SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan championed the idea of a new ‘City Deal’ for Derry at a breakfast seminar in the City Hotel on Friday.
A ‘City Deal’ is a UK-wide government initiative which aims to help a city or region boost investment, promote growth and create thousands of jobs.
Guest speaker at today’s breakfast seminar was Liverpool City Councillor Nick Small (a Cabinet Member for Employment, Enterprise & Skills) who explained to the 80-strong audience (comprising of business leaders, politicians and officials from local and central government) the positive impact that a ‘City Deal’ would have for Derry.
Speaking after this morning’s seminar, Mr Durkan said: “This was a great opportunity for people to hear more about the ‘City Deal’ concept which has been introduced in cities in England and Scotland – and which I am championing for Derry.
“Many of us are very frustrated that we are not getting delivery on the One Plan – that there is slippage or opportunities running away from us.
“I have therefore been consistently pressing for a ‘City Deal’ as a vehicle – a different way of doing and delivering things – not least in terms of releasing the capacity and passion in this city but city region. This would free us from being perpetually locked into lobbying for something we have already agreed to in the One Plan and what other people in government tell us they also agree with.
“It was great to have Liverpool City Councillor Nick Small visiting Derry to explain first-hand the value of City Deals which are devolving different combinations of assets, capacity, intervention powers and investments.
“I firmly believe that a ‘City Deal’ model tailored to our own specific purposes would allow us to grow into the future and can work.
“Indeed, if we can take control over our own future we will deliver the better, more prosperous Derry we all want to see.
“A new ‘City Deal’ would also put the driving power for Derry’s future in Derry’s hands.
“It could help us to cut through the frustration that we have voiced locally and would allow both ourselves and everyone in regional government to get behind something which is happening and something that is working elsewhere.
“We therefore should not be leaving ourselves lagging behind the positive moves that are happening in other places – and that is what embracing the ‘City Deal’ agenda is all about.”
Liverpool City Councillor Nick Small added: “The message I would give to the people of Derry is that you simply can’t have your city left behind. This agenda is happening in England and not just with big cities but smaller ones too.
“In terms of a City Deal, you must now think about what’s right for Derry? What are the powers, freedoms and flexibilities you want and the priorities you need for your own city and city region?”