Landmark City-Region Deal gets go-ahead

The Highland Council have joined with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, HITRANS, and the University of the Highlands and Islands  to welcome the support announced today during the budget by making funding available to the Highlands for 2015-16 to deliver a City Deal for Inverness and the wider region.  

After the Government signed a City Deal for Glasgow and the Clyde Valley, alongside the Scottish Government and the Glasgow and Clyde Valley local authorities, they decided that there is merit in extending the City Deal model further in Scotland and Wales. Today’s announcement by the Chancellor during the Budget confirmed that the Government is opening negotiations with local partners and the Scottish and Welsh Governments for City Deals for Cardiff, Aberdeen and Inverness. In Inverness, the government is making funding available in 2015-16 to help progress the deal.  

Highland Council’s Chief Executive Steve Barron said: “There were encouraging signs at the start of the year so we've been working with the Scottish Futures Trust and the Scottish Cities Alliance to look at a City-Region Deal as a way of funding major projects that will have a positive effect on the prosperity of the city and the region so the announcement today is really a landmark one for the Highlands.  

“We’ll now be working closely over the next few months closely with both the UK and Scottish Governments to develop the Deal which will enable us to open up the potential for economic growth as well as bringing real benefits to the Highlands in terms of planning and housing, skills, employability, inclusion and innovation.”  

The Council’s Director of Development and Infrastructure, Stuart Black emphasised the role partnership working would play in making progress.  He said: “We'll be developing a strong local partnership with key organisations including Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the University of the Highlands and Islands and HI-Trans to develop our strategy. Our aim is to provide extra levers to boost growth, including funding for infrastructure, increased affordable housing provision, and progress on skills and innovation. Early engagement with the private sector will also be important.” 

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “We welcome the opportunity to progress a City Deal for Inverness.  If negotiations are successful it could deliver wide ranging benefits for the Highlands and Islands.”  

Professor Clive Mulholland, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands welcomed the opportunity to contribute to this important partnership: “The university is already an active partner in community planning across the Highlands and Islands.  The addition of this City Deal, benefitting not just Inverness, but the wider region, will help us to work with our established partners to exceed our ambitions of contributing to reduced inequality, improved services, enhanced training and skills development and the promotion of sustainable economic growth. I look forward to developing the detail as the opportunities arise.” 

HITRANS Director Ranald Robertson added, “HITRANS are committed to working with the Council and other partners in supporting this fantastic opportunity.  The City Deal offers an opportunity to focus on a number of strategic transport projects that will benefit road, rail, public transport and active travel and ensure the city’s transport services support economic growth across the region.”  

Earlier today the Council Convener, Councillor Jimmy Gray gave a warm welcome to the news and highlighted some of the ambitious potential projects that could be included such as the Longman Interchange, East Link, West Link, City Centre Regeneration and Muirtown Regeneration. 

18 Mar 2015