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A unique opportunity to obtain more funding for Dumfries and Galloway is under threat from Brexit.
Ms McAlpine said the surprise decision of new Tory member for Dumfriesshire to back the out campaign could damage years of work aimed at ensuring the region was eligible more EU funding.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms McAlpine explained that a new statistical designation of South Scotland, approved by the Sottish Government could help extract lucrative structural funds to help small business, digital connectivity and provide training opportunities – but only if we remain in Europe.
The new Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics (NUTS) 2 area will separate the south from the central belt and better reflect its challenges, including low incomes and fewer high growth companies.
Ms McAlpine said:
“There is an opportunity for the south because these statistics are often used to inform regional policy development and determine regional funding allocations.
“We only need to look at the impact additional European Funding had on highland region in the past to see what a difference this can make.”
But Ms McAlpine criticised Mr Mundell for putting this under threat.
“This opportunity is now faced with a threat.
“The new MSP for Dumfriesshire, who campaigned successfully to win the constituency for the Conservatives, revealed only after the event that he wanted to pull his constituents out of Europe.
“That proposal threatens the benefits that we could derive from the new statistical designation. It threatens things such as connectivity and our opportunity to draw down from the social fund.”
Annandale Councillor, Stephen Thompson, who sits on the South of Scotland Alliance (SOSA) of D&G Council and Scottish Borders Council added:
“The Alliance has worked hard over recent years to build the case for the South of Scotland as a NUTS2 Area, recognising that the issues facing our area are not currently well represented at a European level by being lumped in with Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“The benefits of achieving this status could have massive positive impacts for our region including improved infrastructure, new jobs and growth, all part of our Regional Economic Strategy. To threaten this now is completely irresponsible.
“The Conservatives don’t do giving, they just do taking away.”