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Positive change evident in Statement of Progress for Derry and Strabane

25 November 2019

The first Statement of Progress for the Strategic Grown Plan for Derry and Strabane highlighting advances to date in achieving the outcomes set out in the strategy was agreed today at the Guildhall.

The Statement is the first significant milestone in the Community Planning process, and comprises a detailed report on all progress based on a series of economic, social and environmental indicators. It aims to provide transparency around the business of Community Planning and the performance of the statutory and support partners tasked with its delivery.

The report was launched at a meeting of the Strategic Growth Partnership in the Guildhall, where it was widely welcomed by the local stakeholders who have been working in conjunction with Council since the power of Community Planning was handed down in 2015.

The Statement contains positive indications that change is already beginning to take effect in seven out of the eight outcome areas prioritised in the plan, with progress occurring at a faster rate than expected.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle, welcomed the Statement and acknowledged the tangible results that have already been achieved. “I am delighted to see the many indicators of positive change within the Statement of Progress,” she declared.

“This is of course a long term strategy and there are many significant challenges that will take time to address before we can enjoy the full benefits of real and lasting change. I want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of all the stakeholders that has led to this positive report.

“There is a long way to go, but the foundations have been laid through this process towards achieving a bright and positive future – we just need to maintain this momentum to fully achieve the level of prosperity and wellbeing we all aspire to.”

Council Chief Executive John Kelpie said strong partnership working had been the main driver of progress. “From the outset we have been ambitious in our approach and I am reassured that the results confirm that this has been the right strategy to initiate positive change. In terms of active delivery progress is more significant and visible than we expected at this stage.

“Securing the City Deal and Future Fund investment is just one of the outcomes that will help to deliver some of the most significant and transformative projects within the Growth Plan. Economic performance has been much better than what was forecasted five years ago, employment is stronger and GVA higher than anticipated, particularly in the ICT and health sectors.

“The key to the success of the Growth Plan to date is undoubtedly the partnership approach to tackling the challenges that restrict the development of the City and District. With the ongoing support of our community and statutory partners, we can continue to progress our vision of ‘a thriving, prosperous and sustainable City and District with equality for all’.”

The Statement of Progress reveals a changing picture in Derry and Strabane since the Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan was first published in November 2017. In terms of the local economy the City and District saw its highest jobs figure to date in 2018 as we begin to close the gap with the N. Ireland average in our employment rate. While there are still gaps with regards to job creation and skills development work continues to get more people working in better jobs.

The latest figures also show a high level of academic performance at GCSE and A-Level and overall academic performance, while growth has occurred in areas such as tourism with more overnight trips, visits and expenditure.

Environmental wellbeing has also improved, with decreases in Co2 emissions, an increase of 10% in our household waste recycling rate, improvements in our parks and green spaces, and further development in terms of our roads infrastructure, greenways and the opening of the multi-modal transport hub. Work continues on the new Local Development Plan which will shape planning policy for the better, improving the quality of the environment around us.

There has been progress in social wellbeing, although unfortunately 14 health inequality gaps have widened in 2019. £13m has been channelled into an investment programme for community facilities to address needs in community areas, and there have been more opportunities for young people to engage through a range of programmes including Youth 19 and NW Ministry of Youth. Council has also just approved a new Age Friendly Programme to engage the older community and meet the specific needs of our aging population.

The Statement of Progress will now be presented to the Department for Communities for consideration. To read the Statement of Progress in full go to growderrystrabane.com