Stewart seeks answers on football funding

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, has tabled questions in the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday) seeking clarification on when the funding and grants being made available for Scotland’s football clubs will be open for applications and what the process will be for clubs to apply.

A £55m funding package was announced last week by the Scottish Government to help sports clubs tackle the void of lost ticket revenue caused by the outbreak of Covid-19. £20m of funding is being made available to football clubs in the premiership with £10m of grants being made available for clubs at every other level of the game.

The MSP, who has been a lifelong Inverness Caley Thistle supporter and is Chair of Inverness Caledonian Thistle Trust said “Football clubs up and down the country have been hit hard by the implications of Covid-19 restrictions and I was pleased that the Health and Sport Committee agreed to my request to hold an inquiry into this. As part of that inquiry, the Minister for Sport, Joe Fitzpatrick, gave evidence at the Committee this morning (Tuesday).

“While the meeting was very helpful, the detail of how and when the funding and grants will be made available is not yet known and I know clubs at every level of the game are keen to know when and how they can apply for the help being offered.” continued Mr Stewart.

“As an avid football fan, I know just how perilously close some clubs are to going under and we need to make sure this money gets to those who need it without delay.

He continued “Football is in the very fabric of communities up and down Scotland and loss of gate sales and hospitality revenue has hit clubs hard. We must get that help out to the clubs immediately to secure the future of the game, at every level, in Scotland.” concluded Mr Stewart.

Traffic speed being surveyed at A82 spot at Drumnadochit after calls by road safety campaigner David Stewart

The Labour MSP requested an investigation by Transport Scotland to determine whether the road meets the criteria for speed cameras. Concerns were raised with Mr Stewart about cars and HGVs speeding through the area, paying no heed to the 30mph signs.

Mr Stewart said he was really pleased with prompt action by Transport Scotland to place sensors around the village – and he welcomed their agreement to add additional sensors.

He said: “This intervention will be welcome news for residents and I am pleased to see extra sensors are also now in place.

“Transport Scotland chiefs have listened and acted, and I am very grateful to my constituents for their input. They have told me they believe the sensors are now in a far better position and will be interested to know the findings. They say they are witnessing vehicles speeding through the section at all hours of the day and night.”

Stewart keen to support plans to mark centenary of landmark UK Cabinet meeting in Inverness

AN MSP is keen to support civic leaders in plans to mark the centenary of a landmark meeting of the UK Cabinet in Inverness.

The 99th anniversary of the arrival of Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Stanley Baldwin and other ministers, in the Highland capital, passed by just a few weeks ago.

Labour Highlands & Islands MSP David Stewart has written to Highland Council’s chief executive Donna Manson for information about the preparations for the 100th anniversary next year.

The September 7 1921 summit at the Inverness Town House was momentous because it was the meeting where they agreed to negotiate with Sinn Féin.

This led to the Irish Free State, paving the way for the current United Kingdom.

Mr Stewart said: “The occasion was often shared with guests to the Town House during my eight years as a councillor. It was the first ever Cabinet meeting to be held outside London or Chequers and it happened in Inverness by chance. The PM was on holiday in Gairloch when British-Irish relations hit the rocks. He called the Cabinet to meet at the Town House. There is a plaque in the beautiful Town House chamber marking this day and I am very fond of it. I am really looking forward to joining the celebrations next year.”

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Fire sprinklers in all new build social housing: result of David Stewart’s Bill

A media release was published today by the Scottish Government as a follow on from Labour MSP David Stewart’s Private Member’s Bill on the installation of fire sprinklers. New regulations will be coming into effect next year for improved safety in new social housing following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

Guidance has now been published for the house building industry.

See the Government release here:

The Highlands and Islands MSP is delighted that guidance is now going out to the building industry, ahead of installing fire sprinklers in all new social housing with new regulations coming into effect next year.

The sprinklers will be a requirement in new flats, maisonettes and larger multi-occupancy dwellings including where care is provided.

