Councils to give evidence on hopes for South of Scotland Enterprise

Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council will emphasise the benefits of a dedicated enterprise agency for the south of Scotland at a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on Monday.

Elaine Murray, Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, and Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, will be appearing before the committee as part of its latest evidence gathering sessions on the proposed bill to establish the South of Scotland Enterprise agency.

Councillor Murray said: “A dedicated enterprise agency for the south of Scotland has the potential to be truly transformative and support the ongoing efforts of local and national partners to drive growth across the region.

“While the south of Scotland faces some significant challenges, from our economy to connectivity and demographic changes, we have some very great strengths and ambitions.

“The agency can help fully unlock the undoubted potential of our region, our people and business, now and in the future.”

Both local authorities submitted detailed responses to the Scottish Government’s earlier consultation on the establishment of South of Scotland Enterprise Agency and written evidence to the committee.

The committee has already conducted evidence sessions where representatives of the Scottish Government, local third sector and business organisations have given their views.

Councillor Rowley said: “Everyone in the south of Scotland wants to see the areas potential maximised, with the educational, training and employment prospects available to help us retain our young people and attract others, as well as inward investment.

“A dedicated agency can also help provide more economic assistance for communities and social enterprises, better marketing and promotion of the region, and further improvements to digital and transport connectivity, amongst many other things.

“Over the past decade the region has missed the focal point that an agency such as Highlands and Islands Enterprise brings. The current Bill going through the Scottish Parliament brings the prospect of an enterprise agency for our region into being, but most importantly one that is built in and for the south of Scotland, which will address the specific challenges, opportunities and ambitions of our area.”

The committee is meeting at Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries.