First in-person Regional Economic Partnership meeting agrees ambitious programme of action for South

First in-person Regional Economic Partnership meeting agrees ambitious programme of action for South

A refreshed South of Scotland Regional Economic Partnership has agreed an ambitious programme of action for the region at its first-ever in-person meeting.

The South of Scotland Regional Economic Partnership brings together a wide and diverse range of expertise and interests, with members from Historic Environment Scotland, South of Scotland Destination Alliance and the NHS being added to the membership.

Outcomes of the meeting 

The first in-person meeting held in Dumfries on 24 March saw the REP agree to refresh and refocus its priorities for the next two years, including strengthening its actions relating to housing, transport and skills that can unlock significant opportunities and improvements for the region.

These priorities tie into the delivery of the Regional Economic Strategy, which was launched in 2021 and aims to create a fairer, greener and flourishing South of Scotland.

What is the Regional Economic Partnership?

The Regional Economic Partnership (REP) is the forum which brings together a wide range of expertise and sets the direction of the regional economy across Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and other commitments, the group has only been able to come together online, until this month’s meeting.

The meeting was also the first with the new REP Chair in place, with Professor Russel Griggs, current Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise, taking on the role for the next year.

Professor Griggs added:

“The development of the Regional Economic Strategy was a major achievement, but now its important we press forward with fulfilling its ambitions with our new-look REP.

“The first ever in-person REP meeting generated a real positive feeling amongst everyone who attended, and has led to a refreshed set of ambitions to help us tackle the specific challenges facing our region now, as well as our long-term vision to deliver a fairer, greener and flourishing South of Scotland.

“The positive energy of us all being together in the same room for the first time is something we all want to continue into the future.”

Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Councillor Gail Macgregor said:

“I was happy to attend the meeting and welcome the rekindled focus of the crucial Regional Economic Partnership.

“We have shared opportunities and challenges in the South of Scotland and we need a collective and inclusive outlook to inject renewed pace into the identified priorities of housing, transport and skills. “Our joint approach will ensure that the vital work of the REP is at the heart of supporting our local economy and future growth, and I look forward to being a part of this.”

Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Community and Business Engagement, Councillor Scott Hamilton said:

“The REP plays a really important role in driving forward the ambition of the South of Scotland and it was fantastic to meet together in person for the first time.

“Strengthening actions relating to housing closely aligns with the recent positive discussions that were had at the meeting of the Convention of the South of Scotland and, for a largely rural region, issues such as skills and transport are also really critical to how we retain our young people, create and support job opportunities and grow our economy.

“I welcome the renewed focus on these areas.”

New REP member Mary Hemingway, who is a Coldstream-based Independent Financial Advisor representing the private sector, said:

“The REP is a unique opportunity for developing the future of the region.

“As we started working together at our first in-person meeting, there was a real feeling of excitement in the room.

“Being able to provide a private sector insight, alongside voices from different sectors, felt very impactful and I am looking forward to seeing how we can reach our goals by collaborating in this way.”

Who is the South of Scotland Regional Economic Partnership?

The REP first met virtually in September 2020 and agreed that its immediate focus needed to be the development of a South of Scotland-wide economic strategy which it launched in September 2021.

The development of the RES and its accompanying Delivery Plan has been driven forward by REP members, alongside extensive analysis, evidence and engagement with over 1,400 voices from the South – including 400 young people.

The current members of the REP are:

  • Dumfries & Galloway Council
  • Scottish Borders Council
  • South of Scotland Enterprise
  • Skills Development Scotland
  • VisitScotland
  • South of Scotland Destination Alliance
  • Historic Environment Scotland
  • Scottish Funding Council
  • Borders College
  • Dumfries & Galloway College
  • SRUC
  • Higher Education
  • NHS
  • Private Sector within the region
  • Social Enterprises within the region
  • Third Sector within the region
  • Registered Social Landlords
  • Community and Young Person's representatives from within the region.