True grit needed to weather the storm

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LAST winter it was snow ... this time it is storm-force winds which have tested the mettle of Borderers at the dawn of another year.

The devastation of Tuesday was so widespread it will take some time before the tally of damage, not to mention inconvenience – especially for the many homes left without power – is finally totted up.

And, save for us all living in bombproof houses, there is really no-one to blame and, anecdotally at least, the savagery of the elements did, as ever, bring out the best qualities of neighbourly resolve in our communities.

But more persistent, ominous and man-made clouds are gathering, generating an uncertainty which made the New Year celebrations palpably muted for many Borderers.

Some have already succumbed to this austerity and what is left of the workforce at Perident in Tweedbank will soon be heading for the dole queue as their employers seek out the warmer production climes – and peppercorn wages – of Malaysia.

And if the patent desolation of many of our town centres is an accurate portent, our jobless legions will soon be swelled from the retail ranks.

We report this week that researchers have placed the Borders 12th out of 32 Scottish areas in terms of our vulnerability to the public spending cuts we know are coming.

We think that is an optimistic rating for a region which, according to all known other data, still boasts the lowest pay rates – and the highest number of retired folk – in mainland Scotland.

But what the number-crunchers cannot gauge is selfless generosity of spirit and real grit – trademarks of the Borders and needed now more than ever.