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£150k boost to roll out ‘Borderlands’ scheme

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
£150k boost to roll out ‘Borderlands’ scheme

A CROSS-border deal aimed at attracting investment to locations including Annan, Eastriggs and Gretna has been heralded as part of the council’s 2017/18 budget.

An initial £150,000 has been committed over the next two years to develop a ‘Borderlands Inclusive Growth Initiative’ – looking to take forward projects which might include redevelopment of the Chapelcross site, Eastriggs’ MOD site and the Star of Caledonia tourism attraction bid at Gretna.
Senior Labour councillor Colin Smyth said: “Building the local economy is our council’s number one priority.
“That’s why we have been involved in discussions for some time with local authorities across the Borderlands about how we can work together to promote economic growth and competitiveness for the area.”
He added: “We were very clear that the last thing we wanted to see was another talking shop, so what has come from the discussions is a clear view that the way forward is to develop a range of projects, some cutting across several councils, others in specific council areas, that will require major Government investment but if funded would really help grow our economy.
“That’s why as part of our budget we are investing £150,000 over the next two years to fully develop those projects as far as Dumfries and Galloway is concerned.”
The Borderlands Initiative brings together the five cross-border local authorities of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Carlisle City Council, Cumbria Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council to promote economic growth and competitiveness of the area that straddles the Scotland-England border.
And the initiative was established following a report in 2013 entitled, ‘Borderlands: can the North East and Cumbria benefit from greater Scottish Autonomy?’
With potential funding support from the Scottish and UK Governments, other regeneration projects could include development of a centre of excellence for sustainable food production in the Canonbie area, while there could be specific support for economic growth areas such as tourism and energy, food and drink and forestry.
And in terms of transport and connectivity, it is hoped it might lead to road improvements to the A75 and between the M74 and Dumfries, West Coast Mainline improvements, a Borders/Waverly Railway extension, a programme of railway station reopening and digital improvements including ensuring the region benefits form hyperfast broadband.
Councillor Smyth said: “By developing them through the umbrella of the Borderlands it increases our lobbying power and allows us to present the projects that emerge as the most viable, along with others from neighbouring councils, to both the UK and Scottish Governments as a ‘Borderlands Deal’ that could really transform the economy of the area.”

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