Belfast Telegraph

Firm place for City Deals in Northern Ireland, says James Brokenshire

Northern Ireland has missed out while the rest of the UK secured urban regeneration deals worth up to £5 billion, the Government said.

City Deals were a trademark policy of the David Cameron-led coalition and aimed to attract additional private investment into areas while overhauling major infrastructure.

Belfast City has been advancing its own proposals for securing the special status but Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire said the "transformative" effects should be felt across the country.

He said: " The fact is that Northern Ireland has had no City Deals, whereas England, Scotland and Wales have made 33 deals worth up to £4.9 billion pounds.

"But it is the change that that brings, it is the finance that that is able to unlock, and that is why we do believe very strongly that there is a firm place for City Deals in Northern Ireland and we are committed to advancing that."

As part of the Conservatives' DUP pact ensuring its support in key Commons votes the Tories agreed to a "comprehensive and ambitious set" of City Deals and "limited number" of Enterprise Zones.

East Belfast DUP MP Gavin Robinson said discussions continued "apace" at local level in the Belfast city region and with officials at regional and national level.

During questions in the House of Commons he asked Mr Brokenshire: "With no Assembly sitting and a democratic participative deficit in this arrangement, how will he encourage the involvement of representatives of that Belfast region and indeed representatives in this house to see the project come to fruition?"

Mr Brokenshire said he held initial discussions with MPs and Belfast City Council.

"We are looking carefully as to how this work can move forward practically, through officials, through other means, but it is that determination that I have to see City Deals taking effect, the benefit of that being felt, and how that engagement will continue to make that happen."

City Deals involve an agreement between the government and a city that gives the city powers over decisions that affect its area.

In Wales the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) City Deal includes £1.2 billion infrastructure investment through a 20-year Investment Fund.

It also includes the creation of a Regional Transport Authority to co-ordinate transport planning and investment, in partnership with the Welsh Government.

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