Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Swinney vows to tackle jobs gloom

John Swinney
Mr Swinney met local agencies and the council

Finance Secretary John Swinney has pledged to do his "level best" to help the economy in the Borders.

He visited the region on Monday in the wake of a number of job cuts in the region in recent weeks.

Mr Swinney held talks with local agencies and Scottish Borders Council over the issues affecting the area.

His visit was welcomed by Tory MSP John Lamont but he added that more than "warm words" were needed in the current economic climate.

Mr Swinney previously visited Hawick in the summer in the wake of another round of job losses.

'Every support'

Pringle of Scotland had announced proposals to stop production in Hawick with the loss of 80 posts.

Mr Swinney promised that "every support" would be given to the workers affected.

He also said he would return to the region and decided to do so earlier than expected following another round of redundancy announcements.

One textile firm went into administration last week with another facing liquidation.

Heather Mills

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That followed another two textile companies announcing job cuts.

The area has also seen closure plans confirmed for HM Revenue and Customs offices in Galashiels and Hawick.

Mr Swinney said it was important to ensure they put in place "all of the mechanisms and measures that will support economic recovery".

He said the talks had given him a clear view of the problems facing the Borders.

"It gave me a valuable insight into some of the challenges," he said.

"I will do my level best within the Scottish Government to address a number of requests that have come from that discussion."

Mr Lamont, the MSP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, said the area needed "concrete proposals" to help it out of its current difficulties.

"The government needs to provide clear leadership in order to help Hawick ride out the current economic storm," he said.

"Given the scale of the current economic difficulties, warm words are not enough."

Lib Dem MP Michael Moore said Mr Swinney had been given an action plan on what was needed to help the area.

"He is in no doubt about the support that the town needs so that its world class knitwear companies and other businesses can get through the economic downturn," he said.

"He can have no illusions about what is needed to help Hawick diversify and develop new businesses and he must now support the efforts being made by SBC and others locally."

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