Farmers and fishermen have their say

John Lamont MP with the Great Tapestry of Scotland.
John Lamont MP with the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

I was pleased to be able to take time to visit the Eyemouth Hippodrome recently, where I met with local fishermen and farmers from the area.

I was joined by the Scottish Conservative candidate for the European elections, Ian Duncan, who is hoping to replace Struan Stevenson MEP. Our agriculture and fishing industries have been through a tough period recently, having to remain profitable despite increasing regulation coming from Brussels.

It was great to hear first-hand about the problems this is causing for our local farms and fishing fleets, and to hear about how we could go about making it easier for them. Our fishermen and farmers are some of the best in the UK and we need to be doing everything we can to support them.

As a former Secretary to the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Ian Duncan knows all about the problems being experienced at Eyemouth Harbour over the past few years, and I am sure that if elected he would be the strong voice we need to ensure that we get the best deal from the EU.

Figures released recently show that Scottish Borders Council currently provide over £160,000 to Police Scotland to help employ extra police officers for our region. Like many councils in the country, the point of this funding is to help ensure that we get the best protection possible for local residents. However, since the single police force was founded this funding has been put under threat as councils no longer have a say as to where their money goes.

This means that there is no guarantee that the funding from Scottish Borders Council is being spent in our region, and it calls into question whether we should provide any funding at all. Edinburgh Council recently withdrew millions because of this issue, and it won’t be long before we see other councils join them. While there is no doubt that we need the best policing force possible for the region, this money could be spent in other areas where we could guarantee a benefit to Borders residents. That is why I believe that Police Scotland need to start providing assurances that the money we are giving them will go towards fighting crime in our region. With council budgets strained enough as it is, we cannot afford to give money away without knowing it will benefit Borders residents.

My next Berwickshire surgery will be on Wednesday, February 19, at the Volunteer Hall in Duns at 9am. No appointment is necessary. Alternatively, please call my constituency office on 01450 375 948 and I will do my best to assist. For tours of the Scottish Parliament, contact my Parliamentary office on 0131 348 6533.