The final touches are being put to the Borderlands Growth Deal before the five local authorities involved submit their plans to the UK and Scottish Governments.
A business case, that outlines how they plan to improve broadband and transport links and support key business sectors such as tourism, energy, the rural enterprises and further and higher education on both sides of the border, needs to be with the two governments by the end of September and Scottish Borders Council will have its final say on the details next month.
The Borderlands Growth deal is being developed by Scottish Borders Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, and Northumberland County Council. It was included in the Conservative Manifesto for the UK Government elections in May 2017 and the Scottish Government is committed to developing Growth Deals across Scotland and has expressed support for the development of a Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.
How much money is likely to head to the Borderlands and the five local authority areas, however, is not yet clear.
South of Scotland Labour MSP, Colin Smyth, said: “There has been talk of a £250m package over ten years but the recent Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Deal is worth £90.2m to an area with a population of 140,000 people - around £644 per person. If we had the same deal per person in the Borderlands that would be worth £700m. Why should our area be treated differently from others or receive less funding?
“It’s time for a fair share here in the Borderlands.
“The momentum behind the Borderlands is building and it’s now up to the UK and Scottish Governments to play their part.
“We’ve had plenty of warm words, but what we need is hard cash when it comes to the budgets later this year.
“Everyone knows the growth deal won’t be a panacea as the money will be spread out over ten years and divided between five councils. However, ensuring that it delivers substantial investment is vital for the future of the South of Scotland economy. That means funding from Government but also the local councils making sure the deal is ambitious.”
Details of the deal submission will be presented to Scottish Borders Council on September 27, in time for the end of September deadline.