The British Government must commit to supporting a ‘City Deal’ for both Derry and Belfast, Sinn Féin Council Group Leader Sandra Duffy has said.
Cllr. Duffy was speaking after the Council today endorsed her motion calling for such a commitment.
Criticising the British Government approach to date, she added:
“Sinn Féin along with others in this council have recognised that a City Deal, as part of a wider Inclusive Growth deal, is the vehicle we can use to bring us the best opportunity to help fund the projects in the region’s Strategic Growth Plan and on that basis we have been keen to open up negotiations with the British Government.
“The British Government has formally committed to a City Deal for the Belfast region, it has allocated at least two members of staff to negotiate a deal for Belfast and has set a target to agree Heads of terms in time for the Autumn Statement.
“However, they have still not given any formal commitment to a deal for the North West. No members of staff have been appointed to negotiate and no target to agree Heads of Terms have been set.
“When the British Secretary of State Karen Bradley was challenged on this she claimed the Belfast bid was more advanced. However, this simply isn’t the case. Our council area has already identiﬁed the projects it wants included in a City Deal, whereas Belfast is still in the process of developing its projects.
“Karen Bradley also claimed that a population of over one million is required for a City Deal, yet Aberdeen has one with a population of 500,000 and Inverness has a City Deal for a population of 234,000.
“We are fully supportive of Belfast’s City Deal, but it is time to redress decades of regional disparity. It is time to dispense with the excuses; it is time that the British Government formally committed to a City Deal for Derry and the North West Region.”