Derry City and Strabane District Council remains upbeat about the prospects of Derry securing a ‘City Deal’ to help drive economic growth in the North West and has invited two British Cabinet Ministers to the city to discuss the matter this month.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, and the British Minister for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, who is responsible for the roll-out of ‘City Deals’ across the UK, have both been invited to the city to discuss Derry’s plans.
Officers have also asked Mr. Javid’s departmental colleague. Jake Berry, Minister for the so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’ - a beltway of economically ambitious cities in the North of England stretching from Liverpool to Newcastle - to share his expertise.
Mr. Javid indicated a willingness to visit Derry in a letter to the council’s Chief Executive John Kelpie in the Autumn.
And although some were disappointed when the British Treasurer Philip Hammond neglected to specifically mention a ‘City Deal’ for Derry in his Budget speech in November, Mr. Kelpie was phlegmatic.
He pointed to the extensive groundwork for a ‘City Deal’ that has already been completed in Derry’s Strategic Growth Plan.
Under this comprehensive document the council believes it can increase the number of jobs in the city from 61,100 to 75,600 by 2032.
It also suggests Derry’s population can grow to 156,200 over the same period and projects that this will result in £500m additional Gross Value Added (GVA), £100m additional tax revenue and £200m additional wages.
The council believes the primary focus of a ‘First Phase City Deal’ has to be on “those investment priorities within the plan that present the greatest potential for job creation, leveraging of private sector investment and to build the foundations that will support and create opportunities that will contribute the most to sustainable growth and impact on GVA”.
A spokesperson confirmed that council officers met with officials from all of the relevant Government departments in both Belfast and London at the beginning of December to discuss a ‘City Deal’ for the region.
It’s since issued its invitation to Messrs. Brokenshire, Berry and Javid.
An updated report on the ongoing negotiations will come before members of the council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee on Wednesday, January 10.
The spokesperson said that the council remains “very committed to advancing with its plans to secure a ‘City Deal’ for the city and region and firmly believes that it would result in significant economic benefits for the region in terms of job creation, investment and population growth”.
“Since the completion of our Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan, council is in a very strong position to secure a ‘City Deal’ that would provide strong partnership intervention and strategically focused local investment needed to successfully activate the transformation of the economic fortunes of the North West City region”.