THE Scottish Government has announced the focus for this year’s Programme for Government, which will prioritise Scotland’s economic, health, and social recovery from the pandemic in the year ahead.

In my view, it is critical we do all we can to support businesses in overcoming the difficulties they have faced in these last few months and help them get back on their feet. We must ensure that business owners have the help they need and work to mitigate redundancies and job losses.

I have been in contact with many businesses throughout the Covid-19 period and I am willing to make representations on behalf of any local business owner that needs support.

While I don’t have a magic wand to fix everything, I am happy to offer advice and signpost to support, so if you are facing difficulties as a result of the coronavirus then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

On a similar note, I am increasingly concerned about the many job losses which could affect staff in East Lothian as a result of the furlough scheme ending. The UK Government needs to rethink these catastrophic plans and extend the measures into 2021.

Germany has indicated that it will look to extend its version of the scheme to 24 months; meanwhile, the Tories are prematurely shutting down our furlough scheme and risking thousands of Scottish jobs.

At the same time, we are going to have to mitigate the consequences of a hard Tory Brexit and the associated economic impact.

Needless to say, with independence we would be able to protect the jobs of those living here, and that’s exactly why the Scottish Government is moving forward with giving Scotland the choice over our future.

I am pleased that the A68 has now reopened following a landslide due to the extreme weather in August. I know many in East Lothian make frequent use of this road and I’m sure it will come as a relief that it has been quickly reopened.

Thanks to Bear Scotland and Transport Scotland for their speedy work.