Heart goes out to Burgons staff

Burgons of Eyemouth, Harbour Road
Burgons of Eyemouth, Harbour Road

My heart goes out to all 81 staff and their families at Burgons who are now facing the prospect of being out of work in the run up to Christmas.

Of course, in a relatively small town like Eyemouth, the closure of Burgons will have a disproportionate effect on the Berwickshire community and will undoubtedly have knock-on results for local fishing boats and for local businesses.

I met with the directors at Burgons the day after the news was announced and the team there are doing a very difficult job well.

I have no doubt the directors are looking at every opportunity to avoid redundancies and there is still hope.

But I think they need help, which is why I’ve written to the business minister, Fergus Ewing MSP, to ask him to look at setting up a stakeholders group to see if a buyer can be found and if jobs can be saved.

The Scottish Government is quite rightly already helping, as they are obliged to do with any larger scale redundancies, but they can do more.

When Young’s Seafood announced jobs were under threat at their two of their sites in the North East, Fergus Ewing chaired a Joint Stakeholder Group, bringing together key players in the industry.

This helped safeguard jobs and avoid closures.

The same should and needs to be done for Burgons, the alternative would be a huge blow to Eyemouth.

Scotland Bill

Last week was a truly historic occasion for Scotland, as the House of Commons passed a new Scotland Bill.

This piece of legislation will make the Scottish Parliament one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world; more powerful than the federal parliaments of Germany or the USA.

The Scottish Parliament will soon be responsible for a majority of the money it spends and will have massive new powers over welfare, income tax, VAT and employment support.

This legislation delivers the Smith Commission proposals agreed by all parties in full, after a year of consultation, drafting and parliamentary process.

The Scottish Government will have added to its already extensive range of powers and responsibilities a number of significant new powers.

Yet the SNP, who never seem happy unless they have something to moan about, are still criticising the Bill, despite signing up to the Smith Commission.

The nationalists constantly claim the Bill doesn’t deliver on the Commission (or the Vow), but can’t actually provide one single example of why.

And the architect of the Commission, Lord Smith himself, says the Bill delivers on what was agreed. The irony is that during the process the SNP were lodging amendments which were rejected by the Smith Commission, like full fiscal autonomy, which would mean an extra £10billion cut out of Scotland’s budget.

The SNP needs to stop its constant grievance-mongering and must try to be a little more positive. They need to respect the result of last year’s referendum, must move on from endlessly debating about constitutional process and start talking about the real business of using these powers to improve the lives of Scots.

St Abbs

I am delighted to have been asked to be one of the trustees for the proposed independent lifeboat charitable trust at St Abbs.

The community is really getting behind the new station after the disappointing decision this September by RNLI to withdraw funding.

Funds are coming in fast, with the trust seeking to raise £250,000 to enable the community to buy a new boat and re-equip the station.