Issued 4th September 2013
BORDERS CHAMBER CHIEF URGES REGION TO SPEAK WITH ONE BUSINESS VOICE
Business leaders and politicians in the Borders need to pull together if they are to make the region a better place than ever to live and work, it was claimed today (Sept 4)
James Aitken, the outgoing Convener of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce, told his organisation’s annual meeting that different local groups and factions had to sort out their differences and act for the good of the area as a whole.
He said that local organisations had to “act transparently” and “make a huge effort to meet and talk to their respective stakeholders.”
Mr Aitken continued: “It does no-one, least of all business in the Borders, any favours to see yet another war of words between different groups and factions when it is likely that regular and transparent communication from all sides would solve many of the perceived issues.”
But he pointed out that historic difficulties between business organisations in the region were now being addressed and thing were moving forward.
The SBCC had recently held a joint meeting with the Federation of Small Business, and has also been instrumental in setting up a new umbrella body, the Scottish Borders Business Forum.
The Forum is holding its first event – a discussion of local transport issues – on September 14.
But on a more positive note, Mr Aitken continued, there were a lot of great things happening locally including improvements at Eyemouth Harbour; the new 3G sports arena; our Sevens tournaments; the Borders Book Festival; the first palliative care unit; a site for the Bill McLaren museum; and the successful refurbishment of Abbotsford House.
“If one phrase sums up the position of the Chamber this year, as opposed to last year, it is: improving but still lots more to do. Our financial position is much healthier, our membership continues to grow and what the Chamber is saying and doing is regularly covered in the press.
“The membership of the board is obviously an ongoing process and the Chamber is always looking to hear from local business people who would like to get involved.”
He added: “One thing I have not had as much success on as I would have hoped is the make-up of the board. It is still male dominated. That simply has to change and it is something that the board is looking at again.”
Mr Aitken, a partner in and co-founder of Legal Knowledge Scotland, is stepping down as the Convener of the Chamber after two years in the post.
His successor as Convener is Jack Clark, the recently retired Managing Director of Borders auctioneers John Swan and a leading and hugely respected business figure across the region.
Issued on behalf of Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce – 27 August 2013
Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce Programme to Create Graduate Jobs
Scottish Chambers of Commerce – including the Borders Chamber – are today announcing the nationwide launch of the Graduate Recruitment Incentive.
This will provide support to small businesses across Scotland to create quality jobs for talented young graduates.
The First Minister, Alex Salmond, launched the programme today (Tuesday) in Campbeltown as part of an announcement on the Make Young People Your Business policy initiative.
The launch comes only a week after the First Minister and other members of the Scottish Cabinet were in Hawick for a series of community engagements including visits to local businesses.
James Aitken, Convener of the Scottish Borders Chamber, explained: “Businesses here in this part of Scotland have the knowledge, ambition and drive to deliver the growth that the Scottish economy needs right now.
“We’re pleased that the Scottish Government is supporting this private-sector led initiative to help small businesses to create new jobs for Scotland’s talented graduates.”
He added: “We all want to see the Borders play a leading role in strengthening Scotland’s economic recovery and this requires dynamic, growing businesses, creating quality jobs.
“That’s why I am delighted that our small businesses in will have the opportunity to participate in the Graduate Recruitment Incentive, to create new and exciting jobs for our most talented graduates.
“Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce is committed to supporting local firms and helping them to make young people a part of their businesses.
Young employees can provide real benefits to local companies, bringing knowledge and enthusiasm. A career that starts in a small business creates great potential for a young graduate, providing the opportunity to learn a range of skills and make a real contribution to that business’s success.”
For further information:
Bruce Simpson – 07771 865758 or email@example.com
1. The Graduate Recruitment Incentive is part of a partnership between Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Adopt an Intern and the Scottish Government called Graduate Employment – Business Growth, that comes under the Scottish Government’s ‘Make Young People Your Business’ policy initiative.
2. The First Minister, Alex Salmond, will launch the Graduate Recruitment Incentive today, 27 August 2013 at MacLeod Construction in Campbeltown at 3:45pm as part of an announcement on the Make Young People Your Business policy initiative.
