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The people of Hawick have had a rough time of it recently. A seemingly relentless recent succession of nicely named storms have caused major flooding in the town over several weeks now, stretching right back to before Christmas. A bigger blow for the town and people was the closure and redundancies at both the Hawick Knitwear and Hawico textile factories, resulting in job losses that the local area can ill-afford.

We were keen to attend the recent Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) event at Hawick Rugby Club on 15 January. PACE had organised a Redundancy and Skills Fair to provide support to Hawick Knitwear employees who had lost their jobs, by offering advice and essentially a place for everyone to get together and take stock. The event was a great success and we played a small part in ensuring that folk who lost their jobs were aware of their legal right to lodge an Employment Tribunal claim for a Protective Award of damages in lieu of consultation and notice of their redundancy.

More importantly, it was great to see so many other agencies and business turning out to help the local people who had just suffered the loss of their job, most after many years of loyal service.  

However, events like this are really applying “first aid” to a more pernicious ailment that afflicts Hawick and the whole of the Scottish Borders region and beyond. That is the effect of the declining textile and manufacturing industries in the wider Border region.  

We were therefore delighted to hear that the Scottish Government Minister for Business, Energy & Tourism Fergus Ewing MSP was holding round table discussions in Hawick with a view to attracting business and jobs back to the Hawick area.  Also, we wholeheartedly support local MSP John Lamont’s call for the creation of an “Enterprise Zone” focussed on Hawick, within which favourable business rates and conditions generally would be offered to businesses from all sectors to try to encourage them to invest in the local area and its people.  As we all know, businesses bring jobs with them and jobs are what people in Hawick and the surrounding area depend upon for their livelihood.  

And what about bringing the Borders Railway to Hawick? The recent flood-related damage that forced the closure of the West Coast Main Line for several weeks seems to support the case for re-opening the railway line between Edinburgh and Carlisle through Hawick. That’s certainly the case that’s been put forward by the Campaign for Borders Rail group, in their campaign for enhancement and extension of the Borders Railway. We certainly see from our Galashiels Office that the town is as bustling and busy as ever, and many people think that the arrival of the Railway has a big part to play in that.

So, as a local business with a strong social conscience, we stand in solidarity with the efforts of Fergus Ewing MSP, John Lamont MSP and many others to bring jobs to Hawick so people can earn a fair and decent living.  We wish them every success with the plans for the “Enterprise Zone”, and any other enterprising effort aimed at boosting Hawick’s economy, its people, and the wider Borders region.

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