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  Elections May 2003
Jamie Stone - Lib Dem

Jamie Stone MSP
Mr Jamie Stone was elected to Ross and Cromarty District Council in 1986,1988 and 1992. He was elected to Highland Council in 1995.

Born in Edinburgh in 1954, he attended Tain Royal Academy and Gordonstoun School in Elgin. He studied in St Andrews where he obtained MA in History/Geology.

Mr Jamie Stone was Director at The Highland Festival and a freelance newspaper columnist. He has also worked in oil fabrication, oil exploration, and in cheese manufacturing as well as serving in the 2/51 Highland Volunteers. He is a member of Tain Museum Trust, and Highland Preservation Building Trust. He is also a member of the New Club, Edinburgh and the Armagh Club, Armagh.

He is married and has a son and two daughters.

Contact Details
Jamie Stone MSP
26 Tower Street
IV19 1DY

Tel: 01862 892 726
Fax: 01862 893 698

5 April 03
Watten Hustings

31 March 03
Far North MSP Jamie Stone has welcomed the news that work on upgrading the Ord of Caithness section of the A9 is set to move ahead.   Following a recent public consultation, the Scottish Executive today announced that the lower floor valley (red route) option has been selected as the best option for the improvement work between Navidale and Allt Briste North.
Commenting on the announcement, Jamie Stone said:
"I'm pleased to see positive progress is being made.  This decision means the badly needed improvements are now another step closer.  Although the exact route details are yet to be finalised, we now have an agreement of the scale of funding and a timescale for the work.   "There was extensive public consultation on the three proposed options for the route.  I'm pleased that local strength of feeling has been given great consideration.  The red route was the preferred choice for more than three-quarters of all the people who took part in the consultation - 87.4% backed that option.
"The upgraded roads will undoubtedly be a major boost for local business. However, there is a strong case for further improvements to the Far North section of the A9, particularly when you consider the road's importance to the local economy.   It's important to keep up the pressure for more priority funding for our area.  "As people in the north know, I've made this a major issue for some time now and I'm delighted this important road upgrade is set to get underway."

31 March 03
On the final day of the Scottish Parliament's first term, Far North MSP Jamie Stone's campaign for more money for home improvement grants has taken a major step forward.

The maximum amount of money available for people renovating sub-standard housing has remained fixed at just under 10,000 for more than ten years.  Mr Stone today pressed the Scottish Executive to put an end to the delays over introducing the new increased improvements grants and called for a higher level of funding to be put into the overall pot.   Responding for the Executive, Social Justice Minister Margaret Curran revealed that the new grants would be implemented in the new Scottish Parliamentary session.  She also estimated that changes to the funding system would mean overall resources for private sector improvement grants would rise by around 15million.

Speaking after question time, Mr Stone said:
"This is very good news.  Private home improvement grants have remained at the same level for more than ten years so this is a major breakthrough.  "An increase in the level of funding for home improvement grants has been approved and the new grant should be ready for implementation from the beginning of May.   I've been campaigning for action on this issue for a long time so it's good to see that progress is at last being made.  "The problems with the lack of affordable housing in the Far North are well  known.  There are many derelict houses and run-down crofts throughout the area that could be transformed into quality homes fit for the 21st century.  Many people in the Far North could benefit from a home improvement grant. It 's important the new funding system is put into place as soon as possible."

25 March 03
Parliamentarians from across the UK and Ireland were today urged to work together to help attract more European funding to our remote and rural areas including the Far North of Scotland.

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MSP Jamie Stone is at the British and Irish Interparliamentary Body (BIIB) plenary session in Kilkenny.  Addressing fellow representatives, Mr Stone highlighted Kinlochbervie as an example of a community, which would benefit greatly from EU suport.  He mentioned the impact of the current fishing restrictions and pointed out that the loss of EU Objective One status and funding has had a massive impact on the Far North.  Speaking from Kilkenny, Mr Stone said: "The loss of Objective One status for the Highlands and Islands was a real blow.  The impact of losing this key funding can clearly be seen in a community such as Kinlochbervie.  An already fragile community and local economy is now having to deal with a serious fishing crisis.  The twin problems of remoteness and sparseness of population simply exacerbate the problems.  The loss of millions of pounds of EU support has hit this small community very hard.

"It's important to remember that when the last application for Objective One money was considered, areas such as north-west Sutherland, Ardnamurchan and Wick had lots of indicators to show that they were in need of funding but the comparative strength of Inverness meant that everyone else in the Highlands missed out.  "Since the start of the current funding phase in 2000, there have been a number of crises for the Highland economy.  The closure of two oil fabrication yards, the problems caused by the deteriorating state of Wick and Helmsdale harbours not to mention the current fishing crisis have all had a major impact on the area.

"Many parts of the Highlands should qualify for this assistance - many communities deserve and need this money.  I think the BIIB could play a key role in helping make the case for EU funding for our remote and rural communities.  "I know that parts of Wales have overcome the EU funding problem by fine-tuning their applications and focusing only on the areas most in need.  I think this is a model that Scotland should follow and I have urged the BIIB to help press the case in Europe for our fragile communities."

