Positive meetings have taken place with key government ministers following submission of the proposal by the Borderlands Partnership – a unique collaboration that brings together the five cross-border local authorities including Northumberland and Scottish Borders.
Partnership members met Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, when he reiterated the Scottish Government’s support for a future Borderlands Deal. Local authority leaders also met David Mundell MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, and Jake Berry MP, Northern Powerhouse Minister, when they expressed their ongoing support for the Deal.
The Chancellor also reiterated the UK Government’s support in his recent budget statement for a future Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, with ongoing discussions taking place between the partnership and both governments.
A Borderlands Partnership spokesperson said: “Some significant work is still required to reach Heads of Terms, which will be the foundation of a final Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, but discussions are progressing well and there is a collective will from both governments and the Partnership to see it done.
“Having only submitted the proposal to the two governments at the end of last month we didn’t expect any formal funding announcement in the budget statement, however, the Chancellor’s commitment to the ongoing discussions is encouraging.
Other announcements in the budget will also benefit Borderlands towns, such as the allocation of £200million to pilot innovative approaches to rolling out full fibre broadband in rural locations, and vouchers for nearby homes and businesses and the Future High Streets Fund. With the Scottish Government already committed to delivering superfast broadband to 100 per cent of properties and its budget announcement due in December and to supporting community led regeneration through a range of activities.
The ongoing commitment of the Scottish Government to working towards a growth deal for the Borderlands region has also been reiterated to the Leaders of the Partnership’s local authorities by Mr Matheson. We continue to work closely with both governments on the next steps to deliver on our ambitions for the whole of the Borderlands region.”
The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal proposal is unique in how it has been developed. It has taken a strategy-led approach which reflects the unique characteristics of Borderlands and provides clarity on how we will deliver transformational economic development. To this end it comprises four place-based projects: the redevelopment of Chapelcross former power station; Mountain Bike Innovation Centre; Berwick Theatre and Conference Centre and Carlisle Station.
In addition, it has developed six programmes: Digital; Borderlands Energy Investment Company; Destination Borderlands; Quality of Place; Knowledge Exchange Network and Business Infrastructure Programme. The Partnership believes that collectively these will deliver benefits across the wider Borderlands geography. The document submitted to the governments also highlights areas where the Borderlands partners are seeking to work jointly with the UK and Scottish Governments going forward, linked to strategic transport schemes and land and marine management.
The key strategic project of establishing the feasibility of extending the Borders Railway from Carlisle to Tweedbank will benefit the whole region and is also included in the Borderlands proposal.