John Lamont is Conservative MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

ATM closures

It was really disappointing to hear from NoteMachine, the UK’s second largest ATM provider that they intend to start charging for more than half of their cash machines across the UK. Some in the Borders are likely to be affected as NoteMachine has free ATMs in Hawick, Galashiels and Jedburgh.

It’s true that people are increasingly moving away from cash and paying by other methods. But cash still has a really important role to play, particularly in rural communities where the infrastructure often makes it more difficult to go cashless. And some people just prefer to handle cash. Customers are right to object to having to pay for the privilege of withdrawing their own money.

I’m particularly disappointed with the way in which NoteMachine are going about this, which is to start charging for less well used machines. Sure this will affect fewer customers, but it will disproportionately affect rural communities like the Borders. I’m meeting the chief executive this week so will be pushing for a rethink.

This is an issue which the Scottish Affairs Committee has also been looking at. We found that losing ATMs had a massive impact on local businesses, which is why I’m backing calls for the UK Government to look at whether greater legal protection is needed for cash machines, particularly in rural areas.

CAB visit

It was great to pay a visit to the team at Youth Info, a really important service run by the Citizens Advice Bureau in Hawick. It was their 10th birthday and so they were celebrating all the young people they have been able to help over the years. They can provide support on all sorts of things from problems with housing, to finding job and even advice on personal relationships.

You can get in touch with YouthInfo@CAB through a variety of ways. You can pay a visit to one of their Bureau’s across the Scottish Borders, call them on 07508331513, or email via

Council Budgets

You may have read the worrying news that, because of budget cuts from the Scottish Government, Scottish Borders Council is facing a £30 million black hole in its finances.

The situation is so serious that council officials are suggesting a three per cent council tax rise each year for the next five years. I don’t think this would be the right move, particularly as many families are seeing their income tax rising as well, but it goes to show how underfunded councils across Scotland are.

The UK Government is increasing public spending elsewhere in the UK, which means the SNP have a further £1.2 billion to spend next year. There really is no excuse for the Scottish Government, they need to start treating councils fairly.

It is really galling to hear local SNP politicians dismiss these budget cuts, just like they dismissed them while they were in power. Independent figures from the Scottish Parliament’s own researchers make it clear that the SNP in Holyrood are responsible for slashing local authority budgets and council leaders elsewhere are making similar complaints. If SNP councillors in the Borders had stood up to their masters in Holyrood while they were in charge, we wouldn’t be in this situation.