A BORDERS councillor has expressed her disappointment after a bid to the UK's Levelling Up Fund was unsuccessful.

A bid by Scottish Borders Council (SBC) for more than £43 million in the second round of applications to the £4.8 billion fund was "snubbed".

Councillor Fay Sinclair, who represents Galashiels and District for the SNP said she believe the system for applying for the funds is "flawed".

She said: "This fund is supposed to help create opportunities in areas of the UK that have been disadvantaged, including the Scottish Borders.

“I know how much work went into the application, not just by SBC staff but by our partners, and it would have brought much-needed improvements to local transport infrastructure, heritage and tourism.

“This is not a transparent or efficient way to distribute funds to local authorities. It is open to bias, forces competition and it leaves councils like SBC wasting precious resources on failed bids."

The bids were put forward with the help of SBC's partner organisations including South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), Live Borders, Borders College and voluntary bodies.

As part of the £43.3 million bid, £19.8 million was put forward under John Lamont MP's constituency of Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, covering three areas – heritage, place, and tourism. A transport bid, including 14 project areas, totalled £19.5 million was put forward. And a bid of £4 million was made under MP David Mundell's constituency of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale – in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council and South Lanarkshire Council – with a focus on tourism.

Mr Lamont said: "It's promising that so many projects across Scotland have already received funding and I remain hopeful that the Borders will benefit greatly from this UK fund in the future.

"There are exciting opportunities to gain investment across the Scottish Borders that I am determined to try and secure by working alongside the local council. The UK Levelling Up Fund can provide a vital boost to communities and help to create jobs."

Mr Mundell also shared his disappointment, but highlighted the region's previous success when applying to the Levelling Up scheme.

He said: “With funding towards a Mountain Bike Innovation Centre at Innerleithen having previously been successfully secured as part of the UK Government's ‘levelling up’ agenda, it’s of course disappointing that the most recent bids developed by Scottish Borders Council to the Levelling Up Fund have not met with that same success.

"With another round of bids expected to be confirmed soon, I will be supportive of any further local projects seeking funding.”

The Borders is listed as a Priority Group 1 area according to the UK Government's index of local authorities.

Areas in Group 1 are described as "places deemed in most need of investment" through the fund.

A UK Government spokesperson said: "The Levelling Up Fund is investing in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, spreading opportunity to historically overlooked areas.

“All projects were subject to a rigorous assessment process under robust, fair and transparent rules, with no involvement of local MPs in the selection process.”