Councillors debate city deal

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A major initiative with the potential to transform the economy of Midlothian and the surrounding area could get the green light later this year.

The Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal is a partnership between Midlothian, City of Edinburgh, Fife, East Lothian, West Lothian and Scottish Borders Councils, in collaboration with the university and business sectors.

The aim is to attract significant government investment into the area with the potential to attract additional funding from the private sector. ​

The partners are now aiming to agree a key document in the spring, which will set out the contractual basis for the city region deal.

At their full council meeting last week Midlothian councillors heard that negotiations currently underway with the Scottish and UK Governments are progressing well, with Midlothian Council chief executive Kenneth Lawrie promising more details in the near future.

Speaking at the meeting, council leader Catherine Johnstone (SNP) said: “It would be shameful if we the local councillors let this opportunity pass us.”

However, Labour group leader Derek Milligan said he was hoping for a more ambitious outcome for Midlothian when the final deal was proposed.

Green councillor Ian Baxter added: “I’m deeply disappointed of the direction this deal is going in and I would like to see improvements.”

The proposals have been shaped around a number of interconnected programmes.

These include creating innovation hubs which connect world-leading university research and innovation programmes; investing in infrastructure such as transport and digital connectivity; developing a programme to deliver more affordable homes to the area; and creating a culture and tourism programme.

The city region deal is also focusing on measures to reduce inequalities which would see all parts of the region share in economic success through investment in training and skills, housing and infrastructure.