3. The Graduate Recruitment Incentive’s objectives are to:
a. Encourage the creation of new, permanent, graduate positions
b. Provide tailored support to employers navigating the recruitment process.
c. Deliver Career Zones to encourage a culture of engagement between SMEs and graduates
4. The Graduate Recruitment Incentive is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered nationwide by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce
5. The Graduate Recruitment Incentive will create 270 jobs by the end of March 2014.
6. Any Scottish based business with fewer than 50 employees is eligible to take part.
7. Participating businesses will receive £1,500 subsidy per position created, along with fully funded pre recruitment business support to assist with creating the job spec, job advert and assistance with advertising, followed by fully funded post recruitment business support to assist with induction, embedding and setting up performance management of the new position.
8. Businesses seeking further information about the Graduate Recruitment Incentive should visit the programme website,
Issued on behalf of Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce – 27 August 2013
Borders Chamber Reacts to Eyemouth Job Losses
Reacting to the news that Coastal Marine Boatbuilders of Eyemouth has gone into administration with the loss of 16 jobs, Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce Director Bruce Simpson said:
“This is clearly very bad news for Eyemouth and all our sympathies are for the workers and their families. The Scottish Government has signalled it will do everything it can to help and to try and facilitate a buyer for the business and we obviously hope its discussions are successful.
“The irony is that the company had recently won a contract to build support vessels for the offshore wind industry. Renewable energy is an important and growing economic sector in the Borders and across Scotland and offshore wind in particular offers fantastic opportunities.”
He added: “We understand there have been several expressions of interest in buying the assets of the company and we hope these will result in a successful outcome and a bright future for the business.”
For further information:
Bruce Simpson – 07771 865758 or
Issued on behalf of Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce – 14 August 2013
Borders Chamber says Scottish Cabinet must listen to region’s concerns
Scottish Cabinet ministers have been urged to “look, listen and learn” when they travel to the Borders next week for a hectic two-day round of meeting and greeting.
The region’s leading business organisation, the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce, say that the visit represents a major opportunity to ensure that local issues are brought to the attention of those at the very heart of government.
The Scottish Cabinet will be meeting in Hawick as part of a series of events next Tuesday and Wednesday (20th and 21st). It travels around the country on a tour every summer, though it is the first time it has been to the Borders since it met in Melrose in 2009.
James Aitken, Convener of SBCC, said today that the visit was hugely welcome – but he urged that Cabinet Secretaries should take on board what they hear from local business chiefs and opinion formers when they are here.
“We would also ask that those organising this visit ensure that the itinerary is in place and made known earlier so that as many people as possible can engage with the Scottish cabinet,” he said.
“It’s fantastic that ministers are taking the trouble to come to the Borders. Sometimes we can feel remote from the centre of power in Edinburgh – seeing the Scottish Government’s top team here is a strong sign that far from being forgotten about, they want to hear our concerns.
“This is a great opportunity to raise the profile of the Borders, but two things need to happen – organisations in the region such as SBCC need to tell them what the main issues are, and they have to take on board these concerns and act on them. They need to look, listen and learn.”
The SBCC has its own hit list of local priorities where it believes the Scottish Government can play a part in bringing change and improvements.
“Transport is an obvious issue – the fact that we’re getting part of the Borders Railway back is brilliant news and absolutely vital to the future of our economy, but it needs to go beyond Tweedbank,” Mr Aitken explained.
“It’s a good start, but to really maximise its potential, there now needs to be a second round of funding to restore the original route closed by the Beeching cuts of the 1960s, taking it on to Hawick and then Carlisle.”
“Road communications are also poor here, and it’s important that – while we appreciate the constraints on spending in the current recession – we expect to see plans for the full dualling of the A1 between Edinburgh and Berwick at some point soon. There is also an urgent need for the creation of additional passing lanes on the A7 and A68.
“Transport is one of the issues being given priority by the newly-launched Scottish Borders Business Forum, and we need to hear that the government fully recognises its importance.”
