Between March and June 2018, the Scottish Government ran a consultation process on the planned Enterprise Agency for the South of Scotland (‘the Agency’). The online consultation consisted of one closed and 20 open-text questions and was supplemented by 26 engagement events across the South of Scotland. The engagement events were organised and publicised by the Southern Uplands Partnership. This report presents the analysis of the 268 responses to the online consultation and summary notes of the 26 engagement events.
The central messages of the respondents are summarised in the report. The key messages were raised by respondents and event discussions across both Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, indicating that there is shared need across both local authority areas and a clear rationale for the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency.
The Scottish Government’s ambitions for the South of Scotland were endorsed by 87% of respondents. In the comments respondents highlighted the importance of inclusive growth and increased productivity, good employment opportunities and wages, the importance of sustainable approaches and the need to diversify the economy. In addition, the need for economic regeneration, infrastructure development, and an improved East-West road and rail network were emphasised.
Respondents outlined a wide range of economic challenges that they would like to see the Agency address, including: low productivity in the South of Scotland; Brexit and the loss of European funding; the demographic challenge of an ageing population and young people leaving the area; as well as the lack of affordable housing, further and higher education opportunities and a skilled workforce.
Respondents highlighted a range of economic strengths in the South of Scotland that they would like the Agency to build upon, including: the quality of life in the South of Scotland; its history, cultural heritage and natural capital; and a range of sectors that are important to the South of Scotland, including primary industries, the creative sector and the tourism industry.