3 Cross-border working |
65. As illustrated above, many of the challenges
faced in the south of Scotland are also issues in the north of
England. While these require co-operation between the UK and Scottish
Governments in establishing and maintaining effective infrastructure,
co-operation at local government and community level is also crucial
in delivering many essential services at local level.
66. Within the south of Scotland, various organisations
exist to facilitate co-operation between local authorities and
communities and to foster social and economic development in the
area. Examples include the Southern Uplands Partnership, a group
consisting of individuals, government bodies, agencies and councils
working "to keep the communities and countryside of the south
of Scotland alive and healthy;"
the Tweed Forum, a group of organisations and individuals with
an interest in the sustainable management of the Tweed catchment;
and the South of Scotland Alliance, a collaboration between Scottish
Borders Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council working on business
development in the region.
67. Until recently, however, no mechanism existed
specifically to facilitate such co-operation across the Scotland-England
border. As noted above, areas of the north of England are very
much part of the social and economic fabric for those living in
the south of Scotland. Both Dumfries and Galloway Council and
Scottish Borders Council therefore identified significant scope
for "enhanced co-operation" across the border. Both
Councils suggested that the Borderlands Initiative was the most
appropriate vehicle for this.
The Borderlands Initiative
68. The Borderlands Initiative was created by Scottish
Borders Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council with Carlisle
City Council, Cumbria County Council and Northumberland County
Council. The initiative was launched by the Scottish Government
in August 2013, a month after the publication of the Borderlands
report authored by academics at Northumbria University.
This paper recommended joint working between local authorities
on either side of the Scotland-England border in order to exploit
and develop mutual economic and social links. The SNP group on
Scottish Borders Council urged the UK Government to work with
the Scottish Government on the suggestion initially put forward
by the Association of North East Councils in the Borderlands
identifies possibilities for the north east and Cumbria to engage
with the Scottish Government and other Scottish interests. It
also sees opportunities "for the North East, Cumbria and
Scotland to develop a common 'voice' and influence the UK Government."
69. The first Borderlands Initiative summit took
place in April 2014. The cross-border meeting saw senior members
of the five Councils discuss improved transport and communications
links, economic growth and employment in the border regions of
Scotland and England.
The Borderlands Initiative summit also developed a plan to take
forward economic opportunities.
70. A second Borderlands Initiative summit was hosted
by Carlisle City Council in November 2014. The meeting considered
how work has progressed on taking forward "key economic opportunities"
in areas including: tourism, energy, forestry, education and training,
improved transport and communications links.
Scottish Borders Council identified that these early meetings
had demonstrated that there were "potential benefits in working
across the Anglo-Scottish boundary."
To date, the Borderlands Initiative has yet to publish a strategy
or development plan.
BENEFITS OF THE INITIATIVE
71. Although still relatively new, we identified
widespread support and optimism in relation to the benefits that
the Borderlands Initiative could potentially deliver. Dumfries
and Galloway Chamber of Commerce identified that the south of
Scotland suffered from a lack of a profile akin to that of the
Highlands or the Lake District, "to the detriment of both
inward investment and tourism."
They suggested that joint working and lobbying under the Borderlands
banner "may well be a mechanism [
] which could help
focus attention on the region."
Joan McAlpine MSP suggested that the Initiative could "raise
the ambition for the region and
raise the profile of the
72. However, some witnesses expressed concern that
the Borderlands Initiative may be simply duplicating the efforts
of a plethora of other organisations operating in the region.
Scottish Land and Estates noted that it may be beneficial to increase
the funding of existing working partnerships rather than to create
In order to maximise "best value for each public pound spent",
SLE suggested the initiative should build on the work of bodies
such as the Southern Upland Partnership, the Tweed Forum, and
Destination Dumfries & Galloway.
73. Brian Richardson, Chief Executive of Dumfries
and Galloway Chamber of Commerce, explained the potential value
for money of such an initiative in terms of securing additional
funding for the area. He cited a previous experience of an integrated
development operations programme between Cleveland and Durham.
He explained: "there were 16 designated integrated development
operations programmes, of which we were one. We were successful
in bidding for £400 million. Well over half of it we would
not have managed to acquire had we not been an integrated unit.
The process was massively beneficial."
74. The notion that the Borderlands Initiative would
lead to a duplication of effort was rejected by Janice Rose, Economic
and Inclusion Policy Manager of Northumberland County Council.
She argued, "we need to recognise that geographies naturally
have to overlap
this will reduce duplication rather than
add to it because it will give us that focus to pitch for what
those communities need."
Gavin Yuill, Director of the Yuill Community Trust, agreed that
the initiative could foster greater collaboration and co-production
in the south of Scotland, potentially resulting in local authorities
having a greater impetus to adopt beneficial policies for development,
if guidance "above local authorities
across the Borderlands
for example, in terms of social housing.
75. Jane Meek, Head of Economic Development at Carlisle
City Council, stated that the next stage for the Borderlands Initiative
was to identify areas where the authorities involved can get some
"quick wins", but also to set out what support was required
from the UK and Scottish Governments. She explained: "we
want to be able to go to Parliament, to Westminster or the Scottish
Parliament, and say, 'These are our asks and these will be the
outputs that we will get by having these asks'."
