The Chief Executive presented the above report, a copy of which had previously been circulated. He advised that the purpose of the report was (i) to update Members on the progress achieved to date in securing £105 million of funding towards a City Deal and the City and Region’s Strategic Growth Projects; (ii) to present all of the current considerations in advancing this funding and in securing additional financial commitments towards an overall funding package of circa £250m; and (iii) to seek Members’ support and endorsement of key next steps.
The Chairperson commended the Chief Executive and his team on progress to date in regards to the City Deal.
Councillor Fleming concurred with the Chairperson’s comments. He said the task facing Council in regards to the Strategic Growth Plan was massive and welcomed the work undertaken by Council Officers and their partners in terms of moving forward respect thereof. He referred to the fact that the £105 million which had been secured was not sufficient to progress all of the projects and match funding from a functioning Executive. He said he was also aware that monies might become available from other partners. He referred to the lack of investment in the North and also from the Dublin government. He stated that there was wide political support for the Deal and it was necessary to bring this to bear in terms of moving this forward. He looked forward to working to progress al of the projects.
Councillor McLaughlin welcomed the update and the progress which had been made.
She referred to the three excellent project outlined and anticipated that it would be possible to progress them to a new level of delivery which would benefit the City and the region. She referred to the importance of data analysis and the need to work with the University Councillor McLaughlin referred to a number of important issues, not least being that of match funding. She stated that it would not be possible to advance all of the other key projects if match funding was not secured. Whilst welcoming the securing of the £105 million the emphasis must now be on securing additional financial commitments towards an overall funding package. She stated that any potential match funding from the University would be based on the overall £105 million and not the £50 million City deal package. She sought an update in regards to the three strategic outline cases. She stated that the more information available, the better equipped Members were to scrutinise.
Councillor McLaughlin said it was vital that Council and Members were involved in all of the processes of governance. She suggested that City Deals become a standing topic on the Agenda for Committee to ensure that Members were made aware of issues as they arose. She concluded that it was crucial that Council acquired the resources required in order to delivery this project in its totality.
Alderman Hussey commended those Officers involved on progress to date. He referred to the importance of achieving dispersible benefits throughout the Council district and he acknowledged the potential for realising this within the community projects and through which he anticipated it would be possible to extend this to the rural area. He continued that whilst appreciating the benefits of the big projects it was necessary to bear in mind that this was a City and district deal.
Alderman Devenney also welcomed the level of progress which had been achieved. He anticipated that Members would increase their efforts, where possible to end the end the current stalemate at Stormont, because, without a functioning Executive the match funding might not be forthcoming. He supported the previous speaker’s comments in regards to the rural area and the suggested retention of this matter on Committee agenda.
Recommended that Members note the considerable progress achieved to date, acknowledges the key issues to be resolved as set out in this report to advance to the next stage, and support and promote at local and regional level efforts to:
(i) Confirm and secure at the earliest opportunity, commitment to the totality of anticipated ‘match’ funding and 3rd party funding required from all sources, including Council;
(ii) Advance the projects as broadly prioritised in the report in line with the available funding and in collaboration with all city and regional bid partners, develop evolving governance and accountability structures and processes, project business cases and timeframes for progression; and
(iii) Progress and advance funding for the wider connectivity and infrastructure projects in relation to road, rail and air and the expansion of the Magee Campus of Ulster University – all of which are critical to the success of the strategic projects to be delivered under the City Deal/Future Fund/match funding package.