Derry City Deal ‘Heads of Terms’ ready for sign-off within weeks

The Chief Executive of Derry & Strabane Council John Kelpie.
The Chief Executive of Derry & Strabane Council John Kelpie.

The sign-off on the ‘Heads of Terms’ that will set out what is to be achieved by the £105m City Deal and Inclusive Future Fund could happen within weeks.

Council Chief Executive John Kelpie told members of the Governance & Strategic Planning Committee their Government partners had indicated that they were “happy with the Heads of Terms.”

This is “a very big step”, Mr. Kelpie told the committee.

He said the General Election had set the timetable back slightly but he was optimistic sign-off could take place in the New Year. Once that happens detailed Outline Business Cases for a range of projects including significant developments on the Derry riverfront and a range of innovation initiatives with Ulster University and the Western Trust will be worked up within about a year.

“We are very clear about what we are trying to deliver,” said Mr. Kelpie, stating that the Council had deliberately sought clarity on what exactly was to be delivered.

Sinn Féin Councillor Mickey Cooper said: “The work done has been substantial. We are a lot further down the line than other areas.”

SDLP Councillor Sinead McLaughlin, however, said she was concerned about the lack of an Executive. She said match-funding will be needed from Belfast if the City Deal is to be successful.

She said she admired “Councillor Cooper’s blind optimism”.

Shaun Harkin of People Before Profit expressed skepticism about the entire City Deal concept. He asked why the Conservatives were so keen to distribute cash to regions via the City Deal mechanism while their welfare reform policies continued to inflict hardship on working-class people.