Growing momentum for the new North West Strategic Growth Partnership
29 June 2017
A strong momentum to promote continued growth and prosperity in the North West City Region was on display at the second meeting of the recently established North West Strategic Growth Partnership which took place in the Radisson Hotel in Letterkenny yesterday.
This Partnership, which held its inaugural meeting in December 2016, is the first of its kind on the island of Ireland and represents a new and exciting approach to joined up government that has the potential to bring about real and positive change for the region.
Jointly led by Donegal County Council and Derry City & Strabane District Council, the Partnership has been endorsed by both governments through the North South Ministerial Council and is made up of senior government officials from all Government departments in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland working together to collectively resource the regions key priorities for growth and development with a commitment to building a more resilient economy in the North West City Region.
The Partnership which is being supported by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) heard from the Chief Executives of both Donegal County Council and Derry City & Strabane District Council on the ongoing work in the Donegal County Development Plan process and the Strategic Growth Plan for the Derry and Strabane area. The importance of these strategic planning frameworks was highlighted in terms of informing the priorities of the Partnership with a view to driving forward the economic, environmental and social regeneration of the region.
Discussions ensued around a number of key strategic priority areas for the region including critical transport infrastructure requirements, industry, the economy and the associated skills needs, and realising the regions cultural and heritage tourism potential particularly in light of the upcoming European Year of Cultural Heritage.
Speaking following the meeting, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Gerry McMonagle acknowledged the importance of having the various departmental representatives around the table saying “their input and co-operation is vital if we are to realise the potential of the entire region by focusing on key critical areas that will be instrumental in achieving meaningful progress. I am delighted with the level of positive engagement at today’s meeting and of the willingness of all those involved to go work with us across a number of fronts. There is a genuine sense of momentum among all the members of the Partnership to achieving a vision of growth and prosperity for the region.”
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr. Maolíosa McHugh believes that this new North West Strategic Growth Partnership is shining a light on the North West City Region and is hugely significant for this area. “This new partnership structure is building on the existing strong working relationship between both Councils and to have every Government departments both north and south represented at a senior level means that there is a concerted, focused and collaborative approach at all levels of government when it comes to joint planning and the resourcing of our strategic priorities.”
Seamus Neely, Chief Executive of Donegal County Council acknowledged the growing momentum around the North West Strategic Partnership and in particular the strong commitment shown by the senior officials to this process. “This is all about facilitating greater day to day joint working across the administrations and local government through shared approaches and co-ordinated planning and delivery focusing on the three key pillars of economic growth and investment, physical and environmental development and social and community cohesion and wellbeing. Discussions at today’s meeting were extremely positive and engaging and there was a clear sense of commitment to helping us drive forward our strategic priorities.”
Derry City and Strabane District Council Chief Executive John Kelpie believes that the opportunities presented by this unique and innovative Partnership approach will allow the region to realise the full potential of the opportunities that exist. “This approach is about working collaboratively at a local, regional and central government level to achieve the strategic priorities of the region using a bottom up or grass roots planning process. This region is unique in it’s offering. Derry is the fourth largest city on the island of Ireland, we have a history of strong cross border connections, as a region we are renowned for our rich heritage, culture and tourism offerings and we have a growing reputation as a compelling investment proposition across many industries. This Partnership is about enabling the region to grow and prosper, it is about developing our resilience in a rapidly changing environment and it is about ensuring that the region is in a strong position to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented post-brexit.”