Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Scottish Land & Estates

I recently had a very interesting meeting with representatives of Scottish Land & Estates, discussing the issues relevant to our vital Borders’ rural economy. This is particularly necessary now in the light, or should I say dark, of what Brexit will mean to it. Scotland relies on its thriving food and drink producers and its landscapes attracting many tourists is in no way an accident but due to the care and maintenance of the countryside by the folk who live and work in it. The principal market for agri-food is the EU. Many farms rely on the CAP (Common Agriculture Policy) payments. Once we are out, that money would go straight to Westminster but would it then be distributed fairly across Scotland? Who knows? Schemes for farmers to diversify and take up eco-projects: hedging, woodland, ponds and so on also are often funded by money returned to Scotland from the EU. Will that still be the case? Who knows? Will the transportation of livestock from Scotland to Europe be held up at ports? What will be the result to the welfare of animals destined for slaughter in Europe? Who knows? None of this is good for our rural economy, the folk who work in it and our livestock and at the time of writing, I must ask, were our farmers, our landowners, indeed all of us, aware of these consequences? Mind you we did vote 62 per cent Remain and I suspect that Scottish vote would rise should there be now a second vote, but if the UK overall voted Leave, would we be back where we are now: being dragged out of the EU against our will and putting our rural economy in jeopardy?

Chief Inspector Stuart Reid

Another this month (among a range) was with the recently appointed Local Area Commander for the police in the Scottish Borders. We had a long ranging exchange about local issues and indeed the changed nature of local policing. While there are still opportunistic crimes of theft, the bulk of police work is now drug, alcohol and mental health related, which does however link in to the theft as drug users seek easy targets to fund their habit, and anti-social behaviour is often though not always linked to substance abuse or metal health issues. To meet these changing demands, the police operate Community Action Teams comprising a sergeant and six officers, who along with meeting local councillors endeavour to keep tabs on local issues and where required then use High Viz patrols as a deterrent. Also when necessary local police can tap into the additional resources at the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh for example it might need a helicopter to help search for a missing person. One phone call is all that is needed which is one of the many advantages of having one police force rather than eight constabularies and all the red tape involved in that.

If you do have issues for me to take up with either organisation do as always let me now.