David Stewart MSP

Archive for November 2007

MSP calls for Elgin bypass start date

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, is pressing Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson for Elgin to be included in the programme for improvements to the A96.

Mr Stewart, who is a member of the transport, infrastructure and climate change committee, recently met with the Moray Council Convenor, Vice Convenor, HIE Moray and representatives of the Elgin bypass steering group.

“They have all impressed on me the need for the various transport improvements in Moray and especially the need for the Elgin bypass,” said Mr Stewart.

Locals have campaigned for the bypass on accessibility, economic and safety grounds – children from the three primaries in the town have to cross the A96 to get to school.

“I am aware it won’t happen overnight but a huge step forward would be the inclusion of an Elgin bypass in the plans for the A96.

“I intend to press the case for its inclusion in a programme with the minister and will be contacting my fellow Highlands and Islands MSPs to encourage them to apply further pressure on the minister,” said Mr Stewart.

He added:

“The Scottish Government needs to spell out its commitment to the A96 now.

“Whilst my personal preference would be dualling from Aberdeen to Inverness the need for an Elgin bypass is long overdue and must be one of the priorities for action.”



Written by davidstewart

November 21, 2007 at 4:18 pm

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David Stewart comments on the threat to HIAL’s development at Inverness Airport

“It’s unclear from the Scottish budget whether funds are to be available for the development at Inverness airport or not.

“I am concerned that this government is sidelining key lifeline transport provision in the North of Scotland.

“As well as these fears over the improvements to the terminal at Inverness airport the SNP minority government budget is running down the air discount scheme and the route development plan.

“Transport policy in the North has to reflect our economic needs for jobs and tourism.

“The challenges are to develop better, more efficient services across the range of public transport – on our railways, our roads and in the air.

“Inverness airport is a key driver in the competitiveness of the Highlands and Islands.

“Not only is it important for inward investment it also sustains and develops existing businesses in the north of Scotland.

“There should rightly be a focus on the environment.

“Many of the local services from Inverness are Turboprop planes, which are more efficient and environmentally friendly, and given the current infrastructure of the Highlands the internal UK flights provided by HIAL services are replacing multiple car journeys.

“I have been in contact with Inglis Lyon, managing Director of HIAL, and in my role as a member of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee I will be pressing the government to address the challenges facing the people and businesses in the Highlands and Islands.”

Written by davidstewart

November 20, 2007 at 9:44 am

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Diabetes high risk screening would benefit Highlands and Islands

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands Labour Regional MSP, will call on the Scottish government today to introduce a high risk screening programme for diabetes.

Almost 10,000 people suffer from type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the Highlands and Islands – but worrying figures reveal there may be almost 6,000 more undiagnosed.

“Diabetes is the main cause of blindness and is responsible for half of the non traumatic limb amputations in Scotland. A high risk screening programme for those overweight and over 45 with a family history of the disease could go a long way to tackling this disease which can maim, blind and kill its sufferers,” said Mr Stewart.

He added: “There are many people in our communities who have this and don’t know it. I will be urging the health and wellbeing minister to support a programme which could offer an early diagnosis.”

Written by davidstewart

November 15, 2007 at 5:06 pm

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Lasting legacy of Commonwealth Games on Highlands and Islands

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, says Glasgow’s success in securing the Commonwealth Games in 2014 will stretch into the Highlands and Islands.The Labour MSP is writing to congratulate Secretary of State for Scotland Des Browne, First Minister Alex Salmond and Glasgow City Council Leader Steven Purcell on the achievement.

“I am delighted about this result for Glasgow and I’m sure this success must have a ripple effect for the rest of Scotland.

“There may well be scope for hosting a number of direct events but more importantly the Highlands can grasp the range of opportunities which will be made available.

“There really is an opportunity to gear up our efforts in supporting training and local athletes in the area. We have some excellent facilities, including Caledonian Stadium, Victoria Park in Dingwall, Borough Briggs in Elgin and the athletics facilities at Bught Park are amongst the best in Scotland.

