£1.1bn city deal expected to help create jobs and homes in Borders

Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam, front left, and Borders MP David Mundell, three places to her right, at the signing of the deal.
Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam, front left, and Borders MP David Mundell, three places to her right, at the signing of the deal.

The £1.1bn Edinburgh and south east Scotland city region deal agreed yesterday will give a huge boost to efforts to create more jobs and affordable housing in the Borders, according to council leader Shona Haslam.

Mrs Haslam, leader of Scottish Borders Council since May, welcomed the announcement that the deal had finally been agreed after over two years of negotiations, saying: “This is excellent news for the Scottish Borders.

“We will not only benefit from specific funding but also from a stronger and more vibrant city region.

“This will be achieved through a range of projects to be taken forward by the individual partners and collectively.

“For the Borders specifically, this deal will enable us to maximise the delivery of affordable housing, stimulate private-sector investment and support local jobs, and will be a further step towards ensuring that our young people can see a future for themselves within the Scottish Borders.

“Key to this is the promotion of inclusive growth.

“Edinburgh and the wider city region drives significant economic growth for Scotland and the UK.

“Through working with our local authority partners, the UK and Scottish governments, this deal will unlock the potential of that for the Scottish Borders and accelerate growth in this area.”

The deal is being billed as having the potential to create 21,000 jobs, and Tweedbank is expected to be at the heart of efforts to ensure the Borders gets its share of that bumper employment boost, according to the Tweeddale East councillor.

“A focus for us will be driving forward the development of the Central Borders Business Park in Tweedbank,” she said.

“This builds on the success of the Borders Railway and is yet another example of the council seeking to maximise the economic benefits that the railway provides.”

The deal will generate £350m worth of investment in innovation, £65m for new housing, £25m for skills development, £120m for a flyover at Edinburgh’s Sheriffhall roundabout, £20m for roads in western Edinburgh and £20m for a new 1,000-seat concert venue off the city’s St Andrew Square.

Also covering the Lothians and Fife, as well as the capital and the Borders, it is being funded by £300m each from the UK and Scottish governments, with the councils and universities committing a further £500m.

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell, also Scottish Secretary, was at yesterday’s signing ceremony too, and he is equally optimistic about the potential of the deal.

“The UK Government is investing £300m in the Edinburgh and south east Scotland city region deal, which will boost the economy of Edinburgh and the whole of south east Scotland for decades to come.

“The Edinburgh deal will focus on the capital’s strengths of new technology, innovation and culture.

“It will make a real difference to the lives of people in the region, creating jobs and prosperity and driving investment.

“The Edinburgh deal brings UK Government investment in UK city deals in Scotland so far to more than £1bn, and demonstrates clearly the value to Scotland’s economy of being part of a strong United Kingdom.”

Scottish Government economy secretary Keith Brown added: “The Scottish Government has been fully committed to this deal, and I am very pleased that we have been able to get to the stage of achieving such an ambitious deal for the region.”

“Edinburgh and its city region is an area of huge importance to the Scottish economy. It contains over a quarter of Scotland’s population and contributes £33bn to the Scottish and UK economies.

“The Scottish Government will be investing in the region’s workforce and will invest up to £25m for an integrated regional employability and skills programme which will reduce skills shortages and gaps, delivering opportunity for people across Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders.”