Borderers not getting ‘fair deal’ says MP

Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee has said the Borders has been ‘consistently overlooked’ and ‘inadequately served’ by successive governments.

As a result, it has launched an inquiry and has called for residents to respond to a series of questions.

It follows a Northumbria University report called ‘Borderlands’ which recommended more joint working between councils on both sides of the border.

This was taken forward by the councils with the creation of the Borderlands Initiative.

Committee chairman, Ian Davidson MP, said: “Our initial visits to the Borderlands, with what we knew already, told us that people in the south of Scotland are not getting as good a deal as they should.

“Centralisation into Edinburgh undermines the ability of local people to control their own lives and the lack of any development support similar to that provided in the north of Scotland limits social and economic regeneration opportunities.”

He added: “We hope our inquiry, together with our report and the consensus that we would hope to build, will bring about a fairer deal for the Borderlands.”

The committee’s initial research included visits to Galashiels and Peebles, which identified many issues shared with the north of England.

The inquiry aims to address two main questions: are the current structures working for the benefit of people in the south of Scotland, and how the UK and Scottish governments can work together with councils to support economic development and growth in the area.

The inquiry is specifically looking at whether a regional enterprise body could successfully co-ordinate development, infrastructure and transport initiatives, and is also seeking views on how the centralised Scottish Enterprise has affected the area.

With the south of Scotland having the highest rate of people with multiple jobs, lower wages than the Scottish average and high transport costs, the inquiry is also looking at what can be done to tackle these issues.

Michael Moore MP said: “I am glad to see that the inquiry is looking into issues such as unemployment, economic development and the need for a new enterprise body.

“I want to encourage Borders businesses and local people to take part in this inquiry and make their views known so that we can raise awareness of the obstacles that are holding our region back and begin to tackle them.”

John Lamont MSP added: “What is needed in the Borders is serious investment in transport links, broadband and mobile communications, all of which are crucial to businesses and jobs.

“And more could be done to promote both sides of the border as a tourist destination. With our beautiful landscape, great history and high quality local produce, it is a real missed opportunity that the Borders is too often seen as a place to pass through, rather than a fantastic tourist destination in its own right.”