Boom and bloom time for rail

hanging basket
hanging basket
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Well, a round of applause to all who campaigned for the return of the central Borders railway line – 500,000 and still rising.

I’m meeting Phil Verster, the charming MD of Scotrail (I do hope he reads this), to talk about a few issues.

The Stow matter has been resolved, though I do miss the collective chant as we corrected the automatic announcement.

However, what can be done to prettify the stations? Spring is round the corner and I want to see tubs bursting with daffies and tulips. Tubs and hanging baskets which shout “here is Stow, here is Gala” and “we are good places to stop”.

You know a front garden tells you a lot about the occupants. So do stations.

Anyway, if you want to be part of “Adopt a Station” and, yes, they do exist, let me know and I’ll point you in the right track.

Oops … as for a comfort zone – AKA toilet – at Tweedbank, I am pursuing, though no promises.

Buses

Of course, it’s not all about trains.

There are many still travelling by bus, so another meeting coming up is with Paul McGowan, chief of First Bus East. He’s a decent cove too (I do hope he is reading this), and we exchange views on the services Borders-wide.

Let me know any issues you wish to raise and I’ll do just that.

Policing

You may or may not know that I not only chair the justice committee, but the policing committee at the Scottish Parliament.

Next week I will be meeting up with the divisional commander for the Borders and Midlothian – and not just to talk about legislation we have passed which affects policing in Scotland.

We recently, at committee, discussed with the Solicitor General for Scotland what improvements had been made for detecting rural theft – sheep, tractors, diesel and so on – following an enquiry we had. Indeed, I met with local farmers myself and theft for them had been mainly of sheep.

I will be raising this with her and any other issues you want to bring to my attention.

Support local shops

I always say that the difference between a male and a female politician is that women shop.

It does mean when I’m in Melrose or Gala while on business, I also get the chance to browse and buy and not just for myself, but for family and friends.

I was at the opening of a new craft shop in Galashiels’ Channel Street – proprietor Alexis Shillinglaw. I have huge regard for our small businesses and for the effort which goes into them and wish her every success.

While I am on the topic, and while the transport hub and surroundings set a good tone, the empty shops in Bridge Street must deter the train traveller from wanting to venture further into Gala.

I know Energise Galashiels has heroically done its bit – but we do need radical moves to improve this gateway into Gala.

Your thoughts?