South of Scotland Enterprise Agency: consultation report

Analysis report on the consultation process for creating the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency. The report analyses both online responses and opinions expressed at the 26 engagement events held across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

Effective boundaries

The online consultation described a consensus that the new organisation should operate in the local authority areas of the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway due to similarities between these areas. It was explained that the Agency would need to establish relationships outside its boundaries and respondents were asked to consider what the Agency could do to work most effectively with other regional or national agencies.

This chapter outlines respondents' views on the types of cooperation which were seen as necessary for the successful operation of the Agency.

6.1 Cooperation with other agencies and institutions

Many respondents, and 21 out of 26 consultation events, discussed the need for the Agency to work with other agencies and institutions. Respondents expressed a view that the Agency could learn and work with a range of agencies and institutions including:

  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise ( HIE): It was felt that the Agency should learn from HIE in areas such as engaging with communities, community ownership, connecting culture and economy, supporting key sectors and new businesses, and encouraging economic development in a rural setting.
  • Scottish Enterprise: Respondents felt that the work of the Agency should not duplicate that of Scottish Enterprise and that there should be clarity about the organisations' respective roles.
  • Educational institutions: The Agency should help educational institutions improve provision in the region. Educational institutions should assist in providing education and training which prepares students for their careers.
  • VisitScotland: It was felt that the Agency could work with VisitScotland to promote and engage in marketing for the South of Scotland, both within Scotland and abroad, to increase tourism.

6.2 Cooperation with Scottish local authorities

Some respondents referenced the need for the Agency to cooperate with local authorities, particularly Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Scottish Borders Council. However, respondents also suggested a need for the Agency to work with neighbouring local authorities. It was felt that some of the issues and challenges faced by Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders were similar to those in other adjacent rural areas and so cross-border initiatives would be beneficial. Working with other local authorities was seen to be useful in the development of strategies for infrastructure improvements across a wider geographical area.

6.3 Relationship with other countries of the UK

It was recognised that Agency projects were likely to cross national borders and that therefore the development of relationships with partners outside Scotland was necessary. Respondents felt that there was potential for the South of Scotland to benefit from English tourism and business opportunities. Respondents also suggested that the South of Scotland's links with Northern Ireland should be further strengthened. In addition, it was felt that the Agency's links with the wider Borderlands Initiative would be important and that there should be clarity around respective roles.

6.4 Scottish Government

Respondents felt that the Agency should advocate for the South of Scotland in Scottish Government decision-making, for example around transport infrastructure. Effective cooperation with Scottish Government was seen to be necessary to assist in the effective implementation of policy in the region.

6.5 International trade

The importance of creating trade links was emphasised and it was felt that the Agency should promote Scotland internationally and help to develop export strategies for local businesses.

6.6 Concerns over duplication

Respondents recognised the existence of related initiatives and agencies such as Scottish Enterprise, local authorities, the Borderlands Initiative and Business Gateway and felt it was important that the Agency did not duplicate their activities. Effective cooperation, integration and the sharing of knowledge and experience was seen as a way of minimising the risk of duplication.

6.7 Linking to existing strategies and policies

It was emphasised that the Agency's activities should link in with relevant existing strategies. Amongst others, the following strategies were cited:

  • The UK Government's Industrial Strategy
  • UN's Sustainable Development Goals
  • Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal
  • Scottish Government's Climate Change Plan, Energy Strategy and Energy Efficient Route Map
  • Local Health and Energy Efficiency Strategy
  • Food Tourism Strategy for Scotland
  • Local Housing Strategy and Strategic Housing Investment Plans
  • Land Use Strategy


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