Other issues Mr Aitken highlights include the decline of the textile industry in the Borders; the need for fast rural broadband; putting pressure on Border TV to provide distinctively Scottish news and current affairs programmes; and a change in the red meat levy to assist Borders farmers.
“Although it appears that the Scottish Government is already in full agreement with us on many of these things, actions speak louder than words. That is why it is important that ministers are regularly reminded of the importance of these issues to the region.”
For further information on this release, please contact James Aitken on 07818 440046 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Borders Chamber presses for change to “bizarre” animal slaughter rules
Controversial rules over animal slaughter mean that money which could be helping Scottish farmers is going to competitors south of the border instead.
Now the leading business organisation in the Scottish Borders is demanding a change to the “bizarre” system which rewards UK farmers as opposed to promoting the Scottish product.
Lambs and pigs from the Borders can’t be slaughtered locally because there are no longer any abattoirs in the region.
But this means that – despite them spending all but the last few hours of their lives in Scotland – they are promoted in England as British product and lose their Scottish brand.
The money is used to promote consumer sales of meat – but the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce has launched a campaign on the issue, saying the cash should come back north and be used to support Quality Meat Scotland instead.
Jack Clark, a director at the chamber and the recently retired Managing Director of St Boswells-based auctioneers John Swan, said: “Frankly, the current situation is bizarre. It’s discriminating against Scottish – and in particular, Borders – producers.
“This is Scottish quality meat – born in Scotland, raised in Scotland and taken from Scotland only for slaughter. It’s only fair that the money should be used to promote our fantastic meat products throughout the UK.”
Mr Clark said that the closure of Vion’s meat plant at Broxburn just outside Edinburgh last year exacerbated the problem of lack of slaughter and processing facilities in Scotland.
“This has been a problem for years, but it’s becoming more serious”, he added. “The First Minister has recently written to the Prime Minister about the iniquities of the present levy system and that’s clearly helpful – it’s good to see he’s on our side.
“In addition, Richard Lochhead, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, is applying considerable pressure to Defra, the department responsible in Whitehall, over this.”
Mr Clark added: “In total, Scottish farmers are losing about £1.4 million a year. That money should be going to help promote our excellent Scottish meat – including, of course, that produced in the Borders, where agriculture is a vital industry.
“Changing the scheme wouldn’t be difficult with the traceability systems the livestock industry has in place – it would just involve tagging the levy onto the animals’ country of birth, rather than where they are slaughtered.”
In his letter to David Cameron, First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Scotland deserves the right to spend all the levy income it contributes to the benefit of the Scottish industry.”
Mr Clark and his colleagues at SBCC are also pressing for a fresh examination of the feasibility of opening and financing a small scale abattoir in the Borders – a move which would help boost the local rural economy.
Issued on behalf of Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce by Written Words
For further information: contact Jack Clark on 07818 451152
BUSINESS AND POLITICAL LEADERS PRAISE ‘IMAGINATIVE’ TV CHANGE
TOP business and political figures across the South of Scotland today (Tuesday) warmly welcomed a major TV shake up which is set to give viewers in the region much better coverage of Scottish affairs.
Under new plans announced by the ITV regulator Ofcom, Border TV will have to provide an additional 90 minutes of distinctively Scottish programming every week.
This finally opens the door for viewers in the South of Scotland, which is served by Gateshead-based Border, to receive the much-acclaimed Scotland Tonight current affairs programme which is produced by STV.
At present, viewers in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway receive ITV programmes slanted towards the north of England, with virtually no coverage of Scottish issues outside local news programmes.
The rest of Scotland receives programmes from STV, which is heavily committed to reflecting the current Scottish political debate.
Ofcom, which has been conducting a consultation on the future of ITV programmes, announced today that from next January, Border TV will have to show at least 90 minutes a week of distinctively Scottish programming.
They also say that this may be shared with STV, paving the way for Scotland Tonight – the station’s flagship current affairs programme – to be seen in the Borders region for the first time.
