BORDERS politicians and business leaders have welcomed this week's announcement which could see up to a billion pounds pumped into south-east of Scotland.

It is expected that Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal will spark economic growth across all six local authority areas as well as the creation of up to 21,000 new jobs.

The Scottish government and UK governments are both pumping £300 million into the deal.

With further investment from the six local authorities involved - City of Edinburgh, Scottish Borders, East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, and West Lothian - as well as educational institutions in the area, the total input will be in excess of £1 billion.

Although the vast majority of the investment will be made, and most of the jobs created, in and around Edinburgh, the benefits are not exclusive to the capital.

An, as yet, undisclosed sum will be made available for creating a thriving business park at the railway terminus in Tweedbank.

And more money will be used to support additional housing and creating jobs across the Scottish Borders.

Borders council leader Shona Haslam welcomed the announcement. She told the Border Telegraph: “This is excellent news for the Scottish Borders.

"We will not only benefit from specific funding but also from a stronger and more vibrant city region.

"This will be achieved through a range of projects to be taken forward by the individual partners and collectively.

“For the Borders specifically, this deal will enable us to maximise the delivery of affordable housing, stimulate private sector investment and support local jobs, and will be a further step towards ensuring that our young people can see a future for themselves within the Scottish Borders.

“A focus for us will be driving forward the development of the Central Borders Business Park in Tweedbank.

"This builds on the success of the Borders Railway and is yet another example of the council seeking to maximise the economic benefits that the railway provides."

Around £120 million will be spent on upgrading the Edinburgh bypass with a new roundabout being created at Sheriffhall.

Five new innovation hubs are to be created, including cutting-edge research in space, health sciences, agri-tech and food and drink, linked to Heriot-Watt, Queen Margaret and Edinburgh universities, the Roslin Institute and the UK’s National Supercomputer Centre.

A new 1,000-seater concert hall will also be built to create a permanent home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra behind the former RBS headquarters in St Andrew Square.

A £50 million development will be created to accelerate private housebuilding across the entire six-authorities City Deal region.

And a further £25 million will be used boost employability and reduce skills shortages.

There was a fear that inclusion in the City Deal would mean the Borders losing some control over investment.

But local councillor Stuart Bell, who was heavily involved in the Borders being included, believes this week's announcement will allow for the region to access even more economic benefits from other sources.

Councillor Bell told us: "This deal will not mean that there has to be an overarching management structure across Edinburgh and the South East - it should protect the autonomy of the Borders to determine for itself what is best for the Borders.

"Borderers need to recognise that investment from an Edinburgh Region City Deal is only one part of the new opportunities to grow our local economies.

"The City Deal investment is focused on Borders infrastructure that will support developments that link to the Borders Railway.

"Scottish Borders Council and Scottish Government have recognised that the wider and more rural parts of the Borders need the different and more relevant investments that can come from the new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency."

Speaking ahead of the official signing ceremony, Economy Secretary Keith Brown welcomed the latest City Deal.

Mr Brown said: "Edinburgh and its city region is an area of huge importance to the Scottish economy.

"It contains over a quarter of Scotland’s population and contributes £33 billion to the Scottish and UK economies.

"The Scottish government will be investing in the region’s workforce and will invest up to £25 million for an Integrated Regional Employability & Skills Programme which will reduce skills shortages and gaps, delivering opportunity for people across Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders.

"The Scottish Government has also committed £140 million to transport projects including £120 million for improvements to the A720, Edinburgh City bypass and £20 million for improvements at West Edinburgh.

"Providing decent housing is a priority for the Scottish Government so we will invest £65 million into new housing for the region.

"Taken together these projects will help the region continue to thrive and grow, fulfilling our ambitions for the region to be one of the fairest and most inclusive areas in the country.”

The Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed the announcement.

But leaders are calling the appointment of an independent small business champion to provide independent scrutiny, promote supply chain opportunities and ensure local firms have their voice heard on key spending decisions.

FSNB senior development manager Gordon Henderson said: “It is absolutely vital that business owners in Peebles, Bathgate, Glenrothes and Dunbar feel the benefit of the deal’s huge spending power as much as those in central Edinburgh to ensure the regional economy as a whole benefits.

"A small business champion with a voice at the decision making table will go a long way to ensuring local business are benefitting from this additional spending, they already contribute £15.4bn to the city region’s economy so are vitally important.

“The Edinburgh city by-pass is a national traffic congestion blackspot affecting businesses and residents from across the region so, coupled with the already planned upgrade to the Sheriffhall junction, additional improvements are very welcome and I look forward to seeing what is planned.”