A City Deal for the Derry region has moved a step closer.
British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, speaking duting a visit to Derry on Wednesday, invited a bid for a local deal which, he said, was an opportunity for the region to continue to drive forward economic growth and “build an economy that works for everyone”.
A City Deal will give local councils, universities and businesses the chance to submit plans to government on their priorities for driving forward economic growth and boosting productivity for the benefit of the Derry region and the whole of NI.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, welcomed the move: “This is a positive step in progressing a City Deal for Derry-Londonderry. It is a testament to the many local partners who have worked tirelessly for progress to be made.
“As Northern Ireland’s second largest centre for economic growth, Derry-Londonderry plays a significant role in the region’s economic success.
“I look forward to now engaging with local partners and across Government as proposals are developed and we build on the existing strengths of this area to deliver a real impact on the economy in the North West and across Northern Ireland.”
Details of the bid invite were announced during Mr Hammond’s visit to the Magee campus of Ulster University.
Professor Paddy Nixon, vice chancellor of UU, said: “I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement today that the UK government is inviting local partners to submit proposals for a Derry–Londonderry City Deal. I look forward to working with the local council and others to bring forward ambitious proposals for the government to consider.”
The move has been welcomed by both Sinn Fein and the SDLP in the city.
The British government is investing more than £1.6 billion in city deals in Scotland and Wales and is in negotiations for a Belfast City Region Deal - the first city deal in Northern Ireland.
The bespoke agreements with government, which are already in operation in major urban centres such as Manchester and Glasgow, hand city councils greater powers to lead infrastructure developments, generate wealth and access finance.