This is considered to be particularly important because there is a widespread belief in the South of Scotland that the region is missing out on the vital debate over Scotland’s future in the run-up the the independence referendum, set to be held in September next year.
Scotland Tonight is seen as an important part of this process.
Ofcom cannot force Border TV to show the programme – it will have to be agreed as a commercial arrangement between the two broadcasters – but leading opinion formers in the South of Scotland now say they hope a deal can be done.
Television chiefs from the two stations don’t even have to wait until next January – the rules allow them to sort out a schedule and start transmissions as quickly as they like.
Scottish Borders Council, which used its consultation response to back plans for Border TV to include more Scottish programming, said today it was “delighted” at the announcement.
The authority’s leader, Councillor David Parker, commented: “We warmly applaud this imaginative and open thinking at ITV. It looks as if viewers in the South of Scotland may now finally receive the coverage of Scottish affairs which they deserve.
“The Scottish Borders has always prided itself on its distinctive history, culture and traditions, but it is also very much a part of Scotland and wants and needs to engage with the rest of the country.
He added: “Whatever happens in next year’s referendum, the Scottish political landscape is changing and will continue to change radically in the years ahead.
“Borderers and those living in Dumfries and Galloway have as much of as right as anyone else to be properly informed about what is happening and to have their voices heard.
“Ofcom has now signalled that it agrees. We now urge Border TV and STV to rise to the challenge and work together to ensure that our region receives the serious and comprehensive coverage of Scottish current affairs which it deserves.”
James Aitken, Convener of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is fantastic news and we would encourage Border TV to seize the initiative as quickly as possible.
“As we said in our response to the consultation, we are currently unable to see lots of programmes that the rest of Scotland is watching. Greater coverage of our amazing region can only be good for local businesses.
“Re-broadcasting Scotland Tonight in our region means we can finally engage properly with the Scottish political debate.
“However, we’d urge Border TV to go beyond their licence obligations and consider re-broadcasting other distinctive Scottish programming from STV, including STV Rugby – which would make it easier to see local players such as British Lion Stuart Hogg playing for Glasgow – and the Young Scot Awards.”
He added: “Of course all-Scotland programming could work both ways – it could mean, for instance, that viewers in the rest of the country could watch and enjoy many of our distinctive Border traditions, such as our rugby sevens tournaments and our common ridings and other festivals and gatherings.”
Gordon Mann, Chief Executive of Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce, said: “We welcome this and look forward to a return to a dedicated news service relevant to our region.
With the Scottish Parliament charting out a different course from Westminster and the upcoming debate on independence, it makes more sense for us to be part of the Scottish debate and to hear first hand about these issues.
“The idea that you can effectively deal with the South of Scotland as an opt out from an ITV station serving the massive north east regions of England was never going to work.”
Under the new licensing arrangements there will also be a return of a dedicated local news service, with 30 minutes of weekday early evening news relevant to the region.
Issued on behalf of Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce, Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce and Scottish Borders Council by: Written Words.
For broadcast interview requests or further information please contact:
Maggie Stanfield or Andrew Collier
T: 07403 753801 or 0131-202 6050
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
22 April 2013
TOP HOLYROOD POLITICIAN TALKS OF HIS PASSION FOR THE BORDERS
ONE of the leading politicians in the Scottish Borders will put himself under the spotlight this week when he talks about his work both as an MSP and at the heart of the Scottish Government.
Paul Wheelhouse, who is an SNP regional member for the South of Scotland and also the country’s Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, will discuss his work and take questions at a special discussion event organised by the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce (SBCC).
The conversation with Mr Wheelhouse will be hosted by Andrew Collier, a Director of SBCC who is also a journalist, broadcaster and political communications consultant. A question and answer session will follow.
Andrew Collier said: “I’m looking forward to hosting this public conversation with Paul Wheelhouse, who is very much an active and popular local MSP here in the Borders as well as being one of the Scottish Government’s rising stars.
“Paul lives in Berwickshire and has his constituency office in Hawick, so he’s very much on top of local issues. I know that he has a huge and genuine passion for the region. This event will be an ideal chance for him to tell us about what he and his fellow politicians are doing to make the Borders a better place to live and work.”
