Representatives from councils, businesses and projects across the north of England and south of Scotland have come together at a conference in Penrith to mark the success and delivery progress of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.
The Deal has already helped deliver major capital projects such as Ad Gefrin, an Anglo-Saxon Museum and Whisky Distillery, and enchanting children's play park Lilidorei at the Alnwick Garden, creating more than 100 jobs between them.
There have also been significant steps in developing the Natural Capital Scotland programme to value the region’s land and water resources, as well as gaining planning permission for the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre in the Scottish Borders.
Elsewhere the Digital Borderlands programme has seen 3,353 homes and businesses secure faster and more reliable broadband connections in areas previously suffering from slow internet speeds.
The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal is a ten year, £450million programme of investment to deliver sustainable and inclusive economic benefits, including £265m from the UK Government and £85m from the Scottish Government.
Today's conference brought together representatives from the five authorities - Cumberland, Dumfries & Galloway, Northumberland, Scottish Borders, and Westmorland and Furness Councils - for the first time since the local government reorganisation in Cumbria earlier this year.
It is the only Regional Growth Deal comprising areas in England and Scotland, showcasing a unique and ambitious approach to cross-border working between Governments, local authorities and partners.
Jack Stopforth, Chair of the Borderlands Economic Forum, said:
“We are now in year three of this ten year deal and it is great to be able to showcase the successes we have achieved since the signing in March 2021.
“Working in partnership the five councils have already made exceptional progress, but today is as much about looking forward as well as back.
“Whether it's significant capital projects on both sides of the border, or programmes to encourage green growth and enable infrastructure, we have lots we want to make happen to improve the region for residents, businesses and visitors.”
Dehenna Davison MP, UK Government Levelling Up Minister, said:
“I’m thrilled that great progress is being made to level up across the UK through the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, which we’re backing with £265 million in UK Government funding to support a range of fantastic projects, from world-class visitor attractions, to investments in low cost energy and improved digital connectivity.
“We want to breathe new life into areas which have long been overlooked, so it’s exciting to hear that this deal is providing jobs and boosting prosperity for people on both sides of the border.
“I’m looking forward to seeing this deal continue to deliver exciting new projects over the next few years, helping to support a thriving local economy and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to flourish.”
(L-R: Cllr Mark Fryer, Leader of Cumberland Council; Cllr Euan Jardine, Leader of Scottish Borders Council; Cllr Gail MacGregor, Leader of Dumfries & Council; Cllr Wojciech Ploszaj, Cabinet Member for Northumberland County Council; Jack Stopforth, Chair of Borderlands Economic Forum; Cllr Jonathan Brook, Leader of Westmorland & Furness Council)
Neil Gray MSP, Scottish Government Wellbeing Economy Secretary, said:
“I welcome progress across the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, and I look forward to projects in Scotland commencing later this year.
“Scottish Government investment of up to £85 million will help drive improvements in regional infrastructure, local communities, tourism, connectivity and innovation as well as building on the region’s natural assets.
“Our investment will help deliver a step change in regional economic performance and will support green, fair jobs and build prosperity.”
Malcolm Offord, UK Government Minister for Scotland, said:
"The conference is an excellent opportunity to showcase the achievements the Borderlands deal has made so far, delivering positive change right across the region.
"New infrastructure, facilities and attractions are helping to regenerate the area, restore civic pride, and attract new businesses and further investment.
"The UK Government is supporting the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal with £265 million, and investing £2.3 billion in levelling up in Scotland."
Other major projects in the pipeline include Stranraer Marina, Dairy Nexus near Dumfries, the University of Cumbria Citadels Campus, and a new Berwick Theatre.
Region-wide schemes include community-led initiatives such as Place Plans and green energy projects, as well improving access to natural assets like the Lake District, Hadrian's Wall and the Tweed Valley.
The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal is not just regenerating an area: it aims to leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.