Progress being made on getting Borderlands growth deal up and running

Scottish Secretary David Mundell.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell.

Plans to get the Borderlands growth deal promised ahead of last year’s general election are picking up pace.

On Monday, a second ministerial-level meeting in a matter of weeks was held, this time in London, in a bid to make the deal a reality.

Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam and her opposite numbers at the other four local authorities involved, plus all seven MPs for the cross-border swathe of land set to benefit, attended a meeting organised by Scottish Secretary David Mundell and local government minister Jake Berry.

It was held to draw up a wish-list of what those present want from the deal and to try to agree priorities.

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont was among those present, and he reiterated his view that the deal should focus on jobs and include work on an extension of the Borders railway to Carlisle.

Mr Lamont said: “The UK Government and all five councils are working hard to develop ideas for the Borderlands growth deal and how to better connect the whole region.

“For too long, Scottish and English agencies have worked in isolation, which has meant cross-border issues have been neglected.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to look at boosting growth, transport and connectivity across a region either side of the border which has a lot in common.

“I am pleased that the deal’s main focus will be on boosting jobs and growth and that there is clear commitment from all of those involved.

“The Borders is set to benefit from significant and much-needed investment in digital and transport connectivity.

“I also used the meeting to make it clear the deal needs to include work on extending the Borders Railway through Hawick and Newcastleton to Carlisle.”