City of Culture Status (Borderlands Bid)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd September 2021.

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Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

This week, we learned that Scottish National Party members of Dumfries and Galloway Council are threatening to oppose a joint bid with Scottish Borders Council, Carlisle City Council and Northumberland County Council to win city of culture status for the Borderlands region. It is not entirely clear why that is their position, other than the fact that the bid would involve both English and Scottish councils. Will the First Minister confirm whether she will support such a cross-border bid for the Borderlands? If so, what support can the Government make available to the bid team as it moves forward?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I will happily look at what the situation is. Often, claims that perhaps do not bear all that much scrutiny are made by the Conservatives in the chamber about the views of SNP councillors or councils. However, I do not know exactly what the circumstances are in this case, and I am happy to look into that.

I have been an enthusiastic supporter of the Borderlands initiative, so I slightly regret some of the undertone of the member’s question. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is important that we take all opportunities, particularly in these circumstances, to support culture and cultural initiatives. I will be happy to have a discussion with the council, or to ask the relevant minister to do so, about what support might be available from the Scottish Government to support any bid.

There will sometimes be differences of opinion on such things, but let us try to get behind any reasonable bid and, for goodness’ sake, shy away from any claims about some of the motives behind why people might be taking a particular position.