Last week big decisions were made in both parliaments including on triggering Article 50 and passing of the new Scottish Budget. Clearly, there are lots of strong and differing views on both topics but I felt unable to support a budget that makes taxes higher in Scotland than south of the border as I believe it will have a detrimental effect on our local economy. I also believe that now we are leaving the EU it is best to get on with the task in hand and that politicians of all parties should be working together rather than revisiting the arguments of the referendum.
In addition to the budget, I had quite a busy week in the chamber asking a question on funding for legal aid and speaking in a debate on Female Genital Mutilation ahead of the International Day of Zero Tolerance. Although the subject matter is deeply unpleasant and in no way easy to research or discuss I was proud to be able to share a story with my fellow MSP’s told from a young Somalian girl who had experienced FGM first hand.
On a more local level I was also pleased to have the chance to talk up Dumfriesshire during a debate on Scotland’s year of History, Heritage and Archaeology in the Chamber where I spoke about Dumfriesshires vast rural landscapes and some of our deepest rooted traditions and I've posted a video of my speech which can be found on my Facebook page.
Back in the constituency I visited Young’s Scampi Factory which is one of the largest and employers in Annan, I was extremely impressed with the factory and even more so with the pride every member of staff has towards what they produce from their hometowns, it is, in my opinion, a business Annan and Dumfriesshire should be proud to have based locally. However, while certain areas of the constituency are thriving with business many others are struggling. Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy Paul Wheelhouse travelled to Langholm for a jobs summit for which i attended alongside representatives from community, the local council and local businesses owners. The meeting was a chance for the community and government to come together and provide solutions and ideas for how best to save jobs and reignite businesses in the town. I passionately believe in the strong sense of community in and around Dumfriesshire and if where local residents can continue to work together we can unlock positive opportunities.