On Sunday, Dewar’s Lane Granary was packed to debate the effect on Berwick of Scotland becoming independent.
How encouraging to join a well informed, intelligent, amiable yet searching debate around issues which could well have ignited strong opinion. Seemingly a rare thing these days. It was an idea initiated by Sion Gates of the Granary and chaired by Berwick’s own Jim (Dimbleby) Herbert. A credit to them both, conducted with respect, care, kindness and humour.
We have just under 100 days to potentially witness the most significant change to our area for hundreds of years. Possible changes to tax, healthcare provision, employment and dualling the A1 were all areas discussed.
Worringly there is very little clarity and a huge amount of assumption that it’ll all be alright for communities in north Northumberland.
All further negotiation will be based on the outcome of the vote. It’s also clear that no political party has yet given any assurance that this isolated pinnacle of England is very much a place that requires special economic conditions to ensure that it is not further very seriously disadvantaged.
It is not clear whether there would be an enforceable border control point or whether we will share the same currency. Imagine the implications of that on your daily lives.
Just look at a map. Hawick in the heart of the Borderland is level with Alnwick.
Scotland will almost definitely get the ability to reduce corporation tax. How will that affect your business and ultimately our livelihoods?
From Morpeth to the Border should become an area recognised as somewhere requiring special dispensation in order to compete with a Lion Rampant Scotland. It needs the ability to trade on the same terms in order to survive.
And the outpost of Berwick? It needs it more than ever, as in the past it did, for that reason.
To enforce a line of difference through a cross border community that has no wish to is a very unfortunate outcome of the understandable reasoning behind Scotland seeking independence.
It seems more about Scotland being released from Westminster, something it shares in common with several London Boroughs as well as other parts of these wonderful isles.
It is even less democratic that one side of the potential divorce doesn’t even get to vote. It seems that north Northumberland will be the baby, of whose future no-one is really taking care.
And one might further question why Alistair Darling is actively trying to buy a house in Northumberland!