Council to gives its backing to South of Scotland Enterprise Agency

Scottish Borders Council headquarters building

Published: Friday, 25th May 2018

Councillors are expected to call on the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency to help tackle the region’s low productivity, wages and growth at a meeting on Thursday 31 May.

Elected Members will discuss and agree our response to the ongoing Scottish Government consultation on the establishment of the enterprise agency next week, including a call for it to be granted many of the same powers as Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Councillor Mark Rowley, Executive Member for Business and Economic Development

“The creation of the agency at the same time that development work is ongoing on the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal and Borders Railway Blueprint provides an unprecedented opportunity to address various challenges in the region and deliver a positive and significant economic boost for the south of Scotland.  We are ambitious for the south of Scotland and ambitious for the role the new agency can play in our economy.

“These challenges will take time, money and innovative solutions to resolve, in addition to close working with all stakeholders and partners, but this new agency can provide the catalyst and focus for long term gains, building on the opportunities that we have here in the south of Scotland.

“This can be done through a variety of means, for example dedicated business support, financial assistance and advice more closely aligned to the region’s business base, working with communities to help them realise their ambitions and drive local economic development, increased ambition and innovation, and through tackling barriers such as geography, connectivity and infrastructure.

“In addition, we want to see the new agency engage with young people to understand their needs, expectations and what they want the south of Scotland to deliver for them to help them achieve their aims. This could range from supporting transportation for workplace learning to an enhanced careers service.

“By engaging with young people and education providers, including having effective representation at the board level, there is an opportunity for the new agency to help tackle the demographic changes that are looming for the region and the associated economic consequences.”

Coast to coast reach

In our proposed response it is suggested that the location of the agency’s offices and headquarters is less important than the fact that it is ‘rooted in the south of Scotland’ and ensures its presence reaches coast to coast, into every part of the region.

Councillor Rowley

“The physical location of the agency will be an operational matter for those delivering the agency in due course, however it has the potential to become an issue which could alienate and divide stakeholders, partners and communities and divert energy away from the agency’s true focus.

“It is for that reason that we are taking a pragmatic approach and suggesting that opportunities for co-location exist, utilising public sector spaces across the region, which would not only mean the agency could be ‘local’ and accessible to those in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, but would also be cost effective and enable close co-operation and engagement with the relevant organisations and local authorities.”

Still time for your to play #yourpart

The Scottish Government consultation is open until 7 June, so there is still time for local businesses, community groups, organisations and members of the public to have their say.

The ongoing South of Scotland Economic Partnership engagement events are also an opportunity for these stakeholders to discuss the future of economic development in the region, with three events remaining in the Scottish Borders:

  • 31 May – Mansfield House Hotel, Hawick at 7pm
  • 4 June – Memorial Hall, Innerleithen at 7pm
  • 7 June – Tweed Room, Ettrick Riverside, Selkirk at 7pm.

Feedback from the events is being fed into the Scottish Government consultation process.

More information:

  • South of Scotland Enterprise Agency - The new agency, to be formed by legislation and expected to become operational in April 2020, will drive inclusive growth, increase competitiveness and tackle inequality across the region. Its approach will be tailored to the area’s challenges and opportunities.

The agency will aim to support a diverse and resilient economy, aligning a simplified and efficient system of support for business and learners, and also sustain and grow communities through joined up economic and community support.

The vision also includes capitalising on the region’s people and resources – developing skills, promoting assets and resources and maximising the impact of investment in the area.

  • Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal – A £1.1bn deal from the UK and Scottish governments has been secured by a partnership of City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian councils, with significant support and engagement from a broad range of public and private sector partners.

Both governments are committed to jointly investing £600m over the next 15 years and regional partners have committed to adding up to £500m. In addition, the deal will generate over £5bn worth of Gross Value Added over the same period.

The aim is for the city region to become the most connected, creative, inclusive and entrepreneurial place in Europe.

A variety of programmes and projects will be delivered through the City Region Deal. The Scottish Borders will not only benefit from specific funding but also from a stronger and more vibrant city region, which will help to accelerate growth in the area.

  • Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal - The Borderlands Partnership brings together the five cross-border local authorities of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council to promote the economic growth of the area that straddles the Scotland-England border.

Both the UK and Scottish Government have indicated their support to the partners and ongoing discussions are taking place with a view to establishing a financial commitment to a formal deal.

The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal would complement the work of the Partnership/Agency.

  • The South of Scotland Economic Partnership was established by the Scottish Government on 1 December 2017 as a recommendation from the Enterprise and Skills Review.

It brings together a range of partners to support economic growth in the south of Scotland and will prepare the ground for the establishment of the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency.

The partnership offers an opportunity for greater collaboration and closer working across all sectors and will has agreed a clear and prioritised work plan.

The Scottish Government has announced additional new funding of £10million for 2018/19 to support delivery of the work plan.

In addition, the partnership will help design the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency.

  • Borders Railway Blueprint – ‘Borders Railway Maximising the Impact: A Blueprint for the Future’ is a strategy to maximise the potential of the line. Launched in November 2014, it aims to capitalise on the transformational impact of the new line in creating new places to ‘live, work, visit, learn, play and grow’.

It supports the Scottish Government’s strategy of ensuring transport connections are strengthened and made more reliable to maximise opportunities for employment, business, tourism and leisure.

The partners in creating and delivering the blueprint are: Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland, VisitScotland, Scottish Government, Scottish Borders Council, Midlothian Council, the City of Edinburgh Council, Abellio ScotRail and Network Rail.

The Blueprint outlines key investments across three strategic themes: Great Places for Working and Investing, Great Communities for Living and Learning, and Great Destinations to Visit. The investment proposals published in the Blueprint form a ‘national action plan’ to ensure that the Borders Railway will be a catalyst for economic growth in Midlothian and the Scottish Borders, and for the city region and Scotland.

It secures a commitment from partners to jointly plan, prioritise and agree resources to deliver these priorities. This includes a commitment of £10m investment from Scottish Government.

  • Other relevant economic programmes:
    • Hawick Action Plan – Developed in partnership with SBC, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government and community groups, the Hawick Action Plan aims to tackles some of the challenges facing the town. The Scottish Government allocated £3.6m from a £10m local economic development capital grant fund to Hawick to support business infrastructure.In addition to Council funds, this will support the development of a business incubator centre in the town centre, the creation of four industrial units at Galalaw Business Park, upgraded business facilities in the town’s Tower Mill and feasibility studies on other premises in Hawick to inform future opportunities.
    • Regeneration – Capital investment of almost £4.2m over the next 10 years was allocated in the 2018/19 budget for town and village regeneration, including £799k to support the regeneration of Eyemouth, £500k to commence delivery of the Tweedbank Masterplan, and £1.5m to support the development of infrastructure and maximise inward investment in the Borders Innovation Park. Many of these programmes will be supported by additional public and private sector funding and investment.