Willie Hay hints Hammond may make City Deal announcement

Willie Hay.
Willie Hay.

DUP grandee Willie Hay has hinted the British Chancellor Philip Hammond may make a further announcement on a 'City Deal' for Derry when he makes his spring budget statement this afternoon.

He made the suggestion during a speech in the British House of Lords last night.

Ian Duncan, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), meanwhile, has said "substantial funds" would be delivered to the Derry area under its City Deal when it is eventually established.

The former Mayor of Derry and Speaker of the Stormont Assembly, who now sits in Britain's upper house as Lord Hay of Ballyore, said: "I specifically raise the City Deal that is very much ongoing in my own city of Londonderry and the region.

"The Minister will know that I have raised this with him on several occasions. My understanding is that there may be an announcement within the spring estimates. I am not too sure; I do not want to pre-empt that decision.

"He will know that it will certainly regenerate the region and create employment, economic development and inward investment. A City Deal for the region has all of that connotation.

"Certainly, on two or three occasions someone has mentioned a medical school for the city, which is very much part of the wider City Deal. It is something that the Minister knows about and that I have spoken to him about."

Mr. Duncan, who takes the title, Lord Duncan of Springbank, said: "A number of noble Lords mentioned the medical centre in Derry.

"Derry/Londonderry will secure significant funding through the City Deal initiative.

"Noble Lords will be aware that the Belfast City Deal has been set at around £350 million. There will be substantial funds going into Derry/Londonderry and into the medical centre.

"If it is able to secure the correct construction of its bid, that is exactly the sort of thing that the City Deal should be able to move forward. I am not across the details, but I will be, and I will report back when I have more to say. It is a useful initiative to take forward."