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Autumn Budget 2017: City deal progress including cross-border initiative in Scotland

Words: Roger Milne
Scotland / Shutterstock_278587181

The UK Government used this week’s Budget (22 November) to signal that it has begun negotiations on a growth deal for the Borderlands, a cross-border initiative involving joint proposals put forward by Dumfries & Galloway Council and the Scottish Borders Council, together with Northumberland and Cumbria County Councils and Carlisle City Council.

“The government is working with local partners and the Scottish Government to achieve this,” Budget documents confirmed.

The UK Government also said it was continuing to make good progress towards a city deal for Stirling and is in negotiations for a Tay Cities deal.

The councils campaigning for the Borderlands initiative have suggested that the area north and south of the border should become the UK's first 'Gigabit City Region' with increased investment in broadband.

They also want the cross-border region to become the UK's first 'Zero Carbon City Region’, with economic development focused on five strategic “growth corridors” based on improving the existing transport infrastructure including a possible extension to the Borders Railway line.

Around a million people live in the area covered by the Borderlands blueprint.

Rory Alexander from Scottish law firm Morton Fraser said: “The announcement by the UK Government on the start of negotiations for a Borderlands growth deal and that progress is being made on Scotland’s Tay Cities and Stirling city deals is a positive step forward for the Scottish Government’s ambition for visible and accountable leadership.

“While the city deals have been designed to promote economic growth to the benefit of regions around the country, this on-going shift in decision-making powers comes with it its own governance and legal issues.

“City deals require effective leadership which will firstly, ensure improved joint working between local authorities, the UK Government and the Scottish Government. Secondly, robust frameworks will be required to make sure that all parties meet their obligations; and finally, effective oversight of the delivery of projects on time and on budget to facilitate sustainable economic growth."

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