Every week Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here’s this week’s edition.
Mobile phone coverage
Mobile phone service ‘not spots’ across my constituency remain a huge frustration for local people and have a serious knock-on effect for businesses and Borderers going about their daily lives. As local MP, I have been working for many years to tackle this issue and I have welcomed the UK Government’s commitment, through the Mobile Infrastructure Project, to invest £150million to improve mobile phone signal in rural areas and on key transport routes.
Last week I met with the new company Everything Everywhere or EE – a merger of Orange and T-mobile – to discuss the improvements they are planning to bring to customers in the Borders. During the meeting, EE outlined that they will be investing a substantial amount in the area, most of which will come through in 2014, to improve the network and rollout 4G services. This news is very welcome and I look forward to this investment making a real difference to the service we receive locally.
Through correspondence I have recently received from Vodafone I am also pleased to hear that Vodafone and Telefonica UK (O2) plan to strengthen their partnership by creating one national grid which will run each operator’s independent spectrum. In their correspondence they outlined that this will result in a nine fold increase in the number of Borderers who will be able to get decent 3G mobile internet signal indoors. They plan to deliver this improvement by 2013/2014 and I will certainly be following up them up on this commitment.
Here in the Borders we have a strong connection to the British armed forces with many of our local men and women having served abroad, in the two world wars or in more recent conflicts in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan. The sacrifice made by so many was especially brought home this week with the sad news that, on Remembrance Sunday, a member of the Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 Scots) was shot and killed at a patrol base in Helmand Province. Our thoughts and prayers are with the soldier’s family at this incredibly difficult time.
In my role as Secretary of State for Scotland I was honoured to be able to take part in the Royal British Legion Scotland’s Parade and Service of Remembrance in Edinburgh on Sunday and lay the wreath at the Stone of Remembrance. It was a very moving ceremony and service and it was a privilege to be involved and pay my respects to all those who have fallen.
* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.