Every week, Michael Moore MP writes a column for local papers in his constituency. Here is this week’s edition.
In Berwickshire we have a stunning coastline with a fine fishing industry and some of the best prawn, crab and other catches in the country. Last week I was at Burnmouth Harbour to meet John Aitchison, the harbour master, and John Affleck, a local fisherman, to discuss the current issues facing the industry and particularly in Burnmouth. We met over lunchtime so I was treated to some delicious sandwiches, made from freshly caught crab off the east coast. I was lucky – this crab is not only sold and eaten in the UK but it’s shipped all across Europe, right down to Spain and I know why.
But this was not the real point of the meeting- a few months ago I launched the government’s Coastal Communities Fund in St Abbs, which will see millions of pounds made available for the economic development of Scottish coastal communities. During the meeting at Burnmouth we discussed the possibility of a group from Burnmouth applying to this fund to modernise the facilities at the harbour in order to attract visitors and benefit local fishermen.
Like other Berwickshire coastal communities who are working on bids, Burnmouth harbour would be an ideal recipient of these funds. I will continue to meet with them as they develop a bid for the next round of funding in 2013. These are challenging times for our fishermen here in Berwickshire and this type of support to modernise and diversify facilities at the harbours could provide a major, much-needed boost to the villages and towns on the coast.
Eyemouth is another of our fantastic harbours which is working hard on its future. So it is great to hear of new boat-building contracts being won in the town.
Separately, I have been working with the Harbour Trust, the local council and other stakeholders for a while now to draw together plans to ensure that Eyemouth also benefits from the offshore wind developments in the Firth of Forth. Eyemouth would be the ideal location for an operations and maintenance port to serve the Neart Na Gaoithe project with its deepwater basin, easy access from the A1 and the local expertise of our engineers and skippers. Plans for the wind farm are developing slowly but it is great to see the Harbour Trust well-prepared to launch their bid for operations and maintenance support when the time comes.
Post Offices are a vital part of our local communities here in the Borders and under the previous Labour Government it was terrible to see so many closed across the region. Since forming the Government, the Coalition has committed to end Labour’s closure programme and invest £1billion of extra funds to safeguard the service for the future.
Last week I met with Borderer, Mervyn Jones, Commercial Director of the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters and the Lib Dem Post Office Minister Norman Lamb to discuss the Government’s plans to modernise the Post Office Network. It is vital that the voice of sub-postmasters is heard during this process to ensure that the Government’s investment is spent in the most effective way to benefit customers and those working in the Post Office and this was a productive and positive meeting.
* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.