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Council members approve further investment in capital projects

07 October 2020

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council's Governance and Strategic Planning Committee today approved the allocation of additional funding towards a number of capital development projects across Derry and Strabane.

The Committee gave their backing to a recommended expenditure of £352,850 towards a range of ongoing and future development projects within Council's ambitious capital plan following consideration by the Capital Projects and Corporate Programme Planning Group at a meeting last month.

Council's Lead Finance Officer Alfie Dallas told members that since the last meeting of the group in November 2019, significant further progress had been made in spite of the COVID pandemic. He stressed however that this year had obviously brought significant financial challenges to Council as a result of the emergency, with significant capital funding having to be set aside temporarily during 2020/21 as part of Council's contingency plan to ensure finances and reserves could be sustained at required levels.

He went on to propose a range of recommendations that can now be delivered within the remaining available resources which will allow progress to continue and further opportunities to avail of additional funding.

Projects set to benefit include the Strathfoyle Greenway and Strabane North Greenway, with £132,500 now earmarked for design development funding to progress the Strathfoyle Greenway and £16,000 for design development funding for Strabane. £20,000 will go towards the design development costs of a new Skate Park within the District, while £8,000 will fund surveys and other miscellaneous costs associated with the completion of the technical design of the Strabane Public Realm project. Members also agreed to allocate £25,000 to acquire additional strategic green space at the former Ebrington PS site from the Education Authority to allow for the further development of Clooney Greenway.

Projects already allocated monies within the budget include Eglinton Playpark, receiving £15,000 and the Waterside Shared Village Project to the tune of £100,000.

Chair of the Governance and Strategic Planning Community, Alderman Darren Guy, welcomed the approval saying: "This is good news for Derry and Strabane today as we continue to move ahead with these vital projects. This is a very challenging time for local councils, but it is important that we don't lose the momentum and continue to build on all the good work that has been achieved to date. Much planning has gone into the projects which have benefitted today, I look forward to seeing them moving to the next stage of development."

Director of Environment and Regeneration Karen Phillips, said Council remained committed to the swift delivery of all the capital works now underway: "Obviously there have been some unavoidable delays to projects since March, but officers have been working to mitigate against the impacts of Covid-19 and to ensure contractors could make progress as restrictions began to relax.

"Council has an extensive and very ambitious capital plan as part of its overall Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan and capital investment is a key priority. I am pleased at what has been achieved in such challenging circumstances and to see such significant projects such as the Strathfoyle and Strabane Greenway and Strabane Public Realm scheme move a step closer to completion."

From a total Council net expenditure budget of £63.871m, funding of £9.979m (15.6%) is set aside for capital investment and associated loan repayments. This significant investment has been facilitated through both rates investment as well as reallocation of savings realized through the new Council's efficiency plan. This has enabled significant progress to be made since 2015 across Council's wider capital programme.

Members this afternoon unanimously approved the £352,850 allocation of funds towards the projects and other recommendations made in today's report, with £252,850 to be funded from in-year capital savings and £100k from previously allocated capital funding.