Mr Collier added: “Paul’s job as Minister for the Environment and Climate Change gives him responsibility for some of the most challenging issues of our times. Global warming isn’t an abstraction – it’s here and it’s happening right now.
“You only have to look at the long hard winter we’ve just had, last year’s appallingly wet summer and the floods we’ve suffered here in the Borders to see that weather patterns are changing.
“Wind farms in this area represent one attempt to deal with this challenge by helping Scotland’s move to a low carbon economy. They are an example of how robust environmental policies can bring jobs and investment to places like the Borders.
I’ll be interested to hear Paul Wheelhouse’s views on how else we in this region can benefit from the green agenda.”
James Aitken, Convener of SBCC, said: “We’re pleased that a leading Holyrood politician is able to come and talk to local people in this way and to answer what I’m sure will be some very interesting questions from the audience.
“The age of the political public meeting may have gone, but it’s still important that our elected members have opportunities to engage directly with their constituents and answer questions and I’m glad we’ve been able to facilitate that.
“We believe that SBCC should not only be the leading voice of business in the Borders, but also act as a forum for all sorts of debate about what sort of a region we want and how best to promote ourselves to the rest of Scotland and beyond.
“Talking to politicians is an important part of this process, and we’ll be continuing to engage with them in the future and to let them know what our priorities are.”
The event, In Conversation With Paul Wheelhouse, takes place at Mansfield Park (Hawick Rugby Football Club), Hawick this Friday, 26 April, at 12.30 for 1pm. Admission is free for both SBCC members and non-members.
3 April 2013
2nd April 2013
25 February 2013
CABINET SECRETARY RICHARD LOCHHEAD PAINTS BRIGHT FUTURE FOR THE BORDERS
SCOTTISH countryside supremo Richard Lochhead set out his vision for the country’s rural economy when he paid a visit to the Borders last week.
The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment said that the region had a big role to play in boosting Scotland’s prosperity through the high quality of its agricultural products.
Mr Lochhead was speaking at a packed event organised by the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce (SBCC) at the Cardrona Hotel, near Peebles.
He said that if Scotland voted for independence in the 2014 referendum, farmers and the local rural economy could win a better deal through a fairer settlement from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
At present, he told his audience, Scotland was towards the bottom of the payments pile when it came to CAP payments, losing out by hundreds of millions of pounds because the UK government didn’t negotiate properly on our behalf.
Mr Lochhead added that the atmosphere leading up to next year’s referendum would be “electric” and said that with a yes vote, the opportunities for rural Scotland would be “limitless”.
He continued: “We want your ideas and input as a business community as to what we could do.”
Rural issues important to the Borders such as broadband, mobile phone reception, the renewable energy grid and the price of fuel were all currently regulated by Westminster, he said, but would be dealt with by a Scottish government after independence.
The Evening was chaired by Jack Clark, the outgoing Managing Director of Borders auctioneers John Swan, who is also a Director of SBCC. At the end of the event, the Cabinet Secretary presented him with a gift on behalf of the chamber.
Mr Clark said: “It was fantastic that Richard Lochhead could find the time to come and talk to us – especially since he is currently spending much of his time dealing with the horsemeat scandal.
“He gave a thoughtful and interesting address in which he reflected the views of the Borders rural community that the horsemeat issue actually offers us an opportunity.”
“It has made consumers extremely cynical about cheap imported foreign food, but at the same time they are putting their trust back in the sort of high quality Scottish meat we produce here in the region and elsewhere in Scotland.”
He added: “We are proud of our tradition of producing sustainable, premium quality meat, and this provides us with an extra opportunity to market it.”
James Aitken, Convener of the SBCC, said: “This was another highly successful event which once again proves that we are helping to set the agenda when it comes to the big business, social and political issues facing the Borders.
“It’s fantastic that we are able to attract speakers of the calibre of Richard Lochhead and helps to explain why our membership is vibrant and growing.”
