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Council discusses progress on City Deal for Derry

03 July 2018

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee today received a full report on the ongoing work to secure a City Deal for Derry and Strabane.

The report followed meetings last week between local politicians and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, and other senior civil servants, where the urgent need for Central Government funding to boost economic growth here was the key focus.

Members were given a detailed overview of the intensive work being done by Council and a range of strategic partners to progress discussions and secure a full commitment to the delivery of a deal.

Council’s Lead Finance Officer Alfie Dallas told members more about the business case for the Growth Deal, which is founded on the strategic objectives of the recently published Strategic Growth Plan for Derry and Strabane. And he stressed the need for a firm pledge from government that the proposals, which have been so positively received by senior civil servants, will receive the financial backing required for delivery.

“One of the key challenges towards achievement of Council’s Strategic Growth Plan ambitions will be securing the necessary finances, in particular to deliver on the key catalyst projects within the Plan such as the A5, A6, A2 and University Expansion. A City/Growth Deal is regarded as a potential mechanism for unlocking some of this critical funding, particularly given the commitment by the UK Government as part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement to ‘working with the Executive and other stakeholders to work towards a comprehensive and ambitious set of city deals across Northern Ireland to boost investment and help unlock the full potential of Northern Ireland,” he said.

Mr Dallas went on to warn that without the necessary resources employment would fall 50% lower than the targets outlined in the Strategic Growth Plan by 2032, while GVA will be £300m lower than the projected £1.1bn in additional GVA.

Members were informed that a series of meetings had taken place from October 2017 to January 2018 between council and NIO officials, representatives of Central government and the Treasury, when officials were presented with details of the draft Statement of Intent and the evidence-based approach on which outlined projects have been developed. Further meetings with senior officials have taken place since January, including a meeting with former Minister for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, and communication has been ongoing with letters sent to the Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, James Brokenshire and local MPs.

Following the report members praised the work to date on the campaign to deliver a Growth Deal for the City Region, and approved the recommendation to continue to prevail upon the UK government for a formal announcement of their commitment.

Speaking after the meeting, Council Chief Executive John Kelpie said: “I am heartened by the strong cross-party stance on securing the Growth Deal, and the efforts being made on the part of all the parties and Council’s wider partners to progress the discussions around this crucial issue.

“We are committed to achieving the ambitious vision set out in our Strategic Growth Plan which has already been recognised by senior officials as a positive blueprint for change here. We will continue to drive these plans forward as best we can, building on the fantastic work which has already been done in terms of capital development, building international trade relations, and establishing strong cross border links. But our success hinges very much on the delivery of this deal.”

The full report is available to view at www.derrystrabane.com/

Ends