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Ex-Olympic skier visits Cumbria

Former Olympic skier Chemmy Alcott has been in the Lake District this week sampling Cumbrian produce.

The 33-year-old, who announced her retirement after competing for Team GB at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, was senior British national champion five times. She is now the brand ambassador for The Lakes Gin which is produced at the Lakes Distillery near Cockermouth. Founder and Managing Director Paul Currie says it's currently the second most visited distillery in the UK.

On a visit to the centre this week, Chemmy watched chefs preparing herdwick lamb and locally caught trout. She told ITV Border she loves coming to Cumbria and is looking forward to skiing here next time.

Racecourse pulls in the crowds

Carlisle Racecourse Credit: ITV Border

Crowds at Carlisle Racecourse have risen by nearly 25 per cent during the first six months of the year.

A total of 19,323 spectators attended fixtures at the city track from February to the end of June (there is no racing at Carlisle in January). That is an increase of 3,711 on the same number of meetings over the same period in 2014.

The biggest single increase was recorded at the Easter Saturday family fun day on April 4 which drew a crowd of 4,636 compared to 3,068 12 months earlier.

Last year's January to June total of 15,612 covered 11 meetings, including one in February which was called off because of bad weather. This year's figures also included one abandonment in February - but crowds were up at eight of the subsequent nine fixtures.

"We're absolutely delighted with the increase in our attendances for the first six months of the year. I'd like to thank everyone who has supported us by coming along to our race meetings so far in 2015. "More and more people are discovering what a great day out it is at the races here at Carlisle. We have superb, modern facilities and the standard of both jumps and flat racing is continuing to rise as we attract increasing numbers of top trainers, owners and jockeys."

– Geraldine McKay, Carlisle Racecourse's general manager

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WATCH: Lorry driver shortage

Long hours, unsociable shifts, training costs and a high demand for online goods - all factors which are leading to a growing shortage of lorry drivers both nationally and locally.

In Cumbria and the north east an extra 1,700 hundred drivers are needed. The Road Haulage Association says the situation is deteriorating fast with more and more companies struggling to recruit. Kate Walby reports.

87 jobs lost with closure of Borders textile mill

Robert Noble Mill Credit: ITV Border

A Scottish Borders textile mill is to close with the loss of 87 jobs.

Moorbrook Textiles, the owner of textile brands Replin Fabrics and Robert Noble, has announced that the group’s mill in Peebles is to close.

The company revealed in May that it was seeking a buyer for the mill and had begun a 30-day consultation period with its 87 employees.

Despite some initial interest from potential buyers, no credible offers for the facility have been received and the management team say they have been left with no option but to announce the mill’s closure.

“Over recent weeks we have had discussions with a number of groups interested in purchasing the business but regrettably these have not resulted in any credible offers.

“We are extremely disappointed that, despite significant investment in the mill over the last 10 years, we have been unable to secure a buyer.

“We fully appreciate the impact closure will have on our employees and the local community and our focus in the coming days will be on supporting them at this difficult time.

“In addition, we will continue to work closely with our customers, suppliers and government agencies to do all we can to minimise the impact of closure.

“As part of these discussions we will begin planning for decommissioning of the site itself, as well as consulting with staff on the completion of existing customer orders.”

– Ian Laird, Managing Director of Moorbrook Textiles

A date for final closure of the site is expected to be confirmed shortly.

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Borders broadband boost

Programme Director for Digital Scotland – Liz Mallinson, Barrie Sweenie from Openreach, Mid-Berwickshire Ward Members – councillors Donald Moffat, John Greenwell and Frances Renton welcome broadband to Leitholm. Credit: Digital Scotland

More than 1,300 homes and businesses in and around Leitholm and Coldstream can now connect to fibre broadband.

The 300 homes and businesses in Leitholm and the 1,000 in Coldstream are among the 16,000 Scottish Borders premises now able to access fibre broadband due to the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout.

To celebrate the occasion, Mid-Berwickshire Ward Members – councillors Frances Renton, Donald Moffat and John Greenwell - and members of the Digital Scotland programme unveiled one of Leitholm’s new fibre cabinets – with a golden 16K sign attached to mark the event.

Combined with BT’s commercial coverage, it means that more than 38,000 premises across the Borders can now sign up with a service provider to receive fibre broadband.

As part of the day’s events, the Digital Scotland team were also in nearby Coldstream at the Court House Place Car Park where residents were able to attend a special drop-in event. Representatives from the Digital Scotland team were on hand to get people up to speed with the technology and provide advice on signing up with a service provider.

The £410 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme aims to provide fibre broadband infrastructure to parts of Scotland not included in commercial providers’ investment plans.

The local premises are among more than 350,000 across Scotland which can now access fibre broadband services at speeds of up to 80Mbps* as part of the rollout, being delivered on the ground by engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach.

Fibre broadband enables multiple users in a home or business to access the internet, download and share large files at the same time more quickly than ever before. In order to take advantage of the higher speeds now available, residents should contact their service provider.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has contributed £8.4 million to the Digital Scotland rollout in addition to block funding from all the Scottish local authorities.

“It’s great to see that the Digital Scotland programme is making its way across the Scottish Borders, particularly in to some of our more rural and smaller villages. Fibre broadband opens up new opportunities for businesses and homes, as well as rural life.

“We know how important access to high-speed internet technology is to both residents and businesses – which is why Scottish Borders Council chose to invest £8.4 million into the programme’s rollout, to ensure as many people as possible can benefit from it.”

“Being connected can make such a contribution to all aspects of everyday life and work, and it’s great that Leitholm and Coldstream are now able to join the rising tide of communities which are already feeling the benefits.”

– Cllr Stuart Bell, SBC’s Executive Member for Economic Developmen

SNP: Tories 'imposing austerity budget' on Scotland

Stewart Hosie Credit: PA

The SNP has criticised George Osborne's budget, saying it continues the Conservative government's "harsh austerity agenda".

They say the budget has been "imposed" on Scotland:

George Osborne’s Tory budget will hit hard working families, the poorest and young people the hardest. He has continued with his harsh austerity agenda - particularly the savage cuts in tax credits. Any increase in the living wage is of course welcome, but the reality is that the good will be undone by the Tory cuts to the incomes of people who can least afford it. And the living wage in Scotland is currently £7.85 - George Osborne is proposing to see it effectively lowered to £7.20.

This Budget was a sermon from the high priest of an austerity cult - taking from the poor and hard working people and giving to the richest. The Tories' cuts in the living standards of young people are particularly severe, including scrapping student grants. The SNP Government will continue to deliver grants for the poorest students in Scotland, demonstrating the benefits of having these powers in the Scottish Parliament, rather than in Tory hands at Westminster.

There were measures which we welcome such as the freeze in fuel duty, but there was nothing in the Budget to encourage innovation or exports.

The UK Government are imposing this austerity Budget on Scotland on the basis of having a single Tory MP north of the border - the electorate in Scotland overwhelmingly rejected austerity at the election by returning 56 SNP MPs, and the Tories secured their lowest share of the vote in Scotland since 1865.

This Budget underlines the need to have economic and welfare powers in Scotland, so that we can build a more dynamic economy to boost tax revenues, and a fairer society where policies benefit the many, not deliver tax cuts for millionaires."

– Stewart Hosie, SNP
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