Edinburgh business bosses welcome planned £1bn City Deal

Infrastructure will be tackled. Picture: Michael Gillen

Infrastructure will be tackled. Picture: Michael Gillen

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EDINBURGH’S £1 billion City Region Deal now being negotiated with the UK and Scottish governments has been hailed as signalling a bright future and new opportunities for the Capital.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Budget this week that formal talks were now under way on the deal involving Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders.

It is expected the six councils covering the area will be handed new cash for investment in infrastructure, which could include new roads, tram extensions and a boost for the Borders Railway.

David Birrell, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “The announcement that a City Deal is to be developed in Edinburgh is welcome news and a sign of greater opportunities to come for the Capital.

“There is no doubt that the multi-million pound injection of funding will have a positive impact on Edinburgh and local economic growth.

“The City Deal will help build our reputation as a world-class city and our ability to remain competitive.”

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said Westminster’s green light for the negotiations was encouraging

He said: “As the organisation responsible for promoting Edinburgh as one of the best places in the world to live, work, invest, visit and study, the greater autonomy and the genuine opportunity that the City Deal presents for Edinburgh to fulfil its future potential is unquestionable.

“Over the last ten years, Edinburgh has proven itself to be a global hub for culture, technology, life sciences and financial services. A City Region Deal would enable Edinburgh and the South East of Scotland to build upon this success and become one of the most connected, creative and entrepreneurial regions in Europe.”

Midlothian Council said the City Deal would accelerate infrastructure projects, improve skills, training and access to employment and tackle inequalities in the region.

Chief executive Kenneth Lawrie said: “A City Deal will mean that we can make investments that will have a material impact on the local economy and opportunities for local people.”

And in East Lothian, Tom Brock, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “A City Deal would be great news for the region. Investment in areas like tourism and infrastructure would have major beneficial impacts for the south-east of Scotland. We look forward to finding out what the detail will entail.”

Gordon Henderson, of the Federation of Small Businesses, emphasised the need for investment throughout the City Region.

“I’m keen the money is not just spent on polishing Edinburgh to be even greater than it is,” he said. “We are looking for measures that will support each of the six council areas.

“I have been very encouraged by the conversations I’ve had.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com