Call for business empowerment zone

SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly.

SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly.

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SDLP Council Group Leader Martin Reilly has called on the Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir to introduce a pilot ‘business empowerment zone’ for Derry.

His call comes after Mr Ó Muilleoir recently announced a range of measures in his review of the rates system in Northern Ireland, including pilot ‘business empowerment zones’ for east and west Belfast.

The £1m project aims to rebuild working-class areas and boost regeneration.

Colr. Reilly raised the matter at last week’s Full Council meeting where he got cross-party support for his proposal.

He said: “The fact that two pilot zones have been announced for the Belfast area is yet another example of the Belfast-centric approach that damages Derry.

“Surely a pilot project – which has £1m set aside for it – should be wider than just the Falls and Newtownards roads.

“At Full Council, I pointed out how the call for a ‘balanced regional economy’ needs action through pilots such as this, which would – in the Minister’s own words – help to ‘rebuild working-class areas and boost regeneration’.

“I therefore hope that the Department of Finance will respond positively to our request for the City Council to be included in this pilot.”

Colr. Reilly also reiterated Foyle MP Mark Durkan’s call for a ‘city deal’ for Derry to boost the economy.