Continued backing for city region deal to accelerate economic growth

Tuesday June 28th 2016

Midlothian Council Fairfield House

Midlothian councillors have given their continued backing to a major initiative that has the potential to transform the economy of the already fast-growing region.

The Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal is a partnership between Midlothian, City of Edinburgh, Fife, East Lothian, West Lothian and Scottish Borders Councils, in collaboration with the university and business sectors.

Negotiations are currently underway with the Scottish and UK Governments on the scope and timing of the deal, which could result in £2bn of investment into the area with the potential to lever in a further £5bn from the private sector.

Proposals for the City Region Deal were first submitted in September 2015, with Chancellor George Osborne confirming the UK government’s commitment to the project in his March 2016 budget. A detailed business case is currently being developed for each of the project’s infrastructure programmes with a view to a City Region Deal being formally agreed by the end of this year, or early next year.

The proposals have been shaped around four interconnected programmes – creating innovation hubs which connect world-leading university research and innovation programmes with business incubation and skills development; investing in infrastructure – both physical and digital – across the region; developing a regional housing programme to deliver more affordable homes, and creating a culture and tourism programme to further invest in tourism related, creative and service industries.

Midlothian councillors were given a progress report at their meeting on Tuesday (28 June) at which they approved a proposal to set up a joint committee to oversee the City Region programme. They also approved an ‘in principle’ contribution from the council of around £12 million towards the initiative, assuming a deal in the order of £2bn is agreed.

Midlothian council leader, councillor Cath Johnstone, said: “The City Region Deal is about working in partnership, building on our area’s many strengths to tackle inequality and, by accelerating economic growth, tackling issues of deprivation and poverty in our communities of greatest need. This is a huge opportunity to drive further investment and boost the economy of Midlothian and the wider area, and we look forward to the successful conclusion of the current negotiations with the Scottish and UK governments.”

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