July 4, 2019 @ 12:57 by Richard Dawson
A cross-border funding deal worth £394.5 million has been signed off by the UK and Scottish Governments, as well as the leaders of the five councils in the Borderlands Partnership.
The ‘Heads of Terms’ for the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal has now been agreed, with £350m coming from the UK and Scottish Governments, and the remaining £44.5m coming from the local authorities.
The signing of the formal agreement is a major step towards funding a range of agreed projects, aiming to target all parts of the borderlands region, which covers the council areas of Northumberland, Cumbria, Carlisle, Dumfries and Galloway, and Scottish Borders.
The long-term aim of the plan is to bring growth to the regions, creating more opportunities for individuals, businesses and communities, and driving tourism to the area.
Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, Jake Berry MP, said: “This once-in-a-generation deal will deliver unprecedented investment in the Borderlands region while strengthening our cross-border links.
“We have moved closer to finalising a deal which will deliver over 5500 jobs, dramatically improve transport and digital connectivity, boost tourism and generate around £1.1 billion of economic benefits for the region.
“With the combined strength of the UK, Scottish and local governments, let’s use this Borderlands Deal to realise a new era of regeneration, inclusive growth and limitless economic opportunities for the Borderlands and the whole of the Northern Powerhouse.”
Specific funding has already been confirmed for some projects, including an £8m Dairy Innovation Centre in Dumfries and Galloway, £10m to support natural capital innovation across the Borderlands region, £15m for Carlisle train station, and £5m for Alnwick Gardens in Northumberland.
The deal will also mean an investment of £31m in green energy projects, some of which will go towards much needed improvements in digital and mobile connectivity, particularly in rural areas.
Councillor Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council, added: “The signing of the agreement is a vital step towards the next stage of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, enabling the Partnership to finalise the business cases for the agreed projects and programmes and to access the funding to take these forward.
“Significant work has gone in by all the partners and the two governments to get to this stage, and thanks to the very close working relationship we’ve made excellent progress to date and have no doubt that will continue as we all work towards signing the full deal agreement next year.”