The implementation of Derry’s City Deal is dependent on the re-establishment of government in Northern Ireland, the House of Commons was told yesterday.
During questions to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, MPs sought more detail around a timeline for delivering City Deal projects.
Labour MP Mike Amesbury, Shadow Minister for Employment, asked what comparative assessment she has made of the scope of city deals in Northern Ireland?
His question was answered by John Penrose MP, Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, who said: “In line with our 2018 manifesto commitment, we have already announced two city deals in Northern Ireland, £350m for Belfast and a combined package of £105m for Derry and Strabane.
“Early stage discussions have also begun with other councils in the mid-south and west and Causeway Coast and Glens.”
Addressing the House, Mr Amesbury recalled a recent visit to the “wonderful city of Derry” where he spoke with those shaping the education offer, adding, “they told me that a central aspect of the City Deal is the establishment of a riverfront university, medical centre and innovation hub.
“Could the minister update the house on the timeline of progress of this much-needed facility?”
He was told that the timeline of that is “the same as the timeline in the rest of the City Deal, which is that business cases have to be worked up, as business cases clearly for all the projects in it have to work well.
“There are incidentally for any business cases that don’t shape up, many, many other ideas which can also be brought through and they will then get approved and will then proceed.”
Before he got an opportunity to finish answering the question, The Speaker called Belfast MP Emma Little Pengelly forward who pressed him about progress on the Belfast City Deal.
The DUP MP asked for detail around discussions with the head of the civil service and city council about getting those projects to implementation and when he anticipated the first project will be rolled out.
“The difficulty here is that City Deals are a local initiative, we can only lay foundations but they need to be taken forward both by the local partners and local councils, but also ultimately, as soon as we get the Stormont Executive re-established they have to have a central role in this.
“So, while we are making progress as fast as we decently can, and so are the local councils, we are ultimately also dependent on the progress of the talks,” Mr Penrose concluded.
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