Borders businesses 'need one voice'

A1 in the Borders Mr Aitken thinks the forum could discuss issues such as the dualling of the A1 to the English Border

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Business organisations in the Borders can win a far better deal for the region if they speak with a single voice, according to a business leader.

Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce convener James Aitken is urging the creation of a Borders business forum.

Mr Aitken would like to see a single campaigning voice for business interests right across the region.

He is due to outline the case for a forum at a business event organised by Scottish Borders Council this weekend.

In his speech, Mr Aitken will warn that, without such a forum, the views of business in the Borders will struggle to be heard.

"It is very easy for politicians to ignore us if we are not clear in what we are asking or arguing for," he will say.

"It is no exaggeration to say that these are momentous times for Scotland.

"There will be a referendum on independence in 2014. Scotland could again be independent by 2016.

"Then there is the possibility of a referendum on UK membership of the European Union.

"These are some of the reasons we need a Borders business forum."

'Damaging consequences'

Mr Aitken will warn that the lack of a unified campaigning front representing Borders business has had "damaging consequences" in the past.

These include the original loss of the Borders railway in the 1960s, the loss of the Border Reivers professional rugby team and the lack of improvement to local trunk roads.

Mr Aitken will argue that a forum could come together and debate important issues.

"These might include the campaign to extend the Waverley line to Carlisle, superfast broadband, the quality of our TV and media coverage and the dualling of the A1 to the English Border," he will say.

"My idea of a Borders business forum is not a body that imposes its thoughts and ideas on all the business organisations in the Borders. It is not a governing body.

"Business organisations can play as much of a role as they wish and one that they are comfortable with."

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