South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has stepped up calls on the Scottish and UK Government to announce funding for a Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.
The local MSP used a debate in the Scottish Parliament on growth deals today (Tuesday 22 January) to call on the Scottish Government to set up a clear timetable for the deal to be agreed by the Scottish and UK Governments and for them to announce funding.
Speaking during the debate South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Connectivity and Transport Colin Smyth told Parliament, “I had the privilege of being part of the establishment of the Borderlands Initiative when I was a Councillor and Chaired Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy Committee”.
“It wasn’t an easy process. The Borderlands not only stretches the width of Scotland from the Borders to Dumfries and Galloway but across the border taking in Cumbria and Northumberland”.
“The five local councils represent 10% of the UK’s land mass and over a million people. They are determined to use our united strength to fight to ensure we are no longer the forgotten regions of the UK”.
“The borderlands partners were told by the Secretary of State for Scotland that if their proposals for a growth deal were submitted by September last year, it would enable an announcement on funding to be made in the UK Government’s December budget. The local councils delivered on their side of the bargain. But the UK and Scottish Government have not. So far only the local councils have invested in the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal with no funding announcement yet from Government.
“I hope that when summing up the Minister will give Parliament an exact timetable when we can expect to see these deals agreed by the Scottish and UK Governments and when funding announced”.
Speaking after the debate Colin Smyth said, “The Borderlands Growth Deal has been years in development. We are now being told agreement on the deal will be reached in March. But so far not a penny of funding has been allocated by either the Scottish or UK Government. That needs to change. It’s time for both Governments to put their money where their mouths are and announce the funding needed to make the Borderlands Growth Deal a reality”.