Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Too Many Bairns

Under the callous Tory Universal Credit system, benefits will only account for two children, more, then a woman has to prove the child is a result of rape. Yes you heard it here – 2018 and Dickensian Britain is alive and well. Now you would have thought no-one could possibly defend this, but step forward Michelle Ballantyne MSP, Tory spokesperson for social security and, according Ms Ballantyne, limit your family according your means. So if you are poor you shouldn’t expect the state to support more than two. This does not take account that to be on benefits is rarely, if ever, a choice. Folk in work can be on benefits or for a whole range of reasons: divorce, death of a partner, job loss, illness such as cancer. Never mind, if you find yourself in that position and you happen to have more than two children, unless you’ve been raped, tough. Ms Ballantyne herself is well-heeled, has six children and has claimed Tax Credits and Child Benefit. Foodbanks are overstretched because of the impact of Universal Credit but never mind, she is patron of a Penicuik Foodbank, so that’s alright then.

Premier Inn for a Premier Spot.

Now I like Tweedbank, it’s leafy with a lovely community but it is not the location for a 'budget' hotel. Taking visitors and folk to out-of-town retail parks has seen its day and many town centres are reaping the consequences with small local shops hard put to stay open. Galashiels I have long said is in need of a hotel like Premier Inn or Travelodge, especially with the Great Tapestry now being located there. Gala also has its train stop, the Transport Interchange linking visitors Borders-wide and sites just waiting for redevelopment. Those working in such a hotel would have public transport to work on their doorstep. To make matters worse, if Premier were to build at Tweedbank, which will not always be the railway terminus, satellite shops are on the cards: M&S, Costa and a food store. What incentive then to drive or take the train to Gala or elsewhere? None. The promoters say that locating the hotel at Tweedbank would help local businesses. How? The council in its policies undertakes to ensure that in its decisions it considers the impact on town centres. It should remember that and build in Gala. So I have written to SBC and Premier to make my views and determination known.


Well as my grannie said, “ah telt ye so”. Where the self-service swipe cards have been supplanting the librarian it has not been a happy transition. Mild chaos, no educational direction provided. I told SBC that librarians, and I speak as a former secondary teacher, are key to pupils making the most of books and understanding their value. A library is not simply a book supermarket with a self-service counter. Let’s hope, I hope not in vain, that Shona Haslam has learned at least that one lesson.