SNP accuse UK Government of delaying £1bn Edinburgh City Deal

THE Scottish Government has accused UK ministers of dragging their feet over Edinburgh's City Deal amid growing fears over the £1 billion investment package.

Wednesday, 12th July 2017, 9:17 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:34 am
Edinburgh has seen visitor numbers soar by more than half a million in the past five years. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
Edinburgh has seen visitor numbers soar by more than half a million in the past five years. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

The deal, jointly funded by the Scottish and UK governments, was due to be signed in March, but has been repeatedly delayed.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown warned further delays to the deal – which also includes the other three Lothian councils, Fife, Borders and the area’s universities – could cost the Scottish economy millions of pounds of investment.

He said he had received no response to recent letters to the Scottish Secretary David Mundell requesting clarity about the deal and a planned meeting with Business Secretary Greg Clark was cancelled at short notice.

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“That is unacceptable,” said Mr Brown. “The UK government cannot sideline the people of Edinburgh and the South East while it attempts to get its own house in order.”

He called for “urgent reassurances” from the UK government that it remained committed to the deal.

It is understood the Scottish Government is planning to put around £350m into the package, but sources claimed the UK offer could be as low as £200m.

Investment is expected to focus on housing, innovation, culture and tourism and infrastructure.

But unless the deal can be finalised before Westminster goes into recess on July 20, the fear is nothing will happen until September.

A meeting of council group leaders, initially called to approve the deal, will go ahead tomorrow. But SNP council leader Adam McVey said another had been arranged for Monday with the hope of a formal sign-off.

He said: “We’re hoping to have actual numbers from both governments very soon. Hopefully Keith Brown’s intervention will help nail that down a bit more.”

Labour deputy council leader Cammy Day said the City Deal had the potential to be the biggest boost to Edinburgh and the neighbouring areas in decades, if not centuries.

“We want the UK and Scottish governments to sit round the table, thrash out a deal and sign it with the councils. We have waited two years for this. It is too important for us to play politics.”

A UK government spokeswoman said: “The Edinburgh City Deal is currently still under negotiation with the Scottish Government, councils and local partners, and will have the potential to create meaningful growth and innovation in Scotland’s capital.

“The UK government is determined to ensure that this is true partnership working between the UK and Scottish governments and will provide substantial investment in Edinburgh and the South East.”