Future events planned by the chamber include a debate on boosting tourism in the Borders and a high-profile conference on local media, including the controversial issue of the region receiving its ITV coverage from Gateshead instead of Scotland.
For further information:
James Aitken, Convener: 07818 440046
Andrew Collier, Director: 07403 753801
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Chamber has high resolution images of the event. To obtain copies, please contact email@example.com
February 12th 2013
SCOTTISH BORDERS CHAMBER TO HOST DEBATE OVER BETTER TV COVERAGE
MOVES to provide TV viewers across the Borders with improved Scottish news and current affairs coverage are to be made with a major debate in the region on the subject.
The Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce (SBCC) is to host a conference this summer at which broadcasters, politicians and local representatives will be encouraged to suggest changes to the current “unsatisfactory” television offering.
Along with the rest of the South of Scotland, the Borders receives its ITV programming from Border TV, which is based in Gateshead. Its nightly ‘local’ news programme, Lookaround, regularly features stories from as far away as the Lake District and the Cumbrian coast.
Anger over this was expressed at Holyrood last week when South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine led a members’ debate on the subject.
Ms McAlpine went on to tell MSPs during the debate that ITV was “in denial” about the problem in the south of Scotland. She is to meet bosses at the channel this week (Wed Feb 6th) to discuss the issue further.
SBCC convener James Aitken said after the Holyrood debate: “It is good to see the Scottish Parliament taking the time to examine our ITV news provision. We do though need to start talking about it ourselves and having a serious discussion about what should be done.
“That’s why we have decided to host our own event giving broadcasters and politicians the opportunity to come and make their own suggestions for improvement. We will then pass the results of our discussions on to the television regulator, Ofcom, and of course to the people of the Borders and the wider South of Scotland.”
He added: “There is a feeling in some quarters that, at a hugely exciting time in Scotland’s history, this part of the country is not being properly served by the ITV network in terms of local news. Borderers are as Scottish as anyone else, and have a right to the highest quality provision of news, information and debate on Scottish affairs.
“I want to make it plain that we have absolutely no complaint about the hard working and dedicated staff of Borders TV who currently serve our area. They are talented professionals who would do a great job no matter which ITV company employed them.”
Another SBCC Director, Andrew Collier, who is a professional journalist, said: “It is unsatisfactory that our local news comes from Gateshead and is more likely to cover events in Kendal or Keswick than Kelso. This area is not ‘our region’, as the Borders news programme presenters often call it.”
It may be, he added, that the Borders would get better and more relevant news coverage if it came from STV. “We have a rich history and culture in the Borders and the South of Scotland generally. There are some great things happening here. The rest of the country deserves to hear about them.”
He continued: “We’re fully aware that – despite Joan’s excellent and impassioned debate – there is little the Scottish Parliament can do to change things, as broadcasting is reserved to Westminster. But people living here should be asked what they want, and STV should certainly be given the chance to tell us what it can offer us.”
Joan McAlpine said: I’m extremely pleased to hear that the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce will host a conference this summer where broadcasters, politicians and local representatives will be encouraged to suggest changes to the current television provision.”
She continued: “At a time of such political importance in the lead up to the referendum on Scottish independence, it is vital that viewers in this area receive the same coverage from both sides of the debate as the rest of the country.
“I will not let ITV ignore the strength of feeling on this issue. Viewers in the south of Scotland deserve better.”
February 11th 2013
SBCC CHIEF URGES BORDERS BUSINESSES TO UNITE AND FIGHT
BUSINESS organisations in the Borders can win a far better deal for the region if they are prepared to work together and speak with a single voice, according to the Convener of the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce.
James Aitken will make a keynote speech at a top-level meeting which is being organised by Scottish Borders Council this weekend.
The event, at the council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells, has been organised to discuss creating a Borders Business Forum which would provide a single campaigning voice for businesses interests right across the region.
In his speech, Mr Aitken – a lawyer – will warn that without such a forum, the views of business in the Borders will struggle to be heard.
“It is very easy for politicians to ignore us if we are not clear in what we are asking or arguing for,” he will say.
