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Jane Meek

Borderlands bid will be submitted soon

Published on: Thursday 5th July 2018

The bid for the Borderlands Growth Deal will be sent to the Government within the next couple of weeks.

Jane Meek, Carlisle City Council's corporate director of economic development, said after months of work on the bid, it would be put before ministers soon.

She was one of the keynote speakers at the second in-Cumbria Business Breakfast, held at Carlisle Racecourse yesterday.

The Borderlands initiative brings together the five cross-border local authorities of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries & Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council to promote the economic growth and competitiveness of an area that straddles the Scotland-England border.

It focuses on several key themes, including digital technology, innovation, low carbon and energy.

Mrs Meek said: "It's collaborative working across borders and boundaries, breaking them down."

The free breakfast events are sponsored by law firm Baines Wilson, accountants Armstrong Watson and are in association with in-Cumbria Business Awards partner Sellafield Limited.

Yesterday's event was attended by around 60 delegates, also heard from John Wilson, of Baines Wilson, Grant Glendinning, principal of Carlisle College and Debbie Francis, managing director of Direct Rail Services.

On the agenda were the Borderlands and the Northern Powerhouse.

Mrs Meek said: "Twelve months ago I would have said Cumbria didn't feature in the Northern Powerhouse and we may have had a ripple effect from investment in places like Preston.

"But now, Borderlands has had an impact and we've been meeting with MPs and ministers.

"Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry said the Borderlands was the most exciting deal in the Northern Powerhouse at this time."

Mr Wilson spoke about the history of the region, and how businesses should see Borderlands as an investment opportunity.

He also said infrastructure was key. He said: "If Borderlands is to have any credibility, it has to do something about the cross-Pennine routes and the A595, which is quite frankly, a death trap."

Mrs Francis welcomed the news that plans to upgrade the coastal railway line were being developed and encouraged councils and the Government to be mindful that developments have to be flexible to make sure they are suitable for future expansion.

Mrs Meek added that a HS2 stop at Carlisle would be essential for the region and its development.

Mr Glendinning spoke about how unlocking young people's potential was essential to help the county's economic development.

He said: "Rather than accept a vicious circle of recruitment problems in Cumbria, let’s create a skills-powered virtuous circle to boost the county’s prosperity and deal with skills gaps."

A question-and-answer session also took place.

The next in-Cumbria Business Breakfast takes place at Rosehill Theatre, near Whitehaven, on July 18.

Speakers include Jamie Reed, of Sellafield. For more information, visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/in-cumbria-business-breakfasts-tickets-46521462948

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