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12 March 2020

Borderlands welcome news of better digital connectivity for all

The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal includes ambitious plans to improve digital and mobile infrastructure across the Borderlands region.  

The Borderlands partners have been making the case for the need to improve our 4G connectivity and therefore welcome the news regarding the Shared Rural Network (SRN). The SRN agreement between the Government and the four mobile network providers includes a commitment to provide 4G coverage to 95% of the UK landmass (90% from all four mobile network operators) by the end of 2025.

The Digital Borderlands programme is seeking to improve digital and mobile connectivity across the whole region. In dispersed rural areas, digital and mobile connectivity is recognised as a significant barrier to growth. This programme will seek to directly address this challenge through investing in the infrastructure required to enable businesses and communities to remotely access services and markets. The SRN announcement means there will be improved mobile coverage and the Borderlands funding can therefore be targeted at the more remote rural locations that the SRN programme will not be able to reach.

In addition, in the Chancellor’s budget announcement, he committed £5bn of funding to provide gigabit capable infrastructure for the hardest to reach 20% of premises in the UK by 2025. This is of course very welcome, and in the meantime, Borderlands funding will be used to top-up the existing Rural Gigabit Connectivity voucher scheme to allow communities in Cumbria and Northumberland to move ahead with gigabit capable infrastructure even sooner.

More than one million people live in the Borderlands region, however the rural nature of the area presents particular challenges and opportunities that the growth deal will seek to address, to ensure the region can achieve its vision for inclusive growth, building on its strengths as a place to live, work, visit and invest.

A spokesperson for the Borderlands Partnership said: “The recent announcement on the signing of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) agreement is most welcome.

“4G is critically important to the Borderlands to support our industries such as agriculture and tourism, to provide mobile coverage along our transport routes, as well as ensuring that no one is left behind.

“Because of the rural nature of the Borderlands we expect that the coverage delivered by the SRN will be less in our region than that across the UK as a whole. As such, we will continue to work with the government on specific location plans in the Borderlands so that we can ensure that the Digital Borderlands 4G infill project complements the SRN and eliminates the remaining 4G ‘not spots’ in our region.”

It is anticipated the £394.5m Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal will deliver an extra 5,500 job opportunities, attract over four million extra tourists and unlock investment in towns across the area, boosting the region’s economy by £1.1 billion.

The Borderlands Partnership includes Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council. This is proving to be a positive, progressive collaborative partnership, removing country and regional borders.

Following the submission of a Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal proposal to the UK and Scottish Governments in September 2018, a Heads of Terms was signed with the UK and Scottish Governments on Monday 1 July 2019. The full Heads of Terms document is available to download here

More detail on the deal is available from the partnership website www.Borderlandsgrowth.com 

 

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The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal includes ambitious plans to improve digital and mobile infrastructure across the Borderlands region.