“It is no exaggeration to say that these are momentous times for Scotland. There will be a referendum on independence in 2014. Scotland could again be independent by 2016. Then there is the possibility of a referendum on UK membership of the European Union.
“These are some of the reasons we need a Borders Business Forum.”
Mr Aitken will warn that the lack of a unified campaigning front representing Borders business has had damaging consequences in the past, including the original loss of the railway in the 1960s, recent threats to its re-opening, the loss of the Border Reivers professional rugby team and the lack of improvement to local trunk roads.
He is not, he will say, arguing that existing business organisations should disband and create a single entity. “The idea of a Borders Business Forum is not that we will agree on everything. Of course we won’t.
“There are, though, certain issues that we could come together and debate. These might include the campaign to extend the Waverley line to Carlisle, superfast broadband, the quality of our TV and media coverage and the dualling of the A1 to the English Border. There are of course others.
“There are also so many great things going here in the Borders that we need to let more people know about. There’s the new visitor centre at Abbotsford House, and Eyemouth Harbour can now receive cruise ships. Our first crematorium is now in operation and a second is planned. Then there’s the new 3G sports arena.”
Other exciting events which deserve wider promotion, he will say, include the Borders Book Festival, the Border Union Show, common ridings and our Sevens tournaments.
“Plans are now in place for a purpose-built mountain bike chairlift at Innerleithen. A site has been found for the Bill McLaren Museum and of course there’s the start of construction of our railway.”
“My idea of a Borders Business Forum is not a body that imposes its thoughts and ideas on all the business organisations in the Borders. It is not a governing body. Business organisations can play as much of a role as they wish and one that they are comfortable with.
“Think of how much stronger we would be if we shared some of our knowledge and resources. And think how strong our voice could be if we speak as one on the major business issues affecting the Borders.”
January 21st 2013
BORDERS CHAMBER LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO WIN NEW MEMBERS
ONE of the most dynamic business organisations in the Borders is mounting a drive for new members – with the promise of fighting harder than ever to promote the interests of local companies.
The Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce (SBCC) is seeking to branch out after spending the last year re-establishing itself as one of the most important and respected voices for all sizes of business in the region.
Over the last few months, it has fought on a number of local issues and also attracted some of Scotland’s major politicians to top-level speaking events – a trend which is set to continue.
Events in the last few months have included networking events with former enterprise minister Jim Mather and MEP Alyn Smith. There have also been meetings with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and MSPs Christine Grahame and Chic Brodie.
There will be more high-profile speakers this year including an evening with Richard Lochhead, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, at the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel near Peebles on February 20. A session with local MSP and climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse is also being planned for the spring.
Only last week, the chamber held a membership and recruitment evening at Abbotsford House, the historic home of Sir Walter Scott, which was attended by Sean Connaughton of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.
James Aitken, the SBCC’s Convener, said that the organisation now had real clout and was able to speak with authority on behalf of business in the Borders.
“Our membership is already vibrant and growing, but we have a huge amount to offer and clearly the more members we have, the stronger and more respected our voice will be.
“The Borders is an absolutely fantastic place to live, work and run a company, with lots of things going on and a real sense of optimism and pride. We are delighted to be part of that.
“The Chamber is able to represent all sectors of local business, from retail and tourism through to service industries, manufacturing and agriculture and the rural economy. We aim to fly the flag for our members when it comes to hugely important local issues such as the railway, fast broadband, rural issues and renewable energy.
“We’re also keen to develop mutually beneficial links with other business organisations, whether it be here in the region, in other parts of Scotland, and of course with our neighbours across the border.”
He added: Our membership offers fantastic value for money and those who join us get a lot back in return. We’re an active organisation, provide some great services and networking opportunities and have a lot to say. I can promise that being a member can also be great fun.”
There are a number of additional benefits including a members’ newsletter, representation on social media, social events and a range of attractive discount deals on services.
James continued: “We don’t receive any outside funding, so we’re almost entirely dependent on our membership income. But we have worked hard to keep our overheads and therefore our costs down, which means we can afford to freeze our fees for this year.”
