May 2019

Trust playing key role in shaping town's future

I believe one of the good news stories of recent years has been the Stranraer Development Trust (SDT) as they strive to stimulate the economy of the town.

With more than 200 members -- and growing -- they are able to speak with greater community authority as they seek support and funding for projects to assist in the regeneration of the town.

I was pleased to recently meet with with some of SDT trustees and was impressed by their energy and drive.

Their 'Gateway to Galloway' project is very worthwhile and is aimed at raising the profile of Stranraer as a logical stopping off point for visitors arriving in the west of the region by ferry, road or rail.

In particular, since the ferry companies moved to Cairnryan, there has been a trend amongst too many arriving visitors to turn left towards Ayrshire rather than making the short six-mile journey down to Stranraer.

The STD aims to promote the town by highlighting existing attractions and highlighting regeneration schemes already progressing or campaigning for lower budget objectives such as improved road signs at key locations. 

Stranraer, with the Rhins on its doorstep, is an ideal base to explore the west of Dumfries and Galloway, and the Trust has a valuable role in helping drive projects forward.


Making our coast safer

The wild and rugged coastline of Dumfries and Galloway is spectacular but with that beauty also comes danger.

That's why services such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), who have volunteer crews at Kippford, Kirkcudbright, Stranraer and Portpatrick, are so vital.

They complement independent inshore rescue crews such as those at Port William, Mossyard and Glencaple and support the HM Coastguard units covering the entire Solway area.

With summer arriving and hopefully many visitors flocking to enjoy our area the number of call-outs is expected to rise.

The rescue teams, in particular, rely on public donations to keep their essential services available 24/7 to help save lives.

I would like to congratulate all the crews who make the coastline of my constituency safer and also those working quietly in the background such as the various fund-raising committees and individuals.

It was good to see that the volunteer-run RNLI Shop at Kippford has just undergone a substantial refurbishment and will be open daily for the rest of the summer.  My congratulations to all concerned.


Brexit effort

With MPs now back at Westminster after the Easter recess I believe it is imperative that no time is wasted in trying to secure a majority vote for an orderly agreed Brexit.

Most of my constituents want the current uncertainty to end and I will continue to do my utmost to persuade colleagues, in the national interest, to support a deal as soon as possible. 

I'm encouraged that cross-party discussions are continuing as one of the few certainties is that ending the current impasse is in the best interest of the country as a whole.


Change focus

What is definitely not needed, in my view, is the inevitable further damaging uncertainty north of the border which is being caused by Nicola Sturgeon's latest demand for a second independence referendum in Scotland by 2021. 

I would urge the First Minister to focus more on everyday issues like health, education, transport and, in particular, investing in key roads outside the Central Belt such as the A75 and A77.


Special month

Finally, best wishes to my MSP colleagues as they look forward this month to celebrating the 20th anniversary of the founding of the devolved Scottish Parliament, originally housed in the Church of Scotland General Assembly building at The Mound in Edinburgh.

Whatever our political views and frustrations, history shows us that democracy, with all its checks and balances, is the best and fairest system of government, which helps preserve the freedoms we all enjoy.