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South of Scotland Enterprise and Borderlands Partnership to progress 2025 UK City of Culture bid

In what is believed to be a first for the national competition, an ambitious bid has been submitted by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) on behalf of the five different local authority areas of Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Carlisle City, Cumbria and Northumberland who make up the Borderlands Partnership.

Discussions have progressed since the idea was first mooted by SOSE, with a Borderlands bid felt to offer a unique and exciting proposal which would shine a cultural light on this significant area of the country.

For the first time, the 2025 UK City of Culture competition is open to areas and places with a clear focus and identity to apply for the award.

As a result, SOSE engaged with Borderlands partners and key influencers, with the bid aligned to the theme of Just Transition to Net Zero, using culture to create new stories for the exciting journey ahead. By exploring the region’s heritage, culture and creativity, the bid will aim to create opportunities for future development and ultimately bring investment into the region.

The City of Culture submission also ties in with the themes of the recently signed Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.

The Improving Places theme will capitalise on the heritage, cultural and recreational assets to promote the region as a destination to visit and as a place to live and work, while the Encouraging Green Growth theme capitalises on the green credentials of the region, to facilitate decarbonisation and the creation of new high value jobs supporting low carbon energy generation and carbon reduction schemes.

The potential benefits of being named a UK City of Culture are significant, as highlighted by this year’s winner Coventry.

The West Midlands city is predicted to witness an economic boost of £211million with an additional 2.5m visitors. It is hoped it will attract around 10,000 volunteers and create more than 900 jobs.

SOSE Chair, Professor Russel Griggs OBE, said:

“This truly is a unique UK City of Culture bid and one all partners involved in it believe is worth progressing.

“A successful bid can have a transformational impact for a city or region. By combining the efforts of the Borderlands partners, our bid now has the creative and cultural talent of five areas, providing a significant and varied offering which we believe is worth telling across the country, and beyond.

“Coupled with our natural landscape, our people, our heritage and our joint journey to Net Zero, we believe the Borderlands is the right place at the right time to take forward this exciting opportunity for our region.”

Councillor Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council and co-chair of the Borderlands Partnership added:

“We are pleased to be part of this unique opportunity which supports and builds on the work of the Borderlands Partnership, following the recent signing of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.

“Our shared ambition includes attracting new residents and welcoming more visitors to enjoy the beautiful natural environment and the cultural assets of the region – I hope that this bid will enhance and support our Deal and its projects.”

Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council and Borderlands Partnership Co-Chair, Councillor Elaine Murray, said:

“This would be a natural fit with the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal which has a focus on economic growth through the development of place including the distinctive cultures of our towns.”

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