Call for Government to appoint Borderlands Minister

Coun Gregah Roughead, who proposed the Borderlands motion.
Coun Gregah Roughead, who proposed the Borderlands motion.

Northumberland County Council is to call on the Government to appoint a Minister for Borderlands, in support of the area’s growth deal.

The Borderlands Partnership brings together the five cross-border local authorities of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council to promote the economic growth of the area that straddles the border.

In its Autumn Budget statement last year, the UK Government promised to work with partners across the area to work towards a Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.

At Wednesday’s full meeting of Northumberland County Council, a motion was passed which will see the Government asked to create a Borderlands Minister post to provide a point of contact for the five councils on issues relating to the growth deal.

The motion, proposed by Coun Gregah Roughead, the Conservative councillor for Berwick West with Ord, also called for a cross-party council working group to be set up for Borderlands issues and for the area’s MPs to be asked to set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group for the growth deal.

His motion was backed not just by his Conservative colleagues, but also the council’s Labour opposition.

Group leader, Coun Grant Davey, said: “We would be very, very happy to see a new Secretary of State for the 10 per cent of the area of the whole of the UK that this initiative covers.

“All of the councils have similar problems, businesses and natures and we think if we can drive it forward, it will be a very, very good thing for this county as well.”

However, Lib Dem leader Jeff Reid said: “It’s not these motions per se that I’m against.

“When motions come to this council, I have been in this chamber 10 years now and nothing has ever come out of any motion that has ever been passed by this council.

“We’ve written to more MPs than all of us have had hot dinners and have we ever had a reply? Has anyone ever responded saying that’s a great idea?

“So I’m not voting for it, I’m not abstaining either, I’m just not voting.”

A second motion put forward by Coun Roughead, calling for the creation of a working group to look at reviewing and updating the council’s constitution was also approved at the meeting.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service