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Constituency report: Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

Photo: ITV Border

The Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency has been served by a Liberal Democrat since its creation.

Michael Moore won the seat when it was formed in 2005, but he had been an MP in the area since 1997.

In 2010 he received more than 45% of the vote, with his closest rival the Conservative candidate, and Labour coming in third.

But with the fourth placed SNP predicted to take a higher share of the vote this year, the overall distribution of the vote is set to change.

Credit: ITV Border

The constituency

Geographically, the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency spans from the coast to the upland hills.

It is a largely rural area, and includes the towns of Hawick, Jedburgh and Eyemouth.

At the last election, the result was as follows:

The Liberal Democrats were 11.6% ahead of their closest rivals, the Conservatives Credit: ITV Border

So what do those heading to the polls this May need to know?

At a glance:

  • Historically, the textile industry was a big employer in the region
  • Farming, fishing, and tourism are now the main industries
  • More than 20% of the population is over 65 years old

The region has attracted major fashion houses, like Chanel and Dior, in the past.

But as the textile trade has declined, fishing, farming, and tourism have become the big industries of the area.

For those whose income comes depends on fishing, protecting the River Tweed is concern:

Really what I am looking for from my local MP is somebody who is going to help to provide protection for the Tweed. Someone who is concerned about the river itself and what goes on in the valley.

"There is a lot of pressure on us at the minute with this freshwater fisheries review going through, and some of the things they are proposing are not good for the river, and I want an MP that is going to represent my views, and the views of the other people on the river and the generations that will follow us. We want the river to still be here."

– Mick Charlton, Ghillie, River Tweed

For those involved in farming, the Common Agricultural Policy reform is an important issue:

We really need someone to go to Europe and say look, we have had enough of it, we want a change, we want something to happen, because it's affecting us all this CAP reform. We are losing our subsidies, losing a lot of money."

– Stephen Withers, Farmer

And while the textile industry has been in decline in recent years, some companies are working hard to maintain the Borders' legacy and train workers with traditional skills.

They want support for this endeavour:

I think we need as much support as we can get, whether it is from training young people from school which I think is essential to give them opportunities, to helping us with exports and trying to get the markets, and on that front, exporting is now becoming very, very much more difficult."

– Robin Deas, House of Cheviot

And with an ageing population in a rural setting, transport is another key issue:

I think they should look more carefully at the bus service, because the service is slight. They are reliable and efficient but there are so few and I think they should give some thought to the buses."

– Attendee, Jedburgh lunch group

The Candidates

We asked some of the candidates standing for election on May 7 to tell us what it is that they think matters in the constituency:

Scottish Conservative candidate John Lamont Credit: ITV Border

I think the key issues for this election coming up are: jobs and opportunities for young people here in the Borders; transport links so that people, no matter how small their community, can get around on good buses and on good roads; health services, the importance of local community hospitals; and another big issue that people raise with me is connectivity, the fact that in many areas we don't have good phone signal or very good broadband reception."

– John Lamont, Scottish Conservative Candidate
SNP candidate Calum Kerr Credit: ITV Border

This election is between SNP economic ambition or Tory austerity. The Tories want to pile on even more misery. Only the SNP is committed to the vision we need. I have an action plan to bring in jobs and investment, to tackle poverty and create growth. The Borders has been forgotten about for too long. We can get the powers we were promised, and bring back prosperity."

– Calum Kerr, SNP Candidate
Scottish Labour Candidate, Kenryck Lloyd-Jones Credit: ITV Border

If you look up and down the high streets here, you'll see so many "To Let" signs. What we need is a vibrant economy, and we need jobs and opportunities for young people. Clearly, we also need better infrastructure and better transport links, and most of all we need hope, rather than a country that's run in the interest of the few, rather than the many"

– Kenryck Lloyd-Jones, Scottish Labour Candidate
Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate Michael Moore Credit: ITV Border

The Borders is my home and I really care about what happens here. In the last few years, I've been focused on making sure we get tax cuts for people on low incomes, we protect pensions, and we give real hope for young people with big investments in apprenticeships. But we are also looking to improve our infrastructure here, in terms of mobile phones and broadband, and over the next few years, make sure that the progress we've been making is continued."

– Michael Moore, Scottish Liberal Democrat Candidate

The full list of the candidates registered to stand in Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk is as follows:

  • Calum Robert Kerr (SNP)
  • John Robert Lamont (Scottish Conservative)
  • Kenryck Arthur Lloyd-Jones (Scottish Labour)
  • Michael Kevin Moore (Scottish Liberal Democrats)
  • Peter Thomas Neilson (UKIP)
  • Jesse Rae (Independent)
  • Pauline Stewart (Scottish Green Party)

Watch Jenny Longden's full report on the Berwickshire, Roxburgh, and Selkirk constituency:

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