Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition.
A New Phase
Last week I was very grateful for all the very kind comments I received locally after finishing as Secretary of State for Scotland.
It was a huge privilege to serve as Scottish Secretary for over three years. The constitutional debate reached a rather critical point in that time and I am proud of the part I played in it as part of the government so far. I intend to continue to contribute, if from a different vantage point.
Delivering more powers for the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act and negotiating the Edinburgh Agreement to secure a legal, fair and decisive referendum were two particular highlights of my time in the Coalition, but much of my effort was spent on the economy and the other challenges facing people across Scotland.
Throughout my time in government I drew on great support from people across the Borders. I am hugely grateful for that support and was proud to draw attention to the region in the work that I did nationally and internationally. We have much to be proud of and to shout loudly about.
My top priority as local MP will continue to be encouraging investment for job creation, campaigning for faster and more reliable broadband, and supporting our thriving farming sector.
I could not have juggled my responsibilities as successfully as I have over the past 3 or so years without my great friends here in the Borders: thank you all so much for making a challenging time as manageable as possible!
Last week I had the chance to meet with representatives from the Crown Estate, Scottish Enterprise and the Eyemouth Harbour Trust for one of our bi-annual ‘Eyemouth Renewables’ meetings. The purpose of the meetings is to discuss the ways in which Eyemouth can benefit from the wind farm development in the Firth of Forth. Offshore wind energy generation aims to deliver a quarter of the UK electricity needs by 2020 and the Forth Array will play a vital part in generating this level of renewable energy.
As a group, we are dedicated to ensuring the local community benefits from the enormous economic potential of the project. At this meeting we discussed specifically how the group may be of assistance to local businesses in advising them on supply chain plans, as well as discussing the new marketing strategy to advertise the excellent opportunities that the port offers for businesses and developers. As the local MP I have been hugely aware of the challenges faced by the fishing community here in Eyemouth over recent years and a project such as this provides a huge economic opportunity for our highly skilled skippers, mates’ engineers and crews. Their expertise will be extremely valuable for the developer during the construction and ongoing maintenance of a wind farm in these waters.
I recently launched a local initiative, as part of the Liberal Democrats’ ‘A Million Jobs’ campaign, to boost the amount of apprenticeships in the Borders.
Apprenticeships are a really effective way of tackling youth unemployment. They are mutually beneficial to employers and employees. Not only do they help young people to develop the training, skills and experience they need to enter fulltime paid employment, they also benefit businesses, who gain real value from the skilled staff they have trained.
I believe that apprenticeships offer a great opportunity for businesses and young people. They are not just for the traditional trades but can be in anything from marketing to business administration. Apprenticeships help businesses reduce recruitment costs, lower staff turnover and improve productivity.
Over the next few months I will be working with local businesses and stakeholders to try and encourage more of them to take on apprentices. I am looking forward to welcoming many of these businesses to an Apprentice Showcase in the near future.
* Michael Moore is the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk.