Westminster notes: Generosity of Borders people is amazing

Last week David Parker and I walked over 100 miles, from the source of the Tweed at Tweedsmuir to the mouth of the river at Berwick, for two excellent local charities - Radio Borders Cash for Kids and the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue team.

It was a lovely trek, with one highlight being a boat crossing into Coldstream on Friday.

Since launching the trek, we have been amazed at the generosity of people from the Borders, all of whose money will go towards supporting these two important local initiatives.

We started our journey on the Monday morning, and finished in Berwick on Saturday afternoon. I confess we dodged the coastal walk tradition of dousing our feet in the (cold) North Sea, but one of the mountain rescue team did it on everyone’s behalf!

If you would like to sponsor us, it is not too late. If you visit my website at www.michaelmoore.org.uk you can find out how. Thank you for your support.

Just two weeks today, we will be asked to make the most important political decision of our lives; whether we want Scotland to stay in the UK or go it alone.

The stakes could not be higher. There is a responsibility on us all in public life, especially preceding such an important decision, to get out there and make the case, whatever our view.

Along the Great Tweed Trek route, David Parker (as a committed supporter of yes) and I (as a committed supporter of staying within the UK) used the opportunity to debate with each other in the evenings, in a relaxed format which we dubbed “the referendum blether”. We enjoyed all of the meetings, particularly the lively event at the Eildon Centre in Coldstream. Thanks to all who came along.

The different meetings along the way gave local people the chance to come and hear both sides of the debate in a robust but civilised (!) fashion and I hope people enjoyed them. What the Australian tourist, American couple and Danish TV crew made of the ‘blethers’, I can only guess, however.

I have just completed the first part of my programme of community advice surgeries which has taken me to the most rural parts of the Borders, from St Mary’s Loch in the west to St Abbs in the east, Oxton in the north and Hermitage in the south.

One of the things that constituents have consistently raised with me is the subject of broadband which, if it exists, is too slow in their areas - I fully appreciate their concerns.

Access to fast, never mind super-fast broadband is a necessity and on the back of concerns that people rightly raised with me I will be writing to BT and other providers to get more detail on what they plan to do to address this. I will keep applying pressure on all the providers to ensure that access to broadband in rural areas is high on their agendas.