Borderlands Initiative Progresses

Statement from Dumfries & Galloway Council

The Borderland Initiative brings together the five cross-border local authorities of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council to promote the economic growth and competitiveness of this area which straddles the Scotland-England border.

Members of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee will hear the progress of this initiative on 9 March.

Developing a ‘Borderlands Deal’ to attract investment into Dumfries and Galloway was at the heart of budget plans agreed last week by our Council, with a pledge to spend an initial £150,000 over the next two years to develop a Borderlands Inclusive Growth Initiative. Working in partnership with other local authorities, the Council will develop a number of specific projects to be included in the Initiative to be presented to both the UK and Scottish Governments in a bid for capital funding.

Following this, EEI Committee will this week be asked to agree to a number of recommendations, including: endorse the Borderlands Inclusive Growth; agree to present the Framework to both the UK and Scottish Governments as a basis for negotiating further investment in the area to accelerate the delivery of priority projects; and agree an allocation of up to £75,000 per year for two years as part of the partnership funding package which is required to progress the programme and project development to the next stage.

By taking a Strategic Corridor approach, this will reflect the aspirations for cross regional collaboration based on the existing physical and infrastructure connections. Transport and connectivity will play a pivotal function in linking the opportunities created, and informing the project activity to be delivered through the Initiative. In Dumfries and Galloway projects being considered for inclusion include:

Transport and Connectivity
Road improvements to the A75 and between the M74 and Dumfries
West Coast Mainline improvements
Borders/Waverly Railway Extension
A programme of railway station reopening
Digital improvements including ensuring the region benefits form Hyperfast Broadband

Development of key sites including the Chapelcross site, Eastriggs MOD site, support for the Star of Caledonia landmark tourism attraction and the development of a centre of excellence for sustainable food production in the Canonbie area.

Specific support for economic growth areas such as tourism and energy, food and drink and forestry will also be a focus.

Commenting on the proposals the Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee Councillor Colin Smyth said “The seed for this initiative was planted as a response to a report commissioned by the North of England which considered how best to maximise the benefits of devolution to Scotland.

Building the local economy is our Council’s number one priority, which is why we took the opportunity to hold discussions with local authorities across the Borderlands about how we can work together to promote economic growth and competitiveness for the area.
It is clear that the way forward is to develop a range of projects, some cutting across several councils, others in specific council areas. Developing these projects through the umbrella of the Borderlands increases our lobbying power and allows us to present the projects that emerge as the most viable, along with others from neighbouring councils, to both the UK and Scottish Governments as a ‘Borderlands Deal’ that could really transform the economy of the area.

Providing Committee agrees, this will pave the way to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding or similar to formalise the partnership arrangements with the participating authorities, taking the project forward.“