The Borderlands Partnership has welcomed the commitment in the Spring Statement and the announcement of a £345 million deal from the UK and Scottish Governments, describing the news as a ‘game changer’.
The multi-million-pound funding stream comes just six months after the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal proposal was presented to the two Governments.
It will mean thousands of new job opportunities, millions of extra tourists to the area, improved digital connectivity and unlocking investment in towns across the region generating a predicted £1.3bn return on the Governments’ investment.
The Borderlands Partnership is a unique collaboration that brings together the five cross-border local authorities – Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council.
Detailed talks will now continue to establish the exact level of funding allocated to various schemes.
A Borderlands Partnership spokesperson said: “We’re delighted with this funding announcement – it will be a real game changer for everyone who lives and works in the area.
“A lot of hard work has gone into getting this far and there’s been a collective will from both Governments and the Partnership over the past two years.
“Now we know how much we’re getting overall, we can start planning the detail to be able to deliver a range of projects across the region, all designed to boost productivity and to achieve inclusive growth.
“What is already clear is that the long-term benefits will reach all parts of the Borderlands. This deal will directly benefit 1.1m residents and will generate job opportunities as well as attracting extra tourists to our region each year.
“It will improve our productivity, help us to attract younger people to live and work in the region as well as improve the quality of life for our existing residents and communities.”
Leader of Carlisle City Council, Cllr Colin Glover, said: “I warmly welcome the funding announcement and would like to thank all those involved in the partnership for all their hard work. Our collective strong commitment has resulted in a multi-million-pound boost to our region. All the Borderlands projects aim to support our local communities and could all result transformational change. Carlisle is the beating heart of the Borderlands region and we look forward to seeing our city grow.”
Rory Stewart MP said: “I am pleased that the Chancellor has pledged such significant investment in the Borderlands Growth Deal. This is an incredibly special part of the United Kingdom and now that the funding for the Borderlands Growth Deal has been secured, we can really start to tap into its potential. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how investment in the area’s tourism and broadband will make a real difference to people’s lives.
“I will continue to work closely with ministers, MPs and councillors on both sides of the Border as we make the Deal a reality.”
Independent MP for Barrow and Furness John Woodcock said: “It is a good idea to get the areas on both sides of the Scotland border working more closely together but there is a real danger that areas like Furness in the south of the county may miss out despite nominally being included to boost the amount of money available to the deal.
“Our part of Cumbria urgently needs to talk to government about where this leaves us. Ministers have been talking for some time as if Barrow and South Lakes were part of this initiative yet as it stands they are not part of the group developing it – unlike Carlisle City Council.
“My preference at the moment would be for our area to press ahead with government on a separate Morecambe bay growth deal that better reflects our economic partnerships and geography than tying us to Scottish border region that is a two hour schlep for Barrovians over mountains and round lakes.”
Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a real opportunity for Cumbria.
“The Borderlands Proposition, as put forward by the participating local authorities, makes the case for improvements to the A69 and A595, a regeneration scheme around the Citadel in Carlisle, faster broadband and a feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle.
“These are welcome initiatives and, while they won’t happen overnight, the Growth Deal brings them closer. It should unlock significant private-sector investment too.”
The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal has six key programmes: Digital; Borderlands Energy Investment Company; Destination Borderlands; Quality of Place; Knowledge Exchange Network and Business Infrastructure Programme. The Partnership believes that collectively these will deliver benefits across the wider Borderlands geography.
There are also four place-based projects: the redevelopment of Chapelcross former power station; Mountain Bike Innovation Centre; Berwick Theatre and Conference Centre and Carlisle Station Gateway and additional projects such as the Borders Railway extension.