Civic leaders happy Hammond has plugged City Deal in budget speech

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British Chancellor Philip Hammond’s confirmation in his spring statement that negotiations on a City Deal for Derry are moving forward, has been welcomed by Derry’s civic and business leaders.

The Mayor, Councillor John Boyle, Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Chief Executive John Kelpie, and the Chamber of Commerce President Brian McGrath, said it showed the government was commited to a City Deal.

In his spring budget speech in the British House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr. Hammond told MPs that “negotiations are progressing on future deals for mid-Wales and Derry/Londonderry”.

The Mayor, Colr. Boyle, welcomed this declaration of intent and said: “Council and its city and regional partners have submitted advanced and robust proposals for a portfolio of ambitious innovation and digital projects as part of its overall City Deal Bid.

“These have the capacity to transform the region, in keeping with the objectives outlined in the City and Region’s Strategic Growth Plan.

“I am encouraged that with this further statement from the Chancellor we can look forward to advancing these plans and to accelerating our efforts to secure a City Deal.”

Mr. Kelpie said: “I am pleased with this week’s acknowledgement by the Chancellor that negotiations for a City Deal are progressing. We have identified a strong framework for growth and development within our Strategic Growth Plan, hinging on the delivery of a range of projects, some of which are already at an advanced stage.

“This week’s acknowledgement of this ongoing work is further positive recognition of the importance and significance of these key catalyst projects to the economic development of the city and region.

“We look forward to building on that momentum and to continuing our engagement with government at all levels in the weeks ahead to move quickly to the next stage of this process and a firm funding commitment from government.”

Mr. McGrath said: “It will be extremely reassuring to the local business community that the Chancellor has made a point of highlighting the progress that has already been made in the negotiations around the City Deal.

“The impact of this level of support for what are essential projects in terms of innovation and infrastructure will have a transformative effect in terms of our ability to do business. I look forward to seeing negotiations conclude positively and quickly.”

The civic and business bosses said lots of work on the City Deal bid had already been presented to government officials on Strategic Outline Business cases for a range of significant projects.

This included, they said, the development of innovation centres of excellence in personalised and stratified medicine, data analytics and advanced manufacturing, together with supporting projects such as the graduate entry medical school at Ulster University in Magee and major regeneration projects in Derry and Strabane.