Labour Administration To Put ‘Borderlands Deal’ At Heart Of Budget Plans

Developing a ‘Borderlands Deal’ to attract investment into Dumfries and Galloway will be at the heart of budget plans to be set out this week by the Labour led Administration on Dumfries and Galloway Council.

As part of the budget proposals will be discussed next week at a meeting of the full Council, Labour have pledged to spend an initial £150,00 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.

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 Chapelross 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.

Key Sectors and Skills
Specific support for economic growth areas such as tourism and energy, food and drink and forestry

Commenting on the proposals the Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee Councillor Colin Smyth said “Building the local economy is our Council’s number one priority. That’s why we have been involved in discussions for some time with local authorities across the Borderlands about how we can work together to promote economic growth and competitiveness for the area”.

“We were very clear that the last thing we wanted to see was another talking shop, so what has come from the discussions is a clear view that the way forward is to develop a range of projects, some cutting across several councils, others in specific council areas, that will require major Government investment but if funded would really help grow our economy. That’s why as part of our budget we are investing £150,000 over the next two years to fully develop those projects as far as Dumfries and Galloway is concerned”.

“By developing them through the umbrella of the Borderlands it 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”

The Borderlands 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 economic growth and competitiveness of the area that straddles the Scotland-England border.

It was established following a report in 2013 entitled, Borderlands: can the North East and Cumbria benefit from greater Scottish Autonomy?,

Since then an Officer Steering Group comprising the five local authorities, with additional input from the UK and Scottish Governments and national agencies has been established, politicians from across the area have raised awareness of the Borderlands links and a robust evidence base has been produced to outline the economic challenges facing the joint area. EKOS consulting was jointly commissioned by the local authority partners to develop a framework from which the initiatives could be progressed.

If the proposal in the Labour budget is backed. a report will come before the Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee in March asking Councillors to agree to enter into a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the four other local authorities in the Borderlands area
formally engage with potential funders including the UK and Scottish Governments to gather their input and begin negotiations regarding securing and leveraging public sector funding for delivering the Initiative develop the detailed projects and Business Cases for each priority activity
engage with stakeholders to secure wider buy-in and support for the Initiative
and ultimately complete and submit a strategic bid for investment in infrastructure to UK and Scottish Governments.

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