Westminster Notes: Key decisions on Scotland’s future needed

This is my first column of 2015, and just in case you missed the TV over the past couple of weeks, the General Election beckons in May!

As the different political parties set out our visions for 2015 and beyond, there are clearly big decisions to make with the UK’s public spending deficit remaining at an eye-watering £64 billion per year.

There are also key decisions that will be taken this year on Scotland’s future, as proposals from the Smith Commission to devolve further powers on tax, welfare and employability are turned into draft legislation. I was proud to serve on the Commission, adding new powers to those devolved in the Scotland Act I piloted through Parliament in 2012.

As a Liberal Democrat I am proud that we have introduced measures to boost the State Pension, cut fuel prices and cut taxes for working people. These moves have made a real difference to local people and I will continue to campaign in Parliament for further tax cuts for people on low wages and decent support for older people.

Like others, I was deeply concerned to hear at the end of last year that a review is currently being carried out by NHS Borders which means that the Community Hospital in Duns, as well as others, could be at risk of closure.

I have started a petition on my website www.MichaelMoore.org.uk to gather support against the proposed closures which I want to encourage people to sign.

The Knoll provides a vital service and it would be terrible for our local communities if we were to lose it. I am urging NHS Borders to provide clarity on the review and for assurances that the threat to the Community Hospital will be lifted.

I will continue to campaign for improvements to our local transport infrastructure here in Berwickshire this year. I am undertaking a transport survey of Berwickshire residents this month about the state of our roads, the restoration of rail links via Reston and local buses. I will be taking up the concerns of local residents with SBC and other relevant agencies to ensure people’s voices are heard.

Last week the review group set up to look at the safety of the Jim Clark Rally following the tragic deaths of three people last year, published its final recommendations. I know that people are keen to understand the next steps and the implications these recommendations will have on the rally. I am in discussions with SBC officials and organisers on how we can move forward and secure the rally for the future.