Edinburgh city deal ‘deeply disappointing’ for Fife, says Kingdom’s Labour leader
Exclusive: Cllr David Ross tells Holyrood the city region deal was more concentrated on the city then the region
Fife - credit byronv2
The Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal has been rushed and is too concentrated on the city itself rather than the surrounding areas, the leader of Fife Council’s Labour group has said.
The deal, formalised last week, will see £600m from both the UK and Scottish governments invested in Edinburgh, with the promise of 21,000 new jobs.
Innovation through the city’s universities, digital economy and a boost to its tourism and culture sector will form part of the deal, it was announced, while the Scottish Government will spend £120m on road infrastructure.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "It will make a real difference to the lives of people in the region, creating jobs and prosperity and driving investment."
However, Councillor David Ross, who also leads Fife Council’s joint SNP/Labour joint administration, told Holyrood he was “disappointed” by the level of funding going to Fife.
Speaking in a personal capacity, he said the levels of funding for “inclusive growth”, including on training and skills, was less than partner local authorities had expected.
“Others on the Council may see things differently but my personal view is that although I welcome the overall investment announced last week through the City Region Deal for Edinburgh and South East Scotland, I am disappointed by the level of funding directly focused on Fife,” he said, adding: "The lack of any specific investment in transport infrastructure in Fife, either road or rail, is deeply disappointing.
“My overall impression is that the deal is concentrated on Edinburgh City itself and runs contrary to the work we have been doing as a partnership over the past two years to ensure that this deal addressed the need for inclusive growth across the whole region and not just the city.”
Ross added he felt the deal had been rushed for political reasons.
“Whilst I am pleased that the two governments have finally agreed the heads of terms for the deal, it does seem to me that the final agreement has been rushed because of the national political context and that the opportunity to make a real step change in the economic future of the region in terms of inclusive growth, has been missed,” he said.
He said: “Whether Fife sees the full benefits of the deal will depend on whether some of the softer elements of the agreement are fully developed.
“The Transport Appraisal Group that has been promised needs to address the lack of transport infrastructure investment in Fife which should go hand in hand with investment in industrial sites and premises."
According to Ross, the Fife partnership had requested a regional land commission to free up additional public sector land for housing and further commitments to fund affordable housing, neither of which were referenced in the deal.
“The references to ‘regional governance’ in the document also need to be clarified,” he added.
“This needs to match up to the original intention of the submission that powers in relation to planning for transport, skills and training, and housing are devolved from central government to the region rather than powers currently exercised by local government being centralised, and that we aren’t adding an additional layer of bureaucracy which will hinder economic development and growth across the region.
“I am hoping that we will have an early meeting of council leaders from the partner authorities to discuss the response from the two governments to our submission and to consider how best to address the outstanding issues and omissions as a partnership.”
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