Border area has been overlooked for too long

Southern Scotland is not getting a fair deal when it comes to help from either Westminster or the Scottish Government and things need to change, a panel of politicians has concluded.

A House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee held three seminars in the area in May and June.

Having identified a series of issues that they believe need to be addressed, the committee now want to hear what local residents have to say about how to ensure the Borders is no longer overlooked by successive governments.

Underemployment, unemployment, low wages, high transport costs, poor infrastructure and low levels of enterprise and economic development were identified as the major issues holding the region back from achieving its full potential.

Committee chair Ian Davidson MP said: “Our initial visits to the Borderlands, with what we knew already, told us that people in the south of Scotland are not getting as good a deal as they should.

“Centralisation into Edinburgh undermines the ability of local people to control their own lives and the lack of any development support similar to that provided in the north of Scotland limits social and economic regeneration opportunities.

“We hope our enquiry, together with our report and the consensus that we would hope to build, will bring about a fairer deal for the Borderlands.”

The centralisation of 
Scottish Enterprise has had a negative effect on the south of Scotland, and the Scottish 
Affairs Committee are 
considering whether to establish a new Borders Enterprise body.

“The committee would also like to explore the question of whether a Border Enterprise body should include local authority areas in Cumbria and Northumberland” says the report.

Members of five councils – Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Carlisle City, Cumbria and Northumberland – met to discuss cross-border transport and communications links, economic growth and employment at the first of Borderlands Initiative in April.

“A view expressed several times to the committee was that devolution of powers to Edinburgh had not led to further devolution of powers to the south of Scotland,” said the report.

“If anything, the ending of the local enterprise companies has seen powers taken away from the region by the Scottish Government.”