Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion says London should use its ‘City Deal’ model to pour new monies and powers into Derry City and Strabane District Council’s ‘Strategic Growth Plan’ in a new ‘Inclusive Growth Deal’ for Derry.
She said a ‘City Deal’ should be used to empower the council’s wide-ranging community plan that was completed after an extensive consultation with citizens last year.
This would enhance the council’s own ‘Strategic Growth Plan’ under an ‘Inclusive Growth Deal’ and help Derry realise its ambitions of increasing the number of jobs in the city from 61,100 to 75,600 by 2032, said the MP.
Last month Mrs. Bradley told the ‘Journal’that a ‘City Deal’ could transform Derry’s prospects but warned it was being held up by political stalemate in Belfast.
However, having freshly met with Mrs. Bradley, Mrs. McCallion has demanded that now that DC&SDC and the people of Derry have done the groundwork of developing the ‘Strategic Growth Plan’ it was up to London to live up to its responsibilities.
“I made it clear to her that for any potential deal to progress, the British Government must publicly commit to plans to contribute to an ‘Inclusive Growth Deal’,” she said.
“They are a key strategic partner alongside the Irish Government, the local authority and the private sector. The British Government are in a position to empower this deal through their ‘City Deals’ scheme, which has the potential to assist locally developed and bespoke economic programmes, such as the ‘Strategic Growth Plan’ created and endorsed in Derry City and the wider North West region,” she said.
Mrs. McCallion warned continuing silence and inertia would only be interpreted as another example of the neglect of the North West by officialdom in London and Belfast.
She said: “Refusal to make an announcement on their intent is only serving as a barrier to progress by failing to provide the necessary support mechanisms required.
“I have asked Karen Bradley to give strong consideration to making such an announcement in the immediate future.
“For far too long Derry has been under-developed and under-resourced, and an almost a decade of relentless Tory cuts has had a detrimental impact on Derry and the wider region.
“The British Government has a responsibility to undo the damage of their attacks on public services, and meaningfully contribute to our city’s development. Delivery of an ‘Inclusive Growth Deal’ is a sensible way forward for the region.”
The council’s recently completed ‘Strategic Growth Plan’ has projected that Derry’s population can grow to 156,200 between now and 2032 and has suggested that this will result in £500m additional Gross Value Added (GVA), £100m additional tax revenue and £200m additional wages in the North West.