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Update on £2bn funding plan

City Deal ‘will build on Edinburgh’s strengths’

Andrew Kerr CECEdinburgh’s proposed City Deal will not be a “silver bullet” for the local economy but it will help maintain its progress as the UK’s fastest growing city outside London, it was said at a seminar.

Andrew Kerr, chief executive of the City Council, described the £2 billion proposition as “a brick in the wall”  to creating a successful city.

A City Deal has been agreed in principle with the UK and Scottish governments and he said a decision on funding is expected to be included in the Autumn Statement or in next year’s Budget.

Giving an update at a meeting organised by Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, Mr Kerr said: “This is not a silver bullet. It is just a brick in the wall to creating a successful city.

“You need to have a vision that people will buy into. You need infrastructure, transport, housing.

“We are not making the case on being a poor city. It is already the most competitive city outside London, growing at 1% a year, and by 2025 it will be the biggest city in Scotland.”

Mr Kerr said that despite its growth, the City had to deal with those who were less fortunate, and the City Deal would help bridge a gap between rich and poor.

It was also a deal involving six local authorities and it was more about how the economy in these areas developed, via better connections and infrastructure, rather than the city centre.

“We have to think about how we develop the city outwardly,” he said.

Sir John Elvidge, who sits on the negotiating committee, told the meeting that Edinburgh’s approach would be to “learn from, but not to copy” other City Deals.

“We are benchmarking ourselves against other European cities,” he said.

“Most other City Deals are about regeneration and eliminating the negatives, whereas for us it is about building on some solid strengths, enhancing things that are producing economic growth. What will bring investment here rather than to Denmark, Germany or France?

“So we are looking at how we can develop the things that will give us the edge. What are our killer advantages that differentiate us?”

He said there was no reason to think that the Brexit vote would make a difference.

Delegates also heard from Clive Memmott, chief executive of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, who said the City Deal had helped galvanise the community and given outlying towns such as Oldham and Rochdale a feeling of belonging to the region.

He said the deal had focused attention on the economy and that without the City Deal he did not think a recent visit by a Chinese delegation would have taken place.

Photo: Andrew Kerr (by Terry Murden)

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