Convention of South of Scotland to tackle “three grand challenges”

The Convention of the South of Scotland has endorsed proposals for the Regional Economic Partnership to focus on developing housing, transport and skills over the next two years as part of continuing collaboration to maximise the region’s potential.

Topics including regeneration and natural capital were also on the agenda at the latest meeting of the Convention at Borders College in Galashiels. The Convention agreed to a range of outcomes including:

  • position the South of Scotland as the “Natural Capital Innovation Zone” to encourage and accelerate responsible investment across the region
  • explore more pragmatic and agile approaches to developing business cases and pursuing funding, based upon the principles of Verity House Agreement and the National Strategy for Economic Transformation
  • support the development of the Scottish Government’s Rural Delivery Plan, playing to strengths of the South of Scotland

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison and Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero & Just Transition Mairi McAllan attended the Convention.

The Deputy First Minister said:

“From playing a key role in the UCI world cycling championships to [one or two more examples of recent highlights, spread across the geography], the South of Scotland continues to demonstrate its unique strengths and strong potential for future growth.

“Last week’s Programme for Government reaffirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to developing Regional Economic Partnerships, and to working with our enterprise agencies and other partners to maximise investment in our regional and national economies.

“This week’s Convention was a positive and constructive, with a real sense of conviction that, working together, we can continue to capitalise on the region’s many strengths and build a wellbeing economy that is fair for everyone.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive of South of Scotland Enterprise said:

“The Convention of the South of Scotland is our opportunity for local partners to highlight the opportunity and ambition we have for our region.

“One of the key themes of the latest COSS meeting was partners’ collective desire for the South to lead the way in creating a fairer and more equal society with our local communities.

“This includes building on our position as the home of natural capital, and the Natural Capital Innovation Zone for Scotland, to provide great social, environmental and economic benefits for our region.

“We look will continue to work with our local and national partners including the Scottish Government and both Dumfries & Galloway and Scottish Borders councils to turn this ambition into reality.”

Gail Macgregor, Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council said: 

“The COSS is a welcome occasion to focus on the uniqueness of the opportunities and challenges, not just for Dumfries and Galloway, but for the whole of the South of Scotland. To do so with all of our partners in the same room, with the Depute First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition is very valuable. 

“Our discussions on collaborative and place-based approaches and our focus on the potential of the region’s natural capital will support the delivery of our ambitions for our region’s economy, environment and communities. In particular the opportunity to discuss the place planning work in Stranraer really animated the Convention, with real world, practical evidence of the benefits of working better.”

Councillor Scott Hamilton, Executive member for Community and Business Development at Borders Council said: 

The Convention of the South of Scotland is a great opportunity to show, as a collective, what we can offer working together and the value of the relationship. The strong south of Scotland collaboration was recognised by the Deputy First Minister who stated, on the day, she was enthused and encouraged by the can-do attitude in the room. 

“I was particularly impressed by both the Stranraer and Tweedbank developments which illustrated both the challenges and opportunities we face here in the south. I look forward to the continued success of the convention.”