Scottish Borders Council

Agenda item

South of Scotland Enterprise Agency - Update

Consider report by Executive Director.  (Copy attached).

Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of SoSEP will be in attendance.


3.1     With reference to paragraph 5 of the Minute of 6 November 2018 and paragraph 9 of the Minute of Scottish Borders Council of 20 December 2018, there had been circulated copies of a report by the Executive Director providing an update on the progress being made by South of Scotland Economic Partnership in supporting projects across the South of Scotland and also the progress of the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill at Scottish Parliament.  Mr McGrath gave a brief presentation on the background to the setting up of the new Agency and advised that the Bill was being scrutinised by the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee (RECC).  During Stage 1, the Committee took evidence from the Council and a range of other stakeholders.  The RECC published its Stage 1 report on the SOSE Bill on 4 March 2019 recognising the unique circumstances of the South of Scotland and the need for a new body to support the enterprise and skills needs of the area.  Stage 1 concluded with a debate on 26 March 2019, when the Parliament unanimously agreed to the general principles of the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill.


3.2     Mr. McGrath reported that since it began work in early 2018, SoSEP had established a clear prioritised work programme; it had delivered a strong programme of engagement with stakeholders across the South of Scotland; and it had effectively influenced the design of the new Enterprise Agency.  To ensure continued progress, the Scottish Government had made £13.3m available to 2019/20 to support the work of SoSEP and Appendix 1 to the report set out a summary of the projects supported to date. SoSEP was also continuing to engage with businesses and communities across the region and a further major round of engagements were planned for the coming months. 


3.3     Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SoSEP) was present at the meeting and gave a presentation on the work carried out to date.  He highlighted the major impact that Brexit would have on the area, the demographic challenges and the need for 800 new workers every year.  The purpose of the Agency was to grow all types of enterprises which would result in sustainable businesses.  He commented on a current pilot in Langholm to make the whole community sustainable and the importance of good transport links.  The purpose of phasing the Agency in over a three year period was to allow knowledge to be gained during this time, an approach which had the support of both the Board and the Cabinet Secretary.


3.4     Professor Griggs, Mr Dickson and Mr McGrath responded fully to Members’ questions covering a number of areas including links with the Borderlands Project, the need for cross-border working, the importance of public transport and the provision of affordable housing.



(a)       NOTED the:-


(i)      progress made to date in securing funding for key South of Scotland and Scottish Borders projects, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report; and


(ii)     successful completion of Stage 1 of the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill


(b)       AGREED:-


(i)      to monitor further stages of the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill and input as appropriate;


(ii)     that officers continue to work jointly with Dumfries & Galloway Council, and other partners, to develop projects and to deliver key actions through South of Scotland Economic Partnership; and


(ii)     to receive further reports on the South of Scotland Economic Partnership and SOSE Bill as work progresses



Supporting documents:



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