John Lamont is Conservative MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

Broadband delays

You may have read recently that the Scottish Government’s much heralded R100 broadband programme is finally seeing some progress. Although it is already a year behind schedule (and it’s not even begun yet), we do at least now know that BT will be awarded the contracts. Quite why it took so long to make this decision, particularly when for two out of the three areas BT was the only bidder, is anyone’s guess.

Yet again the Scottish Government is full of excuses, the latest seems to be about funding from the UK Government. The truth is that it is the Scottish Government who are responsible for the delivery of broadband on the ground and they alone who are letting down businesses and residents in the Borders.

The truth is that Scotland has been given more funding per head than any other part of the UK yet thanks to the SNP’s mismanagement we are still lagging behind. To make matters worse, the Scottish Government are still sitting on £21 million which they were given in 2014 to improve broadband.

Now these contracts are due to be signed at the end of the year, there is no hope of the SNP delivering this project by 2021 as originally planned. They need to own up to this and give us a new timetable so that those of us stuck with a poor service can decide what to do.

Police Officers

I spent a bit of time with local officers in Hawick on a Saturday evening shift. It was part of an initiative called ‘Give a Day to Policing’ and it was a real eye opener. I was able to speak to officers and senior officers at the start of their evening shift and spend some time in a patrol car in Hawick and Galashiels.

Officers across Scotland make a huge contribution to our local communities, helping keep people safe and tackling crime all year round. It is absolutely vital that they have the support they need to do this important job.

In England and Wales, an extra 6,000 officers are being recruited next year and within a few years that will rise to 20,000. This all means an extra £75 million in additional funding next year alone for the Scottish Government. Although it is up to the SNP to decide how to spend this money, I think they need to ensure that the extra money is used to invest in frontline policing, particularly in rural communities like the Scottish Borders.

General Election

It won’t have escaped your notice that a General Election in December has now been backed by MPs (although the SNP and Lib Dems for some reason didn’t vote for one). A December General Election is far from ideal, but Parliament’s constant failure to come to a decision has made it inevitable.

This election is about getting Brexit sorted, but in Scotland it will also be a vote on another independence referendum. Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear she wants to form a Government with Jeremy Corbyn so that she can hold another divisive referendum on leaving the United Kingdom.

I don’t want that to happen and I’m sure the majority of the Borders don’t either. Next month you will all face a very clear choice between myself and Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP candidate.