Championing local small businesses

Small shops are often the hub of our local communities, bringing people together and providing jobs and services to the local area.

About a month ago, I heard about the Small Shops Competition which was being run from the UK Parliament and encouraged local shops in the Borders to apply.

I was therefore very pleased when I heard that Mainstreet Trading in St Boswells had made it onto a shortlist of 20 from 300 applications.

Mainstreet Trading is a fine example of a small, local shop which engages with the community and provides a fantastic place for people to meet, eat and shop in the region. I attended the reception last week where they were announced as one of two runners-up. It was great to see the Borders represented and doing so well, and I was pleased to be able to congratulate Bill and Rosamund de la Hey in person.

SCOT project

A couple of weeks ago, the Scottish Centre of Textiles (SCOT) project group announced that the centre would be based in Galashiels. Ever since I heard about the possibility of a Centre for Textiles, I have been working with the project leaders to ensure that it is located in the Borders, where 80 per cent of the textile industry of Scotland is based. We have a world-class textiles industry and this centre has the potential to further enhance its reputation, as well as boosting local tourism.

Choosing where to locate the project in the Borders has been a difficult process, but following a consultants’ report and discussions with key stakeholders, it was decided that it should be based in Galashiels.

I now look forward to working with the project leaders, our local textile industry and Heriot-Watt University to put in place the first stage of the project to establish a Scottish National Textile Archive, which will bring together historic and contemporary textile collections produced in Scotland, for the public and global researchers.

International affair

I am currently piloting a Bill through Parliament to enshrine in law the UK’s aid spend at the UN target of 0.7 per cent of our national income. International development and foreign affairs are among the top issues which my constituents contact me about, so it has been a real privilege to pilot this Bill through parliament. The Bill will enable the UK to focus on spending the aid effectively and sustainably, and enable us to better support long-term initiatives to end poverty, protect human rights, improve education and save lives.

The Bill concluded its report stage in the Lords last Friday and is due to receive its third reading soon at which point it becomes law.