Anyone interested in joining the chamber of finding out more should contact Alan King at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 20th 2013 (Wednesday)
Organisation: Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce
Venue: Cardrona Hotel, Peebles
Time: 7 for 7.30
Guest Speaker: Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment
Network Meeting featuring Richard Lochhead MSP Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment. During the evening, he is expected to discuss the future of the Borders economy, important farming issues, how the rural community will fare under independence if Scotland votes Yes in 2014, and the possibility of a UK referendum on EU membership.
February 16th 2013
Venue: Council Offices, Newtown St Boswells
Time: 9am – 11am
Subject: Borders Business Breakfast
Bookings: Contact Bartje Mcgee on 01835 824000 ext 8224 or if SBCC member let Bruce know.
Scottish Borders Business Forum event to discuss the need for a common voice on business issues. Agenda: 9am Light Breakfast 9.30 Background – Cllr Stuart Bell 9.40: Guest Speaker Duncan Nisbet, Next Generation Broadband Step Change 2015 Project (Scottish Government) 10.05: Why a Borders Business Forum – James Aitken, Convenor, Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce. 10.20: Discussion on the current issues faced by Borders businesses. 10.50: Proposals for next steps.
December 6th 2012 (Thursday)
Venue: Town House Hotel, Melrose
Time: 4 for 4.30
For over 30 years Scottish Business in the Community has been Scotland’s lead organisation promoting responsible business practice. At an event in Edinburgh on Thursday 8th November Scottish Business in the Community launched its new business HUB concept designed specifically to help small and medium enterprises to work together improving their impact on society, the environment and the economy.
A network of Hubs is being established throughout Scotland including the Scottish Borders. The Borders Hub will work with a diverse and wide geographic area to help enable businesses to work together – from textiles and forestry to tourism and hospitality the Hub will build on the work of Scottish Business in the Community’s Senior Executive Programme. The Hub will also work with other business support organisations in the area through collaborative projects that develop businesses and address social and environmental challenges in the region. On Tuesday 6th December Scottish Business in the Community will be joining with the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce for an initial meeting at the Town House Hotel, Melrose to which all interested parties are cordially invited.
November 23rd 2012 (Friday)
Event: Members pre-Christmas informal social meeting
Venue: Salmon Suite, Buccleuch Arms Hotel, St Boswells
Time: 1pm to 2.30pm
Informal buffet lunch and pre Christmas drinks to which all members are invited together with invited guests.
November 8th 2012 (Thursday)
Venue: Cross Keys Hotel, Kelso
Time: 7 for 7.30
Guest Speaker: Alyn Smith MEP
Alyn Smith MEP will be the guest speaker and his topic will be “Scotland’s food producers – bedrock of our economy”. This event will be of particular interest to the Borders agricultural and farming community but by no means exclusively.
Alyn was born in Glasgow in 1973 and grew up in Scotland and Saudi Arabia.
He returned to Scotland in 1986, and later studied Law and European Law at Leeds University and spent a year studying on the Erasmus Programme at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He graduated from Nottingham Law School in 1996 and gained a Master’s degree in European Studies from the College of Europe in Natolin. He also, for one year, taught English in India and worked with Scotland Europa in Brussels. He later moved to London where he qualified as a lawyer with commercial law firm Clifford Chance.
Having worked with the SNP for a number of years, he was elected as an MEP for the first time at the 2004 European Parliament election and was re-elected in 2009. He is Scotland’s youngest MEP and is Honorary President of both the youth wings of the SNP, the Young Scots for Independence and the Federation of Student Nationalists, as well as a member of the SNP’s National Executive Committee.
In the European Parliament he is a full member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and won the coveted Scottish Farmer Magazine award for “Outstanding Contribution to Scottish Agriculture” at the Highland Show in 2009.
He is therefore a man with many achiements even at such a young age and his talk is bound to be both informative and entertaining.
The meeting commences at 7 for 7.30 and is free for members. Non-members will be charged £10 and are very welcome.