Council asked to back move to attract extra European funding

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Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee will be asked to support proposals that could see the creation of a new southern Scotland statistical area, potentially attracting extra EU funding into the southern Scotland.

At the moment Scotland is divided into four large regions - Eastern, North Eastern and South Western Scotland plus Highlands and Islands - to inform regional policy development and determine regional funding.

But following extensive lobbying by the South of Scotland Alliance (SOSA) , the Scottish Government is consulting on proposals to creating a fifth.

A report to councillors on the committee has advised them to support the plan as it could bring extra funding into the area.

The South of Scotland Alliance (SoSA), a partnership between Dumfries and Galloway Council with Scottish Borders Council and Scottish Enterprise has been concerned about the current NUTS2 boundaries within Scotland for some time due to the low Gross Domestic Product (GPD) per head in the South of Scotland area being masked as our area is grouped in with the higher GDP area of Glasgow.

This often has the result that funding received does not necessarily reflect the challenges faced in rural Dumfries and Galloway.

Previous moves to create a new region that only included Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders within the new boundary have been turned down by the Scottish Government due to the low population.

However a revised proposal which now includes Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire, and also including the North Ayrshire mainland.

Research by the South of Scotland Alliance has demonstrated that these regions are similar in economies, demographics and rurality and their combination would provide a better focus for policy development.

Councillor Colin Smyth, Chair of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee , who is co-chair of the South of Scotland Alliance said: “Through the South of Scotland Alliance we have made a strong case to the Scottish Government for a new southern Scotland and we are pleased to see that it has been included in the Scottish Government’s review.

“At the moment, Dumfries and Galloway is grouped with the other areas in the West – which includes Glasgow and Ayrshire and Lanarkshire.

“Being grouped with these areas means that our rurality is sometimes ignored as the focus is on the larger cities.

“By creating a separate Southern Scotland area, it will allow us to tap into EU funding that we currently aren’t eligible for.

“This will mean more money into the South of Scotland and more money into Scotland overall.

“At the same time the change would have no detrimental impact on any other area.

“The proposed new boundary would not stop us from still working alongside other local authorities like Glasgow and Edinburgh when needed, but the proposed new NUTS area would help us to become more focussed and with an increased presence, alongside our more rural neighbours.

“The final decision will be made by the EU and will also need the support of the UK government but the first step is gaining the support of the Scottish Government through their consultation.”