Mark Durkan’s New Year message - ‘Derry needs City Deal’

Mark Durkan MP
Mark Durkan MP
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SDLP MP Mark Durkan has called for ‘city deal’ status for Derry.

City Deals, an agreement between central government and a city region that provides additional financial investment, are currently used in England, Scotland and Wales.

In his New Year message, Mr Durkan said Derry would benefit from a similar initiative.

“As we continue to press for agreed priorities in the One Plan, we must also consider ‘city deals’ developing in England, Scotland and Wales, as a way of ensuring more local delivery and enabling more local drive around such objectives,” he said.

“In Derry, we must build on that recognition of the potential of a ‘city deal’ approach and positively push the Executive towards it.”

Derry’s MP also said the ongoing challenges “ranging from unemployment to infrastructure, from university expansion to the impact of welfare reform – oblige us all to stay focused in 2015.”

Mr Durkan’s New Year Message is in full below:

Christmas and the New Year is such a special time which I hope has been joyful, restful and peaceful for all.

Those of us who have had days to ourselves and our families should also remember all of those who have been working, providing the key services and care that our community relies on.

The festive period has also such special magic for children. As well as each of us asking any child what they got for Christmas, we must also ask what we can particularly give to the children of this city in terms of bettering their experiences, expectations, future prospects and outlook.

The scale of the challenges we currently face – ranging from unemployment to infrastructure, from university expansion to the impact of welfare reform – oblige us all to stay focused in 2015.

As we continue to press for agreed priorities in the One Plan, we must also consider ‘city deals’ developing in England, Scotland and Wales, as a way of ensuring more local delivery and enabling more local drive around such objectives.

Importantly, the 5-party proposal for a financial package to the British government (in the recent Talks) indicated that the Executive might also pursue ‘city deal’ or growth deal options with the Treasury. In Derry, we must build on that recognition of the potential of a ‘city deal’ approach and positively push the Executive towards it.

There are also valid concerns in many sectors including the arts, education, skills and health about the implications of the draft budget. The proposed cut to the DEL budget also compounds the frustration around the compelling case for Magee’s expansion. It is therefore vital we press for the improved elbow room for the Executive’s current budget as a result of the Talks to be used to allay these concerns.

As political representatives, we all have more to do in 2015 if we are to show Derry united in delivering, growing and fulfilling its potential.

Optimising opportunities for this city will offer hope for our children, foster their talent, inspire belief in community and themselves, and honour their best aspirations.