Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell used the first sitting of the Scottish Parliament after the Christmas break to challenge the SNP over their failure to fully commit to a Borderlands Growth Deal.
After Finance Secretary Derek Mackay had failed to mention the deal in his Budget speech in December, Mr Mundell was keen to secure a firm commitment from the Scottish Government to resource the deal along with the UK Government and the five cross-border local authorities.
Given the complexities of a cross border deal, Mr Mundell believes the region can ill afford any delays before getting the process started.
However, following an answer from Economic Secretary Keith Brown, he has accused the SNP of ‘dragging their feet’ on Borderlands and says the answer he received sums up the SNP’s attitude towards the region.
Commenting Oliver Mundell MSP said: “The SNP appear to be dragging their feet on giving a firm commitment to the Borderlands Growth Deal, which could put it at risk.
“We have a credible deal on the table which is supported by the UK Government, including the Chancellor and the five relevant local authorities, but it feels we are still waiting for the SNP to come on board.
“After Derek Mackay’s failure to mention Borderlands in his Budget speech, the SNP have shown again their attitude towards our region, by telling us to get in the queue behind an Ayrshire Growth Deal.
“Once again it appears Dumfries and Galloway is bottom of the SNP’s priority list.
“For Borderlands to work, we need the full backing of the SNP Government towards this deal, rather than claiming the area has already had a so-called ‘city deal’, when my constituents know that is not the case.”
The Economy Secretary also outlined the SNP’s plans for a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency, but Mr Mundell pointed this was in its early stage of development.
He added: “While I support the creation of an enterprise agency for the South of Scotland, it is very much still in the early stages of its development.
“The SNP need to get real about supporting other measures to boost the local economy and help to deliver a substantial Borderlands Growth deal in the near future.”