Scottish and English councils eye closer economic links.
The Scottish and English border councils have agreed to join forces to explore ways of boosting business and tourism in the area, it was announced today.
Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Northumberland and Cumbria and Carlisle City Councils will meet to forge new alliances to improve existing business, tourism and transport links and opportunities.
It follows publication in July of the ‘Borderlands’ report for the Association of North East (of England) Councils (ANEC) and Cumbria County Council. It called on Scotland and the North of England to work together to exploit mutual economic and social opportunities.
The ‘Borderlands’ report said that the prospect of further autonomy for Scotland is also stimulating a new interest in the North East, Cumbria and Scotland to work more closely together. The report also highlighted a general view that in the period leading up to the independence referendum the Scottish Government would be receptive to new ideas.
Speaking as the Scottish Government’s Summer Cabinet met in Hawick, Local Government Minister Derek Mackay said:
“Scotland already has strong ties with the North of England and it is in both our interests that these be developed and strengthened further, and that there be greater practical co-operation. We are keen that the Scottish Government builds on the Borderlands report and does all it can to help the councils around the Borders look at new ideas for co-operation.
“An economically stronger Scotland would be a major boost for our close neighbours in the north of England and we want to work with local authorities and their partners to help them meet the needs of their communities, improve business, transport and tourism and make their local areas better places to live.
“The areas share a common history and common interests with many people travelling across the border to live and work.”
Cllr Paul Watson, Chair of the Association of North East Councils which brings together the twelve authorities in the North East of England, said:
“What the ‘Borderlands’ report highlights is real scope for collaboration across borders at a time of heightened focus on new ways of working and a desire to deliver tangible economic and social benefits for our areas.
“Opportunities for co-operation and enterprise in areas such as renewable energy, North Sea oil and gas industries, transport, connectivity, tourism, education and skills were all strongly reflected in ‘Borderlands’.
“As recommended by our report, North East councils look forward to engaging with partners in Scotland and Cumbria to take forward a strategic forum to provide a platform for constructive dialogue, new ideas and avenues for co-operation.”
David Parker, Leader of Scottish Borders Council:
“It is vital that there is a strong dialogue between the English and Scottish local authorities that neighbour the national border on economic development, transportation, communications and other matters.
“We experience common challenges and opportunities arising from our rurality and relationships with cities that are in close proximity to us.
This initiative will build on our work with the South of Scotland Alliance together with current and previous cross border joint work.
“I look forward to my Council's participation in this dialogue'
Councillor Ivor Hyslop, Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council and Chair of the Strategic Partnership said:
“Dumfries and Galloway is delighted to participate in this initiative as we take any opportunity to develop the very positive relationships we have with all our neighbouring areas.
“Our links across the border are already well established in some services and working with all the Councils and relevant partners will undoubtedly create new opportunities, and give us new ideas about doing things better and differently.”
Leader of Carlisle City Council, Cllr Colin Glover, said:
“We welcome the opportunity to meet Scottish government ministers and colleagues from councils on both sides of the border.
“It will look at how we can work more collaboratively together on issues such as enterprise, tourism and transport. We are looking forward to being able to explore how this work can be taken forward.”
The “Borderlands” report was produced by Northumbria and Durham Universities and the Institute for Public Policy Research North, and published in July 2013. It considered the implications for North East England and Cumbria of greater Scottish autonomy.