People across the Borders, and indeed across the country, were shocked to see the impact on Eyemouth, and the surrounding area, of the storms last week.
I spoke to the council’s environment and infrastructure director on Friday after the late night rescue and clear up efforts of the emergency services, volunteers and council officers. I join him in praising the efforts of everyone concerned during what was a very worrying time.
Last week’s Autumn Statement was designed to help economic recovery in the Borders. There were a number of important announcements, but in particular, I was very pleased by the Chancellor’s announcement of a cancellation of the fuel duty rise, which was planned for September 2014.
This announcement of a further fuel duty freeze means petrol will be 20p per litre less expensive than it would have been under Labour’s tax plans for this Parliament.
As well as this, the campaign to help young people get into work in the Borders will be boosted by plans to abolish employers’ National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for under 21-years-olds. This will save businesses £1,000 a year for every young person employed earning £16,000.
The Chancellor also announced that the Scottish Government will see a net increase in its budget of £308M over the next two years.
This year’s Autumn Statement emphasised the Coalition’s focus on creating jobs and building a stronger economy and a fairer society.
Last week I welcomed the rebalancing of subsidies for wind, placing greater emphasis on offshore projects rather than onshore wind farms. This reflects the shift in the economics of onshore wind farms and our desire to encourage offshore projects.
These efforts will hopefully assist the work being done by the harbour trust and others in the town to promote Eyemouth as a support base for wind farms off the coast. I look forward to chairing the next meeting of Eyemouth Renewables in the new year.
Every year I ask Primary Schools from across the Borders to participate in a competition to design the front of my Christmas card that I send out to my friends, family and constituents.
This year’s Christmas card competition saw a lively contest featuring many excellent designs from numerous Primary Schools in the region. The quality of the entrants this year highlights the creativity of our young people here in the Borders, and is a credit to the excellent local school teachers and support staff that have encouraged them. I was especially impressed by the entries from Ayton School!