“I’m delighted this is coming in before I retire as an MSP at next year’s election – what better than a life-saving ‘present’ at Christmas?” said Mr Stewart.

“Fire sprinklers have been proven time and time again to be effective in the fight against fire and I know that this move will save lives.

“There has always been strong backing for these plans from the public, the industry and other MSPs, especially in the light of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

“I would still like retro-fitting sprinklers in older properties to be considered, and although that is my longer term hope I understand the problems this would pose.”

Mr Stewart was told in 2018 that the Scottish Government was taking forward his campaign for greater fire safety methods in social housing.

He previously proposed a Member’s Bill which would require fire sprinkler systems to be installed into all new-build social housing across Scotland, as a method of tackling Scotland’s high rates of fire death and injury.

The plans received overwhelming support, with 94% of the consultation responses in favour and over 50 MSPs, from across all five political parties, signed up in support of the Bill’s final proposal.

MSP reveals one patient had data breached twice by NHS Highland

Highlands and Islands MSP, David Stewart, has been told that one patient has found his confidential data breached twice by NHS Highland after the latest incident was made public yesterday.

Mr Stewart, who is Labour’s Shadow Public Health Minister, said the patient found his data breached last year when the email addresses of almost 40 people living with HIV were accidentally published by the health authority to others with the illness.

The man, who is also diabetic, has now discovered his data was circulated for a second time in the latest incident when NHS Highland apologised for sharing an excel spreadsheet containing confidential information with other patients.

“Quite honestly I could not believe it when the constituent contacted me to tell me he had his information shared again,” said Mr Stewart.

“He is absolutely devastated by the second breach as it shows lessons have not been learnt from last year and I can clearly understand why he feels so let down.”

Mr Stewart explained that the patient had initially contacted him last year following the first breach and the MSP had kept in contact as there were a number of problems thrown up by this case.

The patient, who does not want to be identified, told Mr Stewart: “When I contacted you last year, I was a newly diagnosed HIV patient and, as a direct result of the last breach, my care had to be transferred to NHS Glasgow. I will be looking for Jeane Freeman to launch an inquiry.”

Mr Stewart has already written to NHS Highland’s Chief Executive, Pam Dudek, and is now writing to Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, highlighting the latest incident and the fact that a patient has suffered a data breach on two occasions. The MSP is calling for her to ensure proper protections, staff training and systems are in place to prevent such incidents happening again.

“Data and confidential information of national health service patients must be treated in the strictest confidence by those handling it,” said Mr Stewart.

“I am aware that there is tremendous pressure on front-line staff, not only on nurses and clinical staff, but on administration staff, due to the pandemic.

“However, this is serious and the second time in 17months that an NHS Highland data breach has been raised with me.”

  • Last year Mr Stewart raised the first data breach in the Scottish Parliament with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The MSP said then: “Whilst I welcome the apology by the board, does the First Minister share my view that confidentiality is a core principle of the NHS and the decision to disclose HIV status is a matter for individuals themselves and theirs alone.” Nicola Sturgeon agreed very strongly saying that the safety of patient data was of “the utmost importance”.
  • She added that the breach was reported to Information Commissioner within 24 hours. NHS Highland had taken steps to apologise to patients, respond directly to any concerns and a formal internal review was being carried out. The First Minister admitted that “clearly there have been failings”.
  • Afterwards Mr Stewart added that he had written to NHS Highland’s Chief Executive, Iain Stewart, to ask that he be kept informed of the outcome of the internal review and the findings of the Information Commissioner.
  • “Keeping patients’ data confidential is essential for everyone and I hope lessons can be learned as a result of this breach,” said the MSP. “HIV is a very sensitive subject for those with the virus and I am told this breach has caused some distress.”

Road safety campaigning MSP David Stewart’s demands for traffic speed survey on the A82 between Drumnadrochit and Lewiston have been met – but extra sensors are being requested on the danger spot

Road safety campaigning MSP David Stewart has welcomed traffic speed surveys on the A82 between Drumnadrochit and Lewiston.

The survey is getting underway and includes a number of sensors at key points.

