Galloway MSP, Finlay Carson, made his maiden speech in the Scottish Parliament last week when taking part in a debate on the economy.
Mr Carson used the opportunity to raise the profile of his constituency and call on the Scottish Government to provide more targeted and effective support for rural regions like Dumfries and Galloway.
In his first speech in the Chamber, the MSP said: “There can no greater honour for a Gallovidian like me than to be given the opportunity to represent the place I call home, the place where I have lived and worked all my life”.
The constituency of Galloway and West Dumfries stretches from Scotland’s most southerly point at the Mull of Galloway in the West to the River Nith in the East and, as Mr Carson pointed out, it is diverse as it is big. At the heart of the constituency lies Britain’s largest Forest Park, the Galloway Forest Park, which also encompasses the UK’s first Dark Skies Project.
As well as Wigtown, Scotland’s National Booktown the constituency is home to Kirkcudbright Art Town and Castle Douglas Food Town, which punches above its weight when it comes to promoting Dumfries and Galloway’s vibrant food and drink sector. The MSP told the Chamber “there was something for everyone” and spoke about Galloway’s credentials as a prime candidate for Galloway Park status.
Speaking about the local economy, Mr Carson spoke of the need for a South of Scotland Enterprise Company to established. This organisation would work with businesses, third sector organisations and local communities to identify the problems that are unique to South Scotland and come up with tailored solutions to help drive the local economy forward, support existing businesses, upskill the local workforce, create jobs and improve people’s way of life.
While this agency would work across the whole of South Scotland, Mr Carson called for the Scottish Government to focus on the regeneration Stranraer. He said the town’s people feel let down, called for bold action and said he hoped the £6 million pledged during the election wasn’t just an empty promise. One suggestion put forward by Mr Carson was for Stranraer to be designated as an Enterprise Zone, which would kick start the town’s economy by offering preferential business rates and accelerated planning processes.
Also on his list of priorities was the dualling of the A75 and the important issue of poor broadband connectivity and mobile phone network coverage.
He commented: “In 2016 it is simply unacceptable that some communities in Galloway and West Dumfries don’t even have access to low speed broadband, never mind superfast”.