23 March 03
Further to the announcement earlier today that the SNH is to relocate to Inverness, Far North MSP Jamie Stone has called for the further decentralisation of those civil service posts to Caithness and Easter Ross.   Mr Stone is urging the Scottish Executive to ensure other areas of the Highlands benefit from the major transfer of the SNH posts.
Speaking from the Scottish Parliament, he said:
"This is a major victory for the Highlands.  Until now, our area had been overlooked when decisions of this kind were made.  Now, for the first time, we have a major organisation and hundreds of public sector jobs being transferred to the north.
"Although Inverness is clearly the main winner here, I think there is a very strong case for the further dispersal of these jobs to other parts of the Highlands.  The Far North desperately needs high quality jobs and the transfer of some of these civil service posts would provide a much-needed boost for the local economy.
"Given that Scottish Natural Heritage has such strong links and
responsibilities in the areas of East Sutherland and Caithness, I would like to see some of the posts based in these areas.  I will be raising the issue with Finance Minister Andy Kerr to find out what can be done.  It's important to make sure that all parts of the Highlands benefit from announcements of this significance."

18 March 03
Far North MSP Jamie Stone has welcomed the news that part of the former Grampian Records factory in Wick has been taken over by a new company.  The new firm - Gloucester based James Yorke Ltd - moved into the premises on Monday and has taken over the CD production line.  Currently, seven people are employed in Wick, with this figure expected to rise to ten in  the coming weeks.
Commenting on the news, Mr Stone said: "This is excellent news and obviously a huge boost for Wick.  It's a real breakthrough for everyone who has been working hard to develop a new future for the factory and for the former employees of Grampian Records.
"Although still in the early stages, the new operators are very upbeat about the future prospects.  It's an important signal that the new management have indicated a long-term vision for the business.   With part of the factory up and running again, and some of the former staff being taken on, there is now a solid base on which to build.  "I hope to set up a meeting with the new management to find out more about their plans for the Wick factory."

18 March 03
The Scottish Executive has announced it is to double the remote area allowance for NHS dentists in rural areas from 1500 to 3000.    Far North MSP Jamie Stone has welcomed the news as a sign that the Executive is recognising the serious problems with NHS dental services in rural areas, but says for the Far North and the Highlands, it's simply not enough.  Mr Stone has been campaigning for more money and action to tackle the problems with dental care in Caithness and Sutherland.
Responding to the news, Mr Stone said: "This news is a small step forward but quite simply nowhere near the solution needed to tackle the very serious shortage of NHS dentists that we have in the Far North.  Thousands of my constituents currently have no access to an NHS dentist.
"The remote area allowance is a welcome initiative but, on its own, not enough to overcome the well known recruitment and retention problems we face in the Highlands and Islands.  The Executive needs to investigate new ideas to help improve the situation.  "I do however, think this announcement is an indication that ministers recognise there are particular problems in attracting more NHS dentists to rural areas.  That in itself is a significant step.  It's important to keep up the pressure for more investment and action for dentistry in remote areas."

17 March 03
Jamie Stone MSP is leading the campaign for broadband technology to be rolled out in the Far North.

Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell, spoke about the Executive's plans to increase access to broadband across the country during First Minister's Questions this week.  This follows his announcement at the Highlands and Islands convention on Monday that six telephone exchanges in the Highlands - Forres, Nairn, Dingwall, Buckie, Oban and Fort William - will be upgraded for broadband.

Speaking after First Minister's Questions, Mr Stone said:
"I welcome the news that other areas in the Highlands will soon benefit from high speed internet links but I want to know what is being done to extend this technology north of Dingwall.  "Broadband exchanges for Golspie, Wick and Thurso would bring a massive boost to the Far North economy.  The availability of high-speed internet connection would not only reduce costs for existing firms, but also be a major asset in attracting new business to the area.

"It cannot be left to the market to dictate where broadband access is available. It is too important for people of Caithness and Sutherland for that to happen. There is a very real danger that Far North businesses will be forced to relocate elsewhere if broadband is not accessible in the near future.

"I know there is strong desire in the community for broadband and both John Thurso and I have been encouraging local residents to register their interest with BT.  "I believe it is the job of government to level the playing field for rural business.  It's important to now step up the pressure to ensure that Far North communities get their fair share of funding for this new technology."

6 March 03

Far North MSP Jamie Stone has pressed the Scottish Executive to devolve more civil service jobs north of Inverness.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament during the weekly question time session, Mr Stone urged Finance Minister Andy Kerr to give greater consideration to the Far North when decisions are being taken over the dispersal of public service bodies.  He highlighted Wick and Thurso as good locations for pensions and IT based jobs.
Speaking after, Mr Stone said: "I'm strongly support the Executive's policy of dispersing more public service jobs around Scotland.  Progress is definitely being made.  For example, we've seen the Food Standards Agency based in Aberdeen and the Scottish Public Pensions Agency relocated to Galashiels.   Let there be no doubt - under the old Westminster system, these jobs would almost certainly have gone to Edinburgh.

"However, there is undoubtedly scope for better results, particularly for the Far North.  Even a small number of jobs can make a huge difference in a rural community.  Towns such as Wick and Thurso would benefit from new jobs delivered through the relocation and dispersal of government agencies and civil service posts.   "The Finance Minister gave a positive response to my questioning.  I certainly welcome the commitment to decentralise civil service posts.  The key test will be whether we see new jobs and government agencies in the Far North."

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