It follows the regional Labour MSP’s calls for an investigation to determine whether the road meets the criteria for speed cameras.

The community is concerned cars and HGVs are speeding through the area, paying no heed to the 30mph signs.

Mr Stewart said: “This speed survey intervention will be welcome news for residents and I am pleased it is underway and that it includes an impressive number of sensors at nearly all the key points. 

“However, risks were flagged up by a constituent and by the Glen Urquhart Community Council that traffic coming over Borlum Bridge were not slowing down sufficiently ahead of the Lewiston cross roads.  

“And as I understand it, unfortunately, the various sensors in place will not pick this up. I have therefore today written to Transport Scotland’s chief executive Roy Brannen to ask if an additional sensor can be installed close to the Lewiston cross roads.”

Successful Inverness-born footballer Ryan Christie gets recognition in the Scottish Parliament

Successful Inverness-born footballer Ryan Christie was recognised in the Scottish Parliament today by MSP David Stewart.

The Highlands & Islands MSP kicked-off a crucial debate on improving youth football in Scotland with words of praise for the home-grown Celtic FC star.

Mr Stewart, who chairs Caley Thistle’s charity arm, the ICT Trust, told his colleagues in the chamber youth football had played a vital role in the club’s success, growth and development – and he said Ryan Christie was an excellent example of its success, and a “shining ambassador for the Highlands”.

Christie, who began his career with Inverness Caledonian Thistle, scored the vital goal that helped the qualification to get Scotland into Europe for the first time in 22 years.

Mr Stewart said: “As a life-long football fan who has followed Inverness Caledonian Thistle since its inception, I am honoured to be opening such an important debate for Scottish Labour.

“As Parliamentarians, we have a dual interest in this issue. Firstly, we have a responsibility to use the scrutiny and legislative powers we have to ensure that children who are part of professional youth academies are adequately safeguarded, especially when it comes to registrations and contracts.

“And secondly, we have an interest in ensuring that Scotland’s best young footballers are able to thrive and grow to reach their maximum potential as athletes.”




guidance and financial assistance is being provided to professional football clubs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During Portfolio Questions this afternoon, I asked the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe Fitzpatrick, what advice, guidance and financial assistance is being provided to professional football clubs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard, last week repeated his call for a ‘Scottish Football Aid Fund’ to be launched following redundancies in the game caused by the catastrophic impact of the pandemic. Mr Leonard called on Ministers to step in with urgent financial support as the loss of matchday revenue caused by the ban on crowds is having dire implications for clubs.
The Minister responded to me today that the Scottish Government has been working with football authorities and he recognised the relative reliance on gate receipts for clubs in Scotland compared to clubs elsewhere in the United Kingdom, and in recognising this he has written again today to the UK Sports Minister seeking clarity on the financial package being developed to support sporting organisations reliant on fans being able to return to stadia.
Professional clubs are facing the perfect storm of very few, or no, fans allowed to attend football matches due to the pandemic. The loss of match day revenue from gate sales and hospitality, coupled with clubs having to spend extra on PPE and testing to comply with COVID regulations, is having a significant impact on clubs throughout the country.
Many are already in a precarious financial position and it is well known that banks are generally uncomfortable lending to football clubs, as such, many clubs don’t have overdrafts to fall back on. Even government schemes like CBIL (COVID Business Interruption Loan) are ruled out for many clubs as they have to be able to prove they were financially viable before the outbreak.
This will lead to the demise of football clubs throughout the country unless government starts to support them. A football club is more than just a business, it is part of the very fabric of life in our towns and cities. Clubs do large amounts to promote health and wellbeing and they do great charity work across the country.
It will be an absolute tragedy if we lose any of our football clubs. Some have been established for over a century or more so I had no qualms in pressing the Scottish Government to look again to see what support clubs can be given.
As a member of the Health and Sport Committee, this week I secured the support of that committee to look into the plight of clubs. I was delighted when the Committee backed my calls for an inquiry into support for our clubs and I hope the Scottish Government and the UK government will ensure financial help is granted for Scottish clubs at all levels as a matter of high priority.

