City Deal frustrations vented

The signing of the deal in August 2018, with Midlothian Council leader Derek Milligan second from right.
The signing of the deal in August 2018, with Midlothian Council leader Derek Milligan second from right.

Edinburgh City Council has been accused of “wanting to take over the world” as frustrations over a regional funding deal emerged at a meeting of Midlothian Council.

The South East  Scotland City Regional Deal (CRD) will see £1.3 billion poured into projects across six local authorities in years to come.

However, changes to the way it will operate and the scope of its projects saw MIdlothian councillor Russell Imrie (Lab) confess he no longer understands the deal.

And he told fellow councillors he was wary of what was happening, describing it as regionalisation by “stealth”.

Speaking after councillors had been given an update on the City Region Deal, which will see investment in the Sheriffhall Junction and Easter Bush in Midlothian, Councillor Imrie said he was frustrated by the entire deal.

He pointed to a refusal by Transport Scotland to give an end date for when work at Sheriffhall would be completed and the addition of a new Regional Growth Framework as part of the deal, which seeks to align planning, housing and transport across all the local authorities involved.

Cllr Imrie said: “It may be borne out of frustration  – I don’t perhaps understand the city region deal and I say that on the basis that when it all came about we were talking in terms of projects going into the pot, they had to be costed and checked out etc and those were the ones that got on a shortlist, and from that we then came up with a number of projects that were to go forward.

“We seem to be getting arms and legs on this entity and I don’t know how there is any control.

“Now if we are going to have regionalisation, for goodness sake, let’s be honest about it and say we’re going to have regionalisation but it seems to me there is a stealth tactic here.

“It may be that I am just a little bit wary about the City of Edinburgh Council who seem to want to take over the world and tell us how things should be done and maybe it is because of that.”

The City Region Deal is a partnership agreement signed in August 2018 under which the UK and Scottish Governments, together with the six councils in the region -City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, Scottish Borders, and West Lothian – the universities/colleges, and the business and third sectors, have committed to a programme of projects of some £1.3 billion to drive forward sustainable inclusive growth across all parts of the region.