What Difference would a City Deal make for Derry?
There has been a lot of discussion in recent weeks about getting the UK Government to support a City Deal for Derry. Just to be clear a City Deal is simply the mechanism that could help the city unlock its true potential. A City Growth Deal is not a new concept – it is perhaps new terminology, but essentially it is about investing on game changers that will drive and deliver positive economic outcomes. There are 30 City Deals already in place throughout England, Scotland & Wales – although each city deal is different it is fair to say that most look at delivering positive outcomes in relation to infrastructure, employment, health, income and skills. Our proposed City Growth Deal is very much looking at improving each of these strands by investing in key catalyst projects as outlined in the City’s Community Plan.
It is widely recognised that the City region is not performing well economically. In recent weeks the historic context of this has been widely discussed, and indeed contested, but the reality is STILL anchored in our current economic indices. They are poor, and we remain at the bottom of almost all deprivation measures.
Rather than discuss the past failures, it is important to concentrate on looking to the future and how we might change our outcomes, and look at new ways of trying to achieve what previous government policies and political leaders have failed to do in any significant way. BREXIT is a particular challenge for this region and as we approach this even greater uncertain economic future, it will disproportionally affect this region because of the volatility of our current economy and of course our geographically proximity to the border. It is important that we have a robust growth plan that will support our economy and our citizens going forward.
Derry City & Strabane District Council have developed a well-structured and, most importantly, costed and economically evaluated Strategic Growth Plan. In the absence of a devolved government, it is now crucial that local authorities are given more control over their future. Putting economic power into the hands of the local region may finally get things done that will improve the lives of our citizens. We need a much larger private sector – a private sector that is offering good salaries for high value jobs and output. This will increase wealth, health, reduce vulnerability and drive prosperity.
Now is not the time to stand still – now is the time for delivering on the promises of the past and if that is through a united City Growth deal then so be it.