Key topics discussed as South of Scotland Alliance meets Scottish Government ministers

South of Scotland Alliance

Published: Thursday, 5th April 2018

Scottish Government ministers John Swinney MSP and Fergus Ewing MSP met the South of Scotland Alliance on Wednesday in Galashiels to discuss a range of key economic issues for the area.

Mr Swinney, Deputy First Minister, and Mr Ewing, who is Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, met our senior representatives alongside Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Enterprise and the private sector - which all make up the South of Scotland Alliance – in the town’s Transport Interchange.

What was discussed?

Discussions were held on a variety of topics specific to the south of Scotland, including the importance of broadband coverage and the impact of Brexit on agricultural and rural policy, as well as regional funding.

Updates were also provided on the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency (SOSEA) and Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.

  • SOSEA will focus on strategic economic development, providing a voice for the south of Scotland and addressing challenges facing the area’s economy. An interim partnership for the SOSEA has been created to prepare the ground for the establishment of the agency in April 2020.
  • The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal brings together the five cross-border local authorities including Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council and is focused on ways of making the area more attractive to investors, visitors and those who may wish to relocate.

Councillor Mark Rowley, Chair of the South of Scotland Alliance and our Executive Member for Business and Economic Development

“This was an important meeting for the Alliance, given the significant progress which is being made on the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency and Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.

“Working alongside the Scottish and UK governments, both these partnerships offer opportunities to improve the level of investment in economic growth, enterprise, skills and innovation across the south of Scotland.

“Other vital topics which affect communities across the area, from St Abbs to Stranraer, were also discussed, in particular the current Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband rollout programme.

“While many more businesses and homes in the south of Scotland now have access to superfast fibre broadband, the overall position in south of Scotland is still behind that of other areas. We raised this issue with the Cabinet Secretary and further meetings with civil servants are planned to look in detail at delivery across the region.

“Scottish Borders Council was delighted to host this meeting in the Galashiels Transport Interchange, and look forward to working closely with our partners to ensure the exciting opportunities ahead of us become a reality.”

Iain Scott, chief financial officer at Scottish Enterprise, who attended the meeting

“We’re delighted to be working so closely with our partners in the south of Scotland to ensure inclusive economic growth opportunities across the area are fully exploited.

“For example we recently awarded R&D funding to DuPont Teijin Films in Dumfries, and equity investment for Ryboquin in Selkirk.

“These are great examples of companies in the south of Scotland with ambition and capacity to grow, and we look forward to continued collaboration as part of the South of Scotland Alliance.”

Young's Seafood

The announcement on Tuesday from Young’s Seafood regarding the future of its seafood production site in Annan was also a major item of discussion at the meeting. The Scottish Government and Dumfries and Galloway Council agreed that they should work in partnership to explore all possibilities for dealing with this issue.

Dumfries and Galloway Council Leader, Councillor Elaine Murray

“The meeting considered several important issues for the south of Scotland including broadband and mobile coverage and the influence of Brexit on industrial and agricultural policy.

“We welcome the positive reaction from the Scottish Government on Young’s Seafood. They recognise the scale and seriousness of the problem for the staff and the community of Annan and the importance of prompt, focussed action. Time is of the essence.

"We need a number of different agencies around the table to find a solution. As a Council, we are well placed to lead this and since the news broke on Tuesday, we have been concentrating on making this happen. An action group involving the Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government will be meeting on Friday.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney

“We want all of Scotland to flourish. That is why we have invested over a billion pounds in the south of Scotland to ensure local people, communities and businesses have public services fit for the future.

“We have invested in schools, colleges, universities and hospitals, as well as roads, rail, regeneration and digital connectivity, helping to develop an infrastructure which enables inclusive economic growth.

“As the recent announcement by Young’s Seafood at Annan shows, there are significant challenges to creating a sustainable economy in the south of Scotland, not least through the impact that Brexit will have. Our meeting provided a valuable opportunity to explore a range of issues and to explore how we can work together to best support the south of Scotland economy.”

More information

An image from the meeting is available at our Flickr page.

More information about the South of Scotland Alliance is available.