The Belfast Region City Deal Council Panel met on 29 January at Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey to advance projects with a collective value of £1 billion over the next 15 years. Alderman Mark Cosgrove, who chaired the Panel’s meeting today emphasised the significance of this scale of investment to the economy and the benefits which it would generate for communities across the region.
'We look forward to working with our new MLA’s and are grateful for the current cross-departmental collaboration being demonstrated to ensure Northern Ireland benefits from this investment. It is important to remember that projects across the Belfast Region involving partner councils, universities, colleges and the private sector will be a stimulus for longer-term social and economic improvement across all Programme for Government targets’.
The focus of discussion at the Panel was on an ambitious approach to redressing skills imbalances, educational under attainment and economic inactivity. Principal and Chief Executive of Belfast Metropolitan College, Marie-Thérèse McGivern used the opportunity to emphasise the need for skills programmes to link directly to the opportunities arising from physical investments.
‘We have a unique opportunity to develop programmes which go beyond our traditional preferences and stereotypes of education and qualifications. We collectively can innovate content, delivery and approaches to employment and career support to realise the true economic and social value of City Deal’.
Barriers to lifelong learning such as transport, affordability and childcare were highlighted as important social issues during the Panel discussion. ‘Only by removing personal barriers to participate in training will we ensure people most in need of a life changing opportunity have access to it’ said Alderman Mark Cosgrove.
The Panel is made up of four nominees from each partner council, (Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Belfast City Council, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council), and will support effective political engagement as business cases are prepared for the 22 proposed City Deal projects. Development of all business-cases for projects are advancing well through collaboration and with support from Central Government.
The ambitious programme will help grow the region’s business strengths in growth sectors, such as life and health sciences, digital and creative industries, and advanced manufacturing. It will also support next generation digital capabilities and tourism-led regeneration across the entire region, underpinned by infrastructure developments and investment in skills.
For more information on the Belfast Region City Deal, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/belfastregioncitydeal Updates are posted at #BRcitydeal
The Belfast Region City Deal will see the UK Government invest £350 million into the Belfast Region over the next 15 years. It’s proposed that this figure will be matched by the Northern Ireland Departments. The City Deal will be further bolstered by co-investment of upwards of £150 million from Belfast Region City Deal partners and investment by the private sector is anticipated to bring the total investment package to over £1 billion.