A YES vote potentially turns Annandale from a place most people simply pass through, to a booming border area, as seen around the world.
Businesses can take up the developing opportunities that international borders bring. Any business or service which we currently travel over the Border for can set up here too, retaining their customers and benefiting from trade deals Scotland has with the rest of the world. The need for “headquarters office space” would be advantageous for Annandale, since businesses currently trading across the UK will require one in order to trade here.
Amongst the services from over the Border is television, with Border TV currently broadcast from Newcastle. Annandale could be home to the new south of Scotland broadcasting service.
Also, we have magnificent, varied landscapes and locations often used in film and tv. With accessible land and good links available, Annandale is an ideal place to build a film studio, backing up new related courses at the universities in Dumfries.
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Annandale can be home to “duty free” visits, or the chance to purchase items or services not generally available on the other side, and developing the likes of outlet shopping or creating entertainment venues.
Tourism to border areas should continue to develop as interest in one of the oldest borders in the world increases. Our region’s links to Robert The Bruce, combined with the story of independence and our renewed status as an international border, should increase the demand for visitor centres, hospitality, accommodation and more.
All this must lead to an increase in jobs, investment and infrastructure, including in essential road and rail links, mobile and broadband coverage, plus construction of facilities demanded by business and tourism.
Annandale also has an aging population. These boosts to our status would inject much needed youth and vigour into our communities, supporting our schools, rural towns and villages, and delivering all the amenities demanded to support this. We might even finally get Lockerbie swimming pool!
A promise of investment from Scottish Government sources, or Europe or private investors, would be highly influential in winning over local confidence that all this could be reality.
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Most importantly, we have no need to be concerned about our everyday travel over the Border, since the Common Travel Area (CTA) guarantees our right to live, work, study, claim benefits, access healthcare, vote in some elections, and travel without showing a passport across all of Scotland, England, Wales, the island of Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
This has nothing to do with the EU. It has operated since 1922 and was strengthened last year in an agreement between the Irish and British governments. Any attempt by Westminster to exclude Scotland from the CTA, would almost certainly face objection from Eire, particularly if Scotland is looking to repair our relationship with the EU. Also, as we have always had different legal systems, we have the majority of cross-border agreements with England already in place for conducting everyday life.
Annandale will no longer be a forgotten place. We will be alive and vibrant as the host of our international border once again.