[R]ory Stewart MP has chaired an informal meeting at Netherby Hall to discuss the Borderlands Growth Deal and the Forgotten Lands initiative with key stakeholders from in and around the Bewcastle Parish. The meeting – hosted by Gerald and Margo Smith – was an opportunity to provide an update on recent Growth Deal developments and share ideas about ways in which the growth deal could benefit the Bewcastle Parishes.
The Borderlands Growth Deal is the planned government growth deal to invest in communities and infrastructure across North Cumbria, Northumberland, Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders. It aims to tackle the regions economic challenges and provide support for existing businesses, as well as working to attract new business to the area. The Forgotten Lands project is a more localised community-based initiative to regenerate the so-called ‘Forgotten Lands’ of the Bewcastle areas. It grew initially from a grant from HRH Prince Charles to invest in local rural regeneration in 2014.
The meeting at Netherby Hall took place shortly before the first conference of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal was held at the Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries. The conference brought together the Borderlands Partnership, which comprises of the five Borderlands Local Authorities: Dumfries and Galloway Council; Carlisle City Council; Cumbria County Council; Scottish Borders Council; and Northumberland County Council, and also included key stakeholders and local and national politicians. The proposals which were discussed at the conference will be made to both the UK and Scottish governments later this year.
Rory Stewart said: “The Borderlands initiative presents a unique opportunity for Cumbria and the wider Border region and is a major investment by Government. It will support improvements to infrastructure and transport, develop our existing industries (such as agriculture and tourism), and transform the Borderlands into a national example of productivity with high levels of innovation, and the internationalisation of small businesses as we look ahead to a new trading future.
“I began working on this project during my time as Minister at DEFRA, and I am incredibly excited to see it take off, but we must make sure that we are thinking innovatively about how smaller communities such as Bewcastle can benefit, so that we are really making the most of the unique opportunity before us.”