SARAH BEATTIE-SMITH

  • Best bits: Three great hustings in the Borders and getting out in the sun winning votes from Kelso to Dumfries to Fenwick
  • Worst bit: Coming to terms with the fact that there’s only a week left!
  • Folk of note: Rob from Dumfries and Galloway College for being so welcoming; Debbie from Borders Carers Centre and Rutherfords’ micro pub and Susan Rae for raising a tonne of money for a great cause and managing to keep 100 sci-fi and fantasy fans happy at GeekFest!
  • Miles travelled: 1,358
  • Things I learned: There’s 25 million tonnes of coal in proposed and agreed sites for opencast mines in Scotland, yet last year just 1.3 million tonnes were dug out and the last 5 coal-fired power stations are due to close by 2025.

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  • Best bits: Getting some really positive feedback at hustings, especially from folk who were previously undecided or had thought they’d be both votes SNP but who’d changed their mind when they heard me at a hustings whether in Kilmarnock, North Berwick or Castle Douglas
  • Worst bit: Not seeing nearly enough of Nat after spending much of my time away or travelling
  • Folk of note: Shona, Carl and the amazing team in Cockenzie, battling to protect and enhance their beloved greenspace by buying it out, despite knock backs.
  • Miles travelled: 1,074
  • Things I learned: The situation with broadband rollout in rural Scotland is even worse than I feared. Only half of homes have the promised super fast broadband, while the target is 95% coverage in just two years time.

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  • Best bits: Introducing Save Broomfield campaigners to Lesley Riddoch for some welcome advice and support on the next stage of their campaign and then getting a shout out on her podcast
  • Worst bit: My car making horrid sort of broken noises and needing to go into the garage
  • Folk of note: Elise and the team in the national campaign who worked really hard to pull off a great manifesto launch this week!
  • Miles travelled: 535
  • Things I learned: The minimum wage can be worked around if you employ agency workers from other EU states, so long as you pay them *their* minimum wage – according to the folk building the new waste to energy plant in Dunbar. Needless to say Unite were out in force protesting this week.

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  • Best bits: Knowing I played even a small part in saving buses in Dumfries and Galloway, alongside a fantastic bunch of Green campaigners
  • Worst bit: Being totally floored by stomach cramps all weekend.
  • Folk of note: Maggie, Amanda and Pip from the Scottish Rural Parliament who’ve been travelling around the South gathering views from rural folk on what should go in a manifesto to be decided in October.
  • Miles travelled: 538
  • Things I learned: Farm incomes in Scotland have halved in five years, just 12% of farmers are under the age of 45 and the proportion of land available to rent has halved in my lifetime.

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Biggar in rural South Lanarkshire

Biggar in rural South Lanarkshire

Fishing and farming. If you believed the Tories, you might think that’s all that rural Scotland is. The publication last week of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party’s plans for rural Scotland admittedly contains some positive aspects – universal broadband for all, for example – but its focus and its omissions show just how out of touch the party is with the every day lives of most folk in the South and across rural Scotland. Continue reading

  • Best bits: Hearing local people talk with huge enthusiasm about their local community and its future, whether in Stranraer, Wigtown or Gatehouse of Fleet; and camping under the stars in the shadow of Orchardton Tower with my partner.
  • Worst bit: Struggling to find the time to write my campaign diary!
  • Folk of note: Danny and Lusi in Gatehouse, saving buses and enriching young people’s lives with outdoor classrooms and youth groups.
  • Miles travelled: 540 (+120 having fun visiting castles!)
  • Things I learned: That Loch Ryan is the only place in the UK where you can find native Oysters

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  • Best bit: Getting to hang out with the South team, the national campaign team and my fellow candidates at Conference. Fantastic folk!
  • Worst bit: Going over a pothole and bursting a tyre (on Dad’s car) 150 miles from home
  • Folk of note: Mrs Menzies the librarian (and so much more) at Wallace Hall Academy in Thornhill
  • Miles travelled: 591
  • Things I learned: Only 5% of Scottish Borders residents are “very satisfied” with the opportunities to participate in local decision making processes. Whilst just under 35% are “fairly satisfied”, 11.8% are “very dissatisfied” and nearly a third of local people didn’t have an opinion.

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