South of Scotland Alliance meets with Deputy First Minister

Published: Monday, 23rd February 2015

The South of Scotland Alliance met with the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Employment John Swinney MSP at Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries earlier this month.

The meeting was a key opportunity for the Alliance, which is made up of ourselves, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Enterprise, to discuss with the Scottish Government the main economic challenges facing businesses and communities in the south of Scotland.

Progress report

The meeting was used to update the Deputy First Minister on the progress towards delivery of the South of Scotland Rural Regional Economic Development Programme. Other topics discussed included constitutional changes, European funding, superfast broadband and mobile phone coverage.

Councillor Colin Smyth, Alliance Chair and Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee

“This was an important meeting with Mr Swinney where we raised key issues concerning the economic development of the south of Scotland and the importance of working with the Scottish Government.

“Positive progress is being made on some of our key economic projects such as the Borders Railway, but others such as Stranraer Waterfront still need further Government and national agency support. There is also still a great deal of work to be done to push forward effective programmes to support businesses in the south of Scotland in relation to innovation, internationalisation and leadership and to ensure we have comprehensive mobile phone coverage and broadband links in our remoter areas.”

Councillor Stuart Bell, our Executive Member for Economic Development

“We had a very constructive dialogue once again with Mr Swinney and used the opportunity to update him on the South of Scotland Rural Regional Economic Programme, which was presented to him last year.

“Since our last meeting the Scottish Government has supported the Assisted Area status designation for the A7/A74 corridors and we have seen continued progress on the roll out of superfast broadband. The two local authorities and Scottish Enterprise regard these meetings with a senior member of the Scottish Government as a valuable opportunity to pitch the south’s case for special consideration of our regional priorities. Significantly Mr Swinney highlighted the importance of regional equity in Scotland and, at his suggestion, we have agreed to meet him twice a year so that we can progress the work of the Alliance more quickly.”

Alistair McKinnon, Regional Director of Scottish Enterprise

“Scottish Enterprise is working closely with Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council to deliver the South of Scotland Economic Rural Regional Economic Programme, which consists of four capital projects which have the potential to have a national impact. It is a great example of partnership working where local and national agencies can align resources to grow the local and national economy.”

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister

“I was pleased to meet with the South of Scotland Alliance last week to hear about the progress they are making towards growth in the local economy, the challenges they are facing and how we can support them in delivering their goals.

“Our Programme for Government makes clear our commitment to boosting economic growth and tackling inequalities and the discussion with the Alliance illustrates just how important this is. I look forward to continuing the engagement between local and national organisations. With very clear priorities, supporting economic growth, the Alliance has the potential to make a real impact on the prosperity of the south of Scotland.”