Highland Council today agreed to progress work towards a City-Region Deal for Inverness and the Highlands
Council officers have been working with the Scottish Futures Trust and the Scottish Cities Alliance to investigate new methods of funding to enable major infrastructure to take place in Inverness to support the future growth of the city and the region.
This will provide an estimate of the potential economic outputs derived from major infrastructure investments in and around the city and form the basis of a potential City-Region Deal.
Infrastructure investment is seen as a catalyst to boost economic growth and development, create jobs and stimulate further capital investment and long term growth.
If a compelling case can be made for public sector intervention to accelerate a city’s development, anticipated future revenues, such as income tax and business rates, are calculated and invested to finance the necessary infrastructure up front. This can free up significant sums in the capital programme.
Highland Council Director of Development and Infrastructure Stuart Black and Convener Jimmy Gray met with Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in February, to discuss the potential of a City Deal for Inverness. Since then, further meetings have taken place with UK and Scottish government officials to progress a City-Region Deal.
Leader of the Council, Drew Hendry welcomed the decision by the Council to support the proposals. He said: “This is something much wider than just benefiting Inverness. A city-region deal could transform the Highlands. There are still some things to be delivered, but there is every reason to believe that together with government backing, we could do this. It is a unique opportunity for the Highlands.”
Chair of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Thomas Prag said: “It is a really complex kind of deal, but a simple principle. If we can make these things happen earlier, we can benefit the Highlands as a whole and bring extra revenue benefit to the government further down the road. We need to be clear about the risks, but the projects will bring additional tax income.”
He added: “Everybody is working together without political boundaries. And if we don’t do it together, it won’t work. We know that the success of cities drives the whole region and this will free up money for the rest of the Highlands.”