Scottish Government and NHS Highland will not change Healing Process despite concerns

Regional Labour MSP, David Stewart, and victims of NHS Highland bullying and harassment are extremely disappointed that the health authority and Scottish Government will not be changing one stage of the ‘Healing Process’.

Mr Stewart, who represents the Highlands and Islands, asked for a rethink on how the Healing Process Remuneration Committee had been set up after concerns from members of the T-Party group, formed before the Coronavirus hit, to help victims of NHS Highland bullying and harassment get together for support over a cup of tea and a chat.

T-Party members said the Remuneration Committee, which will discuss compensation for some of those involved in the Healing Process, is not independent enough and could have members, or those sitting in on the meetings, who have been involved in individual cases of staff or former staff.

However, although NHS Highland recognised that the group had concerns and were “deeply impacted by their experiences”, it said that the Healing Process “had been fully co-produced with representatives of interested groups including the whistle-blowers and staffside and it has been approved by the Board and Scottish Government. This is now in operation and consultation on the design has ended.”

NHS Highland went on to say that the remit and required membership of the Remuneration Committee was set out in the national governance standards for NHS Boards and was not “open for individual boards to amend or alter”.

Mr Stewart said: “It’s regrettable that both the Scottish Government and health authority would not move on this as it caused real concern for many people who have already been damaged and badly affected by their experiences.

“However, I’ve been assured that confidentiality and personal data will be protected and I sincerely hope that this will be followed through.”

The Scottish Government’s Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, said: “I am confident that the Healing Process, as designed, meets with the recommendations and intentions of the Sturrock review.”

The Healing Process allows current and former staff of the health authority to talk to an independent panel about their experiences of being bullied or harassed.

This follows whistleblowers, union representatives and Mr Stewart calling for action on a culture of bullying at NHS Highland, a review carried out by QC John Sturrock and intervention by the Scottish Government.

Statement from the T-Party group below:

“We learnt of the NHS Highland led Remuneration Committee existence half way through the Healing Process.

It was not announced and we only became aware of it when one of the support group was looking up the Healing Process guidelines for an unrelated matter.

Some people have even withdrawn from the Healing Process because of the involvement of the Remuneration Committee as the simply do not trust them to follow proper procedure.

In fact it has been notable that the Healing Process was being handled in a transparent and professional manner, up to the point where the NHS Highland Remuneration Committee has become involved, causing it to stall.

It is deeply disappointing that the Healing Process, designed to bring closure, is in fact being handled by the very Health Board that dealt the harm in the first place.”


“Diabetes Champ” MSP welcomes £2million funding package for outdoor education centres

A REGIONAL MSP who co-chairs the Scottish Parliament’s Diabetes Cross Party Group has welcomed a £2million funding package to help outdoor education centres survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Highlands & Islands Labour MSP David Stewart, who has represented Scotland twice as a Scottish diabetes champion, has been supporting the Scottish Adventure Activity Forum’s #SaveYourOutdoorCentres campaign as well as making funding representation to the Scottish Government and local authorities on behalf of several outdoor education centres.

Mr Stewart said: “It’s crucially important that young people have an active lifestyle because we have got a horrendous rate of Type 2 diabetes. Scotland has a healthcare epidemic and it particularly it affects children in disadvantaged areas. We have the sick man in Europe title and outdoor education plays a great role in fighting against this.

“I applaud everyone who joined the campaign, the enormity of this work kept enough pressure on the Scottish Government until it eventually buckled and agreed to give out the cash. It’s extremely welcome but a long-term strategy is still urgently needed and this £2 million is £1 million short of the £3 million the sector said it needed so I am fully behind an ongoing effort to get more support going forward.”

David Thorpe, leader of the Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre at Lochgoilhead, Argyll, which Mr Stewart has been supporting, said: We welcome the Scottish Government’s funding, but we will still press for the £1 million shortfall. That will make a huge difference for a lot of centres.”