The UK Government Minister for growth deals in Scotland, Iain Stewart MP, has visited Carlisle to meet representatives of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal and find out about how the Deal is helping to deliver growth and improved connectivity to the entire region.
The £452 million Deal is a regional investment programme jointly supported by the UK and Scottish governments and local partners.
The Minister was shown around Carlisle Station by Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council and Cllr John Mallinson, Leader of Carlisle City Council before joining other representatives of the Partnership including Cllr Mark Rowley, of Scottish Borders Council, to hear about progress with the Deal since the March signing. They explained the ambitious plans for Carlisle Station, which will see £20 million funding allocated for redevelopment of the station and the surrounding area, to act as a gateway to the region and a key transport hub with connections across the Borderlands, including preparations for the arrival of HS2 in the future.
Physical and digital connectivity are central to the Deal, providing more opportunities for employment, to start a business or visit the area with the investment at Carlisle
Station and feasibility work for the Borders Rail extension to Carlisle complementing the investment on improving digital access across the Borderlands.
UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “The Scottish-English Borderlands region is home to many vibrant communities and innovative businesses with huge potential that the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, including UK Government investment of £265 million, will help to unlock, so the region can build back better from the pandemic.
"At the heart of the Deal is a major boost to connectivity for southern Scotland and northern England which will bring significant benefits to the area, and I was very interested to see Carlisle Station and hear about plans to transform it into a major travel hub connecting the entire UK to the Borderlands.
"Together with the proposed extension of the Borders rail line from Tweedbank to Carlisle and the UK Government’s Union Connectivity Review, to revitalise rail, road, sea and air links between all parts of the United Kingdom, these are exciting times for the Borderlands."
Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council and Borderlands Partnership Board Co-Chair said: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister of State for Scotland to the Borderlands region today. As a key transport hub, Carlisle was a great place to talk about how the Deal will help better connect our region through improved transport links and better digital connections as well as improving connectivity within and outside of the Borderlands.”
Cllr John Mallinson, Leader of Carlisle City Council, added: “The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal will provide crucial support to our region’s recovery from the Covid-19 emergency and ensure we set in place strong foundations on which to deliver inclusive and sustainable growth.
“Carlisle will benefit from multi-million investment that will result in transformative schemes that will improve our infrastructure, transport links and connectivity.”
John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle said: “I am delighted that the Minister has visited Carlisle station and is seeing first-hand the start of the changes which the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal will bring to Carlisle and the surrounding area. This is a great example of central Government working with local Government to bring about real change. This is part of the levelling up agenda.”
Councillor Mark Rowley, SBC’s Executive Member for Economic Regeneration and Finance, also said: “The Minister’s visit was an excellent opportunity for the Partnership to once again highlight the importance of the Deal for the region.
“The joined-up approach being taken around transport and digital connectivity, including of course the extension of the Borders Railway to Carlisle, was discussed at length, as all partners recognise the importance of these issues in improving the whole of the Borderlands region for its residents and business and driving growth.”
Work to assess the benefits and challenges of extending the Edinburgh – Tweedbank Borders Railway to Carlisle will be progressed as part of the Deal, including feasibility at the appropriate stage of business case development.
These projects are part of the £112.2m that will be invested the enabling infrastructure programme of work, improving access to the region and connectivity within and outside of the Borderlands. Other funding in this area will go to Carlisle Citadels to transform the Grade 1 listed Citadels buildings into a new city centre campus for the University of Cumbria, expanding opportunities for local students and drawing in new students to the area.
The Digital Borderlands project will address the gaps in digital and mobile infrastructure across the Borderlands, catching up with other areas and putting in place the foundations for next generation connectivity. This work will ensure the Borderlands is a connected place, contributing to the region’s position as an attractive and competitive place to live, work and visit.
The Deal will deliver across four interconnected themes: improving places; enabling infrastructure; encouraging green growth; and supporting innovation, business and skills. Each theme has an agreed set of projects which will help deliver a step change for the businesses and communities of Borderlands by increasing productivity, growing the working age population and delivering a more inclusive economy.
The UK Government’s Connectivity Review has also identified further possible projects and is investing £20 million to explore these, including upgrading the A75 between Gretna, Dumfries and Stranraer and ways to enhance the West Coast Mainline with faster trains.
The Borderlands Partnership is made up of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council.