Andrew Burns: Chancellor’s commitment to City Region Deal extremely welcome

Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers his Autumn Statement. Picture: PA Wire
Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers his Autumn Statement. Picture: PA Wire
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THE Chancellor’s restatment of the UK’s commitment to the City Region Deal allows us to press forward with confidence, says Andrew Burns

During this week’s Budget Autumn Statement the Chancellor restated the UK Government’s commitment to Edinburgh and our neighbouring local authorities to agree a City Region Deal.

This announcement was extremely welcome as positive conversations are well under way between Edinburgh and the South East Scotland region, the Scottish Government and the UK Government to cement what we hope will be one of the largest and boldest City Deal packages ever to be agreed in the UK.

Worth potentially over £1.5 billion over 20 years, its focus on innovation and inclusion will leverage in substantial private sector investment and ensure that nobody and no community is left behind.

As Scotland’s capital city, we have been working closely with our neighbouring authorities: East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian to negotiate greater fiscal powers and funding towards strategic and more affordable housing, transport, infrastructure and skills development, to help the region to become the most connected, creative, inclusive and innovative place in Europe. The region’s colleges and universities are also at the heart of the deal, providing the opportunity for investment in world -eading innovation hubs.

We are proud to be one of the UK’s success stories. However our success is not uniform across the region, with wide variations within and between the local authority areas. City Deal will help us to address this and help us to consolidate our place as a premier international innovation region. Innovation is the driving force of our success and we want to ensure that more of our residents can share in this success.

So, this week’s commitment from Westminster is a very positive step forward for our proposals to tackle inequality and accelerate substantial economic growth through investment in innovation, skills and infrastructure. We believe that our City Deal will allow us to accelerate and generate significant additional growth for Scotland and the UK.

• Councillor Andrew Burns is leader of Edinburgh City Council