Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore MP writes a weekly column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here’s this week’s edition, illustrated with a photograph of the Queen attending Cabinet yesterday.
Trip to US and Canada
Last week, I spent a few days in the US and Canada to promote Scotland and Scottish exports such as textiles and Scotch whisky. In Washington, I was pleased to be able to highlight the importance of the Scottish textiles industry which has its base in the Borders and in Canada, we discussed the opportunities for the Scotch whisky industry in the country.
Improving trade links with North America is absolutely vital for local businesses here in the Borders and across Scotland and during my visit I emphasised the importance of working together to bring down trade barriers and promote free trade. As a Government, we are committed to trade talks which could bring vast economic benefits to the UK and I was pleased to be able to make the case for Scotland to business people and parliamentarians in both countries.
Grants for Berwickshire groups
It was great to hear this week that three groups in Berwickshire have received funding from the Coastal Communities Fund which I launched in St Abbs last February. The purpose of the fund is to distribute half of the revenues from the Crown Estate’s marine activities to boost the economies of coastal communities. The bids from the Eyemouth Harbour Trust, the Eyemouth Museum trust and Seton Care were successful because they will undoubtedly provide such a boost.
The Eyemouth Harbour Trust have said that they will use their grant to part-fund a new pontoon for the town to help to grow the sail, dive and cruise tourism markets and increase tourist numbers. The Eyemouth Museum Trust Limited will use their funding to develop the museum which no doubt will also be a draw for tourists to the area. These projects will in turn bring economic benefits to local businesses and East Berwickshire as a whole as more people visit the area.
The third group, Seton Care training and employment programmes, have said they will be using their grant to provide training and work experience for young unemployed people. I am sure many local young people will benefit from the opportunities provided by the project to help them break into the job market.
I want to congratulate the groups for their success in securing this funding and I will certainly be working with other communities in Berwickshire such as St Abbs and Burnmouth ahead of the next round of CCF funding to bring more projects like this to the area.
Finally, as this is my last column of 2012, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year, with every success for 2013.
* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.