“These games are being described as athlete centred and the youngsters coming through the ranks in our Highlands and Islands clubs today – particularly in athletics, bowling and swimming – may well compete in these games.

The motivation the event will have on interest in sport will impact across Scotland and I’ll be writing to the First Minister calling for enhanced funding to provide the infrastructure necessary which will benefit training, direct events and have a long term legacy for sport development in the Highlands and Islands over the next two decades,” said Mr Stewart.

Written by davidstewart

November 13, 2007 at 7:12 am

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Labour MSP quizzes Transport Minister on Highland Road Improvements

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, has today been quizzing transport minister Stewart Stevenson on timescales for improving the Highlands roads network.

During general questions in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Stewart, a member of the transport committee, asked about government plans for the dualling the A9 and pressed the minister on the challenges faced – including the difficulty that only a fraction of the land required to carry out the road improvements has been bought.

Following the session Mr Stewart commented:

“While I welcome the minister’s commitment to dualling work on the A9 there is a huge job to be done and it is vital that timescales are firmed up.

“I will be watching how this develops with interest as the improvement of the transport network to the north of Scotland is a very important priority – first and foremost on the grounds of safety and also in the interests of economic development.

“I would urge the minister to remember the bigger picture, both on the roads – we must not forget other key routes like the A96 – and also in speeding up rail journeys from the central belt.

“I have long been calling for important measures like improving signalling, electrification and the creation of double tracks,” he added.

Written by davidstewart

November 9, 2007 at 9:12 am

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New bid for Dornoch rail bridge

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, is supporting calls for an investigation into options to improve rail links to the North of Scotland.

The Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee was considering a petition yesterday at the Scottish Parliament to find ways to improve rail access between Thurso and Wick to Inverness, Aberdeen and the central belt.

Proposals have been on the table since the 1980s for a Dornoch rail link which it’s believed could take 45 minutes off the journey time to Inverness.

“The Committee has agreed that this is not a simple transport issue – but one of economic development.

I have been campaigning for some time for improved transport infrastructure to the north of Scotland.

“The future of Dounreay and its 1800 direct employees will rely on measures like upgrading roads, faster rail links and providing a range of services for Wick airport to attract job diversification and inward investment.

“Action is needed and I would support calls for an inquiry into improved rail links across the Dornoch Firth,” said Mr Stewart.

Written by davidstewart

November 7, 2007 at 1:32 pm

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Ferry Inquiry Gets Go Ahead

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands Labour Regional MSP, is welcoming a unanimous decision for the go-ahead of a major inquiry into ferry links to the Scottish islands.

At a meeting of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee at the Scottish Parliament this afternoon members emphasised the urgency of launching the public inquiry which would explore all the major factors of what Mr Stewart describes as ‘the most important rural transport issue facing the Highlands and Islands’.
Mr Stewart, who hopes the inquiry will start before the end of the year, outlined the importance of developing ferry services for users.

The inquiry will explore, amongst other things, tendering, Road Equivalent Tariff, funding, routes, timetables, fares and capacity.

“It is important we develop a strong rural element to this inquiry and I have proposed today that the committee holds visits in Shetland, the Western Isles and Arran – all of which face difficult issues in terms of ferry transport,” said Mr Stewart.

He added: “The speed, availability and cost of ferries has a major impact on our island communities and are the life-line for sustainability, tourism and cargo transportation.

“The Committee today discussed an inquiry which would explore all these issues within a framework of understanding the costs of operating ferries so that we can look at ways to create a viable commercial industry.”

The inquiry will gain full views from ferry users by access to the parliament’s website, by publishing leaflets which can be distributed on the ferries and by inviting participation from interested businesses and groups.

Before confirming the final remit the Committee agreed to write to the Minister for Transport, Stewart Stevenson, to confirm there is no duplication between the inquiry and a government review which is set to take place as part of the national transport strategy.

“Ferries are vital to the islands – not just as a service in themselves – but as a source of economic development,” said Mr Stewart.

Written by davidstewart

November 6, 2007 at 5:31 pm

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