City deal for a rural economy

Partnership working is a buzzword (it can also refer to more than one word) which has featured among the business lexicon of recent times.

It certainly applies to the effort being made by Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and five other south-east of Scotland local authorities to land £1billion which would go towards improving the economic fortunes of their respective stomping grounds. And if the bid to the ruling administrations at Holyrood and Westminster is successful, hopes are high that in excess of treble that amount of money in the shape of private sector investment could follow.

However, the fact this arrangement is packaged as a City Region Deal might raise a few eyebrows in more rurals areas, the Borders included. Fears that the soon-to-be-opened Borders Railway was primarily for the benefit of ex-Edinburgh dwellers commuting to their city jobs have often been voiced – and we suspect some naysayers will claim the capital has most to gain from this latest project.

Stuart Bell, SBC’s economic development chief, stresses there is no risk of the Borders losing its identity, pointing out is has worked with its neighbours over many years.

Money isn’t everything, but the potential windfall to the Borders means this is a deal worth doing.