Belfast Telegraph

Hammond urges Londonderry to bid for city deal to drive economic growth

By Rebecca Black and Ryan McAleer

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said the UK Government will consider an application from Londonderry for a city deal.

During a visit to the Ulster University campus in the city yesterday, Mr Hammond invited a bid for beefed-up development and economic powers.

Politicians in Derry were angered last year when the Chancellor's Budget contained a city deal package for Belfast, but not the north west.

"Northern Ireland is leading the way within the UK in productivity growth," Mr Hammond said yesterday.

"I want to support this progress by inviting a bid for a Derry-Londonderry City Deal, an opportunity for the region to continue to drive forward economic growth and to build an economy that works for everyone."

The Government is investing more than £1.6bn in city deals in Scotland and Wales and is in negotiations for a Belfast City Region Deal - the first city deal in Northern Ireland.

The bespoke agreements with Government, which are already in operation in major urban centres such as Manchester and Glasgow, hand city councils greater powers to lead infrastructure developments, generate wealth and access finance.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said the announcement was a positive step.

"I look forward to now engaging with local partners and across Government as proposals are developed and we build on the existing strengths of this area to deliver a real impact on the economy in the north west and across Northern Ireland."

The announcement has also been welcomed in both business and political circles.

Foyle Port labelled it "a transformative opportunity which we believe will be beneficial for the entire north west region".

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "The SDLP has led this campaign for a City Deal for Derry, in particular former Foyle MP Mark Durkan who identified and campaigned for it in the face of inertia by our local Executive.

"Therefore, we are delighted to see it progress to the next step to see the bid come to fruition."

Belfast Telegraph

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