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Published On: Fri, Jul 14th, 2017 at 10:21am

Where is our City Region Deal now?

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Will we have a City Region Deal by this time next week? The Council Leader Adam McVey is certainly hopeful of a heads of terms within days.

We spoke to him at the City Chambers and he is still hopeful of agreement soon. Watch a video of this interview below.

“It is imminent. The negotiations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government are still ongoing as we speak.

“They are coming up with an overall envelope of an offer to the region and then we as a council along with our other local authorities will have to respond to it as quickly as we can to make sure that we have it agreed nailed down and everyone knows where they stand as soon as possible.

“A City Region deal is around infrastructure, housing, innovation and the sectors of the economy that are growing. It is about skills and jobs to make sure that the city can cope with the amount of growth and the region can cope with the amount of growth that we are going to expect over the next ten years.There are a lot of new functions that normally come with a city deal so it is as much about money being devolved to the region as it is new money just coming from both respective governments in a kind of grant allocation.

“Hopefully with a little bit of additional revenue funding and a lot more capital investment we can transform a lot of the problems that are affecting the city right now. We can make sure that we are ready for the kind of growth that is going to affect us in the next decade.”

But the council leader warned against expectations of what the city deal will bring to Edinburgh running too high.

He continued :  “I think some people may be disappointed because even hundreds of millions of pounds scale of investment can’t please absolutely everyone.”

On the timetable for agreement he was hopeful that there would be a deal on the table soon. He concluded : “The next step is for The Scottish Government and the UK Government to come to a Draft Heads of Terms and send that to the respective local authorities for their approval. I am expecting that to happen as soon as possible.”

When asked if that meant days or weeks Councillor McVey answered : “I would hope for days. So I am hopeful of being able to respond in a much more open way to the kind of numbers involved in the next couple of days.”

Keith Brown the Economy Secretary courtesy of The Scottish Government

But McVey’s counterpart, Keith Brown the Economy Secretary,  warned that any further delay to the deal for Edinburgh and the South East City Region could cost the Scottish economy millions of pounds of investment. He said he has not received any response to recent letters to the UK Government and a recent meeting with his UK counterpart Greg Clark was cancelled at short notice.

Brown is fearful that the negotiations will run on into the latter part of this year, while other deals in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness are already agreed.

Mr Brown said earlier this week : “The UK Government must stop dragging its feet over this very important issue. The Scottish Government is fully committed to agreeing an ambitious and transformative Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, in the same way we have done for Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.

“I have written to the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell twice in the past month with no reply. And last week Mr Clark cancelled a meeting where I intended to press him on the Edinburgh and South East deal.

“That is unacceptable. The UK Government cannot sideline the people of Edinburgh and the South East while it attempts to get its own house in order.

“Given the complete lack of engagement to date, we need urgent reassurances from the UK Government that they remain as committed to agreeing a jointly funded deal that secures the future prosperity and growth of Scotland’s capital city and region as we are, and are ready to enter into negotiations immediately.

“The repercussions of further delays will not only deprive businesses and communities in and around the capital of extra investment in innovation, culture and housing in the short term, but also raise concerns about the UK Government’s commitment to investing a transformative sum in the final deal.”

We checked with both the council and The Scottish Government this morning and there is no update on the deal as at today.

The UK Government sits for another week before the House of Commons then has a recess from 20 July to 5 September 2017.

Before the recess it is to be hoped that there will be at least the bare bones of a City Deal agreed for the City of Edinburgh Council and its partners in the region to then consider.

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About the Author

- Founding Editor of The Edinburgh Reporter. Edinburgh-born multimedia journalist, and always available for freelance work. A keen iPhoneographer!

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