David Stewart MSP

Archive for June 2008

Stewart calls for new deal for ferry users

27 June 2008


A hard hitting parliamentary report into ferries, initially called for by Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart, is published today. 

The inquiry has been one of the most extensive carried out by a Parliamentary Committee and has consulted a wide range of people, particularly across the Highlands and Islands, on all aspects of ferry services. 

“Ferries are vital for rural development and our wide ranging evidence over the past few months has led our Committee to make a whole range of recommendations which will hopefully improve the experience of ferry users in the future,” said Mr Stewart.

 He added: “One of the most important things for me is to look at a shake up of the way our ferry services co-ordinate with other transport providers. 

“I would support a call for there to be a more joined up strategy in terms of transport planning and that Transport Scotland creates a maritime division to look at how all our services can link together better. 

“The Committee has called for a national strategy which will consider all the issues that affect ferry provision for users. 

“How can we provide a better ferry service in the Highlands and Islands – it is about speed, availability, accessibility and listening more to the public. 

“For many Highlands and Island communities ferries are a life line service which is a key ingredient in tourism, economy and hopefully the recommendations will provide the basis of a much more dynamic service in the future and a better service for users in the Highlands and Islands.”



Written by davidstewart

June 27, 2008 at 1:24 pm

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MSP promises action for Wick High School

13 June 2008

Highlands and Islands Labour MSPs Peter Peacock, Rhoda Grant and David Stewart are asking the Scottish Government when the first brick will be laid for a new Wick High School.
During a debate in the Scottish Parliament this morning over the cuts in the education system the SNP’s depute Convener of Education, Rob Gibson said that his party’s Scottish Future’s Trust could “provide a way forward for” the school.
“What Rob Gibson has said is completely at odds with what SNP Ministers have been saying as it is clear the Scottish Futures Trust contains not a single penny of finance.
“However I am delighted that Mr Gibson has made this commitment in Parliament.
“I am sure the pupils, staff, parents and Education officials at Highland Council will look forward to hearing his detailed plans for when and how they will get the finance for the new school,” said David Stewart.
“This is a remarkable statement given that the SNP has completely stalled all school capital programme spending for over a year while they tried to salvage their finance policy. It would have been far easier if they had just accepted a tried and tested way of delivering schools efficiently, such as we have seen in Dingwall and Portree in recent weeks.
“I would urge him to set out the detailed timetable for the new school, when it will start and when the first pupil will sit in the new school.
“I will be checking on progress and hope this is not just another empty promise waiting to be broken.”
Labour MSPs were also outraged that the minority SNP government today dismissed parents and teacher concerns over cuts to their school budgets as scaremongering.
“Highland wide we are seeing teaching numbers being cut back, class sizes rising, support staff not being replaced and head teachers local budgets being cut.
“Add to this the plans to cut back on janitors and cleaning and we are seeing a pretty sorry situation for the new term,” said Mr Stewart .
“As part of our CutsWatch campaign in the Highlands we have heard concerns from schools across the area including Nairn, Dingwall, Grantown on Spey, Ullapool, and Brora.
“Parents fear for their schools’ capability to cope under tighter and tighter budgets and they are not scaremongering.
“The situation country wide is such a mess that the main teaching union last week authorised teacher protests over the widespread cuts affecting schools across Scotland.
“The Government must take responsibility in resolving these issues instead of sticking their heads in the sand.”

Written by davidstewart

June 15, 2008 at 1:47 pm

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MSP welcomes Tesco freight rail announcement

20 May 2008

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands MSP who has been in discussion with Tesco over their plans to take lorries off the A9 is welcoming their announcement that they are moving their road freight onto rail.
Mr Stewart has been taking forward the views of constituents in the Inverness and Badenoch and Strathspey areas about safety dangers from slow-moving vehicles on the main road to the North.
The Highlands and Islands MSP had written to Tesco and to Northern Constabulary calling for action to encourage lorries to pull over to allow overtaking and to look at getting freight onto the railways.
“I knew Tesco was seriously looking at ways to achieve this, but I take my hat off to their technical managers, moving the freight onto rail is a fantastic move both environmentally and for other road users on the A9.
“I am absolutely delighted with this decision.
“With 20-22 lorries off the road six days a week it will have a very positive impact on the area.
“I would urge other companies to follow Tesco’s lead and look at using rail for their cargo,” said Mr. Stewart.

