Tay Cities Deal Sign-Off is Past the DeadlineNeil Hardie
The final sign-off of the long awaited Tay Cities Deal should have concluded at the end of October, both the Scottish and UK Governments have admitted.
Scottish Government Transport Secretary Michael Matheson and UK Under-Secretary of State for Scotland Iain Stewart were questioned by MPs where the complexities of organising and finalising city and regional deals was discussed.
Both Mr Stewart and Mr Matheson agreed the partnership between Holyrood and Westminster in regard to the deal provision process was strong and that issues in delay were a result of business cases.
It has been just short of two years since the initial head terms on the Tay Cities Deal were agreed, with one source close to a major project expecting funding from the arrangement calling the entire process “farcical”.
Giving a timeline on how deals for Scottish regions were progressing, Mr Stewart noted the Tay Cities agreement should have been finalised “last week”.
Moray’s deal will not be signed until at least the summer period, the under-secretary added, and delays to the Inverness and Highland region deal had come about through a legal challenge to the R100 broadband roll-out.
A source close to one of the major projects set to receive funding from the Tay Cities arrangement said, it had taken so long, most of the proposals put forward would be obsolete.
The said: “The only things, at this rate, which will be able to continue, are projects which have already started.
“The deal was supposed to be finalised last Friday, (30 October), but it was delayed once again,
“This might be because of Dundee’s going into Tier 3 lockdown or because Westminster is sticking over the detail.
“Overall this whole process has been farcical.
“Some of the projects are more than five years old, a lot of funding proposals can be redrawn, but the process has been crazy”.
Partners of the Tayc Cities Deal want the UK Government to release the funds within a 10-year period, which was not what was originally agreed, according to Westminster – which originally agreed to providing money over a 15-year period.
Mr Stewart said: “The next milestones coming up for deals are November 19, in Ayrshire. That will hopefully be followed swiftly by Tay Cities. A full deal for Moray may be next summer.
“A lot of the issues are with the business cases. Within the Tay Cities Deal, we have been able to progress and accelerate the Eden Campus Project, near St Andrews, because that business case was well developed and it was approved by both UK and Scottish Governments,
“It is now in a place where it can draw down funds and get going. We are in a good timeline generally, but where there are opportunities to accelerate we take them, and where things are held up we try quickly to resolve them.
“On the Tay Cities we are ready to go.
“What we are trying to accommodate is the request to have the UK Government’s funding given over a shorter time period.
“I am currently in negotiations with the Treasury to see if we can get that agreed.”