Foyle MP urges Hammond to deliver deal for Derry

Elisha McCallion.
Elisha McCallion.

The economy of the north west region is finally progressing towards its full potential but it still has a long way to go.

Quality jobs have been created in Derry and the wider north west in recent years and advances have been made in our education network to ensure our young people have the skills required for those positions. But there is still much more to do.

On Monday, this city could take a major step forward if the British Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announces a City Deal for Derry as part of the autumn budget.

For decades, Derry has suffered from underinvestment. Our economic hinterland, Donegal, has also suffered as a result of its peripherality from Dublin.

Increased co-operation across the north west has yielded benefits in terms of partnership working between education institutions in Derry and Donegal and in healthcare.

This partnership approach is also the driving force behind our campaign for a City Deal.

Working with colleagues in Belfast, we have presented a clear case to the British government for City Deals for both Derry and Belfast.

Derry City and Strabane District Council and Belfast City Council have worked together to drive this bid process and we now have a credible, professional bid for City Deal status for both cities.

Both bids are indivisible. Both cities must benefit. If Belfast gets a City Deal, then so must Derry. Nothing less will be acceptable.

This city has spoken with a united voice in its campaign to secure a City Deal. I have worked with other civic leaders to lobby on behalf of our city and its people.

I have convened meetings to coordinate our approach to securing a deal. I have led delegations of business leaders from this city to Westminster to meet British government ministers responsible for City Deals.

I led a delegation to meet Sajid Javid and Chloe Smith, giving local stakeholders direct access to the decision makers at the highest levels of government. I have also met with NIO officials alongside my colleague Paul Maskey MP to advance the campaign for City Deals for both Derry and Belfast.

A City Deal will help inject a focus into our economic growth, as well as much needed investment. It will help the city attract inward investment and support locally based entrepreneurs. This will help deliver a welcome jobs boost for the wider north west.

However, a City Deal in itself will not solve Derry’s economic woes.

As part of a wider strategic growth plan for the north west region, supported by both the British and Irish governments, a City Deal will result in an economic focus for Derry.

Working together we have produced a credible bid for this city. The British government now needs to respond positively to that bid and announce a City Deal for Derry.

So, on Monday, when Philip Hammond announces his autumn budget, it must include a City Deal for Derry in order to assist our wider growth strategy.