SNP councillors will not support a plan to include Dumfries and Galloway in a cross-border bid for the UK City of Culture 2025, it has emerged.
Dumfries and Galloway Council’s SNP group said in a statement that the proposal to submit a joint application for the status from local authorities in the Scottish Borders, Carlisle City, Cumbria, Northumberland and this region does not line-up with objectives of the Borderlands Growth Deal, which is progressing the bid along with the South of Scotland Enterprise.
The group “would have been interested” in a City of Culture bid for the south of Scotland, councillors said.
They added that they understood this was the “original concept” and argued Dumfries and Galloway “would have been far more prominent in such a proposal”.
The statement read: “The SNP Group was not involved in the development of a Borderlands City of Culture bid and the SNP Group does not support the proposal.
“Borderlands is a Growth Deal. Its job was to secure investment in our region that wouldn’t be available by any alternative method, and it has done that. We don’t see a role for Borderlands in additional and very different areas of work, which a City of Culture bid would certainly be.”
Furthermore, it added it is “impossible” to give a realistic assessment of the potential benefits for the region as it was not known how much it would cost for the councils involved to prepare the bid.
However, in response, Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell pointed out there is £40,000 available to cities or regions that get on to the longlist, and said it “should not be a resource issue”.
Mr Mundell added he was “very disappointed” to hear that SNP councillors had rejected the idea.
He concluded that the move was made by the nationalist group “because of this cross-border element” and called it “pathetic”.
The MP said: “SNP councillors elsewhere in Scotland have made bids. When Paisley went into the final of the last City of Culture the SNP backed it 100 per cent.
“What’s the difference? The difference here is the cross-border approach and ultimately SNP philosophy appears to be against co-operating in this way with our friends and neighbours across the border. That is appalling.”
A longlist of City of Culture bids from across the UK being progressed is due to be announced later this month.