Inclusive growth and reinvention ‘key to success’ for Borderlands deal
The Borderlands growth deal needs to be unique and embraced by all if it is to succeed, delegates at the partnership’s first conference have been told.
An inclusive growth deal for the region spanning the Scotland/England border was announced last year by the chancellor.
At the event at Easterbook Hall in Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway Council chief executive Gavin Stevenson said it should not resemble other ‘city deals’ such as those underway in Inverness, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
“This has to be a unique deal – it has to be a deal that brings inclusive growth to everywhere across our area,” he said.
He continued: “What we need now is to reposition our economy and reinvent ourselves – make ourselves an attractive place to come and do business, not just an attractive place to live.”
The Borderlands partnership was established in 2014 and brings together five cross-border local authorities: Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Borders Council, Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council and Northumberland County Council.
The partnership aims to promote economic growth across the region through population growth and improved productivity.
The inclusive growth deal was proposed in 2017 and received support from Westminster in the autumn budget statement.
Dumfries and Galloway Council leader Elaine Murray noted that the deal, although not a “magic wand”, could nevertheless have a “transformational” effect on the region.
She also emphasised the potential for local growth to benefit the national economy.
Oliver Mundell MSP addressed the conference on behalf of his father, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who had been called to give a statement in Westminster so couldn’t attend.
He told delegates: “I am heartened to see so many people from across our Borderlands region here.”
“You have the opportunity to provide a real shot in the arm to our local economy.”
Prior to the conference, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called for the Borderlands partnership to focus on direct representation the interests of small businesses while improving communications and infrastructure.