Cross-border links strengthened at Berwick Investors Conference
There will be challenges but the Borderlands growth deal could offer real opportunities for Berwick and the surrounding area.
That was the message from Lord Ian Duncan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Scotland Office, when he spoke at Berwick Investors Conference on Thursday.
He was a late addition as keynote speaker because David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, was unable to attend due to a family bereavement.
Lord Duncan spoke about the City Deals across Scotland.
“The test for all those in the Borderland area is to learn the lessons of success from all those others, both north and south of the border, but also to recognise where they have not been successful,” he said.
“If we look close to home, some of the challenges might be things like infrastructure; the extension of the railway from Carlisle to Edinburgh; roads which are not fit for purpose; and how to attract inward investment. It is also about recognising strengths such as tourism and farming.
“The City Deals are anchored in cities with their hinterland but that of course leaves gaps in the jigsaw puzzle and that’s why there are growth deals which the Borderlands area fits into.”
He encouraged people to ‘think big’ and demonstrate ambition to attract funding from investors.
“This particular project is different because it straddles the border and there are challenges with that but it’s our job to make sure the two parts fit together.”
Around 50 delegates attended the event in the town hall.
Mayor of Berwick Gregah Roughead said it was a good opportunity for cross-border councils to get together with key stakeholders and engage with the business community.
He said: “Since last year’s event, the town council has been working in partnership with the county council in creating the Berwick Regeneration Commission which is looking at the future infrastructure, education, skills, tourism and transport so we hope in the near future to be engaging everyone through that too.”
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan added: “I was very pleased to be able to attend the Investors Conference for the morning session it is encouraging to see so many delegates from all areas of commerce.
“I have noticed a growing confidence in Berwick from local people and business leaders in the town speak to in recent months and this was a great opportunity to bring that together under one roof and discuss ideas and prospects for the area going forward.
“The Borderlands deal is going forward at full steam ahead in Whitehall and I have been attending many meetings over recent months to make sure that our patch benefits from the opportunities that will arise from the deal.
“This is a great opportunity for our area and will enable us to grow through investment and greater business opportunities. I look forward to continuing my engagement with the community so that we can make the most of what the future holds.”