Belfast Telegraph

Chancellor opens the door to Derry city deal, potential major boost for north west

Chancellor Philip Hammond has given the Government's strongest commitment to date for a City Deal for Londonderry.

Calls for the arrangements to be put in place dates back a number of years and has been championed by the SDLP.

Speaking in the House of Commons in 2016, the then MP for Foyle Mark Durkan hit out at the "resistance and negligence" shown by the Executive to advancing the City Deal proposal.

In December 2017, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said he had received a commitment to a City Deal for Derry from former Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

On Wednesday, Mr Hammond said Northern Ireland was "leading the way within the UK in productivity growth" and he was aiming to support this "by inviting a bid for a Derry-Londonderry City Deal, an opportunity for the region to continue to drive forward economic growth and build an economy that works for everyone".

Northern Ireland has seen a 14.2% growth in productivity in the past eight years - the highest of any UK region. 

The push for a City Deal for Derry was also backed by Secretary of State Karen Bradley said: "I am delighted with today’s [Wednesday] announcement, which is a positive step in progressing a City Deal for Derry-Londonderry. It is a testament to the many local partners who have worked tirelessly for progress to be made.

"As Northern Ireland’s second largest centre for economic growth, Derry-Londonderry plays a significant role in the region’s economic success.

"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."

Mr Hammond also announced there would be an injection of £12m into local aerospace manufacturer Bombardier, which will go towards developing "cutting edge technology".

"This will help to secure jobs for Northern Ireland’s economy and cement the UK’s role as a leading manufacturer of high tech aircraft components," he said.

The move by the Chancellor to invite a City Deal bid will give local councils, universities and businesses a chance to submit plans to the Government for the growth of the city.

In November 2017, Mr Hammond announced a potential city deal for Belfast as part of the UK's Budget, a move which drew the ire of Londonderry representatives who had been pushing for the deal.

City Deals are agreements between the Government and cities in the United Kingdom, and devolve a range of economic powers.

Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Greater Manchester, and Greater Birmingham have all previously availed from the agreements.

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