The increase in Scottish Government infrastructure funding in Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond’s autumn statement is more than enough to cover the shortfall for reopening Reston and East Linton’s rail stations, ministers have been told.
Borders MSP John Lamont says there is now no excuse for the Scottish Government to hold up the reopening of the two stations and he is urging ministers to commit to fully funding the stations.
The Scottish Government recently increased its funding commitment to 60% of the cost of the stations, but there remains a £2.42m shortfall.
Mr Lamont said: “The Scottish Government now has a massive £800m more to spend on infrastructure projects in Scotland. Squabbling with local councils over the extra £2.4m needed to reopen Reston and East Linton stations now looks a bit trivial.
“The Scottish Government should take this opportunity to get both projects off the ground.
“Local residents have been waiting long enough and are becoming increasingly impatient with the SNP’s delays.
“This autumn statement contains plenty to support hard-working people in the Borders, including a pay rise for those on the minimum wage, tax cuts for those on low incomes and a fuel tax freeze saving the average driver £130 a year.”
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP Calum Kerr didn’t see the autumn statement in quite such a positive light, though, being concerned that it reveals the true scale of the financial black hole about to be created by Britain leaving the European Union.
“Whatever figure you choose to refer to – the additional £122bn in borrowing as a direct result of the vote, growth for next year down to 1.4% instead of 2.2%, public sector debt rising to 90.2% of national income by 2017-18 – the forecast for the British economy is bleak.
“This comes on top of a recovery that has never really felt like a recovery for those who needed it most. In real terms wages have declined by 10% since the financial crisis of 2008.
“I do however welcome the the Chancellor’s commitment to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland city deal and the shift towards investment.”