College is solution, not the problem

Time was when the Borders was considered a special economic case, but the battle to have assisted area status conferred on our region now seems like a distant memory.

And public spending cuts filtering through Holyrood pay scant regard to the problems which distinguish us from other parts of Scotland.

A report just sent to Holyrood confirms that if you live and work here, you earn just over 80 per cent of the Scottish average wage.

If you don’t have a job – and an inordinate 34 per cent of our workforce is in the threatened public sector – you’re likely to add to the already bloated caseload of the Borders CABx which last year dealt with nearly 11,000 benefit issues – twice the level of five years ago.

And, of course, we stand alone at the top of the elderly population league with the highest percentage of over 65s in Scotland.

Against this backdrop comes the bombshell of cuts at Borders College whose principal Liz McIntyre, told MSPs last week that if a 20 per cent real terms funding reduction is imposed over the next three years staff will lose their jobs and student places will go.

That must not happen. The college, with thousands of willing trainees on its books, is not the problem but the solution if we are ever to emerge from the economic wilderness.