The failure of the Borderlands region to make it to the next stage of the UK City of Culture competition is ‘disappointing’, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
However, the local MSP believes the five local councils should ensure they continue to work together to lobby for the region, beyond the recent Borderlands Growth Deal.
The Borderlands region – which is made up of the council areas of Cumbria county, Carlisle city, Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish Borders and Northumberland – was one of 20 places around the country hoping to get the title in 2025.
The City of Culture bid was submitted by South of Scotland Enterprise on behalf of its local authorities.
Last week the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published its longlist of eight and it did not include Borderlands.
Colin Smyth said: “It is disappointing that the Borderlands didn’t make it to the next stage of this competition, as it would have been a great opportunity for our area to really showcase its diversity. I suspect the fact that the bid did not receive universal, cross party support won’t have escaped the judges.
“However, what the bid shows is that the Borderlands initiative has a lot more to offer than just the recent Growth Deal and the five local authorities should be working together on a regular basis.
“As a councillor I was involved in the Borderlands initiative at the very start, long before the Government took an interest and there was talk of a Growth Deal.
“The initiative was about recognising that the five local authorities have many issues of common interest, but absolutely crucially, realising that by representing over one million people, and more than 10% of the land mass of the UK, our clout and ability to influence both the Scottish and UK Governments is strengthened by us coming together and speaking as one strong voice.
“It’s easy for Governments to ignore one small council but a lot harder not to listen to five and the culture bid should just be the start of that working together across boundaries.”