76. Michael Moore identified that support from both
the UK and Scottish Governments was vital to enable the initiative
to deliver on its potential. He described an "intergovernmental
focus" as the key to advancing the Borderlands Initiative's
agenda. He suggested
the creation of "a forum around which Ministers from north
and south of the border can add their input to the Borderlands
77. We welcome the creation of the Borderlands
Initiative as a first step in effective cross-border and collaborative
working, and recognise its role in delivering major benefits for
this economic region. However, this potential will only be delivered
if both the UK and Scottish Governments provide the vital political
support and leadership required to deliver tangible benefits.
We recommend that an inter-ministerial forum is set up to work
alongside the Borderlands Initiative.
Strengthening Local Government
78. One of the themes of the Committee's work during
this Parliament has been to promote the devolution of further
powers to communities within Scotland. For example, in our Report
on the Scotland Bill, published in 2012, we recommended that the
process of devolution should lead to further decentralisation
within Scotland, to local authorities and communities, in part
to counteract what many have described as a 'centralising' tendency
The central thrust of our Report on the Crown Estate in Scotland
was that powers and responsibilities should be devolved to Edinburgh,
and then beyond, to the most appropriate level.
We are pleased that these recommendations are being
progressed, and will be implemented as part of the Smith agreement.
79. Indeed, Michael Moore described the Borderlands
Initiative as a countervailing force against centralisation in
Looking at the Scottish Government there is a
worrying trend, as I see it, to centralise services in the Central
Belt. This is a set of policies now that go back a number of years
as a region have to make alternative arrangements to get round
some of these challenges and the different perspectives that Governments
take of us and our needs.
Indeed, this Report provides a stark illustration
of how that centralising tendency has impacted on communities
in the south of Scotland in practice.
80. In 2013, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
(COSLA) set up the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy
to identify a route map "to deliver the full benefits of
a shift in power towards local democracy for people in Scotland".
In its submission to that Commission, Scottish Borders Council
stated that decisions about local issues and services were "not
made locally enough", and argued that local authorities needed
"much greater control of finance and resources."
81. However, Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce
were wary of an enhanced role for Community Councils as they had
been proven generally unable to deal with the complex issues of
development and open to intimidation by pressure groups. The Chamber
did feel, however, that "there may well be opportunities
for the third sector as delivery mechanisms."
Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce was concerned about
any proliferation of agencies operating in an area that could
lead to a more complex landscape for business, and to conflicting
82. Scottish Land and Estates felt that, if further
devolution at a local level were to take place, it was "vital
to ensure that there remains linkage with all groups and stakeholders
to allow for transfer of knowledge and expertise." They cautioned
that any increase in community empowerment should be embedded
within an effective community planning framework, but felt that
"increased involvement in decision making and service delivery
by all members of the community would undoubtedly be beneficial
and help ensure more effective use of public resources."
83. As we have repeatedly stated, collaboration
and co-operation is key - not only across the border, but at all
levels of government - including at local and community level.
To avoid duplication of effort and the spreading of resources
too thinly, community-level involvement and decision making should
be underpinned by a regional framework of the type offered by
the Borderlands Initiative. We recommend that the Borderlands
Initiative work closely with community councils to develop a clear
strategy in relation to how all levels of government should work
together to deliver for the benefit of the people of the south
98 Southern Uplands Partnership, The Southern Uplands Partnership,
accessed 9 March 2015 Back
Tweed Forum, About Tweed Forum, accessed 9 March 2015 Back
South of Scotland Alliance, South of Scotland Rural Regional Economic Development Programme,
(June 2014), Back
Dumfries and Galloway Council, (BOR0006), para 2.15 ; Scottish
Borders Council, (BOR0003), para 11 Back
Northumbria University, Borderlands: Can the North East and Cumbria benefit from greater Scottish autonomy?,
July 2013 Back
SNP group, Scottish Borders Council, (BOR0004), para 7 Back
Northumbria University, Borderlands: Can the North East and Cumbria benefit from greater Scottish autonomy?,
July 2013, p 35 Back
Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Carlisle City, Cumbria
and Northumberland Back
First Scotland-England cross-border summit staged, BBC News Scotland,
4 April 2014 Back
Second Borderlands summit staged, BBC News Scotland, accessed
22 January 2015 Back
Scottish Borders Council, (BOR0003), para 4 Back
Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce, (BOR0002), para 2.3 Back
Ibid., para 2.3 Back
Joan McAlpine MSP, (BOR0020), para 2.1.2 Back
Scottish Land and Estates, (BOR0012), para c Back
Ibid., para c Back
Ibid., para a Back
Q23 [Janice Rose] Back
Q114 [Gavin Yuill] Back
Scottish Affairs Committee, Fourth Report of the Session 2010-2012,
The Scotland Bill, HC 775-I, para 7 Back
Scottish Affairs Committee, Seventh Report of the Session 2010-12,
The Crown Estate in Scotland, HC 1117 Back
Paragraph 32 of the Smith Commission report stated that "Responsibility
for the management of the Crown Estate's economic assets in Scotland,
and the revenue generated from these assets, will be transferred
to the Scottish Parliament." The Smith Commission, Report of the Smith Commission for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament,
para 32 ) Back
CoSLA, Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy accessed 21
January 2015, Back
Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy, Scottish Borders Council submission Back
Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce, (BOR0005), para h Back
Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce, (BOR0002), para 3.12 Back
Scottish Land and Estates, (BOR0012), para h Back