Mike Crockart: Capital should be next City Deal

The city's 'Financial District. Pic: Ian Georgeson
The city's 'Financial District. Pic: Ian Georgeson
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During the summer, Glasgow and Clyde ­Valley City Deal was finalised and signed by the UK government, the Scottish Government and local council leaders, bringing the unique strength provided by all levels of government working together.

The City Deal is worth £1.2 billion and will promote Glasgow’s potential to grow the UK economy by creating more than 29,000 jobs over the next 20 years, and unlock a further £3.3bn of private sector investment across the city region.

Glasgow is the first Scottish city to be awarded a City Deal, but Scotland’s other cities, particularly Aberdeen and Edinburgh, regularly top league tables for the contribution they already make to the UK economy and their potential to do so much more.

Edinburgh’s position in financial services has strengthened in recent years, with new entrants choosing the city as their base – including, most notably, the Green Investment Bank – but it is the rampant entrepreneurial sector, growing the businesses of tomorrow, which could elevate Edinburgh’s contribution as a potential powerhouse for the UK economy.

During parliamentary questions this week, I made the case that Edinburgh is the obvious choice for the next Scottish City Deal. It has some of the best universities not just in the UK but in the world; a highly educated workforce with unique skills in informatics and advanced computing; more patents granted than any other city bar Cambridge; and the highest rate of private sector job creation of any UK city.

A City Deal would allow Edinburgh to establish an infrastructure fund to support the delivery of improved transport access to Edinburgh Airport via rail and road, and investment in the key development site at the International Business Gateway to the west of the city. New industries and companies need easy access to new markets. Edinburgh Airport is already hugely successful in delivering that.

It could also support further growth in the thriving business start-up sector, with a particular focus on life-sciences, informatics and hi-tech science and technology. This would be done by providing additional finance, advice and support, a business incubator and grow-on space for entrepreneurs across the Lothians.

At a Conference in Edinburgh barely two weeks ago, Sue Bruce, Edinburgh council’s Chief Executive, stated that in any budget negotiations, economic development should be considered a frontline service needed to maintain Edinburgh’s business appeal. It’s a good sentiment but it needs action to make it real.

With further investment in ­infrastructure and support for 
start-ups, we could make Edinburgh the most attractive and supportive city in which to start and grow businesses in the UK.

Whilst others may have differing opinions on how an Edinburgh City Deal should look, what is clear is that with added investment, our local economy could really fly.

Mike Crockart is MP for Edinburgh West