Third sector make push for strategic involvement in Borderlands Growth Deal

Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway attended the second Borderlands Conference, which further detailed the regional deal on Monday.

It is anticipated that delivery of schemes under the £394.5million Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal will start next year – delegates at the conference in Northumberland were told.

Westminster and Scottish governments have committed the money to five local authority areas around the border for a set of infrastructure programmes: Borderlands place-based projects; Transport infrastructure; Digital growth; Carlisle station gateway; Business infrastructure; Innovation and skills; Mountain bike innovation centre; Learning and skills; Green growth; and Chapelcross

A total £150m of the deal is for the Scottish local authorities who are leading on the development of the Borderlands partnership.

There was great interest from many of the attendees about the role of and relationship with the third sector.

In response to a question from chief executive of Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway, Norma Austin Hart, about the involvement of the third sector at a strategic level – not only at micro or locality level, the chief executive of Dumfries and Galloway council Gavin Stevenson agreed to raise this with the emerging partnership governance.

Dumfries and Galloway Council chief executive Gavin Stevenson.

This would be consistent with paragraph 44 of the Heads of Terms Agreement for the Borderlands Growth deal which states: “Borderlands Partners will establish and refine a model of governance through a local partnership agreement. This should meet the expectations set out in the Regional Partnerships work stream of phase 2 of Scotland’s Enterprise and Skills Review. As part of new investment in the regional economy, ministers from both governments expect that the governance arrangements will include effective engagement with Scottish Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, the relevant Local Enterprise Partnerships and the North of Tyne Combined Authority in England, the tertiary education and third sectors, as well as meaningful input from senior business and industry leaders.”

The conference showcased the steps the partnership has taken so far on the Deal and gave stakeholders the opportunity to participate and influence the next steps.

Earlier this year the five councils which make up the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal signed the ‘Heads of Terms’, securing £85m from the Scottish Government, £265m from UK Government and £44.5m from the local authorities.

The Borderlands Partnership includes Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council.

The event heard that detailed work is now taking place on business cases, which would then need to be approved by government before money is released for projects – with delivery scheduled to start next year.

Specific funding has been confirmed for some projects, including £8 million for a Dairy Innovation Centre in Dumfries and Galloway, £10 million to support natural capital innovation across the Borderlands region, £19 million for the Mountain Biking Innovation Centre at Glentress in the Borders, £15 million for Carlisle Station in Cumbria, £5 million for Alnwick Garden in Northumberland. A feasibility study into the extension of the Borders Railway from Carlisle to Tweedbank will also be funded to the tune of £10 million.

The Deal will also mean an investment of £31 million in green energy projects, with much needed improvements in digital and mobile connectivity across the region. The importance of towns will be the focus of a place investment programme linked to Destination and Business Infrastructure investments. There will also be £7 million to develop key skills needs to boost the visitor economy in the South of Scotland.

Director at the Northern Powerhouse Henri Murison also addressed the conference and said the cross-border deal would allow local authorities to work together to lever funding which would benefit all their communities.

A spokesperson for the Borderlands Partnership said: “The fact more than 300 delegates attended from across the north of England and south of Scotland shows how much passion and commitment there is for this deal. We still face challenges, but we need to send home the message: the Borderlands economy isn’t broken, it’s just different and requires investment.”

There was a series of workshops covering place and destination, energy, digital, business infrastructure and natural capital which was a great opportunity to share ideas and help shape the final deal.

It is anticipated the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal will deliver an extra 5500 job opportunities, attract over four million extra tourists and unlock investment in towns across the area, boosting the region’s economy by £1.1 billion.

More detail on the deal is available from the partnership website