Scottish and UK governments sign off on £400m Borders deal
The Scottish and UK governments have signed off on an investment plan that will see nearly £400m put into local authorities in the Scottish Borders and Northern English region.
Michael Matheson, David Mundell and Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry joined leaders of the five council areas surrounding the border to sign the Borderlands Growth Deal at the Mountain Bike Centre in Glentress today.
The scheme has been devised to increase funding for projects in areas such as tourism, recreation, transport infrastructure and digital connectivity.
The deal is the first cross-border arrangement of its kind, designed to drive economic growth in the region.
The money for the deal is drawn from both the Scottish and UK governments, with £85m coming from Holyrood. Around £265m will come from Westminster, £65m of which will combine with the Scottish Government funding for spending in Scottish council areas.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell called the signing of the deal “fantastic news” after an 18-month process. He said: “This is an ambitious approach to cross-border working between governments, local authorities and partners which will boost economic growth by helping existing business, encouraging new ventures and bringing a wealth of improvements to people who live and work in the area and to visitors.”
“I’d like to thank the five local authorities who have worked so well together, along with the UK and Scottish governments, to achieve this.”
Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson said: “I am delighted we have reached this important milestone in signing heads of terms for the Borderlands Deal.”
“Alongside the establishment of a new enterprise agency for the south of Scotland, and activities of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership, the Scottish Government’s £85 million investment will deliver significant and lasting benefits right across the region” he went on to say.
The balance of funding between the two governments has dismayed the SNP, however, with the party calling on the UK Government to match the amount pledged on their part.
South of Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper said: “This is a very welcome step in unlocking the potential of the south of Scotland – to create new jobs and grow the local economy.
“But it’s hard not to feel let down by the UK government, who are once again selling Scotland short by £20 million.”
“There’s still time for the Tories to raise their ambition and match the Scottish Government’s support for the region” Harper said.
Scottish Borders Council enthusiastically welcomed the launch of the new scheme. Council Leader Shona Haslam said the money would allow for investment in “important, exciting projects”.
She said: “Scottish Borders Council has worked very hard with its partners over the last two years to persuade both Governments about the importance of delivering a major investment through the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.”
“Beyond these headline projects there is potentially much more that the Scottish Borders will benefit from, right across the area, thanks to the work of all the partners.”