could be stung particularly hard by the proposed tax. Buchan’s Macduff Shellfish, for example, has a workforce of around 500 people – with 79 per cent of them non-UK EU citizens. That would mean a £395,000 annual levy imposed by the Tory government on this single business.

Around 3,000 EU citizens work in the seafood processing sector alone – with thousands more in the wider food and drink industry. The misguided Tory attack on foreign workers would mean a multimillion pound bill imposed on businesses in the North East. 

Commenting, Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson (pictured) said:

“The Tories are moving further and further to the right at an alarming rate.

“Their plans to tax firms an excess based on the number of European workers they have on the books are discriminatory, deeply disturbing and potentially crippling in terms of business. 

“But sadly that comes with the territory of a hard Brexit, characterised by xenophobia and Tory politicians finally peeling back the mask to reveal a dangerous and divisive agenda. 

“In my constituency alone, firms could face charges up to half a million pounds just for having the ‘audacity’ to hire workers with the right set of skills who have chosen to make Scotland their home. Many firms would face the very real consequence of cutting jobs or even facing closure. 

“It’s incumbent upon Ruth Davidson to distance herself from these comments and to make the case to her bosses at Westminster that Scotland shouldn’t suffer as a result of a Tory hard Brexit led by the loony right-wingers in her own party. 

“Before and after the referendum last year she championed Scotland remaining in the single market. It’s time she proved she’s a politician of her word.” 

Further Info:

European and External Relations Committee – The EU referendum and its implications for Scotland – Written submission from Macduff Shellfish http://www.parliament.scot/S5_European/General%20Documents/CTEER_Macduff_Shellfish.pdf

–    “As well as being an important employer in and around Mintlaw (employing in excess of 350 people in the area, and a further 150 people across our other sites and fishing fleet)”
–    “Moreover, 79% of our employees originate from other European Member States. The European labour market is a vital resource to Macduff and our continued success will be dependent upon the future flow of European workers.”

BBC News – Minister hints at £1,000 fee for EU workers: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38581873

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Jan 272017
 

SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson.

With thanks to Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP.

The UK Government spent around £100 million on a competition for developing ground-breaking carbon capture and storage technology before scrapping the plans, a report from the National Audit Office has revealed.
The scheme would have seen emissions from heavy industry stored permanently underground, with Peterhead widely expected to win the £1 billion contract, which would have brought 600 jobs to the area.

It was scrapped at the eleventh hour by former Chancellor George Osborne – betraying the party’s explicit manifesto promise on the technology. 

SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson, has said the latest revelations show how little the Tories care about investment in green energy technology and jobs in the North-east.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“These latest revelations from the National Audit Office are extraordinary, and show how that the Tory betrayal of the North East has not just cost jobs but has cost a fortune to deliver nothing.

“Just yesterday, the Scottish Government launched its climate action plan, setting ambitious targets to further reduce our carbon emissions and to tackle climate change. But today we are given yet another reminder that the Tories are happy to put the development of innovative, ground-breaking technologies to waste.

“CCS technology has great potential to play a leading role in tackling climate change, yet the Tories are complicit in stifling investment to develop this technology, as well as showing their complete lack of interest in developing and protecting jobs in the North-East of Scotland.”

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