Written by davidstewart

June 15, 2008 at 1:45 pm

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MSP pushes Government to resolve issues surrounding Dunoon Linkspan

12 May 2008

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands Labour Regional MSP, is calling for action to replace outdated CalMac ferries which are leaving the multi-million pound Linkspan facility at Dunoon unusable.
The 30-year-old vessels are due for replacement and can not use the state of the art Linkspan because they are port and starboard loading.
At a Transport Committee meeting last week Caledonian Maritime Assets, which owns the vessels, confirmed it could not take a decision until political and legal issues over the route had been ironed out.
It has yet to be finally determined whether replacement ferries would be vehicle and passenger or passenger only.
Mr Stewart has written to the Transport Minister to seek his view on how things can be progressed.
“I want the great facilities to be able to be used and an updated and modern vessel to be put on that route. It is ironic that travellers are having to use the dated Victorian pier when only a stone’s throw away is a state of the art Linkspan,” said Mr Stewart.
He added: “The company say they won’t change the vessels until the route issues are resolved, so in the meantime they are using old and inefficient vessels.
“It is vital that compatible vessels are introduced without delay on this route which is so important to Dunoon and Cowal.”
“I will continue to press the Scottish Government on this issue,” said Mr Stewart.

Written by davidstewart

June 15, 2008 at 1:43 pm

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MSP and Tesco in freight rail talks

01 May 2008

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands MSP, has been in discussion with Tesco over their plans to look at taking lorries off the A9.
Mr Stewart has been taking forward the views of constituents in the Inverness and Badenoch and Strathspey areas about safety dangers from slow-moving vehicles on the main road to the North.
The Highlands and Islands MSP had written to Tesco and to Northern Constabulary calling for action in the short term to encourage lorries to pull over to allow overtaking and in the long term to look at getting freight onto the railways.
“As the speed limit for these lorries is 40mph the Police were concerned there would be an outcry if they were to book lorry drivers for inconsiderate driving.
“ Tesco said they were keen to be a good neighbour,” said Mr Stewart.
“Local people face difficulties on the A9 day in, day out,” said Mr Stewart.
“While most people contacting me support having Tesco in their communities they made a number of useful suggestions on ways to either get the lorries off the road – or make life easier for those using the A9.
“Someone from Newtonmore called for a tightening of the law to force lorries to pull over, others felt that the lorries could safely travel faster than 40mph on a road like the A9.
“I am due to meet Tesco in the near future to discuss progress on using the railway to transport freight to the North.
“This is all about road safety and cutting the appalling collision rate on what has been recently confirmed as the most dangerous road in Scotland.
“In the longer term this freight should be moved to the rail network but in the meantime we must all work towards ending unnecessary delays on the A9 and the adverse effect this has on drivers’ behaviour.”

Written by davidstewart

June 15, 2008 at 1:42 pm

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Highland Fuel Warning

25 April 2008

David Stewart, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, is concerned for the safety of people who are storing petrol and diesel in a bid to counter fuel shortages.

Public worry over fuel supplies if industrial action hits Scotland’s Grangemouth refinery has lead to locals filling jerry cans in Highland forecourts.

“I would urge people to be sensible about this.

“Non essential travellers should think twice about storing quantities of petrol or diesel.

“Not only does it make the panic buying problems for the forecourts worse, but also the danger of keeping highly flammable substances anywhere other than in the safe environment of the petrol stations is a problem,” said Mr Stewart.

“This issue is so serious that the law limits the amount of petrol which can be kept in containers in garages and vehicles and the Fire Service has warned that fuel should never be stored in the home,” said Mr Stewart.

“I would urge anyone who is storing extra fuel to be extremely cautious.

“Accidents can happen and taking fuel out of its controlled environment means it is less safe.

“Keeping fuel in a warm place can lead to the bursting of the container or the creation of highly flammable vapour,” he said.

The MSP urged those who had already bought extra supplies to use them as safely and as quickly as possible and to avoid keeping it in the car or the garage for any longer than necessary.

Written by davidstewart

June 15, 2008 at 1:39 pm

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