Scottish Borders Council

Agenda item

Expression of Interest for Borderlands City of Culture 2025

Consider report by Service Director Customer & Communities.  (Copy attached.)


5.1    There had been circulated copies of a report by the Service Director Customer & Communities seeking endorsement of a City of Culture 2025 Expression of Interest (EOI) to the UK Government for the Borderlands area.  To comply with bid timescales, an EOI had been submitted by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) on behalf of the Borderlands’ five partner Local Authorities.  Council’s endorsement of the EOI was sought and the outcome should be known by early September.  If successful considerable work would be required by officials to take a bid to the next stage by January 2022.  A Council member governance structure was proposed to oversee and support the work if required from a Scottish Borders’ perspective.  The report explained that the UK City of Culture was a UK Government programme which was administered as a competition by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports (DCMS).  The competition had been run every four years and the current one was for the UK City of Culture 2025.  For the first time, the competition was open to areas and places joining together to apply for the title to be awarded to their local area.  There were three stages to the competition, with the first one being the submission of an expression of interest with a decision made on a ‘long list’ of six in early September.  At the end of June 2021, SOSE identified the opportunity to submit a South of Scotland expression of interest for the City of Culture 2025 with the deadline for applications being 19 July 2021. Following deliberations it was considered the most effective approach was to submit a bid for the Borderlands area.  This led to an expression of interest being submitted by SOSE on behalf of the five Local Authority areas of Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Carlisle City, Cumbria, and Northumberland which make up the Borderlands Partnership. 


5.2    The bid was aligned to the theme of a ‘Just Transition to Net Zero’.  By using the Borderlands region’s heritage, culture and creativity, the bid would aim to create opportunities for future development and hopefully bring investment into the region.  The UK Government was providing £40,000 to each bid that made the ‘long list’ of six applicants for the next stage of the competition.  It was considered that more resources would likely be required in addition to this award to develop an exciting and innovative plan of cultural activities for the year that would be a key feature in the longer application required for the next stage.  The Service Director advised that Councillor Aitchison should have been included as a Member of the Group to oversee the bid.  Members welcomed the application and highlighted the impact a successful bid would bring to the Scottish Borders.





         (a)     to endorse the Expression of Interest for the Borderlands to be UK City of Culture 2025, as described in the report, that was submitted to the UK Government by SOSE on behalf of the five local authority areas of Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Carlisle City, Cumbria and Northumberland which made up the Borderlands Partnership; and


         (b)    that the following Members:

-          Councillor Shona Haslam;

-          Councillor Mark Rowley;

-          Councillor Sandy Aitchison

-          Councillor Simon Mountford;

-          Councillor Carol Hamilton;

-          Councillor Stuart Bell;

-          Councillor Euan Robson; and

-          Councillor Euan Jardine

                 as outlined in the report oversee, advise, and support any further work involving the Council in the Borderlands bid for the UK City of Culture 2025.


Supporting documents:



Scottish Borders Council

Council Headquarters Newtown St. Boswells Melrose TD6 0SA

Tel: 0300 100 1800


For more Contact Details