More work needed to raise south of Scotland profile

View over the Yarrow Valley.
View over the Yarrow Valley.

Businesses, local authorities and charities need to work together more to raise the south of Scotland’s profile, according a new study by the Crichton Institute.

The briefing says there are opportunities for the region to capitalise further on its strengths which include high quality natural assets, renewable energy potential and renowned food and drink products.

But there are ongoing challenges, say the researchers, including continuing high dependence on the primary sector and tourism, east-to-west transport difficulties, remoteness and an ageing population.

Crichton Institute policy co-director and co-author of the briefing, Dr Jane Atterton, said: “There have been ongoing challenges to raising the south of Scotland’s profile nationally and beyond. Greater collaboration among the key organisations is recognised by the stakeholders we interviewed as being one route to addressing this. Exploring the potential for strengthening links with those outside the region also offers interesting opportunities.”

The findings are based on a review of policy documents and interviews with regional stakeholders.

The Crichton Institute was launched in 2013 to support economic, social and cultural regeneration in the south of Scotland.

A spokesperson for the institute said: “The briefing suggests that building up stronger collaborative relationships could increase capacity and encourage innovative thinking. This could result in a higher profile for the region’s challenges and opportunities, helping to boost its economy, encourage investment and win funding from existing and new sources.

They continued: “The South of Scotland Alliance – a collaboration between Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders – has been successful in raising the region’s profile since its establishment in the early 2000s.

“However, at a time of limited resources and budget tightening, the briefing argues that there is a risk that partner institutions will refocus on local priorities rather than exploring the opportunities that cross-region collaboration might offer.”