National and Devolved Politics

14.03.19

Borderland authorities praise ‘game-changing’ funding of £345m for growth deal

A commitment of £345m for the Borderlands Growth Deal has been announced by the UK and Scottish governments.

In the Spring Statement yesterday, chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled £260m of funding hours after the Scottish Government announced an £85m funding package for the borderlands of England and Scotland.

The growth deal covers the council areas of Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Northumberland, Cumbria, and Carlisle. The leader of the Borderlands Partnership, Shona Haslam, has called the funding a “game changer” for the area.

The leader of the partnership which brings together the five cross-border local authorities said the funding will mean thousands of new jobs and millions of extra tourists, generating a predicted £1.3bn return on the governments’ investment.

“The close work between all five local authority partners helped to develop an exceptionally strong case for the deal, and together we’ve worked hard with both the UK and Scottish governments to secure this funding announcement,” Haslam added.

One of the key goals of the Borderlands agreement is the commitment to a feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway beyond Tweedbank to Carlisle, claimed as “one of a number of exciting developments that will provide significant investment in our area,” by the Borderlands leader.

Scottish secretary David Mundell said it was “fantastic news” for the border regions.

He added: “It is an ambitious approach to cross-border working between governments, local authorities and partners and I'm confident that together we can create jobs and opportunity and bring investment.”

The leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Elaine Murray, said the investment would help the authority to tackle the challenging economic climate and access an untapped potential for growth.

The growth deal was first mentioned in the chancellor’s 2017 budget, and after local authorities formed a partnership behind the idea the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal proposal was presented to the two governments six months ago.

The money will be split across a number of initiatives around digital, energy, transport, business and sport and four specific place-based projects; Carlisle Station Gateway, Chapelcross Energy Park, Berwick Theatre and the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre in the Borders.

Whilst Carlisle MP and government ‘champion’ of the deal John Stevenson called it a “very significant investment,” South Scotland MSP said that councils had asked for £400m and that the area should be left “short-changed.”

Image credit - BMPix

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