John Lamont is Conservative MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

Car Park Tax

The SNP got their budget passed last week and I’m afraid it is a case of yet more taxes.

The gap between what a senior nurse, doctor or head teacher pays in income tax in Scotland compared to England has got even wider, which will only make recruiting those positions more difficult in the Borders.

And another measure which I know is causing a lot of concern is the SNP’s plans for a £500 tax for some people to park at work. Thankfully, Scottish Borders Council have ruled this measure out for staff here in the Borders. For many here, driving to work is the only option and slapping a tax on people for doing so would have been regressive and unfair.

However, there is no good news for the 4,000 or so Borderers who drive to Edinburgh to work. The SNP led Edinburgh City Council are very keen on this measure and it could mean many people who commute from the Borders to the capital are hit with this tax. The £500 or so charge will apply equally to the most senior and the most junior staff members and for many it will be a huge charge, just for trying to get to work.

It’s time the SNP thought again and dumped their Car Park Tax.

Mobile Roaming for Rural Areas?

The UK Government has proposed plans to require mobile operators to implement roaming in rural parts of the UK. The proposal has gone out to consultation and it calls on Ofcom to look in to the idea where consumers can access other operators when they do not get coverage from their own operator.

A lack of mobile phone signal is a huge source of frustration for far too many communities in the Borders. Like a lack of broadband coverage, having a decent mobile signal is holding businesses back and is really unfair for consumers who are paying the same as everyone else for an inferior service.

The UK Government is committed to extending mobile coverage to 95 per cent of the UK’s landmass by 2022. Recent figures show that only 78 per cent of Scotland’s landmass has coverage from at least one operator and much less has good coverage from them all, so there is clearly a lot of work to be done.

I certainly support these proposals, which have the potential to vastly improve mobile signal in the Borders. The ability to hop on to another mobile operator’s signal if your own provider does not cover the area would be a great idea for rural parts of the Borders.

Advice Surgeries

My next round of advice surgeries will be taking place this Friday (March 1). I’ll be holding them in Hawick, Selkirk, Galashiels, Melrose, Greenlaw and Eyemouth. As always, no appointment is necessary, so please put the date in your diary and if there is an issue I can help with, do come along.

If you want to get in touch about an issue at any other time, please feel free to email me on or call my constituency office in Hawick on 01450 375948.