ARMED FORCES: Last Saturday was our annual opportunity to honour the men and women in our armed services as part of Armed Forces Day.
Day in, day out our armed forces risk their lives serving our country and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I know that for many, this day brings back sad memories of lost loved ones and it was a poignant day for those who have been injured in service.
Here in the Borders we have a special connection with our armed forces, not least through the connection with Earl Haig at Bemersyde. Ten days ago I attended the Founder’s Day service for the Royal British Legion Scotland at Dryburgh Abbey, which was well attended by people from the Borders and across Scotland.
COURTS: As someone who has campaigned against the court closures in the Borders ever since they were threatened a few years ago, I welcomed the results of the recent feasibility study into the future of justice services in the Borders.
The study has recommended the retention of courts in Jedburgh and Selkirk which is great news for our local justice services. I am also very pleased to hear that the study has been approved by the Scottish Court Service board.
The proposed court closures would have been extremely damaging to access to justice in the Borders, with local people having to travel miles to have their cases heard. I will however continue to work with local groups to ensure that the future of the courts is secured once and for all so that justice provision in the Borders is protected.
ROAD TO REFERENDUM: In the lead up to the referendum I have been working hard to ensure that we debate Scottish independence here in the Borders as we make one of the most important decisions of our lifetimes.
I know that many people feel ill-informed as to what is at stake so a few months ago I launched a series called the Road to Referendum. These are local meetings held across the Borders which are an opportunity for people to discuss and debate the question of Scottish independence. I have added a few extra dates to this series including an evening at the Melrose Corn Exchange on Thursday 24th July from 7pm. If you would like to attend this meeting please feel free just to turn up.
BOOK FESTIVAL: This year’s Melrose Book Festival has been described by many as one of the best yet and I would certainly agree! With a fantastic line up of authors, events and seminars, there was a distinct buzz about the place. I was pleased to be able to attend with Paddy Ashdown who described it as 'the most hospitable literary festival in Britain’. I want to congratulate everyone who organised the festival for making it such a success and I have no doubt it will continue to grow in popularity and prestige in years to come.