EDINBURGH’S £1 billion City Region Deal has moved a step closer – despite not getting an expected mention by George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.
The Chancellor referred to hoped-for ‘City Deals’ in Aberdeen and Inverness, but omitted any comment on the Capital from his set-piece speech in the Commons yesterday.
However, city council leaders have been told civil servants are now ready to start detailed discussions on the proposed deal, which would include six local authorities – Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Scottish Borders and Fife.
Detailed proposals for the Edinburgh and South East Scotland city region deal were submitted to the Westminster and Scottish governments in September.
The hope is to secure £1 billion of funding from the two governments and then attract £3.2bn private sector cash to boost the economy by investing in the area’s unique strengths and tackling inequality.
Glasgow secured Scotland’s first City Deal, signed last year within days of the independence referendum.
An update on Edinburgh’s bid had been widely expected during Mr Osborne’s statement to MPs yesterday, but failed to materialise.
In a passage on more powers being devolved to Scotland, he said: “Let’s have a deal that’s fair to Scotland, fair to the UK and that’s built to last. We’re implementing the city deal with Glasgow, and negotiating deals for Aberdeen and Inverness too.”
The Capital was absent from his remarks.
But the council said it had now received “terms of reference for negotiations for the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal” drawn up by the Westminster government, clearly stating an intention to begin detailed discussions with the city council and its partners in the new year.
Council leader Andrew Burns said: “The partners that make up the Edinburgh and South East Scotland city region are delighted to have received commitment from the UK and Scottish Governments to develop a city region deal that will deliver a step change in economic performance while tacking inequalities.
“Detailed discussions will take place in the new year and we are aiming to have a deal agreed by the Spring Budget in March 2016.”
More than 140 business people from across the area attended an event to launch the deal bid in August.
The Edinburgh and South East Scotland region is home to 1.3 million people – a quarter of Scotland’s population – and makes up 30 per cent of the country’s economy.
It is understood the Roslin Institute – home of Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal – and the Edinburgh Bioquarter at Little France will be at the centre of what city council sources have described as “big development plans”.