Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie was the first ‘big gun’ to visit the Borders in the run-up to the May 5 polls when she toured businesses in Selkirk on Friday, writes Andrew Keddie.
Here to support John Lamont, who is seeking another term as an MSP in the extended new seat of Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Miss Goldie met Hilary Buchan, a director of tartan specialist Lochcarron of Scotland, and was given a brief tour of the mill.
The duo then called in on Selkirk butcher J. C. Douglas before rounding off their tour with a visit to the Borders Brewery.
“Annabel was keen to learn at first hand about the challenges faced by local companies who are benefiting from the small business rates exemptions that we forced the Scottish Government to implement two years ago,” said Mr Lamont.
“There is no doubt that further encouragement is needed for private sector firms, helping them to recruit.
“The Scottish Government can help by ensuring there is sufficient investment in our colleges and higher education to ensure the skills are there when the recovery takes place and that is a clear commitment of the Conservatives.”
When the deadline for nominations closed at 4pm on Tuesday, nine candidates had entered the lists for the new, reconfigured and expanded constutuency as follows:
Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire – John Lamont (Conservative), Jesse Rae (no ticket), Euan Robson (Lib Dem), Rab Stewart (Labour) and Paul Wheelhouse (SNP).
The constituency and regional polls will be combined with the referendum on the UK Parliamentary voting system which will ask if MPs, currently elected under the first past the post, should instead by elected by the alternative vote system.
Applications for, amendments to and cancellations of postal votes must reach the Electoral Registration Officer at Scott House, Sprouston Road, Newtown St Boswells, TD6 0QD, by 5pm on Thursday, April 14. Applications to vote by proxy must go to the same address by 5pm on Thursday, April 21.
Meanwhile, Scottish Borders Council has warned that those who are not yet registered to vote must do so by Friday, April 15. To register, call 01835 825100 or print off the form from www.aboutmyvote.co.uk
The election will be held on Thursday, May 5 and the count for the Scottish Parliamentary seats will take place at Eildon Mill, Tweedbank.