Gov­ern­ment ‘re­fused’ call for ex­tra City Deals cash

Pol­i­tics: UK con­tri­bu­tion crit­i­cised

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY CALUM ROSS

The UK Gov­ern­ment re­fused calls to give ex­tra cash to Aberdeen and In­ver­ness dur­ing be­hindthe-scenes talks that led to City Re­gion Deals, it has been claimed.

Econ­omy sec­re­tary Keith Brown sug­gested yes­ter­day that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment “sought to go fur­ther” on the lu­cra­tive pack­ages, but that West­min­ster “reined back on that”.

Signed in 2016, the UK and Scot­tish gov­ern­ments pro­vided £125 mil­lion each to­wards the Aberdeen City Re­gion Deal, with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment promis­ing to con­trib­ute a fur­ther £245m to­wards de­liv­er­ing im­proved trans­port, broad­band and hous­ing programmes.

Mean­while, the In­ver­ness City Re­gion Deal last year in­cluded a com­mit­ment of £135m from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and £53m from the UK Gov­ern­ment.

At the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment com­mit­tee yes­ter­day, Mr Brown was asked about the com­bined £300m dif­fer­ence in the con­tri­bu­tions of the two gov­ern­ments to­wards Scot­tish City Deals.

The SNP min­is­ter said there had been a “chang­ing story” from the first pack­age, for Glas­gow, which in­volved an equal split in in­vest­ment be­tween Holy­rood and West­min­ster.

And he claimed that the UK Gov­ern­ment’s con­tri­bu­tion had “not met the ex­pec­ta­tions of part­ners in terms of the quan­tum”.

“I think in some of the City Deals, we have sought to go fur­ther and the UK Gov­ern­ment has reined back on that and they are en­ti­tled to do that,” he said.

“We have tried to nev­er­the­less go be­yond that, very sub­stan­tially in re­la­tion to the Aberdeen deal, in re­la­tion to the In­ver­ness deal and now in re­la­tion to the Stir­ling and Clacks deal.”

Mr Brown added: “It’s self-ev­i­dent from the way we have tried to con­struct the deals, we’ve tried to get a larger quan­tum.

“Where we feel they haven’t gone long enough, far enough, we have agreed that deal on the ba­sis of 5050 and then we have sought to go fur­ther than that our­selves and that ac­counts for some of the dif­fer­ence.

“We would have liked the UK Gov­ern­ment to have gone fur­ther.”

A UK Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: “It is nonsense to say we have not met the ex­pec­ta­tions of City Deal part­ners.

“So far, the UK Gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted more than £1 bil­lion to the pro­gramme in Scot­land, agree­ing deals with five city re­gions, with two more un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion.”

FUNDS: Econ­omy sec­re­tary Keith Brown ex­pected more from the UK Gov­ern­ment

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