Rachael Hamilton MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, in her role as Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Culture & Tourism, called on the Scottish Government to pay attention to the Scottish Borders in a debate on the Programme for Government 2017-18.
The Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Culture & Tourism argued that it was time the SNP Government stopped its ‘central belt agenda and invest in the Borders.’
Mrs Hamilton called for super-fast broadband, an integrated transport, improved infrastructure and dedicated cycle carriages to come to the Scottish Borders.
The Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP cited a lack of investment in the Borders as a reason for young people in the Borders leaving for elsewhere not to return. Mrs Hamilton argued that investment and improvements in key areas could reverse that trend and see more young people come and choose the Borders as a place to live and work.
Rachael Hamilton MSP also played tribute to a rich culture in the Borders – highlighting Common Ridings and Civic Weeks.
Latest information from National Records Scotland recorded negative net migration of 286 for the 16-29 age group between 2012 and 2014 – 1,159 in and 1,445 out.
National Records Scotland also found that by 2037 the number in the 16-29 age group is projected to have fallen to 13,430 from 15,370 in 2012.
Rachael Hamilton MSP said: ‘My new constituency of Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire is an example of a place buzzing with a vibrant and thriving culture… It’s great traditions like Civic Weeks and Common Ridings that teach us important values – values of inclusivity and acceptance and pride in Scotland’s towns and their histories.
‘We have the powers to create the right environment for young people to want to stay in the place they grew up. To study, to live and to work and to give back to their communities. We must also encourage leavers to return, visitors to settle and new people to come and invest.
'We need sensible policies starting with an integrated transport system that makes living, working and enjoying accessible.
'Constituents contact me complaining of slow broadband or broadband disruption daily. … Is that what we want for our rural constituencies – areas not yet equipped to deal with business and family demands? It’s time rural constituencies were told when super-fast broadband was coming. The fact is Geographical barriers still exist and rural constituencies are left behind.
‘As culture at the forefront, as a driver, other parts of Scotland can share in the growth Scotland’s cities have had. But to do that we need get the basics right. The infrastructure in place to keep young talent and to attract new talent. Our values lie in our traditions, lie within our culture – let’s make it accessible.’