Bid to unite Border area to attract EU funding

The Border region could use funds to tackle rural poverty
The Border region could use funds to tackle rural poverty
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A CROSS-BORDER bid to unite the south of Scotland the north of England in a single enterprise zone is to be explored by the Scottish affairs select committee at Westminster.

The Scotsman understands that the committee, chaired by Labour’s Ian Davidson, is to look at creating a quango similar to Highlands and Islands Enterprise in the Borders area.

This would allow the region to qualify for EU funding, it is suggested.

A consultative paper to be published shortly by the committee will also seek the views of local people on the possibility of the new organisation covering the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Cumbria and Northumberland in an attempt to overcome rural poverty.

Mr Davidson, the Labour MP for Govan, said: “There have been discussions recently about linking up over the Border because they have got joint interests.

“Under EU numerical areas, Dumfries tends to get lumped in with Glasgow and the Borders get lumped in with Edinburgh. Whereas if they were done as a joint area – Dumfries, Borders, Cumbria and Northumberland – then they would qualify for more EU funding than they get at the moment.

“The Scottish affairs committee are going to be producing something in the not too distant future raising the whole question of the future of the Borders and how they are dealt with and their hostility to centralisation.”

The proposal was discussed at meetings in Galashiels, Peebles and Dumfries.

Mr Davidson added: “One of the things that came up a lot was the feeling that there was far too much centralisation in a devolved Scotland.

“They wanted to look at ways to combat centralisation, but also they would have their own circumstances recognised and one of the things we are likely to come out with is, with consultation with people, is the idea of a Borderlands Enterprise across the Border.

“Instead of Scottish Enterprise, which deals with things that can have an impact on a Scotland-wide basis, you would be working with something more akin to Highlands and Islands Enterprise.”