A blueprint for the £345m Borderlands growth deal agreed earlier this month is set to be signed off within a matter of months.
UK Government Scottish secretary David Mundell, speaking in Dumfries this week at a meeting with council leaders from across the region, announced that a timetable is now being worked on for delivering the heads of terms for the cross-border initiative, confirming support for specific projects, this summer.
The Borderlands deal aims to generate £1.3bn for the region, creating 6,600-plus jobs.
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP Mr Mundell praised Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam and her opposite numbers in neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway, the city of Carlisle, Cumbria and Northumberland – Elaine Murray, Colin Glover, Stewart Young and Paul Johnston – for the progress being made on the deal, first announced back in 2017.
He said: “The £345m Borderlands deal has made huge progress in just 18 months.
“I’d like to thank the five local authorities who have worked so well together, along with the UK and Scottish governments, to achieve this.
“I was also pleased to hear that following their positive experience working together on Borderlands, they are keen to explore other areas, such as transport, where they can collaborate.
“The south of Scotland and northernmost parts of England operate as a single economic area, and it is important the border is not allowed to become an obstacle to development.
“That is why I want to see the heads of terms on this transformational deal signed as soon as local elections are completed this June. It’s really important partners keep up the momentum on this.”
UK Government chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond announced Westminster’s investment of £260m in the deal in his spring statement this month, hours after Scottish Government infrastructure secretary Michael Matheson pledged £85m to it during a visit to Innerleithen.
Outline projects will be confirmed when the heads of terms document is signed, but they could include a mountain bike innovation centre in Innerleithen, a feasibility study for extending the Borders Railway, redevelopment of Chapelcross Power Station in Dumfries and Galloway, a revamp of Carlisle railway station and the creation of a theatre and conference centre in Berwick.