Sounding a note of optimism over capital boost for business

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One of the responsibilities of your local authority is to give leadership in the development of the Borders economy.

The forward capital spending budget agreed last week identifies a total of £13.3million of new funding which will go towards the development of the regional economy over the next 10 years.

Councillor Stuart Bell, executive member for economic development, with the Business Excellence Awards brochure

Councillor Stuart Bell, executive member for economic development, with the Business Excellence Awards brochure

Included in this is £5million which is being directed to revitalise the industrial estate at Tweedbank.

Our intention here is to redevelop and re-profile this area as the Central Borders Business Park, creating an attractive destination to which new businesses can relocate and take advantage of improved communications with Edinburgh. We are currently in consultation with Scottish Enterprise about co-funding this work.

Also co-funded – this time to the tune of £2.5million from the Scottish Government – will be the £6million anticipated cost of the new building to house the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

This money is going into an asset which your council will own and which is anticipated will contribute £825,000 to the overall Borders economy.

That is not just from the trading of the tapestry project itself, but a professional estimate of the extra revenue which will accrue annually as a result of an increasing number of visitors to the region and their spend on food, accommodation and on visiting other attractions.

Our spending commitment to the tapestry is an example of the leadership we, as a council, are under a practical and moral obligation to display.

We need to make the Borders a more prosperous and attractive place to stay and visit, and we need to encourage the creation of new jobs and the maintenance of existing employment. That is the essence of economic development.

I also announced last week that we have earmarked £1.6million for re-establishing a station on the East Coast line at Reston. This will not only improve communications with Edinburgh for Berwickshire and East Lothian, it will also start another nexus for the growth of the economy and tourism in that part of the Borders.

In addition, we have identified a block of expenditure totalling £700,000 which we want to make available for regeneration projects with the focus on revitalising our town centres.

Despite cuts elsewhere, funding for the day-to-day running of Business Gateway, tourism marketing and public events has been maintained.

The austerity which has been forced on us by the UK Government means we need to take care where we invest.

I am pleased the importance of supporting the development of the Borders economy has been recognised by your council.