Investment must be stepped up in the south of Scotland if we’re to kick-start the area’s economy following the pandemic, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

Speaking during Portfolio Questions in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, the local MSP also questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson about the prospect of a Borderlands 2 deal.

Colin Smyth told the Scottish Parliament: “Having been involved in the first borderlands initiative almost eight years ago, I welcome the fact that the growth deal will be signed in the next few weeks.

“Given the importance of the projects that have been brought together—thanks to the hard work of councils in South Scotland and the north of England—will the cabinet secretary consider providing early funding if any of the projects can be accelerated?

“Will he actively encourage the addition of new projects to the deal or, indeed, a borderlands 2 deal? We need to step up our investment if we are to kick-start the South Scotland economy following the pandemic.”

Speaking after the question session, Colin Smyth said: “I have been pressing hard for a borderlands growth deal for a number of years and I’m pleased to see that both Governments are on board and it is finally getting signed, as it has been a long time coming.

“The local councils deserve enormous praise for developing the projects and getting to this stage, given that many people predicted it would be impossible to bring councils from across the border together in this way.

“Everyone now needs to get on with delivering the projects, but more will have to be done to overcome the regions’ massive economic challenges, which Covid-19 has exacerbated.”

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