What next for Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal?
Highland Councillors are looking forward beyond the current Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal and asking: “What next and where?”
Following publication of the Deal’s annual report, Leader of The Highland Council Cllr Margaret Davidson said: “A meeting will be convened in the New Year with Councillors who have a particular interest in the City-Region Deal to talk about where we can go next and what we can do.”
At the meeting of The Highland Council (on 13 December) Councillors approved the publication of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal Annual Report on the Council’s website at https://www.highland.gov.uk/cityregiondeal
The report details the region-wide geographic spread and additionality created by projects in the Inverness and Highland City-Region showing the spread of projects across the region.
Stuart Black, Director of Development and Infrastructure explained: “The expenditure in the report is shown up to March 2018 and I am pleased to say that spending has increased over the period since then and we have now spent in the order of £5m across the City-Region deal.”
He added: “In addition to the digital project in the City-Region Deal we have also gained £4.2m of local full fibre network funding for Inverness, Fort William, Wick and Thurso for ultra-fast network in those communities which is in addition to the City-Region Deal. This is a very good example of a project that has been built out of this partnership for the City-Region Deal.”
Highland Council Leader, Cllr Margaret Davidson thanked the Programme Manager for the City-Region Deal, John Robertson for his work on the programme and said:
“We are doing a very good job here in Highland on the City-Region Deal; we are achieving and making excellent progress indeed. We are building on the Wi-Fi project that we have been putting in to 14 towns and villages right across the Highlands. We are the only Council in Scotland that was awarded funding for ultra-fast broadband and we’ll have it in Inverness, Fort William, Wick and Thurso. This is going to provide astonishing benefits to our University, colleges and our businesses. It really is a potential economic booster. In addition the City-region deal is funding affordable housing right across the Highlands including sites in Inverness, Drumnadrochit and Ullapool.”
Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson said:
“The Inverness and Highland City Region Deal is delivering benefits for all those living, working and visiting the region. City Deal funding from Scottish Government has been key to the redevelopment of Inverness Castle and developing a quality visitor attraction that both locals and visitors can enjoy.
“A recent Highlands and Islands Enterprise Survey indicated a greater desire by young people to remain in the Highlands and Islands.
“Through the Deal, I am pleased that investment in affordable housing is providing high quality housing opportunities for young people across the region to enable them to remain in the area – addressing an issue which had previously been cited as a barrier to young people remaining in the Highlands. Access to good quality, digital connectivity is also a key factor in delivering economic growth and we will continue to work collaboratively with Highland Council to help them achieve their digital ambitions through the Deal, securing the best possible outcome for the region."
Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said:
“We are approaching two years since the hugely exciting Inverness and Highland City-Region deal was signed and it’s great news the annual report has confirmed the projects are making good progress to deliver benefits throughout the Highlands. The UK Government has committed over £50 million funding which will help to sustain and create jobs in some of Scotland’s most rural areas by providing businesses with expert support along with greater opportunities while also funding improved broadband and connectivity.
“To date the UK Government has committed more than £1.1 billion to City Region Deals right across Scotland and it’s great we are already seeing the fruits of that investment.”