Every week, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, writes a column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition.
Last week was an important one for local news coverage in the Borders as the broadcasting regulator OFCOM asked for views on its proposals to change the way local television news is provided here.
After years of shared news with Tyne Tees, they are now looking at options to return things close to the way they were in 2009. That would mean more coverage of the south of Scotland and particularly our part of it here in Berwickshire. I very much welcome this and hope we see a positive response to the idea. Despite the difficult period we have stayed pretty loyal to ITV Border locally and I think that can only be enhanced if the plans develop as set out.
At the end of last week, I met with senior council officials to discuss local concerns about the planning process for wind farms. The meeting allowed me to discuss the issues raised with me by local residents, most recently in Eyemouth a fortnight ago, about the whole of the decision making process, locally and nationally.
From my discussion, it is clear that the review of the local development plan this year is an important moment in determining wind farm planning policy. Work is already underway to inform the decisions the council will take and there should be opportunities for public engagement later in the spring. I welcome that.
Things continue to be tough across the country, but there was some good news on the jobs front in Scotland last week as unemployment fell by 13,000, to 206,000 in the period October to December 2012.
This means that the Scottish unemployment rate is 7.7 per cent, which is just below the average of 7.8 per cent for the whole of the UK. There was also a welcome fall in the number of people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance with 5,200 fewer claimants in Scotland compared to one year ago and 172 fewer claimants here in the Borders.
In my constituency, I am continuing to work with Job Centre Plus, local businesses and the Council to tackle this issue. I particularly welcome the steps taken by some local businesses to help young people enter the job market, by offering apprenticeships and work experience placements. These provide vital opportunities for our young people, enabling to take that first step into work and I want to encourage any businesses which do not have any such placements to consider whether they would be able to get involved.