The SNP launched a charm offensive on the Borders this week as the party’s summer cabinet arrived in Hawick.
Leader Alex Salmond led a string of ministers on the first visit of its kind to the town, where throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, some of the party’s best-known faces appeared at various locations.
The highlight of the roadshow – which previously visited Melrose in 2002 – was a public debate held in Hawick High School on Tuesday where members of the public had the opportunity to grill the country’s top politicians.
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Unsurprisingly, the opportunity to buttonhole ministers on a range of issues has proved extremely popular at past events and I am looking forward to another stimulating discussion with the people of Hawick.”
But the previous day, the First Minister chose a visit to the recently unveiled bust of Hawick rugby legend Bill McLaren to announce a £2million boost to community projects across Scotland – confirming that £77,000 has been earmarked to help build three all-weather tennis courts in the town, as well as £39,000 to refurbish Ettrick Forest Sport and Recreation Club.
He said: “Glasgow 2014 will be the largest sporting and cultural event Scotland has ever hosted and with less than one year to go, there is a great sense of pride and excitement around the games. The investment in this community facility in Hawick – and many others across Scotland – is part of this Government’s vision to deliver a lasting legacy through the games, by improving local facilities and encouraging people to get active.”
Earlier in the day, during a visit to the town’s Barrie Knitwear factory, the First Minister confirmed that a special textiles summit was due be hosted by Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney.
Mr Salmond said he hoped the summit, held at Peter Scott & Co yesterday afternoon, would give other firms the opportunity to look to the example of Barrie Knitwear and use the reputation Scottish knitwear has across the world to expand to new markets, ensuring a bright future for the industry.
Elsewhere, the Minister for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, visited a site of community service work at Wilton Cemetery, before the entire cabinet joined local guests and officials at a civic reception in Hawick Town Hall.
Yesterday morning, the town’s Borders College campus played host to a Cabinet meeting, while in the afternoon Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrived at the Stonefield estate to see plans for a £10million investment in new and refurbished homes.
She said: “The regeneration of Stonefield will breathe new life into the area, creating much needed additional affordable homes.”
The SNP’s summer cabinet visit to Hawick was rounded off with South of Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse meeting with members of the Hawick Flood Group.