This is a brief summary of our take out from the Borderlands Conference held in Dumfries on the 18th June. The summary is mainly made up as a collage of comments from speakers, facilitators, businesses, local councillors (from Carlisle, Cumbria, Dumfries& Galloway, Northumberland and Scottish Borders), politicians and public sector officers. We have deliberately not attributed any of the comments as this is about the Borderlands Collective Voice…
Please let us know if you think we captured the day ….comments
Set up to bid for national funds and distribute these funds across the Borderlands area into capital projects. These should “encourage sustainable growth for the benefit of business and the local community”.
This should be a “transformative project” , “driving inclusive growth”…..”looking for the ‘big ticket idea’”…”this has included talking to 26 local towns”
So we need to know “what needs to happen and how are we going to do it?”
Which leads to three key questions :
“Aims are connectivity, growth of sectors (tourism, farming and energy) and deal with population decline (especially in the youth). Do this by collecting the perspectives of local people and businesses.” This will allow us to realise the potential we have.
“The UK economy is currently unbalanced and Borderlands is the opportunity to rebalance it”
““Once in a generation” opportunity for change” . As mentioned on the day “businesses who don’t shout don’t get” and “we (public sector) must put up or shut up”. A desire to create a “system that removes barriers to growth” and then “encourage distributive transformation”.
The main ingredients we have to use are our “natural and social assets held in the area.”
Need to “move away from the top down view of regional support where funding money creates regional growth”. Because “one big tyre factory does not an economy make”
“Try not to focus solely on the traditional sectors connected with rural areas (tourism, farming and energy)”. Remember that nowadays there is a “huge amount of crossover in sectors” . So for example “Food is absolutely a key” because in this region it moves from production to wholesale to retail to hospitality and marketing and covers all business size and ambition. Another sector with cross cutting themes would be cycling that straddles the border from the Lakes to the 7 Stanes and all the road routes in the region.
Borderlands will be “the first area focused development solution as opposed to a city focused solution.” This means “positivity is key” and the work in Borderlands should “influence a fundamental national review of the planning regime” and “legislation must support the changing needs of communities”.
So Borderlands will “work with businesses that are willing to look outside of the box” “to develop solutions for todays non urban communities”. Uniquely this will mean working in “two regions linked to each other through common history that over time has formed stronger bonds across the border than to their respective national governments.”
Borderlands should use the “capital funding to support economically sustainable projects that look to the future and these will work if they are built around collaborative partnerships with a focus on the long term”. This will be a “10-20 year project to change Borderlands, the challenge is to have the ambition set and not led by short term political aims, it is down to each of us not to let this happen.”
What will good look like?
The hope is that in 20 years time Borderlands will have delivered “pride in place”, “equitable skills” “measurable social and economic gains” and “allowed us all to have input into the area”