Foyle SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood says it’s time the Stormont Executive ended its ‘dithering’ on attracting inward investment to Derry.
He said: “The loss of dozen of jobs in Derry over the past few days is a stark reminder of the need to attract inward investment to the city.
“It’s been a very bad week for Derry on the jobs front. First, we had confirmation that 30 posts are to go with the ceasing of operations by call centre Rigney Dolphin. “Then came the news that HMRC are seeking to wind up the Lough Swilly bus company; and that was followed by the announcement of job losses at Musgrave Cash and Carry.
“Derry cannot sustain job losses in this manner – the recent announcements should serve as a wake up call to the Executive to act.
“It is essential that priority is given to Derry in terms of investment in infrastructure and targeted strategic inward investment leading to sustainable job creation to help offset the decades of economic neglect suffered by the North’s second city.
“In 2010, the investment highlight for Derry, as announced by DETI Minister Arlene Foster, was the promotion of 297 jobs over three years by Rigney Dolphin. In fact, the Rigney Dolphin jobs were the only posts promoted by DETI in Derry that year, according to information I received from the minister in answer to an Assembly Question last week. Now we’re told that the investment by the firm, which was supported by £1.2 million in Invest NI grant aid, is dead in the water with the company pulling the plug on its operations in the city altogether and in little more than the original three year time frame for maximum job growth.
“This instance shows once again how unreliable this sort of investment can be and, yet, dithering abounds when it comes to the Executive forging ahead with the type of investment in projects which the experts agree can facilitate the real transformation of Derry’s economic fortunes.
Priority must be given to expediting the upgrades of the A5 and A6 road links, creating improved rail access and the expansion of the university.
The Executive must also support the creation of a North West cross border enterprise zone to support new and expanding businesses through incentives such as rates relief and simplified planning procedures.
Coleraine, which has almost half the unemployment rate of Derry, was last week announced as the location for Northern Ireland’s first enterprise zone. Surely when the criteria are weighed up, Derry ticks all the boxes in the measuring the need for such support.
Derry has shown time and time again that it is an enterprising city and its people have proven they not only confident but very competent in terms of achieving business success.
It is now time for the Executive to invest in that entrepreneurial spirit by showing real leadership in terms of making the investment the city and region so rightly deserves.