Borders still in shock over rally tragedy

My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who were so tragically killed at the weekend as they watched the Jim Clark rally.

Likewise, I hope those who have been injured will have a speedy and complete recovery.

The emergency services and countless others worked tirelessly on Saturday following the accidents, and it is important that we all acknowledge and pay huge tribute to their efforts.

There is still a palpable sense of shock everywhere in the Borders this morning, as there has been throughout the weekend. We also understand locally that the tragic loss of life is felt across the country and amongst all who follow motorsport.

Like many in the Borders, I have followed the rally myself on many occasions and find it hard to take in what has happened this year. Many questions are now being asked and we must ensure that Police Scotland, the sport’s governing body, the rally organisers and other agencies, such as the council, all have the time and resources required to ensure they are answered.

I welcome the announcement of a review into motorsport safety in Scotland and will do all that I can to aid Police Scotland, the Motor Sports Association, Scottish Borders Council and other key stakeholders, in their investigations.

Digital Forum

In a rapidly-changing world, the speed at which we communicate with one another is of increasing importance to our quality of lives.

Alongside Scottish Borders Council, I recently hosted the Borders Digital Forum in Hawick to discuss various issues, including broadband and mobile phone coverage. The event brought together senior figures from BT, the Scottish Government’s Digital Scotland Initiative, mobile phone companies and mast operators.

When the local community works closely with partners, we deliver results.

Just a few weeks ago, I was delighted to welcome the news that Earlston, Lauder and St Boswells have been announced as the next areas to be connected to high-speed fibre broadband, thanks to the further roll-out of the £410million Digital Scotland partnership.

The scale of the challenge of delivering fibre broadband into rural areas like ours outstrips any other part of the UK and will generate significant economic benefits, including new jobs and increased productivity.

The forum was a great opportunity to update a series of local elected representatives, as well as a cross-section of local business leaders and constituents, about the progress being made in delivering increased connectivity to the region.